Concise and Hits at the Heart of the Matter Sep 24, 2009
I decided to buy this book after having seen it referenced by many contemporary thinkers (e.g. Daniel Dennett) in their books. Sigmund Freud, the famous Austrian psychiatrist, writes about mankind's struggle with religion and considers what civilization or society would be like if weaned of it. His arguments - bear in mind this book was first published in 1927 - are of the kind a modern-day informed atheist might secretly wonder. I found myself nodding in agreement with a number of Freud's matter-of-fact observations about religion.
For example, he says that mankind will likely focus their energies and learn to adapt to the (harsh) realities of this life if they withdrew their expectations from the vacuous promises of the hereafter. The style of writing is clear but a little weird at times, especially when he pretends to be another party and questions himself on the ideas being argued. In summary, Freud appears to have believed that mankind, in the not-too-distant future will have found a way to go about his daily life without believing in gods or the supernatural and that science will have a significant role in it. I particularly like the last paragraph of the book which states: "No, our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give us we can get elsewhere."
At 67 pages the size of Reader's Digest magazine (not including the biographical introduction), this little blue book is moderate-level reading for anyone interested in the psychology of religious beliefs. It is also a nice addition to any library. I personally, bought this edition because it is rather difficult to find where I live.