Take the other higher religions which are still living on in the world of today side by side with Chistianity: Islam, Hinduism, and the Mahayana form of Buddhism which now prevails in the Far East. You can see the role of Islam as a chrysalis between the ancient civilization of Israel and Iran and the modern Islamic civilization of the Near and Middle East. Hinduism, again, seems to bridge a gap in the history of civilization in India between the modern Hindu culture and the ancient culture of the Aryas; and Buddhism, likerwise, seems to play the same part as a mediator between the modern history of the Far East and the history of ancient China. In that picture the Christian Church would be simply one of a series of churches whose function is to serve as chrysalises to provide for the reproduction of civilizations and thus to preserve that secular species of society.
Now I think there is perhaps a chrysalis-like element in the construction of the Christian Church –an institutional element that I am going to deal with later– which may have quite a different purpose from that of assisting in the reproduction of civilizations. But, before we accept at all an account of the place and role of Christianity and of the other living higher religions in social history which represents these religions as being mere instruments for assisting in the process of the reproduction of civilizations, let us go on testing the hypothesis by examining whether, in every instance of the parent-and-child relation between civilizations, we find a chrysalis-church intervening between the parent civilization and the daughter civilization. If you look at the histories of the ancient civilizations of South-Western Asia and Egypt, you find there a rudimentary higher religion in the form of the worship of a god and a related goddess. I call it rudimentary because, in the worship of Tammuz and Ishtar, of Adonis and Astarte, of Attis and Cybele, of Osiris and Isis, you are very close to the nature-worship of the Earth and her fruits; and I think that, here again, you can see that this rudimentary higher religion, in each of its different variants, has in every case played the historical role of filling a gap where there was a break in the continuity of secular civilization.
If, however, we complete our survey, we shall find that this apparent ‘law’ does not always hold good. Christianity intervenes in this way between our own civilization and the Graeco-Roman one. Go back behind the Graeco-Roman one and you find a Minoan civilization behind that. But between the Minoan and the Graeco-Roman you do not find any higher religion corresponding to Christianity. Again, if you go back behind the ancient civilization of Aryan India, you find vestiges of a still more ancient pre-Aryan civilization in the Indus Valley which have only been excavated within the last twenty years, but here again you do not seem to find any higher religion intervening between the two. And if you pass from the Old World to the New and look at the civilization of the Mayas in Central America, which, again, has had daughter civilizations born from it, you do not find, here either, in the intervening period, any trace at all of any higher religion or church of the same species as Christianity or Islam or Hinduism or Mahayanian Buddhism; nor again is there any evidence of any such chrysalis bridging the transition from primitive societies to the earliest known civilizations to what we might call the first generation of civilizations; and so, when we complete our view of the whole field of civilizations, as we have now done in a very summary way, we find that the relation between religions and civilizations seems to differ according to the generation of the civilization with which we are dealing. We seem to find no higher religion at all between civilizations of the first and those of the second generation and those of the third generation that the intervention of a higher religion seems to be the rule, and here only.