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Is Freud's Religious Belief Of The "Father-Figure" Sound?

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Is Freud's Religious Belief of the "Father-Figure" Sound?

In the May 2002 edition of the National Review, James Como states, "throughout Freud's life, his God-denial existed alongside a preoccupation with what he called the "infantile fairy tale" of God's existence. He protested too much on this latter point; he also constantly quoted the Bible, favored religious reading (for example, Heine's Lazarus), and had an enduringly respectful fascination with Easter. Often he does seem on the verge of despair: "As an unbelieving fatalist I can only let my arms sink before the terrors of death." Yet on the central issue he remained immutable: Religion was "the enemy." At times he seems a genuinely tragic figure. Considering Freud has place high regards on religion and how it affects us, this shows total contradiction for his religion beliefs/theories. Freud uses childhood fantasies, and the "Oedipus Complex" to try and convince us that our reasoning for the need for religion is not sound. However, evidence has not been found for Freud's theory of religion. Not even a published case in which Freud psychoanalyzed a patient who was a believer at the time of the psychoanalysis. Further, there is no published case showing how such a belief in a client was supposed to be the result of early childhood fantasies. Ironically, we do find that Freud's fascination with religion and the father-figure may be a result of his relations with his own father.

We have learned from writings on Freud, that religion is nothing more than security and moral codes in society and serves as a repressor to natural human feelings. However, Freud does not have anything good to say about religion. He regarded religious beliefs as "...illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most insistent wishes of mankind". (The Future of an Illusion; the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. and ed. by James Strachey) Religion, he believed was a mental defense against the hardships of life. He would like us to believe that everyone is always looking for his or her first love in the substitute object, however, one must compensate for the original goal objective...the belief in GOD. Peter Gay states, from the parents Freud believed that the foundations of religion began. Freud was an opponent of religion and believed that it served only as a repressor of humanity and as security to society. Freud argued that its beginnings arose from childhood experiences. "Thus his longing for a father is a motive identical with his need for protection against the consequences of his human weakness. The defense against childish helplessness is what lends its characteristic features to the adults' reaction to the helplessness which he has to acknowledge a reaction which is precisely the formation of religion (Freud pg. 699)." Freud claimed that religion was nothing more than this, and if society could disregard it, things in life could be seen in completely different fashions.

Does this play true for Freud? During an outing with his father when he was young, Freud witnessed his father being accosted and insulted by a Christian. Because Freud's father did nothing whatsoever about what had happened, he continually sought substitute father images in such historical figures as Hannibal--the Semitic General from Carthage who swore eternal hatred for Rome. He was appalled by his father's lack of heroic conduct. How could his father just walk away from such an incident and act as if nothing at all happened? This story of his father was to become an enduring source of resentment in Freud for both his father and Gentiles. Many believe this may be one of the many reasons along with child abuse accusations, for Freud's Father-Figure and the transference into the GOD idea.

Freud began using the Oedipus Complex, which was named after a story from Greek Mythology, who knowing killed his father and married his mother. He saw the Oedipus Complex to be universal. It ultimately developed into moral inhibitions and other phenomena now found in religion since the sons, struck with remorse, could not succeed to their father's position. This is the reason why the Father Figure, later developed into the GOD idea, because it was so powerful in the human mind and the reason why people are religious. It is the result of a deep feeling of guilt and the need to rectify the killing or rejection of this GOD by way of total obedience.

Freud's proposal of the Oedipus Complex said, we should all hate our father unconsciously and wish to replace him. If that were the case, why would we replace him with a supernatural father? In fact, Freud's theory clearly predicts that we should all be atheists, because atheism is the desire to get rid of the Oedipal father, and we should all have an unconscious, irrational, and neurotic basis for atheism. Hatred for the father should be the source of atheism. While Freud considered himself an atheist and seemed to have misunderstood most of religion, this does not mean that he was entirely wrong when he proposed that many people are religious since there is a GOD existence to whom they can turn to in case of great need. Surprising however, is the fact that he concluded that since man wishes GOD to exist, one must conclude that his existence is a fantasy. This makes little sense. The fact that



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