Freud was a neurologist and is known as the founding father of psychoanalysis. Freud believed that religion is used as a protective system that man should ‘disregard in its relation to reality’. Freud saw to origins of religious belief lying with primitive tribes. The tension between the dominant male and the subordinate males (sons) culminates to over throw the father (this is a manifestation of the Oedipus complex). However, the guilt that the son then feels because of this is alleviated only by worshiping his father. The super-ego (the part of your subconscious that encourages you to act morally it represses anti-social impulses such as killing, and by inducing fear and guilt, it is crucial for civilisation) then takes the place of the father as a source of internalised authority, which is derived from the family, education and Church. God is a father substitute and a projection of the super-ego. Freud believed that man is dependent on religion to ‘make his helplessness tolerable’ and whilst he maintained this dependency he could never truly be happy. Freud realised that a feeling of helplessness in the face of external dangers, inner impulses and death and society, were at the route of religion. He observed that many religious rituals were similar to obsessive rituals. These are to protect the ego (the more primal part of your subconscious) from fantasies, desires and especially sexual impulses which, are normally repressed.
Whilst Freud had some valid point some philosophers disagreed with his ideas. Nelson and Jones disagreed with Freuds opinion that the individuals relationship with God is dependent on their relationship with their father. They found that the concept of God correlated more highly with a person’s relationship with their mother than with their father. Kate Loenthal distinguished between projective religion (which is immature) and intrinsic religion (which is serious and relative)