Ellis Washington is a former staff editor of the Michigan Law Review and law clerk at the Rutherford Institute. He is a professor of Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics, and Contracts at the National Paralegal College, a counselor at the American College of Education, and a founding board member of Salt and Light Global. Washington is a co-host of "Joshua's Trial," a radio show of Christian conservative thought. A graduate of JohnMore ↓Less ↑
[I]t would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent Providence, … a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be. …
~ Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Freud, by Andy Warhol (1980)
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and, to a great extent, modern psychology and psychiatry, came of age in Vienna in the late 19th century. At that time Vienna, despite its overt anti-Semitism, was a cultural and intellectual haven for Jews. Freud’s biographers aren’t exactly certain what series of events led to his virulent hatred and disregard of all religions (especially Judaism and Christianity), but what we do know is that in many of his most important writings – “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” (1905), “Totem and Taboo” (1913), “Civilization and Discontents” (1930) and the book I will critique in this essay, “The Future of an Illusion” (1927) – Freud repeatedly and shamelessly attacks religion as nothing but a grand illusion; psychotic delusions that people who consider themselves to be rational, intelligent and scientific should straightway give up, grow up and admit “man’s insignificance or impotence in the face of the universe.”
Despite his hatred of religion and glorification of sexual perversity, Freud admittedly had many revelatory, thoughtful and profound insights into the deep, dark recesses of the conscious and unconscious mind, which for a century have aided scientists and psychologists to help people understand and resolve real and serious mental and emotional problems. Freud isn’t original in this respect. The Bible, arguably the first psychological treatise (or as Bishop Jakes says, “psychiatry for the poor”), for millennia has already told us about the grotesqueries of human nature, our irrational attraction to evil [sin] in all its innumerable forms and the need for a Redeemer to save humanity from committing suicide against itself.
“The Future of an Illusion” is a naked frontal assault against religion, dismissing it as mere illusion, foolish wish-fulfillment by infantile minds. Freud’s ideas originated in classical philosophy whose intellectual foundation lies squarely in the amoral political atheism of Machiavelli, reaching its philosophical zenith in the writings of Nietzsche. However, Freud provided a novel distinction by presenting atheism as ipso facto true. Rejecting the thought that religion exists because God exists and that human beings therefore have a natural tendency to worship, Freud thought that a more scientific explanation for religion was in order.
Freud first presented his perverse and unscientific theories of the unreality of religion in his 1913 book “Totem and Taboo.” Here Freud’s famous Oedipus Complex theory stated that the source of the religious cult (the origin of culture) was the murder and eating of a father by his sons. The sons killed the father because naturally they desired to have sex with their mother, and their father was a rival. In base primeval fashion, they thought that by eating their father they gained his power and privileges. Over time, this consecrated feast evolved into the institution of religion and its moral prohibition of incest and patricide.
There you have it, in Freud’s Garden of Eden the three branches of humanity’s family tree lay in incest, patricide and cannibalism. Where is Freud’s historical evidence, scientific rigor and substantive psychoanalysis to support these scurrilous charges? There is no evidence. Freud’s immoral anything-goes philosophy was animated by the atheism of Hobbes and Rousseau who glorified Primitive Man, including their entirely phony philosophy of man’s inherently primitive state of nature – particularly Rousseau’s ideas contained in his famous aphorism: “Savages are not evil precisely because they do not know what it is to be good.”
Freud believed that he had demonstrated “the psychical origins of religious ideas” in “the terrifying …helplessness in childhood [that] aroused the need for protection – for protection through love – which was provided by the father,” and that religious ideas are therefore “illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most urgent wishes of mankind.”
Freud’s solutions are even more ghastly and unconscionable than his subjective rants, which he falsely presents as reasoned, dispassionate psychoanalysis in his books. The rational thing to do, Freud argues, is to renounce this illusion. Grow up, reject religion and embrace science. Become “irreligious in the truest sense of the word” and admit “man’s insignificance or impotence in the face of the universe.”
One cannot help reading Freud’s anti-Judaism and anti-Christian diatribes in his book “The Future of an Illusion” and not think of two things: First, by attacking religion in such a personally virulent way Freud lacks all objective or scientific credibility and makes himself a victim of his own perverse ideas, namely psychological displacement, which is a psychosis and defense mechanism invented by Freud himself whereby one ascribes his own evil intent or psychopathy to one’s enemies.
Secondly, although much of Freud’s psychoanalytic theories have been ruled fraudulent, unsustainable and untrue by modern science and psychiatric literature and scholarship, nevertheless Freud’s maniacal atheism and hatred of religion, history, hierarchy and moral traditions have been wholly adopted by modern-day liberals, progressives and socialists, into whose education atheism has been infused not only in every aspect of public and private education curriculum and the academy, but also Freud’s legacy is found permeated throughout American politics, law, popular culture and society.
For example, progressives, the Democratic Party, President Obama and his administration have been zealous advocates of taking Freud’s perverse legacy to brand new nihilistic ends. How else could one explain contemporary social policies like abortion on demand, same-sex marriage, the homosexual and LGBT revolution, the radical feminist movement, support of Occupy Wall Street protesters and the modern amoral trends to exposing our children to greater and more extreme forms of psychopathy and psychosexual depravity?
Assuming Freud was mentally unimpaired, nevertheless he engaged in many impulsive, perverse behaviors and zealously promoted self-defeating, amoral acts upon society in the name of substantive medical discovery and legitimate scientific inquiry. A hundred years before Freud, French physician Philippe Penel perhaps would have diagnosed Freud as la folie raisonnante (“insane without delirium”), meaning one fully understood the irrationality of his behavior but continued with it anyway.