Psychology and Religion

A A Khan Usmani

Psychology is the greatest enemy of religion and has done it irreparable loss. It has exploded each and every doctrine of religion, and this is why so many religious fanatics of today are so much afraid of the explanations of psychologists like William James and Sigmund Freud, and so vehemently oppose them. “God is the creator of man and man is the creator of God” is a famous – but notorious – psychological paradox, but a little thinking  will reveal its truth. Who came to tell mankind that God exists. Nobody but man. Who said that God created mankind?  The answer is man again. Then is the name of common  sense, what is God but man’s own creation and who else is there but man who says God created me? Psychology traces out the element of fear in the backbone of religion; and this the very foundation on which the Temple of Religion stands is the illusory and sure to give one day or the other. It has altogether changed our conception of morality today. In psychology there is nothing like religious morality, but ethical morality of course there is.  Fear of punishment and temptation of reward after death, are responsible for religious morality, while sound reasoning mind is the stronghold of ethical morality. To quote Mr. H.G. Wells ” We have no use for blind faith today. We think of cleanliness instead of purity, and health instead of chastity.”
Psychologically there is no criterion of good and evil. the goodness and badness of our actions is judged by the convention and common acceptance of the society. Shakespeare has truly said ” There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes so”. But somebody may challenge the accuracy of this statement, and say, “What about conscience, the God-given power to guide our actions?” Thus modifying it we come face to face with another important question whether conscience, as popularly known is born or made. The answer is simple and shall be given by a counter question. Why does a certain section of people shudder at the very idea of pork, and another that of beef while a third one enjoys both of these diets without feeling the slightest prick of its conscience? Whence came the difference in the reactions of these three sections of people cited here? Obviously it is due to the difference of their sense of good and bad that is conscience.   The three sections of people are brought up  in three kinds of atmosphere of belief and behaviour. Hence conscience is popularly understood, is made and never born. The question of “its being born in man to guide his actions’ is clearly fallacious.

Reason, Jan 1935