Religious concepts partake of and dilute magical thinking in the attribution of psychic power to a deity who exists “out of time. ” They accompany a transition from the non-causal dreamtime of myth and magical thinking to an objective world of serial time and causal relations. The agency within the local objects or totems of animism spreads to nature as a whole, setting in motion or guiding objects that have their own causal histories. Mind withdrawn from nature sequesters in deity. A monotheistic deity is a residue of animism liberated from objects and distributed throughout nature …
Tradition is the collective embodiment of the personal valuations of individuals extracted from conduct over many generations and distilled into the separate rules, customs and observances of the community. Law stabilizes, objectifies or codifies, and so validates a custom, and prescribes a more detailed inventory of punishments for its infraction. Eventually, the law individuates from the tradition in which it originated, supported by its own system of relations, context and coherence.
In sum, biological adaptation to the natural environment passes to psychic adaptation to a supernatural environment, finally to rational adaptation to a social environment. The one is nature as it is, the other mind invested in nature, the last, culture, a pure creation of though. While these three levels of adaptation, the drive-based or instinctual, the paralogical and the rational, occur in three different environments – biological nature, psychic nature, and the conventions of reason – all three intervene in everyday life.
The question arises whether a goodness that is exemplified by deity and motivated by religious mythology is superior to that which is sustained by magical thinking and enforced by superstitious fear. If conduct is beneficent, what is the relevance of the rationale that support it? Is an act of goodness for which there are rational grounds necessarily better than one that stems from the kindness of a simple man who acts without thinking, or the generosity of a native who acts on a magical belief?
Shelley wrote, “The One remains, the Many change and pass.” The pattern by which the wholeness of the one individuates to a multiplicity of part is the arising of particulars out of the totality of nature. This oneness dissipates in the surge to individuation, and is regained in the next cycle of activation. adaptation is the mediating process in the transition from wholes to parts, as from the totality of the inner self to the multiplicity of nature.”