In this study we wish to consider the question of man’s natural origin. For the New Churchman this consideration begins with the acknowledgment that there is a Creator who has formed us by orderly means. We ask, as we seek to penetrate the mysteries of faith: “How did the Lord bring about the orderly development of life to accomplish His crowning goal, man ?” Are there any teachings in the New Word which will help us as New Churchmen to see an answer to man’s origin that will do no violence to Divine truth, and at the same time make it possible for us to accept the vast body of facts accumulated by anthropologists and other scientists ?
Many of the most interesting and significant British Columbian legends are set in the age between the creation and the flood, that epoch in which an occult relationship existed between the human and non-human worlds. We might, to distinguish this period from that which followed it, call it “the age of myth.” During this epoch, “spirits, men and animals lived together like brothers.” This harmony was the universal norm, the cosmic standard; hence it is that stories set in this age provide the basic plots and situations of so many British Columbian legends, even some of those purporting to be entirely historical in our sense of the word. For this mythical past was also a kind of hidden and eternal present, and the old occult relationships might well erupt at any time through the brittle and flimsy surface of everyday appearances.
A knowledge of the human mind is important to the life of religion. Indeed, if one is to apply intelligently the teaching of the Writings concerning the process of regeneration on which the New Church is founded, he must seek an ever clearer understanding of the human mind. It cannot be otherwise because the inner world of the mind is the real world in which we live. The real objects of our world are not the material things in our natural environment, but rather the ideas we have concerning them, the way we feel about them, their significance to us in terms of thoughts and affections. It is commonly supposed that every thing we think and feel is produced and determined by physical sensation. Men often believe that if they could completely control their environment, remove from it everything that did not please them, and order the rest at will, they could find peace of mind, contentment and happiness. Through all the ages the illusion that the source of happiness, and the cause of unhappiness may be attributed to the material world, has been a prime factor in directing the lives of both men and nations. Even those who intellectually recognize that this is an illusion, nevertheless think and act as if it were the truth.