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© Michael Lacewing James and Freud on Religious Experience Michael Lacewing

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Presentation on theme: "© Michael Lacewing James and Freud on Religious Experience Michael Lacewing"— Presentation transcript:

1 © Michael Lacewing James and Freud on Religious Experience Michael Lacewing

2 Religious Experience An argument for the existence of God: –The best explanation for religious experience is that it is accurate, i.e. it is an experience of something divine.

3 William James The Varieties of Religious Experience Religious experience is an experience of the reality of the unseen, which is felt more than conceptualized. A religious attitude to life is “ solemn, serious and tender ”.

4 James: Five marks of religious attitude The visible world is part of a spiritual world. A harmonious relation with the spiritual world is our true purpose. This harmony allows spiritual energy to affect the visible world. A new zest for life An assurance of safety and a predominance of loving relationships with others

5 Sigmund Freud

6 The origin of religion The Future of an Illusion The origins of religion in human history: a response to our vulnerability in the face of forces of nature The origins of religion in the individual mind: a development from our childhood vulnerability and our relationship with our father, whom we both fear and love “ Thus [man ’ s] longing for a father is a motive identical with his need for protection against the consequences of his human weakness. ”

7 Freud: Religion is illusion Religion is an ‘ illusion ’, i.e. caused by the fulfilment of a wish (we want it – life, the universe – to be this way). Religious experience is like dreams, experiences caused by wishes.

8 James: A response We should judge religious experience by its content and its effects. Content: –something is wrong/lacking with us –harmony with the spiritual world puts this right. –so it is an experience of something ‘ MORE ’. “ God is real because he produces real effects. ”

9 Freud ’ s rebuttal Real effects can have psychological causes. “ Scientific work is the only road which can lead us to a knowledge of reality outside ourselves. ”


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