For my birthday last week an old high school friend gave me Freud’s The Future of an Illusion. Naturally I thought it was an odd gift to give an aspiring immortal and then I imagined that my friend felt the same way when I gave her my home-made copy of The Immortal Life.
The next thought was that I wanted to know why this eminent doctor of the psyche held religion in such derision. It isn’t every day that an atheist will tell me exactly why (s)he doesn’t believe my God and yours is real, and why (s)he thinks our way of life is so foolish. So I considered this gift a great chance to hear the argument from a very smart man, and therefore it was one of my favorite birthday presents.
To sum it up Mr. Freud said that religion, i.e. faith in God, was “a universal obsessional neurosis of humanity that arises out of the complex relationship one has with the father figure.” The idea of God arose from the need to “defend oneself against the crushingly superior force of nature and to rectify the shortcomings of civilization.” So, we cut loose from reality. To Mr. Freud, life and nature are so torturous that humans had to come up with this illusion as a solution.
So we little tortured people built this tremendous structure (the Synagogue, Church, Mosque or Temple) in which we support each other’s illusion and are comforted. Freud thought that it was a dangerous illusion for the same reason he thought all illusion is dangerous (remember he talked with people on a regular basis who had some powerfully dangerous illusions). Because Siggy was such a self sacrificing and benevolent doctor of the mind he was compelled to write despite the risk. Some of those powerful deluded people might think Freud equally wrong about psychoanalysis and his work might therefore be banned in many countries. Brave and caring that he was, Freud took the chance and wrote this book and Totem and Taboo too.
I spent most of my time reading with a hearty laugh welling up in my heart. It was clear that Freud had not spent much time objectively researching religion. Unlike an honest scientist he formulated his conclusion without any search for Truth at all. Even though Mr. Freud was a master mind-doctor he had no kingdom of God within to go to.
And that’s why I know that the inner kingdom of God is not a place that can be reached through the mind. Unlike Mr. Freud, I know that God is real because I have seen His light, and His amazing ways. The reality of His kingdom and His love are as obvious to me as the reality of this keyboard and monitor and of that tree outside my window. My only problem is that I want to go to that place where there is more of the eternal kingdom and less of this fleeting natural/political noise.
All the imagination in the world will not help me or you reach the inner kingdom of God. That might have been my problem when I wanted to go there so badly that I tried to think my way there and the fairies appeared. Don’t worry, I’ll find it! Maybe next week....