It happened on SEPTEMBER 23

1939

Sigmund Freud died in London. An Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, he founded psychoanalysis. According to some, Freud discovered the reason for all religious constructions by gathering them into the sphere of the sublimation of the libido and demonstrating their psychic origin. Freud’s critique of religion is found chiefly in his works Totem and Taboo (1913) and The Future of an Illusion (1927). In reality, Freud’s thought is greatly divided and in the last years of his life he reexamined some of his prior affirmations. In general, two significant factors in his thought are that Freud declared himself an atheist, along with the general anti-religious and anti-Christian position of various psychoanalysts. This does not mean that Freud wasn’t nagged through his entire life by the problem of religion, or more precisely, not so much by the psychological fact of faith, but by questions regarding the ultimate destiny of man, death, and final judgment. Freud’s theses, always swaying between a scientific vision of theory and a phenomenological vision of therapeutic practice, contain several contradictions. Freud himself perceived the difficulties of founding psychology on physics and mechanistic biology and at the same time confronting, through psychoanalysis, problems regarding the existence of man, problems which religion encompasses. It is here that the crisis of his philosophical anthropology and his metapsychology arises. His thought sets man and his world within a scientific outlook, liberating him from metaphysics and from myths such as the ideas of God and religion that, according to Freud, derive from man himself.


Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science

The Encyclopedia, published by the Centro di Documentazione Interdisciplinare di Scienza e Fede operating at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, provides new, scholarly articles in the rapidly growing international field of Religion and Science (ISSN: 2037-2329).

Anthology and Documents

In order to make some relevant documents better known in the scientific community, the section provides key materials for study and reflection concerning the dialogue among science, philosophy, and theology.