Religion and Freud

For today’s blog we’re going to compare Sigmund Freud’s religious views to those of the previous authors we’ve studied in HUM 2.  Freud had an atheistic world view, and said that religion was an expression of underlying psychologic duress.  in Civilization and its Discontents he said “the whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life. It is still more humiliating to discover how a large number of people living today, who cannot but see that this religion is not tenable, nevertheless try to defend it piece by piece in a series of pitiful rearguard actions.”

Pope Francis’ views are obvious.  He subscribes to the Catholic interpretation of the New Testament and believes in both creation and the greatness of god.

William Blake didn’t discuss god as a sentient entity.  Instead he focussed on the institution of religion, claiming that it could entrap and destroy people. He wrote poem # 50 of his songs of innocence and experience in particular to assault the more violent practices of the church.

The weeping child could not be heard.
The weeping parents wept in vain:
They strip’d him to his little shirt
And bound him in an iron chain
And burn’d him in a holy place
Where many had been burn’d before:
The weeping parents wept in vain
Are such things done on Albions shore.

Marx meanwhile was very anti-religious.  He saw it as a way for the power elites to maintain control over the huddled masses via fear..  He claimed thatReligion is the opium of the people.
“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.” (Marx, Karl. “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”. Marxist Internet Archive. Retrieved 19 January 2012.)

Finally, Locke didn’t discuss religion as an entity but frequently referenced god as a divine creator who also gave humanity all of its natural rights.  Locke was clearly religious, but he didn’t specify a faith.  So that God, by commanding to subdue, gave authority so far to appropriate: and the condition of human life, which requires labour and materials to work on, necessarily introduces private possessions. (2nd Treatise number 35)

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