In his text entitled, "A Philosophy of Life", Sigmund Freud clearly states that religion is nothing more than an illusion created by man in light of psychological needs. In Freud's opinion, religion simply serves certain functions in society, and does not stand up to scrutiny of science. He also attacks the "religious Weltanschauung" (world view), saying that it is does not allow for thought and therefore is a threat to mankind. Whether Freud is correct in his opinions is up for debate, however, what he has to say is both intriguing and logical.
The first matter Freud discusses is the purpose of religion. According to the author, the functions of religion are as follows: (1) to satisfy the human thirst for knowledge,(2) to give people happiness and sense of comfort, and (3) to set up rules and restrictions to govern behavior. Religion provided answers to the many questions that could not be answered by man prior to science. Religion answered the many questions people had about nature, life, and creation. In addition, religion also acted as a comfort to man. It offered a happiness and sense of protection to people in times of woe or uncertainty. And lastly, faith and organized religion set up rules and prohibitions that gave men advice on how to live life. ( Freud 135) These three purposes of faith tell the reader that it serves a social function as opposed to being in place because of its truth.
Freud also applies his psychoanalysis to the second and third function of creed. He connects the "father", or creator of the universe, to a person's actual father. Fathers are seen as all-knowing protectors to their children. This sense of security gives a child the ability to go out into the world with the belief that his father will protect him. In the same sense, a full grown man seeks the comfort of a great creator to be a shield against harm in life. This allows a person to feel safe in the belief that his/ her "father" is keeping them defended...
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