Page Level Ad

Friday, August 14, 2015

Carl Jung: “I write for unbelievers.”




To Bernhard Martin

Dear Dr. Martin, 7 December 1954

It is very kind of you to submit your manuscript to me for an opinion.

I have taken the liberty of marking it with numbers in pencil where a change in the text seems necessary.

You "know" of that which is beyond the psyche only through belief, not through knowledge.

I do not write for believers who already possess the whole truth, rather for unbelieving but intelligent people who want to understand something.

Without the psyche you can neither know nor believe.

Therefore everything about which we can speak at all lies in the psychic realm; even the atom is in this sense a psychic model.

I grant you that the believer will learn nothing from my Answer to Job since he already has everything.

I write only for unbelievers.

Thanks to your belief, you know much more than I do.

Since my earliest youth I have been made to feel how rich and how knowing the believers are, and how disinclined even to listen to anything else.

I do not hesitate to admit my extreme poverty in knowing through believing, and would therefore advise you to shut my book with a bang and inscribe on the inside of the jacket: "Nothing here for the believing Christian" -a sentiment with which I am in complete agreement.

I am not concerned with what is "believable" but simply with what is knowable.

It seems to me that we are not in a position to "generate" or "uphold" belief, for belief is a charisma which God giveth or taketh away.

It would be presumptuous to imagine that we can command it at will.

For the sake of brevity my comments are rather direct and outspoken.

I hope you won't mind this, but will see how different are the two planes on which the discussion is moving.

Without in any way impugning belief, I confine myself to its assertions.

As you see, I even take the highly controversial new dogma at its face value.

I do not consider myself competent to judge the metaphysical truth of these assertions; I only try to elucidate their content and their psychological associations.

The assertions are, as you yourself admit, anthropomorphic and therefore can hardly be considered reliable with respect to their metaphysical truth.

You as a believer take the stand that the proposition "God is" has as its inevitable corollary God's Existence in reality, whereas Kant irrefutably pointed out long ago (in his critique of Anselm's proof of God) that the little word "is" can denote no more than a "copula in the judgment."

Other religions make equally absolute assertions, but quite different ones.

But as a psychologist on the one hand and a human being on the other I must acknowledge that my brother may be right too.

I do not belong to the elect and the beati possidentes of the sole truth, but must give fair consideration to all human assertions, even the denial of God.

So when you confront me as a Christian apologist you are standing on a different plane from me.

You cling to "believing is knowing," and I must always be the loser because de fide non est disputandum any more than one can argue about taste.

One cannot argue with the possessor of the truth.

Only the seeker after truth needs to reflect, to inquire, to deliberate, for he admits that he does not know.

As a believer you can only dismiss me out of hand and declare that I am no Christian and what I say is useless, indeed harmful.

Well, gunpowder was a dangerous invention, but it also has its useful applications.

It is notorious that everything can be used for a good or a bad purpose.

Hence there was no valid reason for me to keep silence, quite apart from the fact that the present state of "Christendom" arouses a host of doubts in people's minds.

As a doctor I have to provide the answers which for many of my patients are not forthcoming from the theologian.

I myself have politely requested the theologians to explain to me what the attitude of modern Protestantism is as regards the identity of the Old and the New Testament concept of God.

Two didn't answer at all and the third said that nobody bothers any more about God-concepts nowadays.

But for the religious-minded person this is a matter of burning interest, which was one of my motives for
writing Answer to Job.

I would like to recommend Prof. Volz's Das Daemonische in Jahwe to your attention, and as for the New Testament I pose the question: Is it necessary to placate a "loving Father" with the martyr's death of his son?

What is the relation here between love and vindictiveness?

And what would I feel about it if my own father exhibited that kind of phenomenology?

Such are the questions of the unbelieving religious man for whom I write.

To him applies the amiable (predestinarian) principle of Matt. 13: 12: "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given," etc.

But "illis non est datum," these lost sheep of which another, equally authentic logion says that Christ was sent only to them.

Those who cannot believe would at least like to understand: "Putasne intelligis quae legis?" (Acts 8:30).

But understanding begins at the bottom of the mountain on top of which the believer sits.

He already knows everything much better and can therefore say: "Lord, I thank thee that I am not so dumb and ignorant as those down below, who want to understand" (cf. Luke 18:11).

I cannot anticipate a thing by believing it but must be content with my unbelief until my efforts meet with the grace of illumination, that is, with religious experience.

I cannot make-believe.

To conclude with an indiscreet question: Don't you think that the angel of the Lord, wrestling with Jacob, also got a few hefty cuffs and kicks? (So much for my "scandalous" criticism of Yahweh!)

I know my Answer to Job is a shocker for which I ought to offer a civil apology (hence my motto).

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 197-199.