According to Freud, they are “fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most urgent wishes of mankind; the secret of their strength lies in the strength of their wishes” (Pals 72). For him, the only way to test something is by the scientific method (Pals 72). The believers of religion draw their religion from feelings and emotions (Pals 72). He mentioned that it was a given that religion may have helped build civilizations however, since civilizations were already built, superstition and repression should not continue to be the foundation (Pals 72).
According to Freud “Religion would thus be the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity” (Pals 73). In his perception, mature people are those guided by reason and science and not by mere superstition and faith (Pals 73). God, for this thinker, was not a being that was real (Pals 73). In fact, he saw God as an illusion that was nearly projected by the self because they had a deep longing to overcome guilt and to lessen their fears (Pals 73). Religion may be something that is rooted from the ego to be able to make sense of the struggles that are present in the world.
But it is more than just a bunch of feelings and emotions because those fade. Religion has been around for centuries and that cannot be because most of the people around the world have felt like believing in God for all these years. Hope has in fact been seen to be built on nothing but illusion; in reality, it exists because of faith (Palmer 279). Faith cannot exist without religion. However, Christian moralists would still stay true to the fact that with hope in their lives, it would be significant and have moral worth (Palmer 279).
Critics of religion would say that morality would depend on the need of a “psychologically realistic foundation” that calls for human purposes (Palmer 279). Going back to the question posed earlier, if it was about feelings and emotions, then religion should have been replaced by money or by other things. Even though in this secular world, most of religion’s areas are penetrated by such things, it still prevails for a reason; because people have faith. Majority of the people in the world believe in God, does this mean only a part of the human population are mature people?
If the strength of religion lies in the “strength of its wishers,” how come faithless people have come to know God because of the things that happen in their own lives that they would consider nothing short of a miracle (Pals 72). If everything can be tested by the scientific method, it should have tested why people fall in love or why people can risk their lives to rescue someone else. How come students from the direst of neighborhoods can graduate from high school despite everything that could hinder him or her? Was it determination and hope? Where did those qualities come from?
Is it the illusion of the people that God had always been able to provide for them even if they felt that all is lost and has ended? Is it an illusion that the sun rises in the morning and that planets are held in their axis and revolve around there orbit? If religion is just something for a person to overcome guilt, how come people have to place such emotions of God while there are a whole lot of other things that are more tangible that people can turn to? Why not you rely on something can see if that means having to have a better concept of that “illusion. ” Religion from Society
Following Emile Durkheim’s point of view relating religion with sociology, morality was perceived to be the obligation of each other to others wherein it cannot be separated from religion (Pals 95). Religion and morals mesh together in a social framework (Pals 95). Under his views, the success of the religious leader does not lie in the number of converts he had brought in the congregation but the event that has reinstated a sense of community amongst the people (Pals 95). Durkheim believed that “Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, set apart and forbidden” (Pals 99).
When he talked about sacred things he referred to “unite in one moral community called church and those who adhere them” (Pals 99). Sacred things referred to the issues of the community while those that are not sacred referred to the private things and the everyday things a person encounters (Pals 99). Under Durkheim’s view of religion, it was more like a society. “The idea of society is the soul of religion” because the concept of religion needed the society in order to exist. It was based on creating a sense of belongingness.
Society was formed by the collective commitment of the individuals because without such commitment the society would fail to exist. In the same way, religion exists merely because a lot of people are committed to the fact that it does exist. Like Freud, he referred to Totemism as an example of how society gave birth to religion. Freud saw how religion is exactly just like society, in comparison, the rituals and the rites and the church leaders can be seen as a mere superficial or surface part of religion because it is just a body of collective beliefs and practices that are endowed by such some kind of authority.
This thinker also believed that there was nothing neither divine nor supernatural because he saw that it was just society that produced this concept in order to keep people in line and to give emphasis on certain things that the society should value as a whole. Society had survived from civilizations that have started in the past. The question whether how religion was formed was important to answer because defines the further need for it. Is it a mere creation of man that humanity exists? If not, then why did it exist; because of the perseverance of the human spirit?
Where did this perseverance come from, more than that, where did the spirit come from? These are things the society cannot really provide for them if the premise is society gave birth to religion. Alienation Karl Marx, of all the thinkers in the past may have presented one of the most scornful and sarcastic contempt at religion (Pals 139). Most of the discussion about religion from this philosopher referred to religion as alienation. He never really just concentrated on discussing religion alone but his works have shown how he had pretty much a heavy opinion about it and that influenced the structure of Communism.
It was plain and simple for Marx, “religion is pure illusion” (Pals 138). Similar to how Freud saw religion, Marx saw it more than an illusion but something that was dangerous and something that should be eradicated from society (Pals 138). He considered religion as the worst kind of ideology because of how it expressed a perceived bunch of excuses dressed as reasons in order to keep society in the manner that their oppression would like them to stay as (Pals 138). Religion is then related to a tool of oppression instead of being a liberating factor that most Christian ideals adhere to.
Since he was consumed with how he taught a capitalist society brought about oppression he saw religion as merely another factor to keep people in line and to prevent them from having to go against the leaders of society. Since most of his arguments fall upon his hatred for the Capitalist society, he attacked religion saying it was fully determined by economics that made all the doctrines that was attributed to it to have no merits of their own (Pals 138). Since he had no respect for that kind of system, he did not see much of the structure and nature of religion as well (Pals 138).
Marx found a profound parallelism between religion and socioeconomics wherein he saw how both areas of society alienated people from important parts of who they were (Pals 140). While religion took moral values; socioeconomics took productive labor (Pals 140-141). Religion took a way a part of the people, the morality part as humans and attributed it to a wholly imaginary being (Pals 141). Marx saw how it took away the credit from the people and awarded everything to God (Pals 141). On the other hand, socioeconomics took away the fruits of the labor of the people and awarded it to whoever had the money to pay, mostly to the rich (Pals 141).
Marx saw how these two concepts were too much alike because of how they were related to each other. Like Durkheim, he saw that the capitalist society created religion as economics was the base for everything. He then moved for the abolition of religion under the Communist ideology as this was considered an illusory happiness (Pals 141). According to him, the abolition of religion was actually required for real happiness to occur (Pals 141). He saw that religion did not help the people, most especially the poor.
For him, religion only created fantasies for the people that enabled them to ease the pain they felt from the oppression of society (Pals 141). He saw religion as the opium of the poor (Pals 140). He illustrated religion as nothing more than being addiction to any form of drug (Pals 142). It may be a form of escape that would make a person worry-free for a while but it does not serve anything (Pals 142). He saw religion as pure escapism (Pals 142). Religion, for Marx, only shifted the gaze of the people and their reliance on God instead of having to rely upon themselves for their own well-being (Pals 142).
However, he also said that it blinded the people from the real injustice of the material, physical situation they had in society because they were much to focus on fixing their second life or their eternal life in heaven to be worried about their current stature on earth (Pals 142). The fact that religion was seen to oppress can be reflected in erroneous leadership on the part of the Church in the past but it cannot generalize the whole body of believers. If a person works for this current life with disregard for the consequences of the next life, what is he to gain? Is he to be satisfied?
No person had ever found the ultimate satisfaction, no matter how hard they work or how wealthy they are, this cannot be attained in the present life. Whoever says he or she can must be fooling him or herself. Reliance on a supreme being is placed in the fiber of human nature for a reason, because they need God. It is not to oppress them to being helpless beings. It actually empowers them to be the best that they can become with the help from their creator. Conclusion No matter what such thinkers present regarding the false hopes and the perception of believers regarding religion, there are still so much areas that remain undisputed.
There are still areas in the field of religion that remain to be untouched and simply ignored. The areas that cannot be explained cannot be test by scientific explanation. There are areas that can be denied that they exist even if they dispute that religion does not. If religion was birthed out of society, and there are a lot of atheists that can almost form a community out of themselves, how come they do not just create their own society that could affect the society of believers in the world?
The argument about faith and the existence of God had been a long withstanding debate for centuries now and still, the world still contain a large body of believers that are willing to put faith first before reason. Does this make these people unintelligent beings? There had been thinkers as well who had defended the faith that had chosen to believe because they saw how reason cannot overcome everything, only faith can do that. The existence of religion cannot only be out of the desires of the leaders to keep society in line. It takes more than human power to be able to sustain this for centuries.
If it was placed in the hands of mere humans, then there must have been a time wherein atheists have struggled for power and took the reigns of society to reverse the mindset. The protection around the concept of religion speaks tons for itself. It takes divine power to be able to stay significant for centuries for different peoples all over the world.
Works Cited Pals, Daniel L. Seven Theories of Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996 Palmer, Michael. The question of God: An introduction and Sourcebook. New York: Routledge, 2001.