Aside from the natural worship urge, early evolutionary religion had its roots of origin in the human experiences of chance—so-called luck, commonplace happenings. Primitive man was a food hunter. The results of hunting must ever vary, and this gives certain origin to those experiences which man interprets as good luck and bad luck. Mischance was a great factor in the lives of men and women who lived constantly on the ragged edge of a precarious and harassed existence.
The limited intellectual horizon of the savage so concentrates the attention upon chance that luck becomes a constant factor in his life. Primitive Urantians struggled for existence, not for a standard of living; they lived lives of peril in which chance played an important role. The constant dread of unknown and unseen calamity hung over these savages as a cloud of despair which effectively eclipsed every pleasure; they lived in constant dread of doing something that would bring bad luck. Superstitious savages always feared a run of good luck; they viewed such good fortune as a certain harbinger of calamity.
This ever-present dread of bad luck was paralyzing. Why work hard and reap bad luck—nothing for something—when one might drift along and encounter good luck—something for nothing? Unthinking men forget good luck—take it for granted—but they painfully remember bad luck.
Early man lived in uncertainty and in constant fear of chance—bad luck. Life was an exciting game of chance; existence was a gamble. It is no wonder that partially civilized people still believe in chance and evince lingering predispositions to gambling. Primitive man alternated between two potent interests: the passion of getting something for nothing and the fear of getting nothing for something. And this gamble of existence was the main interest and the supreme fascination of the early savage mind.
The later herders held the same views of chance and luck, while the still later agriculturists were increasingly conscious that crops were immediately influenced by many things over which man had little or no control. The farmer found himself the victim of drought, floods, hail, storms, pests, and plant diseases, as well as heat and cold. And as all of these natural influences affected individual prosperity, they were regarded as good luck or bad luck.
This notion of chance and luck strongly pervaded the philosophy of all ancient peoples. Even in recent times in the Wisdom of Solomon it is said: “I returned and saw that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but fate and chance befall them all. For man knows not his fate; as fishes are taken in an evil net, and as birds are caught in a snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time when it falls suddenly upon them.”