The True Future of an Illusion: An Analysis of Freud's Critique of Religion

Essay by VanderbiltSucksCollege, Undergraduate April 2004

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In his book Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud critique uses his method of psychoanalysis on religion. By comparing the relationship between human and religion to that of a child and his parents Freud effectively demonstrates that religion is a product of the human mind. After exposing religion as a an illusion Freud concludes that humanity will be better off when it has forgone religion. This paper will argue that Freud's assertion that religion is an illusion is correct because of it's blatantly traceable evolution through the history of the human civilization and psyche.

The first argument that Freud makes in his assault on religion regards civilization. Freud argues that human civilization arose as a result of mankind's needs to protect itself from nature. "It was precisely because of these dangers with which nature threatens us that we came together and created civilization." (Freud 19) As a result of the need for organization and manpower to prepare defenses against nature, the instincts of men had to be controlled.

He furthers this argument by saying that two human traits, laziness and the unwilling nature of the masses to listen to reason are responsible for the necessity of the rule of law. Freud then describes the various methods of coercion that can be employed by civilization to halt instinctual privation. The most important of which he points out as being religion.

The main reasons that Freud ranks religion as being/having been the most important tool in civilization are it's ability to explain the various inequities and inexplicable phenomena that afflict human civilization. Freud points out how ancient civilizations used religion to "humanize" nature. By making these natural terrors beings that could be dealt with just like men it allowed people the chance to react to and have the illusion of influence...