"In my Future of an Illusion (1927) I was concerned much less with the deepest
sources of 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 the 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
exalted father. Only such a being can understand the needs of the children of men and be
softened by their 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."
Sigmund Freud, Society and its Discontents, 1930
"It would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a
and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking
fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be."
"Devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic
illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a
"Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from its readiness to
fit in with our
instinctual wishful impulses."
"In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion
offers to both is palpable."
"One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be 'happy' is
not included in the plan of 'Creation.'"