In that sense, both of these men would postulate that one of the key “corporate” defense mechanisms developed by society over time is the concept of religion.
Both Feuerbach, in his Lectures on the Essence of Religion and Freud, in his The Future of an Illusion, give a grounding for theistic religion as a way for the “self” to deal with the “not-self” (others and the world) by creating “gods” or even “a God” who can deal with others and nature on our behalf.
Of course, the underlying assumption is that our “gods” are not only able but willing to act on our behalf to give us what we want or need. When that doesn’t happen (as is so often the case), we develop manners and means to entice, please, or obligate “God” to do something for us either through ritual and sacrifice or, in more refined cases, through moral effort (however defined).
Because religion is, according to Freud, a social “illusion,” the motivation for moral effort becomes a central issue. If religion is the ground for moral effort, but religion is an illusion, then why bother?
On the other hand, morality appears to be unavoidable. Some form of morality is necessary but it has no basis for motivation in religion since (in this view) religion is an illusion.
What kind of morality can exist in that kind of vacuum?
Morality is more than practical self-interest. It must go beyond the self to engage the intrinsic value of others.
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Footnotes and references included in the original manuscript.