Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The Challenges of Psychology to Religious Belief Is it all in the mind?

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "The Challenges of Psychology to Religious Belief Is it all in the mind?"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Challenges of Psychology to Religious Belief Is it all in the mind?

2 Introduction  Most arguments for God’s existence assume that God is an objective reality  Psychologist argue that God is nothing more than a construct of the mind  Similarly Sociologists argue that God is a construct of society

3 Freud  Believed religion to be an illusion Based on wish fulfilment  Believed that given particular circumstances The human mind creates beliefs and images to satisfy our most basic longings and desires brought on by: a. Inner psychological conflict b. Stress stemming from the structure of society c. Fear of the dangers of the natural world

4 Inner psychological conflict  Freud claimed Religion is a form of neurotic illness It stems from the unconscious mind It results from incompletely repressed traumatic memories The trauma is usually sexual in nature Therefore religion is an illusion resulting from sexual difficulties

5 Inner psychological conflict  Freud worked with patients suffering from hysteria  Used hypnosis and studied dreams  Saw similarities between obsession of the hysterical and obsession of the religious  Concluded that religion must be a form of neurotic behaviour caused by trauma  Invariably sexual in nature

6 Inner psychological conflict  Libido = body’s most basic urge  Therefore this is most probable cause of psychological problems  Oedipus (pro. edipus) complex The desire to possess the mother and the ambivalence towards the father Suckling child has sole attention of mother As libido is transferred to sexual organ there is a rival in form of father

7 Inner psychological conflict  For Freud to be right Oedipus Complex must be a universal sexual trauma Buried trauma must be able to reappear in form of religion  Oedipus Complex Used work of C Darwin to show social unit as primal horde Hordes = groups of people with a dominant male who has total authority and claim on all females  There is ambivalence towards this male – hatred and veneration Hordes resent the dominant male and eventually kill him Therefore Oedipus Complex affected all society historically

8 Inner psychological conflict  Oedipus complex ultimately resulted in guilt  Freud believed we transferred that guilt into objects  First stage through animism We create idols or totems – that is investing stones trees ort animals with spirits Our guilt is transfer to that object Through prayer and sacrifice the idol is able to make amends Whilst the totem is venerated, once a year the animal is killed showing the continual ambivalence

9 Inner psychological conflict  Second stage through religion Totem becomes unsatisfactory as veneration grows Father figure becomes divine In Christianity we see:  Worship of God the father  Ceremonial killing and eating through communion (Note: Catholics believe that the bread actually becomes the body of Christ and the wine actually becomes the blood of Christ, non-Catholics tend to see the bread and wine as symbols)

10 Stress stemming from the structure of society  Nature of society conflicts with our basic desires  Society depends on a group having the power to govern Such government will often conflict with our own desires  Religion gives reason to submit to those in authority making society bearable Explains our suffering in terms of need to obey an omnipotent God

11 Fear of the dangers of the natural world  We are confronted with many natural forces including death  We have no power over them  We live in panic and sense of helplessness  Religion provides a way of control Everything that happens is under control of a superior being that works for our ultimate good There is a father figure that protects

12 Freud’s conclusions  Freud accepts there is no prove against existence of God  But he shows that beliefs formed by basic psychological needs are false (for the neurotics at least)  He rejects all things religious  He accepts that religion has brought benefits but also believes it brings problems  Freud would replace religion with scietific understanding

13 Critique of Freud  Michael Palmer – “almost all evidence that Freud presents has been discredited” Theory of Horde based on Darwin’s speculation which is no longer accepted  Bronislaw Malinowski – showed that Oedipus Complex is not universal In Trobriand society male is a weak nurse In animal world role of father and mother is one of support – no opposition Argue that complex is brought about by strict rules of religion rather than being the cause of them  Frued use narrow selection of evidence Referred to religions based on male deities Some religions are based on female deities

14 Jung’s Theory of Religion  At first worked closely with Freud  Eventually dismissed Freud’s view that religion is a neurotic illness  Jung concluded Religion is natural stemming from archetype in unconscious mind It harmonises the psyche It is a beneficial phenomenon Removal of religion would lead to psychological problems

15 Jung’s Theory of Religion  Two features of Jung’s work are essential to understanding his ideas  His concept of neuroses and the libido  His concept of the mind

16 Jung’s Theory of Religion  His concept of neuroses and the libido Worked with schizophrenics Saw no sexual component in their neuroses Did not see sucking of baby as a sexual act Did not see religion as connected to a sexual trauma Saw libido as far more complicated than sexual drive

17 Jung’s Theory of Religion  His concept of the mind Noted similarity of people’s dreams Often ideas related to light Concluded that we each have  A personal unconscious and  a collective unconscious Oldest part of mind Contains range of ideas and images We are born with tendency to conceive primordial images God is a shared primordial image

18 Jung’s Theory of Religion  Archetypes Not ‘a question of inherited ideas, but a functional disposition to produce the same, or very similar, ideas.’ (Jung, Symbols of Transformation, 1977) Two archetypes are:  Persona A front to cover our true nature from society  Shadow The darker side of our character

19 Jung’s Theory of Religion  God is an archetype We are born with tendency to generate religious images  Actual images come from experience  Disposition to generate them is innate Religious belief is still valid Religious experience is valid  Still comes from an invisible source  Is still ineffable

20 Jung’s Theory of Religion  Does God exist? ‘Nothing positive or negative has thus been asserted about the possible existence of any God.’  C. G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, 1944 God and religion does exist as a psychic reality  To those who experience the effects, God is real Jung believes religion maintains the balance of the mind and so prevents neuroses through individuation

21 Jung’s Theory of Religion  Individuation  Libido = a flow of psychic energy  All features of personality need to be in balance to maintain health  Therefore has to be a balance between conscious and the unconscious  Mental disorder is a failure to maintain this balance  First part of live is coming to terms with outer environment  Second part is coming to terms with one’s own personality

22 Jung’s Theory of Religion  Individuation and Religion Individuation is governed by the self archetype  Any process governed by archetype can be termed religious  Therefore individuation is a religious process Individuation generates images of wholeness  One such image is God  Therefore image of God archetype is the same as the self archetype It follows that religion is necessary to retain balance and health

23 Critique of Jung  Critique centres on Methodology The theory of archetypes The concept of religious experience The role of religion within individuation

24 Critique of Jung  Methodology Jung argues that we cannot know if a religious experience is real or a creation of the mind Scientists however look for empirical evidence  The theory of archetypes Archetypes not needed Geza Roheim argues that we all share similar experiences which will produce the similar ideas Some religions seem to respond to society rather than the other way round Some people do not believe in God – Jung argues that atheism is a form of religion

25 Critique of Jung  The concept of religious experience Martin Buber does not accept that an experience stemming from the mind alone can be termed religious Jung argued that any archetypal image can be termed religious  But this would mean that evil, satanic images are as religious as a vision of God  The role of religion within individuation If individuation is governed by the self-archetype it can have nothing to do with God For Jung image of Christ is a symbol of wholeness  But Christians claim Christ is more than a symbol, he is the Son of God

26 Putting it altogether WWrite bullet points that show how you would go about answering the following exam question: a) Give an account of psychological explanations of religious belief (33) b) ‘It is wrong to think of God as an invention of the human mind.’ Discuss (17)

Download ppt "The Challenges of Psychology to Religious Belief Is it all in the mind?"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google