“Thus there is, in a certain sense, nothing that is directly experienced except the mind itself.
Everything is mediated through the mind, translated, filtered, allegorized, twisted, even falsified by it.”
“We are in truth so wrapped about by psychic images that we cannot penetrate at all to the essence of things external to ourselves.
All our knowledge consists of the stuff of the psyche which, because it alone is immediate, is superlatively real.”
“Projection is a general psychological mechanism that carries over subjective contents of any kind into the object.”
“The idea of God is an absolutely necessary psychological function of an irrational nature,
which has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of God’s existence.
The human intellect can never answer this question, still less give any proof of God.”
“The existence of God is once and for all an unanswerable question.”
“The consensus gentium has been talking of gods for aeons and will still be talking of them aeons hence.”
quotes from the Collected Works of C.G. Jung that bear on “the god problem”
The quote above by Jung alludes directly or indirectly to some of the ways in which “god” is problematic. But how did we get to this difficult point in humanity’s restless development? What are the overt problems, and is there a basic psychic problem underlying them? Along the way, how do we understand “faith” and “beliefs”, spirituality and theology, as manifestations of psychic processes?
Carl Jung laid out the underlying psychic conundrum regarding “god” in several locations in his Collected Works: our psyches push us towards a belief in god while at the same time leaving us not knowing if in fact a god exists and giving us no way of knowing whether a god exists.
Exploring some of the history of our species and the basic structures of our psychic lives—psychic reality, everyday complexes, projection, the physicality on which our psychic lives depend—gives some indication of the source, nature, and stubbornness of the problems and suggests a difficult solution.
Lou Sagert, MD has had a longstanding interest in Jungian thought and the nature of the psyche and is a long-term member of the Minnesota Seminar in Jungian Studies. He has also attended multiple psycho-spiritual/dream seminars conducted by Brugh Joy. His professional practice has been in internal medicine. He still likes dogs, fruit, cheese, . . . and eggs with hollandaise.