Psychology: The Collapse of Freudianism and
the Acceptance of Faith
The representative of nineteenth-century atheism in
psychology was the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).
He proposed a psychological theory that rejected the soul's existence
and tried to explain humanity's whole spiritual world in terms of
sexual and similar hedonistic motivations. But Freud's greatest
assault was against religion. In his The Future of an Illusion,
originally published in 1927, Freud proposed that religious faith
was a kind of mental illness (neurosis) that would disappear completely
as humanity progressed. Due to the primitive scientific conditions
of the time, his theory was proposed without either the requisite
research and investigation or any scholarly literature or possibility
of comparison. Therefore, its claims were extremely deficient.
Sigmund Freud, an avowed atheist,
regarded religious faith as a kind of mental illness. This
unscientific claim was disproved by the developing science
of psychology itself.
After Freud, psychology developed
on an atheist foundation. Moreover, the founders of other schools
of psychology were passionate atheists. Two of these were B. F.
Skinner (1904-90), founder of the behaviorist school, and Albert
Ellis (1913- ), founder of rational-emotive therapy. The world of
psychology gradually became the forum for atheism. A 1972 poll among
the members of the American Psychological Association revealed that
only 1.1 percent of psychologists in the country had any religious
But most psychologists who fell into this great deception
were undone by their own psychological investigations. The basic
suppositions of Freudianism were shown to have almost no scientific
support. Moreover, religion was shown not to be a mental illness,
as Freud and some other psychological theorists declared, but rather
a basic element of mental health. Patrick Glynn summarizes these
Yet the last quarter of the twentieth
century has not been kind to the psychoanalytic vision. Most significant
has been the exposure of Freud's views of religion as entirely fallacious.
Ironically enough, scientific research in psychology over the past
twenty-five years has demonstrated that, far from being a neurosis
or source of neuroses as Freud and his disciples claimed, religious
belief is one of the most consistent correlates of overall mental
health and happiness. Study after study has shown a powerful relationship
between religious belief and practice, on the one hand, and healthy
behaviors with regard to such problems as suicide, alcohol and drug
abuse, divorce, depression, even, perhaps surprisingly, levels of
sexual satisfaction in marriage, on the other. In short, the empirical
data run exactly contrary to the supposedly "scientific" consensus
of the psychotherapeutic profession.26
Finally, as Glynn
says, "modern psychology at the close of the twentieth century seems
to be reacquainting itself with religion,"27 and
"a purely secular view of human mental life has been shown to fail
not just at the theoretical, but also at the practical, level."28
In other words, psychology also has routed atheism.
25. Edwin R. Wallace IV, "Psychiatry and Religion:
A Dialogue," in Psychoanalysis and Religion, eds. Joseph H. Smith
and Susan A. Handelman (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press,
26. Glynn, God: The Evidence, 60-61.
27. Ibid., 69.
28. Ibid., 78.