Monday, February 15, 2010

Spinoza, Freud, and God

Having recently read Spinoza's Ethics, I can safely say his concept of God is the closest I think I may ever be able to come to philosophically accepting divinity. Spinoza's God is impersonal, amoral, and devoid of any of the puerile forms of personification so common to so many God concepts. Essentially, his God merely IS, nothing more, nothing less. The idea of God as merely essence is captured perfectly in this piece from this great work:

"The light reveals both itself and the shadow."

Freud, however, maintained that the need to believe in God was the result of the human need for protection from the world and the pervasive unknown. The mistake he made was to assume that just because humans are frail creatures in need of comfort and protection does not necessarily negate the existence of divinity itself. He, like many atheists, bolsters his claims against the existence of God with the silliness and obvious petty selfishness that goes into so much conventional "religious conviction." I have great sympathy for those who criticize such vapid belief systems, but the question of divinity remains an abstract one. There it will always stay. It would be quite a prosaic issue otherwise, and so often it is.

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