Over at Jbooks, I published the third part of my series on Godless Jews which focuses on the atheistic writings of perhaps the greatest of all Jewish atheists, Sigmund Freud. Here is an excerpt.
On the question of God, Freud had famously argued that God is a projection of our deep-seated wishes onto an imaginary being. Freud calls religious truth claims illusions, by which he means highly improbable/impossible wishes about the world and one’s place in it.
In The Future of An Illusion (1927) Freud writes: “We shall tell ourselves that it would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent Providence, and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be.”
Freud maintained that the origin of those wishes lay in our need to overcome the terrifying forces of nature, be reconciled to our fate, and be compensated for the demands of civilization.
What’s more, employing the insights of psychoanalysis, Freud argues that our construction and relationship with God is modeled on our early relationship with our parents (particularly our fathers). Just as our parents assuaged our sense of helplessness as children, so too God becomes our protector and guardian. For Freud, it was not enough to say (as Rose had) that man creates God in his own image, rather, Freud concluded that man creates God in his parent’s image.
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