Their religion is probably not due to missionaries, as they always shot all foreigners, and have no traditions of the presence of aliens on the islands before our recent arrival. Their God, Puluga, is 'like fire, but invisible. He was never born, and is immortal. By him were all things created, except the powers of evil. He knows even the thoughts of the heart.
In the cult of Darumulun, and of other highest gods of lowest savages, nothing answers to the Hebrew technical priestly word for sacrifice, 'food of the deity. Nobody feeds Puluga, nobody fed Ahone. We hear of no Fuegian sacrifices. Mr. Mr. Robertson Smith had a celebrated theory that cereal sacrifice is a tribute to a god, while sacrifice of a beast or man is an act of communion with the god.
If a people like the Andamanese, or the Australian tribes whom we have studied, had such a conception as that of Puluga, or Baiame, or Mungan-ngaur and then, later, developed ancestor-worship with its propitiatory sacrifices and ceremonies, ancestor-worship, as the newest evolved and infinitely the most practical form of cult, would gradually thrust the belief in a Puluga, or Mungan-ngaur, or Cagn into the shade.
Nyankupon cannot be explained apart from Taaroa, Puluga, Ahone, Ndengei, Dendid, and Ta-li-y-Tochoo, Gods to be later described, who cannot, by any stretch of probabilities, be regarded as of European origin.
This Being could not be evolved out of the ordinary ghost of a second-sighted man, for I do not find that ancestral ghosts are worshipped, nor is there a trace of early missionary influence, while Mr. Man consulted elderly and, in native religion, well-instructed Andamanese for his facts. There is the usual story of a Deluge caused by the moral wrath of Puluga.
The proof therefore rests on the anthropomorphised pre-prophetic accounts, and on the ritual, of Jehovah. But man naturally 'anthropises' his deities: he does not thereby demonstrate that they were once ghosts. But we have shown that among the lowest races neither are ghosts worshipped by sacrifice, nor does the Supreme Being, Darumulun or Puluga, receive food offerings.
A specially interesting example is the Andaman Puluga, a sort of creator who receives no worship; his abode is a mountain or the sky, and he seems to have been originally a local supernatural figure who is traditionally respected but is no longer thought of as an efficient patron. The mysterious Ndengei of Fiji is judge of the dead, but one of many gods and not all-powerful.
The hope of escaping the torments of this latter place influences their conduct. Puluga, this Deity, inhabits a house of stone; when it rains, He descends upon the earth in search of food; during the dry weather He is asleep." Besides this Deity, they believe in numerous evil spirits, the chief of whom is the Demon of the Woods.
Now, it is undeniable that Jehovah, at a certain period of Hebrew history, had become degraded and anthropomorphized, far below Darumulun, and Puluga, and Pachacamac, and Ahone, as conceived of in their purest form, and in the high mood of savage mysteries which yet contain so much that is grotesque. But our knowledge of the Fuegians is lamentably scanty.
Man talks of Puluga's only-begotten son, 'a sort of archangel, medium between Puluga and the angels, I 'hesitate a doubt. Did not this idea reach the Mincopie mind from the same quarter as the stone house, especially as Puluga's wife is 'a green shrimp or an eel'? At all events, it is right to bear in mind that, as the stone house of the Mincopie heaven is almost undeniably of European origin, the only-begotten mediating son of Puluga and the green shrimp may bear traces of Christian teaching.