Why do people need God? What is original sin and where does the fear of God come from?
We will not talk in detail about the origin of such a phenomenon as religion: this is a topic for a separate article (we recommend everyone to refer to the material “Why do people need God?”). Let us briefly formulate only a few theses.
Religion from the point of view of psychoanalysis: Religion, according to Sigmund Freud, originated from the system of totems and taboos that have survived to this day in a number of traditional societies, for example, in Africa and Australia, and once existed among all peoples on the planet : Siberia “,” Prohibitions and customs: Africa “,” Masks of the peoples of the world “, etc. – NS). Totem, in fact, is the “modified” god of any modern monotheistic religion. It is not for nothing that the “body” of Jesus Christ continues to “eat” on Easter, washing down at the same time with its “blood” – wine, just as our ancestors ate the sacrificial animal – totem (and now this glorious tradition is continued by representatives of wild tribes) in order to adopt it “Strength” and “holiness”.
But the totem also had a predecessor. He is none other than the leader (Father) of the primitive community, whom our distant ancestors feared and revered at the same time. They were so afraid and so revered that at one fine moment all the sons of the tribe gathered and … killed the Father, and then, as the savages used to do, ate. An analogy with the unfortunate navigator James Cook, whom “the aborigines ate for some reason,” would be appropriate here. For they ate him because they admired him terribly. Eating the one whom the savages admire or fear is directly related to obtaining the strength and “charm” of the one who is being eaten. It is this quality – literality, the absence of figurative meaning, symbolism and abstract thinking – that is common to savages, young children and neurotics.
Freud, however, makes a reservation: perhaps the ancient ancestors did not kill the Father, but did it only in their unconscious thoughts, replacing him with a totem (and later – crucified by Jesus Christ, if we are talking about Christianity). But, given the “manners” of savages, who are more inclined to act rather than think, Freud makes another reservation: “I think, not being quite sure of the certainty of my judgment, that the words in question can be applied to the case under consideration: in the beginning there was an act.”
From feelings of guilt for the murder of the leader arose what would later be called original sin. All later religions (which turned from pagan to predominantly monotheistic) retain this motif of totem sacrifice. God in them is the Father ascended to heaven, and atonement for original sin occurs through the saving sacrifice of the Son. The sacrament repeats the totem meal.
The very same religion psychoanalysis equates to the neurosis of obsessive states, only collective, and understands as a set of obsessive rituals and rationalizations, that is, beliefs. This is understandable, because any psychotherapist will tell you that the manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder is remarkably similar to the fears that all believers are subject to. In other words, these fears are of a common nature.
Nevertheless, religion remains very useful for many people and has played a decisive role in the emergence of culture and the entire human civilization. Only fear and guilt – the main “engines” of any religion – could force our wild ancestors not to kill each other, create something beautiful, preserve society in principle and think “constructively”. Another thing is that humanity does not stand still, and many no longer need fear and guilt to “regulate” their behavior, replacing them with elementary humanity, which is formed through the psychological maturation of a person. But, alas, not all.
Of course, if religion “suddenly” disappears in today’s world, not everyone will begin to kill, steal and “desire the wife of their neighbor”: most people are “mature enough” enough not to do this without the participation of any religion. And yet, religion continues to play a huge role, creating, for example, the illusion of getting rid of the fear of death (which, unfortunately, in many ways itself creates), the illusion that those who are to blame for us will certainly be punished, the illusion that that someone significant loves you, etc. Many people still cannot cope with such fears and often, alas, unfulfilled desires of love and hope for happiness; many have not learned to love themselves without the participation of God, so religion, of course, remains necessary for a large number of people.
In our personal religious experience, we reproduce the experience of communicating with parents, since the child, paradoxically, constantly lives in religion. (By the way, for this very reason, including for most people, it is so difficult to accept the boring and sometimes bitter truth – for example, the one that scientists offer us. It is much easier to believe in God, in fate and fortune-tellers than to take real steps to change your life , learn to think critically, and most importantly – take responsibility for your own actions.After all, growing up is difficult and does not give serious guarantees of happiness, while religion does such guarantees, moreover, with minimal efforts, which for some are reduced only to nightly prayer and attending church on holidays.)
Explaining. First, the child takes the parents’ words on faith, without criticism (Faith). Secondly, the child always feels that he does not meet the requirements of his parents (after all, parents are formed by culture and the same prohibitions that the child has not yet learned, he is still “wild” and natural, like our ancestors). Therefore, a child develops a natural fear of punishment (in a more prosperous family it is extinguished, and in a pathogenic one it is encouraged), which can be compared with the fear of God (Cult). Third, all creeds are nothing more than transformed family “commandments” and related prohibitions.
Thus, for psychoanalysis, religion is also an emotionally colored infantile attitude of a person towards his own parents, unconsciously projected onto the object of faith. The ideality of the divine parent (God) is necessary in order to “close” the shortcomings of the real parent (as a rule, children supplant aggression towards their, of course, far from ideal parents, because such aggression is not only socially unacceptable, but in some cases it is simply dangerous, since the “best mom” or “the most wonderful dad” can beat her for her; however, often it never comes to this, because the child feels what will happen if he starts to reproach – often quite rightly – his parents – NS). Thus, there is a symbolic atonement for one’s own unconscious reproaches and aggression. You can already ask for forgiveness from such a parent (for your sins), from a real one – never. The entire interior of the church, the clothes of the priest are such that the unconscious figures of the parents remain unrecognized. And the parishioners had a feeling of insignificance and weakness before the heavenly Father (it is clear that this is especially characteristic of the Orthodox Church).
Photo: Painting “Adam and Eve” by Lucas Cranach (1526) / © Flickr