Chapter 9: That - The Universal Religion
Remember, whatever qualities a child ascribes to his father are exactly the same qualities religious people ascribe to God. And just as children fight amongst themselves to settle whose father is greater, the Hindus, Mohammedans and Christians fight to prove their god to be the greater. Now, how can a god be greater? These are all childish ideas. But the very imposition of fatherhood upon the concept of God is childish; it is born out of the child’s mind.
So Freud went so far as to say that as long as children are brought up with their father it is very difficult for them to get rid of God. God is nothing but another form of father. There seems to be some truth in it, because in matriarchal societies, where the mother is supreme and the father is secondary, God is not addressed as the father but as the mother. It reveals the truth of the matter. For example, the worshippers of mother goddess Kali accept God in the form of mother, not in the form of father. These worshippers of Kali are from a matriarchal society where the mother is primary and the father is secondary. Such societies are still existent on the earth, and in these societies the concept of God is that of a mother, not of a father.
This supports Freud’s idea a little that concepts are formed in childhood - and the moments of childhood are valuable, because whatever patterns are formed in the mind during that period, whenever there is any loss of them one feels restless. It becomes necessary for the person to compensate for those losses. And man goes on trying his whole life to complete the patterns created in his childhood.
From this you should take note of one more interesting thing. In societies where the family system has been uprooted - for example, as has happened in America, where the roots of the family system are pulled out, where the children care for neither the father or the mother, nor do the mother or the father care much about the children; where the relationship between the family members has become weak - in those societies the concept of God also becomes weak.
Where the family system totters the God also totters; there spreads atheism. In societies where the father’s power is very strong and where the father’s orders are supreme and discipline is ensured, atheism is not born. And the conclusions that Freud derives from all this are true, but only half. There is truth in his conclusion that to see the father in God is an attempt by man to fill a psychological emptiness. But when Freud says that God is nothing more than this, this is where he is mistaken.
Man may call earth the mother - this is something to do with the man, but because of this the earth does not cease to be what it is. Man may call God father, mother or anything whatsoever. This may be an extension of his family, his childhood or his mind, but the God on whom this extension is done does not become a falsity because of it. What names we give it depends on us, but its existence does not depend on us.