Andrew Lang

Honorary Fellow, Merton College, Oxford

The Making of Religion

In the first Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews, Lang argues that while religion can be explained with the assistance of psychology and anthropology, the recognition of a supreme being may have been divinely instilled. Knowledge of God is not reached through evolution, contact with missionaries, or from the remnant of some fallen civilised race; instead, it ‘occurs in the lowest-known grades of savagery’.


Andrew Lang was born on 31 March 1844 in Selkirk, Scotland. Lang was a classicist, compiler of folklore and mythology, anthropologist, historian, and the best-known journalist of his day. Educated primarily at Scottish universities, he graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1868, and was an honorary fellow of Merton College until 1874. He spent most of his career writing for the Daily News and Morning Post and was the literary editor of Longman’s Magazine.

Before becoming president of the Society for Psychical Research in 1911, Lang authored The Book of Dreams and Ghosts (1897), Magic and Religion (1901), and The Secret of the Totem (1905). Together with his wife, he translated and adapted traditional folk and fairy tales, and their Blue Fairy Book (1889) is a classic. He wrote versions of the Odyssey (1879) and the Iliad (1882), and his other works include Custom and Myth (1884), Myth, Literature and Religion (1887), History of Scotland (1900–1907), The Mystery of Mary Stuart (1901), and John Knox and the Reformation (1905).

Published/Archival Resources
Published as The Making of Religion.