Applied Psychoanalysis > Religions

Modern Problems of Religion

By J Jones

The most striking crisis of modern religious feelings today may be its inability to define the image of God from a theological, moral and cult related perspective.

God IsFor some people, God is anthropomorphic and governs mortals' lives from his heavenly abode; for others, he is a metaphysical spirit or entity, a principle, cosmic energy, universal conscience, the very carbon as the elementary structural unit of matter. In one word, God may be anyone and anything.

The more serious thing is that by applying a kind of unifying rule to all these states, people go further to apply the peculiarities of a mystic God to all its expressions. That is how total confusion is brought about with regard to the object of faith.

Secondly, faith itself as finality, a horizon of expectance and hope is ambiguous.

Christian faith, as well as all archaic faith in general, leads to redemption: Resurrection, Eternal Life, the Happy Isles, etc. Primitive populations' faith is related to the relationship with the tribe's ancestors or totemic symbol and brings about protection, well being and health. The same is true for rudimentary faiths.

For modern man though, faith brings redemption no more - it is a profession of faith and no one wonders about its finality. Faith becomes a social emblem , just like citizenship or ethnic background, for instance.

This very confusing context regarding faith, its finality and object makes one wonder about the contribution psychoanalysis can make to the study of these issues.

My opinion is that psychoanalysis may partially touch on all these aspects. It can tell us a lot about unconscious resources of faith, of its finality and object . Up to one point, it can even interfere with the much "stickier" field of religious experiences.

Let us remember Freud, so convincingly writing about the oceanic feeling, underlying all religious experience, which he reduces to the newly born's diffuse and confused perception in its first moments of life (Civilization and its Discontents - 1930).

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