 Freud's main critical work on religion was The Future
of an Illusion, published in 1927.
 In it he analyses religion as a contemporary social
phenomenon: Religious ideas are teachings and
assertions about facts and conditions of external (or
internal) reality which tell something on e has not
discovered for oneself and which lay claim to one's
 In considering what is at the basis of the claim to
one's belief, Freud suggests three explanations:
 The first is that we should believe without demanding
proofs. Freud questions the validity of this and
suggests we only do so because we are aware that the
truth of the claims is so uncertain and groundless.
 The second is that we should believe because our
forefathers believed. Freud points out that our
ancestors believed a great number of things that have
proved to be incorrect.
 The third explanation is that we should believe because
we have proofs that have been handed down to us from
primeval times. Freud objects that the writings
constituting these 'proofs' are untrustworthy, full of
contradictions, frequently revised and often simply
 Freud maintains that the most important assertions
considered to solve the puzzles of the universe and to
give our lives meaning are the least well authenticated
of any and are entirely undemonstrable.
 In explaining the psychological origins of religion,
Freud considers the model of wish fulfilment
discovered in dreams and neurotic symptoms. He claims
the religious ideas were not precipitates of
experiences or end results of our thinking but illusions,
fulfilment of the oldest, strongest and most urgent
wishes of mankind. The secret of their strength lies in
the strength of those wishes.
 The wishes to which Freud was referring were those if
the helpless human being craving protection from life's
dangers, for justice in an unjust society, for a life
beyond death, for knowledge of the origin of the world
and an explanation of the relationship between the
physical and the mental. Freud accounted for a belief
in God in terms of projections the unclear, inner
perception of one's own psychical apparatus stimulates
thought illusions that are naturally projected outward
and – characteristically – into the future and into a
hereafter. Immortality, retribution and the hereafter,
are such representations of our psychical interior ...
psychomythology. He regarded these wishes as
infantile wishes, rooted in conflicts of childhood
arising from the father-complex, and never wholly
 The childhood conflicts may be understood in two
senses: that of the individual, and that of the whole
human race. For Freud the childhood of the individual
was an image of the childhood of mankind: in both
cases religious needs derived from longing for a father
and could be explained in terms of the Oedipus
complex. In The Future of an Illusion Freud
emphasised the childish helplessness of the individual
and of mankind in the face of dangers with which he is
confronted both in the external world and within
 Culture creates these religious ideas in the individual,
and religion springs from the necessity of defending
oneself against nature and fate, and represents an
attempt to make contact with and influence the great
supernatural powers to our benefit, after having
humanised and personified those powers. As the
individual cannot associate with these supernatural
powers as with equals, they are ascribed paternal
characteristics: man creates gods that are to be
feared and are to be won over.
 Freud maintained that gods had a triple function: to
counter the terrors of nature; to reconcile individuals
to their fate and death; and as any culture is based on
the necessity of work and the repression of the
instincts, to provide compensation to mankind for his
 Gods offer mankind a higher purpose in life,
justification for their moral views, and the promise of
life after death. For people incapable of interiorising
the moral rules governing interpersonal relationships,
the threat of divine punishment provides an additional
 For Freud, then, religion derived from the oldest,
strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind, and
merely amounts to wishful thinking and illusion. For
Freud, all religious doctrines are illusions. However,
Freud also admitted that these doctrines were
irrefutable: Freud was concerned only with the
psychological nature and origin of religious ideas, and
not with their truth content: to assess the truth-value
of religious doctrine does not lie within the scope of
the present enquiry. It is enough for us that we have
recognised them as being, in their psychological nature,
 Freud made clear that his belief of having discovered
the psychological origins of religion has informed his
attitude towards its truth content and said We shall
tell ourselves that it would be very nice if there were a
moral order in the universe and after-life; but it is a
very striking fact that al this is exactly as we are
bound to wish it to be and it would be more remarkable
still if our wretched, ignorant and downtrodden
ancestors had succeeded in solving all these difficult
riddles of the universe.
 One could object that religious has served a function in
sustaining individuals through great hardships with the
promise of consolation. Freud countered that religion
has had a great deal of time to show what it can do to
increase human happiness, and has failed to improve
the lot of mankind significantly.
 He noted that the influence of religion is in stark
decline in modern times, and said this could be
accounted for because of the increase of the
scientific spirit in the higher strata of human society.
He says criticism has whittled away the evidential
value of religious documents, natural science has shown
up the errors in them, and comparative research has
been struck by the final resemblance between religious
ideas which we revere and the mental products of
primitive peoples and times this process there is no
 Freud acknowledged a potential danger associated with
any precipitous dismantling of religion, particularly
with regard to the morality of the uneducated and
oppressed masses, and suggested that there should be
a revision of the relationship between religion and
culture. He believed that a new, rationally
substantiated Weltanschauung was needed that
omitted God but included an acknowledgement of the
human origin of all cultural institutions and regulations.
This would entail rational justification of morality on
the basis of social necessity, and not divine revelation.
 Destructive instincts should be controlled by
intelligence and reason rather than by religious
prohibitions of thinking and by inhibition of sexual
 Freud regarded religion as a transitional phase of
human development and maintained that neither as an
individual nor as a species could man remain a child
forever: he had to grow up and master reality with his
own resources and the aid of science, as well as face up
to inescapable realities such as death, abandoning hope
of a life after death and instead concentrating
resources on the achievement of progress in this life,
which is our only one.
 Freud had much more confidence in science than in
God, as it entailed the acquisition of knowledge by
verifiable experience: We believe that it is possible
for scientific work to gain some knowledge about the
reality of the world, by means of which we can increase
our power, and in accordance with which we can
arrange our life. If this belief is an illusion, then we
are in the same position as you. But science has given
us evidence by its numerous and important successes
that it is no illusion.....No, our science is no illusion. but
an illusion it would be to suppose that what science
cannot give us we can get elsewhere.
 In 1933 Freud wrote the New Introductory Lectures
on Psycho-Analysis and returned to the question of the
relationship between religion and science.
 He returned in this to the question of the relationship
between religion and science.
 He believed religion to be the greatest opponent of
the scientific Weltanschauung.
 He defined the three functions religion is recognised
as fulfilling for human beings: It gives information
about the origin and coming into existence of the
universe, it assures them of its protection and of
ultimate happiness in the ups and downs of life and it
directs their thoughts and actions by precepts which it
lays down with its whole authority.
 He emphasised that religion amounted to wishful
thinking, and stated that religious doctrines bore the
mark of the times in which they developed, which were
ignorant times at the childhood of humanity.
 He underlined the importance of the ethical demands
on human society stressed by religious doctrines, and
maintained that it was dangerous to link obedience with
religious faith.
 He described religion as a counterpart to the neurosis
which individual civilised men have to go through in
their passage from childhood to maturity.
 To replace religion, Freud declared himself in favour of
a scientific Weltanschauung, whilst at the same time
acknowledging that this may not provide him with all
the fulfilment that he needs.
 Freud also reconstructed the Moses legend to explain
the origin of monotheism. According to his
reconstruction, Moses was an Egyptian who had
accepted the monotheistic faith of the pharaoh
Ikhnaton and converted the Jews to it. In a rebellion,
Moses was killed, leaving the Jewish people with a
guilty conscience. For Freud, the murder of the
prophet in monotheistic religion corresponded to the
murder of the primordial father in totemism, and the
murder of the Son of God in Christianity, which were
all consequences of the Oedipus complex. The work was
published in German in 1939 with the title The Man
Moses and Monotheistic Religion.
 Like Freud, the psychologists Adler and Jung were
concerned with depth psychology, that is the workings
of the unconscious, which was to be analysed
scientifically and opened up therapeutically by means
of such means as dream analysis and other therapeutic
methods and tests. Freud's theory contains certain
theses that did not gain universal acceptance, namely
the negative understanding of the unconscious as a pool
of repressed wishes, the ascription of all intentions
beyond the instinct for self-preservation to the libido,
the sexual urge, even if sexual is understood in rather
a broad sense in Freudian psychology; and the
definition of the structure of the psyche exclusively in
terms of past events and not in the light of a meaning
and purpose in life that the individual has accepted for
himself and which extends to future plans and
 In 1911 Alfred Adler (1870-1937) gave a series of
lectures under the heading A Critique of the Freudian
Sexual Theory of Mental Life. Central to Adler's
scientific theory and account of mental disorders was
not as with Freud a conflict between the ego and the
sexual instinct, but instead the striving for
superiority, for power. Neuroses were an expression of
an inferiority feeling that is reinforced by new
negative experiences of life, preventing the individual
from reaching his goals, which is often
overcompensated by the instinct to dominate. Adler
maintained that the authentic human state was
centred on the group in community feeling rather then
egocentric. he maintained that an individuals
inferiority feeling had to be overcome by a community
feeling. Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) rejected
Freud's sexual theory and concept of the libido in
Symbols of Transformation (1912). According to Jung,
the libido must not be regarded as a man's sexual
drive, but was instead undifferentiated psychic energy
which lies behind the four mental processes, (thinking,
feeling, sensation and intuition).
 Jung believed that the dark side of the soul, its
shadow, should be made conscious, accepted and
involved in personal responsibility.
 The element of the opposite sex in a person's psyche,
which for man was the anima and for woman the
animus, should be recognised and realised, and the
persona, the mask that we show to others, should be
brought into the right relationship with our ego.
 A person can only develop his identity and come to be
himself, a process Jung calls individuation, by accepting
these elements in himself. The unity of a person was an
authentic combination of consciousness and the
unconscious, and neuroses were disturbances of the
individuation process.