Philosophical Materialists believe that there is only one kind of substance that makes up everything in the universe– matter/energy
Opposed to philosophical dualists (like Rene Descartes) who believe the universe contains matter and mind (as a distinct form of reality)
Freud’s “Projection Theory” of Religion
One of the most common anti-theistic arguments
Part of Freud’s defence of naturalism and materialism
Freud (and others in the human sciences) argue that God is not real, but rather a psychological projection of our deep need for a protective authority figure
God is an “illusion”, “neuroses” and “pathology” of the human race
1st Religion is “wish fulfillment” or a “psychological crutch” the only purpose of which is to provide support, solace and hope
2nd Religion provides the psychological underpinnings for a sense of guilt that is necessary for people to live together cooperatively
19th Cent. Philosopher who influenced Freud
God is just the personification of our highest human ideals
People are weak, finite, and morally imperfect
God is all-powerful, infinite and morally perfect
Influenced Karl Marx and his idea of religion as “the opiate of the people”
Early 20th Century Sociologist
Argued that religion simply provides the “moral glue” by which societies are held together
It is the repository of all the moral norms of a society, expressed in a form (myth) that gives these expectations compelling force in the minds of believers
Interested in research into human tendency to project “intentional” characteristics onto the world
Other human beings our are worst enemies, so evolution created in us responses that “look” for possible human/intention-based threats in the world
Dawkin’s suggests that belief in the “God hypothesis” is just a result of this kind of psychological tendency (“Misfiring”) of our brains as they have been structured by evolution—it’s like a moth’s instinct to navigate by starlight, which often results in its death on lights and flames used by us today
Objections to Freud
Idea that moral guilt is based in ancient remorse for an absent “father figure” overlooks the many religions that focus on female deities
Can it explain origins of female guilt?
What about ancient religions that believed in “a dismal, depleted, ghostly half-life in the darkness beneath the earth?”—Hick
Objections to Durkheim
What about religions that challenge and condemn their societies?
Christian resistance to Rome?
Mohammed’s complete restructuring of Arabian society?
Buddhism’s challenge to Hinduism in India?
Hindu ascetics who reject society?
Objection to Feuerbach
What about non-theistic religions, like Theravada Buddhism or Taoism?
Such religions lack a deity with any personal characteristics
Religious Studies Scholar who challenged Freud’s theories starting in the 1980s
Questioned whether Freud’s theories of religion were based in science (rather than being purely philosophical speculations)
Pointed out an apparent logical flaw in Freud’s reasoning
Logical Flaw in Freud’s Argument?
Logically speaking how we come to out beliefs says nothing about the truth of those belief as such
“The mere fact that a religious message comes as good news does not entail that it is not true: this must be established on other grounds”—Hick