13 Feb Freud

In my _Future of an Illusion_ [1927] I was concerned much less with the deepest sources of the religious feeling than with what the common man understands by his religion–with the system of doctrines and promises which on the one hand explains to him the riddles of this world with enviable completeness, and, on the other, assures him that a careful Providence will watch over his life and will compensate him in a future existence for any frustrations he suffers here.

The common man cannot imagine this Providence otherwise than in the figure of an enormously prayers and placated by the signs of their remorse.  The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life. It is still more humiliating to discover how large a number of people living today, who cannot but see that

this religion is not tenable, nevertheless try to defend it piece by piece in a series of pitiful rearguard actions.

…The first thing that we think of is the well-known saying of one of our great poets and thinkers:

Wer Wissenschaft und Kunst besitzt, hat auch Religion;

Wer jene beide nicht besitzt, der habe Religion!

[“He who possesses science and art also has religion, but he who possesses neither of those two, let him have religion!”]  –Goethe.