Page Level Ad

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Carl Jung on “Atheist” and “Atheism.” Anthology





The Catholic who has turned his back on the Church usually develops a secret or manifest leaning towards atheism, whereas the Protestant follows, if possible, a sectarian movement. The absolutism of the Catholic Church seems to demand an equally absolute negation, whereas Protestant relativism permits of variations. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Paragraph, 34.

I have been alternately accused of agnosticism, atheism, materialism and mysticism. ~Carl Jung, Wounded Healer of the Soul, Page 207.

He [Man] will [mis] understand it and he will be tempted to ruin the universal life of the earth by radioactivity. Materialism and atheism, the negation of God, are indirect means to attain this goal. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 163-174

But this expression seems to me very apt, for "bowels" simply means contents, and in "the Unknowable One,"

Nietzsche surely refers to the unknown god who, he said, was dead. It is a funny thing, however, that throughout the whole of Zarathustra you get a feeling as if this god whom he calls dead were not absolutely dead.

He is somehow lurking in the background as the great unknowable one of whom you should not speak; you simply should not take him into consideration: he is too dangerous to be mentioned.

So his peculiar expression that you should not be interested in the bowels of the unknowable one means that there is somebody there, only he is utterly taboo.

You see, that is explained psychologically by the fact that Nietzsche calls himself an atheist, for anybody who calls himself an atheist is a negative theist; naturally he would not deny a thing if he did not think it was there to be denied. He would not add the a. It is an admission of God when you call yourself an atheist, because whether you assert a thing or deny it, you confirm that it is: you cannot deny a thing without giving it a certain existence.

It does exist somewhere even if you assume that it exists only in the minds of other people; that it exists in the minds of other people means that it does exist.

So Nietzsche's God exists somewhere and has contents but he must be careful not to mention them.


That an atheist is particularly concerned with God is not understood with us because we are still unspeakably barbarous in that respect, but the East is a bit more differentiated in such matters.

Thev have the saving that a man who loves God needs seven rebirths in order to be redeemed or to reach Nirvana, but a man who hates God needs only three.

And why?

Because a man who hates God will think of him much oftener than a man" who loves God.

So the atheist hates God, but he is in a way a better Christian than the man who loves him; Nietzsche is a better Christian and far more moral than the Christians before and after him.

You see that explains a great deal of Zarathustra, which is a highly moral book.

If anybody should try to live that teaching, he would have astonishing experiences.

He would certainly feel himself to be a better Christian than all those before him.

He could buy a halo for his own private use and make himself the first and only saint of his private church.

It is true of course that we use that expression "the bowels of ... "rather in connection with the earth, and in a psychological sense we mean the contents of the unconscious, which we think of as below.

But to the Christian era the unconscious was by no means below; it was a fiery and luminous heaven above.

All the heavenly "powers and principalities" of the Catholic church are really the contents of the unconscious,' but at that time they projected the unconscious into the world above, and only through the descent which has taken place in the last four hundred years, has it been brought down into the lower regions, the earth, into the real bowels, the intestinal region, the kingdom of the sympathetic nervous system. ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra Seminar, Pages 72– 73.

Nietzsche calls himself an atheist, but this formulation is of course a bit influenced by the idea that God is when he is said to be.

In calling yourself an atheist, you make that concession to your primitive magic thinking-as if you could produce something by saying it is.

As Kant said, that word is is nothing but a copula in a judgment; you need to use a verb that expresses existence, but you have not produced a thing by it.

If you say you possess a hundred dollars, they don't necessarily exist.

But Nietzsche's idea confirms our explanation of the old wise man as the original Christian revelation continued in the idea of the paraclete, the Comforter, withdrawing slowly from the world and becoming a hermit, re-identifying himself again with the natural background from which he came. ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra Seminar, Pages 40-41.

These many forms of rebirth rites shmv that it is a representation collective, an archetypal idea, which means that the process in question is a regular quality of the collective unconscious, the original disposition
of man.

And because it has occurred everywhere, it always comes back again in one form or another.

If we live at all, we will always seek the fulfilment of the archetype of rebirth; one could say it came to pass on the slightest provocation.

So when Nietzsche declares that God is dead, instantly he begins to transform.

With that declaration he is no longer a Christian, he is an atheist or it doesn't matter what.

He immediately gets into the process of that archetype of rebirth, because those vital powers in us which we call "God" are powers of self-renewal, powers of eternal change.

Goethe felt that: there is a beautiful verse in Faust about the kingdom of the mothers where everything is in a continuous state of self-renewal, a continuous rearrangement.

And this kingdom of the mothers is the abyss of the deity; it is the darkness of the good, the deus absconditus, the auctor rerum, the dark father of created things.

Also one can say it is the original mother.

Now, we have a peculiar sphere in our unconscious which corresponds to such concepts, and we call that "God," the creative or the creating god.

And as soon as this projection or this declaration, this creative god (whatever it is) is abolished, instantly that process begins in us.

We are caught in those powers.

If you don't want to be caught in them, then don't make such declarations; it is exceedingly foolish to make them, because you thus provoke the unconscious.

Of course you think it is quite futile whether you make such a declaration or not, that you can say this or that about God and it makes no difference whatever.

But I tell you it does make a difference in reality, only you won't connect it with things.

You see, the man Nietzsche himself did not realize, when he said God was dead, that it meant that he would get into the mill, into the alchemical pot where he is cooked and transformed.

As he did not realize, for instance, that thinking is a most exhausting creative process.

He says that all his thoughts jumped out of his brain like Pallas jumping out of the head of Zeus, ": but on the next page he complained about the terrible vomiting and awful headaches he was always pestered with when working."'

That is generally so; we don't connect psychological and physical conditions.

You see, that declaration is a very obnoxious thing: it gets him into trouble right away, but he does not realize it.

The trouble is that he has to create the Superman. His first word is: I teach you the Superman, not realizing that he has to give birth to a Superman, that he is confronted with the task of creating the Superman.

And what is the best proof that he does not realize it? ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra Seminar, Pages 54-55

As long as people can live in such a system, if it really expresses the bets of the unconscious, then it is good and there is nothing to he said against it; you cannot even criticize it.

That means, of course, inasmuch as people are serious and have not simply put an a before their creed-instead of theism, atheism.

I should not call atheists serious: they don't see that they are still theists in denying God.

I understand by "serious people" those who know that such a thing as a religious experience is possible, and that it means the greatest good one could possibly imagine.

Such people realize, of course, that the Christian symbol as it is handed down, as it stands now, does not provide a form through which a complete life is possible.

And inasmuch as this is again a truth, we have the problem of what we can do or how we can live when that symbol fails us.

For instance, we can assume that people who have such a problem are abnormal, that it is a sort of choice of unbalanced minds that simply cannot bow to tradition, who are too abnormal to be expressed
by a fairly collective or normal symbol, so that even Christ as a comprehensive symbol, or what Buddha is in the East, is unable to express those particular whims of modern minds.

That is the attitude of very intelligent people.

They take it that these so-called modern problems are just sort of neurotic protuberances, more or less morbid, because they hold that everything that reasonably can be, is already expressed in the Christian dogma. ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra Seminar, Pages 95-96

I have talked to very intelligent people in France about this question, and the Protestants and Jews understood what I meant, but the normal French Catholic does not understand at all, because for him the unconscious doesn't exist.

Even if he doesn't believe in the church, he is at least an atheist, which means a good Catholic. ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra Seminar, Pages 121.

And mind you, man is forever in the funny position of the religious atheist, whose psychology has been beautifully characterized by Bernard Shaw in one of his plays: the atheist complains and laments over
the fact that he has lost his atheistic belief--all his highest convictions have been lost, he can no longer believe in atheism.

Of course, it is exactly the same whether a man is a theist or an atheist; it is only plus and minus. But that has been the preoccupation of man forever. ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra Seminar, Page 348.

That religion could be psychology has not dawned upon them.

They may be atheists but you know what an atheist is: simply a man who is outside instead of inside the church walls.

Instead of saying, yes, I believe that you exist, he stands outside of the house and says, no, I don't believe that you are God.

That is the only difference: an atheist is just as Catholic as those within the walls.

So they cannot understand of what modern psychology is talking, because this whole world of problems, the symbols we are dealing with, is for them still within the walls of the church, safely walled in. ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra Seminar, Page 1011

Unfortunately enough, it is the common fate; even the atheist who is always shouting up to God, "I don't believe that you exist!"-even such a man is already on the way to lose the church entirely.

You see, as long as you can be a member of an atheist club or something of the sort, you are not really outside of the church. . ~Carl Jung, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra Seminar, Page 1011.

Now, since a man's spiritual vocation in the widest sense has been thrust upon him to an increasing degree by the unconscious, this naturally gave rise to the view that the God-image
was a spirit who required man's spirit.

This is not an invention of Christianity or of philosophy, but a common human experience to which even the atheist bears witness.

The important thing is what he talks about, not whether he agrees with it or not.

The other definition of God therefore asserts: "God is spirit."

The pneumatic God-image has been further attenuated as the Logos, and this gives the "love of God" that peculiarly abstract quality which is also apparent in the idea of "Christian love." ~Carl Jung, CW 5, Page 65.

Nietzsche thought himself quite conscious and responsible when he smashed the old tablets, yet he felt a peculiar need to back himself up with a revivified Zarathustra, a sort of alter ego, with whom he often identifies himself in his great tragedy

Thus Spake Zarathustra. Nietzsche was no atheist, but his God was dead.

The result of this demise was a split in himself, and he felt compelled to call the other self "Zarathustra" or, at times, "Dionysus."

In his fatal illness he signed his letters "Zagreus," the dismembered god of the Thracians.

The tragedy of Zarathustra is that, because his God died, Nietzsche himself became a god; and this happened because he was no atheist.

He was of too positive a nature to tolerate the urban neurosis of atheism.

It seems dangerous for such a man to assert that "God is dead": he instantly becomes the victim of inflation.*

Far from being a negation, God is actually the strongest and most effective "position" the psyche can reach, in exactly the same sense in which Paul speaks of people "whose God is their belly" (Phil. 3: 19).

The strongest and therefore the decisive factor in any individual psyche compels the same belief or fear, submission or devotion which a God would demand from man.

Anything despotic and inescapable is in this sense "God," and it becomes absolute unless, by an ethical decision freely chosen, one succeeds in building up against this natural phenomenon a position that is equally strong and invincible.

If this psychic position proves to be absolutely effective, it surely deserves to be named a "God," and what is more, a spiritual God, since it sprang from the freedom of ethical decision and therefore from the mind.

Man is free to decide whether "God" shall be a "spirit" or a natural phenomenon like the craving of a morphine addict, and hence whether "God" shall act as a beneficent or a destructive force.
~Carl Jung, CW 11, Pages 85-86

I would like to point out to my critic that I have in my time been regarded not only as a Gnostic and its opposite, but also as a theist and an atheist, a mystic and a materialist.

In this concert of contending opinions I do not wish to lay too much stress on what I consider myself to be, but will quote a judgment from a leading article in the British Medical Journal (9 February 1952), a source that would seem to be above suspicion.

"Facts first and theories later is the keynote of Jung's work. He is an empiricist first and last." This view meets with my approval. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Page 664

In calling themselves "atheists" or "agnostics," people dissatisfied with the Christian tradition are not being merely negative. In many cases it is easy to observe the phenomenon
of the "compensating God," as I have demonstrated in my most recent works. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Page 678.

It is sheer malevolence to accuse me of an atheistic attitude simply because I try to be honest and disciplined.

Speaking for myself, the question whether God exists or not is futile.

I am sufficiently convinced of the effects man has always attributed to a divine being.

If I should express a belief beyond that or should assert the existence of God, it would not only be superfluous and inefficient, it would show that I am not basing my opinion on facts.

When people say that they believe in the existence of God, it has never impressed me in the least.

Either I know a thing and then I don't need to believe it; or I believe it because I am not sure that I know it.

I am well satisfied with the fact that I know experiences which I cannot avoid calling numinous or divine. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Page 706-707



Carl Jung across the web:

Blog: http: http://carljungdepthpsychology.blogspot.com/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/102529939687199578205/posts

Facebook: Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/56536297291/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=4861719&sort=recent&trk=my_groups-tile-flipgrp

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Carl-Jung-326016020781946/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/purrington104/

Red Book: https://www.facebook.com/groups/792124710867966/

Scoop.It: http://www.scoop.it/u/maxwell-purrington

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaxwellPurringt

WordPress: https://carljungdepthpsychology.wordpress.com/