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The Nature of Religion

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 1, 2022 12:01 am

The Nature of Religion

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 1, 2022 12:01 am

Sigmund Freud tried to explain away religion as a crutch for weak minds. Today, R.C. Sproul shows how many atheists continue to use Freud's reasoning in their attempts to suppress the truth of God and escape His accountability.

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Julia Renewing Your Mind a critical look at the atheist philosopher Sigmund Freud. Freud was aware of the profound drive for self-preservation that is within every human being and he was asking this question. How does a human being deal with the impersonal forces of nature that seem to be hostile is that this is how religion was invented this week on renewing the moon under RC school is examine the psychology of atheism and hope to see the atheist vested interest in denying God's existence we learned that in reality the atheist isn't dealing with an intellectual issue its moral and today we're going to look at how Sigmund Freud has influence the way people think about religion than looking at some of the causes for disagreement over major issues such as the existence of God in our last session we explored the root of psychological prejudice and how that prejudice can have such a strong influence upon our thinking and you recall that we talked about the Enlightenment and how the Enlightenment came to the conclusion that we no longer needed the God hypothesis to explain the origin of the universe or of human life and so thinkers in the 19th century turned their attention not to disapproving the existence of God. That was a given that God does not exist for these people, but simply they were concerned about answering the question if there is no God. Why are there so many theists running around.

Why is it that people persist in believing in the existence of God when the case for God has collapsed and one of the most formidable thinkers with respect to this question was the one who is called the father of modern psychoanalysis professor Sigmund Freud and Freud tried to examine this question with respect to the deep rooted feelings and impulses that influence the human psyche. Freud as you know, came to the conclusion that the thoughts that we have in the ideas that we embrace in the values that we hold are not always a direct result of clear sharp logical analysis in a conscious state but that we have things percolating in the that's the mention of our being.

Many things that we are not even conscious of that are influencing our behavior and even our thinking patterns. He understood that we have profound drives that have a tremendous impact on our living now. Freud sought to explain the origin of religion in terms of psychological motives and he wasn't satisfied to come up with one possible explanation, but he actually came up with two distinct theories that would account for both the origin of religion and the pervasive presence of religion in the world among countless human cultures and civilizations. He wrote two books to little books that are important to his discussion of these things. One is the future of an illusion and the other is society and its discontents, now in his future of an illusion. He makes this observation. I'm going to quote from that work there are the elements which seemed to mock at all human control the earth which quakes and is torn apart and Barry's all human life and its works water which deluged and drowns everything in a turmoil. Storms which blow everything before them.

There are diseases which we have only recently recognized as attacks by other organisms. And finally there is the painful riddle of death against which no medicine has yet been found, nor probably will be with these forces nature rises up against us majestic cool and inexorable. She brings to our mind once more. Weakness and helplessness which we thought to escape through the work of civilization.

In one sense the works of our hands the works of civilization of which Freud speaks are allusions allusions designed to bring about a cosmetic hiding of the harsh realities that cause us to tremble in the depths of our being one of the things that we say from the 20th century perspective long after Freud's theories were first introduced is how we deal with death in our culture, how we tried to separate it from the arena of daily life where we hide it in the morgue were in the basement of the hospital or in some nook or cranny of a funeral parlor and our process of disposing of the dead is again a matter of concealment, where the mortician in his trade must be an expert cause meditation and self so that we can disguise death and remove it from daily lives.

We have to understand that as a people we are far more removed from the reality of death in our daily lives than any culture in the history of mankind. There are many cultures in the world where people literally die on the streets and people he children can't walk down to the marketplace without seeing the dead lying out in the open. You see, now through TV. The pictures of that in war-torn countries across the world, but all of the structures of our humanity are built according to forward to give us an illusion. The illusion that we are safe from these hostile forces that threaten our very existence. The one thing that haunts every human soul is the awareness of how fragile life is, and we are afraid, as it were of the stirring of the leaf because we know we are no match for the hurricane or the tornado or the flood or the fire or these microscopic organisms that invade our bodies with fatal diseases and death itself hangs over us as a sword of Damocles. We all know the inevitability of it and how we deal with it.

We stared in the eye or do we seek some kind of denial. Some way to escape that which is so fearful for us.

While Freud was aware of the profound drive for self-preservation that is within the breast of every human being and he was asking this question. How does a fragile creature called a human being deal with the impersonal forces of nature.

That scene to be hostile is that this is how religion was invented. He said if you look at primitive forms of religion, you will see a couple of things that take place.

The two things that stand out. According to Freud, far, the personalization earth of nature and the sacralization of nature of Freud says objectively.

The storm is an impersonal force. A tornado has no personality. Even though we give names to hurricanes. They are really not persons.

There is no will or volitional activity involved with floods and floods have no particular vendetta against one group of people or another. It just destroys everything that is in its wake and so man is used to dealing with threats to our existence that come from other persons. You all know people whom you fear, and you've met people in your lives have been hostile to you and you know every time you walk down the street in the city that there's a check out going on in your mind every time you see somebody coming toward you on the sidewalk. You look at them and they look at you for a brief second and you make an instant categorization and the sorting process of sifting process goes through your mind and consciously or unconsciously.

Every person you meet your evaluating in terms of the question, friend or foe. If there frowning at you.

You give them a wide berth. If there smiling, you may respond to their greetings, say good afternoon. Why is that will you've learned in your lifetime that people who are angry and hostile and venomous don't usually smile at you, right before they attack you. Although some of course do, but you also know that there are signs of anger and hostility that you can read in people's eyes and in people's faces and you learn how to deal with that when you were children learn how to deal with the town bully may be you tried psychology. Maybe you trying to flatter the bully and make him go away and remove his threat by telling the bully how great he was. Or maybe you tried bribery saying if you leave me alone.

I'll let you have the candy bar that my mother put in my lunch today and so you bought him off and didn't have to be subjected to his violence or you begged for mercy and hope that there might be a soft warm spot in his heart where he might remove his violence attempts from you. These are ways that we learn how to get along and get by with hostile persons we negotiate. We plead we bag we praise we do all of these things. Freud was asking the very basic question.

How do you negotiate with the tornado.

How do you plead with the flood.

How do you praise an invisible organism that invades your body will nature set Freud's impersonal we are persons and what we do is that we transfer to the impersonal realm the gimmicks and the techniques that we use to fend off hostile personal forces. So the first thing we do is we personalize nature. We put personality to the impersonal tornado. Maybe that's why we name hurricanes, even in this day we personalize the flood and the fire and the disease, and this demonstrates itself in the most primitive forms of religion.

Freud was already aware of the burgeoning science of comparative religion were scientists were traveling to remote places in the world and finding civilizations that seem to have not been touched by modern advances. It was like taking a spaceship through a tunnel in the time passed, where you find primitive religions in remote parts of the world and the chief characteristics of these primitive religions are primitive forms of religion were animism and animism is that term that speaks about a religion by which what we would consider impersonal objects of nature are invested with souls or spirits. The inanimate like the rock or the water or the tree now becomes animated as we talk about the inhabiting of the Bush were of the storm or of the fire by some kind of spirit. And if you look at the religious practices of people who are engaged in such primitive forms of religion, you will see that offerings are made, and so on to the spirit that lives in the B-tree or the spirit that inhabits the wind and so so that these we would think about as impersonal forces are now related to an impersonal way and it's only one step from that, according Freud to the sacralization of these impersonal forces. That is to making these personalities somehow holy or transcendent or eerie or divine, and so from the primitive forms of animism grow up. The more sophisticated forms of polytheism were now only do you have a spirit inhabiting the storm, but that spirit is a divine spirit. It is the God of the storm is the God of the fire like Vulcan or it is the God of the water like Poseidon or Neptune and we see an ancient religion, how there was a deity for basically every aspect of daily living a God of war, a God of love, a God of wisdom of God, of grain, the God of the harvest, the God of the forest and so on. And all of these different gods and goddesses, all a result of millions creative ability to transfer personal qualities and characteristics into these impersonal forces that exists as clear and present dangers to our well being. Freud goes on to write this impersonal forces and destinies cannot be approached.

They remain eternally remote. But if the elements have passions that range as they do in our own souls. Death itself is not something spontaneous, but is the violent act of an evil will if everywhere in nature.

There are beings around us of a kind that we know in our own society than we can breathe freely. We can feel at home in the uncanny and can deal by psychical means, with our senseless anxiety, we're still defenseless perhaps, but we are no longer helplessly paralyzed, we can at least react and so the theory is this is how religion basically driven and motivated by the frailty of humanness and our natural fear of nature itself. First, by personalizing nature, and then by sacral lysing nature, we get a handle on dealing with the six may not be able to negotiate with the disease, but I can pray to the God who is sovereign over the disease to have mercy upon and one of the elements of religion, but the elements of praise of veneration of worship of sacrifice of atonement of prayer, pleading, and so he says this is where it all comes from. That's only one of his explanations. The other one is more brief and I'll just pass over that quickly said that probably at one time in a tribal society where the chief ruled and dominated over all of the people in the village and had many sons and his word was law and every son that he had had to serve him and on one occasion the sons got fed up with the dictatorial rule of the chief and rose up and killed, and the killing of the father produced at dreadful grip of guilt upon the whole tribe.

So, thereafter, after they had shed the blood of their leader. They had to find a way to make an atonement for that probably what happened ultimately was that one of their own was sacrificed as a substitutionary payment to appease the wrath of the departed spirit of the father, who had been killed now are not talking about animating bushes and trees and rivers and floods and tornadoes now are talking about Judeo Christianity of some kind of Oedipal reaction that men have against the male supreme deity God Yahweh is the great chief in Christianity is simply a highly orchestrated psychological dance whereby we are trying to deal with our hostilities to our own father's and appease our own father's by looking to an older brother who offers a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the demands of the father so we can explain the whole structure not only of religion in general, but of Christianity in particular. According to Freud by these models and so we can see the Freud is one of many who sees the origin of religion as being rooted in some deep dark psychological need that is within the human heart, but as Dr. RC Sproul so carefully explained that is a false claim and verifiably so. And I hope you'll stay with us because at the end of the program. We will hear. Look in your teaching fellow, Dr. Steven Lawson give a stirring description of everyone who believes in the existence of God all week. We have been featuring the psychology of atheism, a 15 lesson series by Dr. RC Sproul, it's important for us as believers to be equipped in this area, so I hope you request our resource offer today you give a donation of any amount to look at your ministries.

We will send you Dr. Sproles book. If there is a God why other atheists also provide you with a digital download of the full series that were hearing this week.

15 messages at all. You can request them or you can call us at 800-435-4343. We are grateful that you joined us this week for Renewing Your Mind.

And as we close our program today I'd like for you to hear from Dr. Steven Lawson, the apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 1 that the evidence of the creator is made known in his creation. Dr. Lawson talked about that it a look your conference. He talked about the distinction between those who believe and those who suppress the truth. God is the unassailable stronghold of all who call upon his name and who put their trust in him and the contrast could not be any greater here between the fool who has said in his heart there is no God fill in the final day will stand in a day of dread between you who have put your faith and he'll put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, truly, I say into you, he who hears these words of mine and acts upon them is like a very wise man who built his house upon the rock.

And when the rains came, and the winds blew and beat against the house.

It did not fall, because it was built upon the rock layers.

These words of mine and does not act upon them is like a very foolish man. A foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When the rains came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, great was its fall, because it was built upon the sand. My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us take confidence that is the gathering storm of atheism swirls around us as they come stepping out of their closets and would seek to intimidate. Let us be reminded that they are but food also have built upon the sand and that there is coming a final storm in the last day it is that day of God's wrath. It is that day in which it will become a day of dread and all who refuse the revelation of God and refuse to build upon the rock instead built upon the sand crate will be its fall and they will fall all the way down into the bowels of hell.

Let us take courage that we have built upon the rock of the Lord Jesus Christ and he has said I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

But if they confidence that God is our refuge and God is our strength and we know that there is a God, for God is made it evident to us and it is clearly understood within us and around us and it is God by his Holy Spirit, who has brought the special revelation of the gospel home to our hearts and God is opened her eyes and he is opened our ears, and he is opened our hearts to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. He's done this by his sovereign grace. Let us rejoice that we are not the fool who is said there is no God. Let us be humbled. Let us be contrite in spirit, that it is grace that has taught us that there is a God in heaven

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