Shaw and Religion
Ed by Charles A Berst, Penn State 1981
“There is to say Be and It Is,” is a Shavian saying.
Shaw is indebted to numerous philosophies. He experienced religion in poetic terms. Development religiously was his perception of himself in relation to God.
In Man and Superman listed sources thought: Bunyan, Blake, Hogarth, Turner, Goethe, Shelly, Schopenhauer, Wagner, Ibsen, Morris, Tolstoy, Nietzsche. Dickens, Shakespeare, Mozart, Beethoven, Rembrandt, Hegel,and Bergson.
Post Script in Back to Methuselah. “The Creative Evolutionist believes firmly in Providence and in what used to be called The Will of God. Instead of dwelling morbidly on the quite unedifying and not too interesting interference, Creative Evolution goes back to a very old and pregnant lesson that the beginning was thought and the thought was with the God. The thought was God. Thought being what the Greek’s meant by the word” The Greek Origin of John’s word is logos.
“I am not governed by principles, I am inspired by how or why I cannot explain,” says GBS. “When I write a play I never invent a plot, he says, I let the play write and shape itself.”
Shaw says of Superman in Self Sketches, “The must though learn to stand absolutely thou. Can’st nothing know, responsible to nothing, fearing no power and being within thyself. A little independent universe.”
“I was a coward until Marx made a communist of me and gave me faith.” 1881-1883
“Like Shelley, I am socialist, atheist and a vegetarian.” 1887
“Goethe rescued us, from the horror of aesthetic despair with his eternal feminine that draws us forward and upward, which was the first modern manifesto of the mysterious force in Creative Evolution. That is what made Faust a world classic.”
“Such a force there is, however, and it is called the Godhead. And these higher powers are called into existence by the same self-organization of life. Still more wonderfully into rare persons who may by comparisons be called gods, creatures capable of thought whose aims extend far and beyond the satisfaction of their bodily appetites and personal affection, since they perceive that it is only by the establishment of a social order founded on common bonds or moral faith that the world can rise from the mere savagery.”
Creative Evolution is the Father
Life Force is the Holy Ghost
and Superman is the Son
Caesar vs Superman in the world made flesh. Caesar and St. John are both teachers and they both share the role of transforming the child into an adult.
If religion means codified dogma, prescribed rules for conduct, acceptance of an elaborate institution hierarchy system of of ritual, then Shaw opposed religion. If religion exists to foster the development of ethical and spiritual wholeness in he individual, to let him see clearly the purpose of life on earth, and to ensure that his desires tend toward the moral well being of mankind, then Shaw is deeply concerned with promoting religion.
Shaw’s life-force is inside the individual, not outside deities.
Shaw believes that men do evil their he best of intentions, in the name of duty, social responsibility and other abstract ideals. Really bad men are as rare as really good ones.
Creative Evolution is the alternative to Christians and Darwinians.
Back to Methuselah addresses itself to the possibility that if man desired death in the beginning, he should be able to emancipate himself from the natural cycle of life and death by reversing that desire, seizing once again control of mother nature and reducing her to his emanation.
Shaw’s Don Juan proclaimed, “He who seeks in contemplative to discover the inner will of he world, in invention to discover the mean of fulfilling that will, and in action to do that will by the so-called means.”
Creative Evolution is nothing more than a hypothesis. Faith confronted with the possibility of mediating and reconciling synthesis might lead to the new awareness and rebirth.