Critiques of Religion Revision Notes
Believed that religion is the ‘illusions, fulfilments of the oldest, strongest, and most insistent wishes of mankind.’
‘wish fulfilment,’ meaning that religion is a desire of humans that is creating an illusion to help overcome ones inner psychological conflict, stress which comes from the structure of society and fear of the dangers of the natural world.
By this, he is not definitely saying that God does not exist, but that the main function of a ‘God’ is to answer inner needs.
Describes religious belief as a ‘neurotic illness’
Freud believed that it these religious beliefs stemmed from the unconscious mind.
religious rites were repetitive, symbolic and connected with guilt, and that religion is ‘a return of the repressed.’
Freud believed that all daughters have a sexual attraction towards their fathers, these are feelings that therefore need to be repressed. So therefore, people turn towards religion for help to suppress those feelings of guilt they have from having these sexual desires.
Fathers have a role to be there to protect their child, and when that child grows up, that child needs a father figure, they therefore seek for protection from elsewhere, thus they turn to God.
Religion is consequently a ‘universal obsessional neurosis.’
He then believes that a young boy which desires to stay close to his mother, perceives his father as a threat, this is known as the Oedipus Complex.
Supporting the Oedipus Complex, Freud used the Primal Horde design, believing that the male offspring grow resentful of the father and rise up against him to kill him. After killing the father, this would result in undecided feelings towards him, resulting in the father then being idolized, the totem of the group.
Freud thought that there was some kind of psychological mechanism whereby the guilt will be passed onto offspring through genetics. The father transforming into the totem figure holds significance to the belief of the Christian God, e.g Christians during communion remember Jesus being killed and so they eat in commemoration of his sacrifice. Freud uses this to explain that religion is an illusion created to accept powerful and sexual emotion.
Religion being an illusion is meant to help society, whilst society being in conflict with our basic desires, religion is essential in giving us a reason to submit to laws.
The belief that there is an eternal beautiful afterlife makes it bearable to submit to a world of chaos and suffering. The illusion helps us overcome the fears of nature.
As a result Freud believed that religious beliefs are used as a means to oppress people and permit their sin, for example repenting sin allows for them to be sinful.
To conclude his argument, Freud illustrates that there is no factual evidence for the existence of God, and that it is just a part of the mind.