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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Acknowledging the layers of the mind below the level of overt consciousness can lead to very divergent accounts of religious belief. One response—taken by Freud himself—argues that religious belief should be abandoned as unavoidably contaminated by unconscious motivations (e.g. an infantile longing for security) that distort our rational judgement. By contrast, Jung maintains that religious thinking is shaped by unconscious structures (the ‘archetypes’), which can play a vital role in the development of an integrated human personality. This chapter examines these contrasting psychoanalytic interpretations of religion, and then explores more recent accounts of the workings of the human psyche and how they affect the status of religious belief. A concluding section discusses some general implications of all this for the epistemology of religious belief and the way in which philosophy of religion should be conducted.

Keywords: Freud, Jung, unconscious, illusion, archetypes, Graham Ward, Iain McGilchrist, brain hemispheres, receptivity, detachment

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