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In this brief Newsletter I would like to signal to the readers of “Science and Psychoanalysis” a wonderful article reported by the Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera” of the 29 September 2005, which collects excerpts of a preface written by the Nobel Prize Winner James Watson, one of the discoverers together with the Englishman Francis Crick, of the DNA double helix structure, of a book dedicated to the natural evolution theory by Charles Darwin.
The scientist demonstrates with simplicity and, let’s say, neutrality the evidences which make the creationist hypotheses an animistic attempt of denial of the laws of chance. Persuaded that the Genesis of the Bible is the literal and real description of the creation of the universe, the Creationists ask for the teaching of their theory in the schools besides the traditional theory (but we will say more precisely as we will see, the “natural law”) of evolutionism.
The compulsion for the need to represent a Creator and ‘Deus ex machina’ is basically the impossibility to come out of a paranoid position of parental submission.
When the child, under the traumatic shove of the frustrations which come to him from the environment, begins to have to give up his own omnipotence, he makes an ultimate attempt of a narcissistic safeguard, attributing to his parents, above all to the Father, the omnipotence role.
It is a defence against the overwhelming anguish which derives from the consideration that the human being, as Freud says, is destined to remain forever a child, at the mercy of the nature’s forces, of the illnesses and of the unavoidable death.
It is then that man creates his own gods, who he fears but whose favour he tries to gain and to whom he entrusts himself to be protected.
To remain in such an infantile state means to safeguard a pathological state of neurosis, founded on the persecutory illusion that there is something which directs fortune and mishap, an omnipotent entity to ingratiate oneself to, which will be able to protect us from the adversities of life and, above all things, to overcome death.
Freud affirms that humanity will overcome this neurotic phases in the same way in which, growing, many children recover from their similar neurosis.
The fact that men who deal with science can adhere to creationist beliefs, demonstrates the power of the splitting and isolation mechanisms: the elementary evidence which Watson lists in the present article are isolated and neutralised under the pressure of the anguish to perceive the absence of an aim and the randomness of attempts, including the human one.
I would like to conclude this brief article with a quotation of the final thoughts of the great scientist: “Today there is an attempt in act agreed upon by some scientists influenced by religion to treat the evolution as a theory, as if this in some way would diminish the authority and the power in explaining how the world works. One of the greatest gifts that science has given to the world is the continuous elimination of the supernatural, and this is a lesson that my father taught me: knowledge frees the human species from superstition. We can live our life without the constant fear of having offended this or that divinity which must be placated by magic spells or sacrifices, or of being at the mercy of the demons or the Parcae. If the knowledge increases, the intellectual obscurity which surrounds us will be illuminated and we will learn more about the beauty and the wonder of the natural world.
Let’s not beat about the bush: the common affirmation according to which the evolution, through the mechanism of natural selection, is a ‘theory’, exactly as that of the String Theory is a theory, is wrong.
The evolution is a law (with several elements), as substantiated as any other natural law, whether it is that of gravity, movement or Avogadro’s law.
The evolution is a matter of fact, called into question by those who choose to deny the evidence, put aside common sense and instead believe that one arrives at the unchangeable knowledge and wisdom only through Revelation
“. 1
Such reflections also indicate what credibility and psychic integrity the “would-be” psychoanalysts may have who conserve, with various rationalisations, their religious beliefs.
Scientific knowledge is incompatible with the religious creed: only the conservation of the defence mechanisms such as isolation, negation, splitting and denial, can allow information which annul each other, to co-exist. St. Augustine who clearly wrote: “Melius scitur Deus, nesciendo” (God is better known by not knowing. St. Augustine. De Ordine) knew this well.

Written by: Quirino Zangrilli © Copyright

Translated by Linda De Nardo

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Notes:

1  James D. Watson. Introduction to «The indelible stamp: the great works of natural selection by Charles Darwin», Running Press/Perseus Books Inc. (translated from the Italian version).