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    Thread: The Pscychological Perspective: Carl Jung on Organized Religion

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      peyton manning Caprisun's Avatar
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      The Pscychological Perspective: Carl Jung on Organized Religion

      So I've been reading a lot of Carl Jung lately. His theory of the collective unconscious really interests me for it's ramifications to the religious world among other things. I thought it would be interesting to see a religious debate from the psychological perspective rather than a biological perspective or a physical/astronomical perspective. I've watched quite a few debates on youtube, usually involving a biologist and a creationist, and they inevitably turn into the same old arguments about evolution and missing fossils and "it's only a theory" and "I just think they should teach an alternative theory." It's like a roundabout way of addressing the issue of religon, it doesn't attack it directly. If there is one thing I know about religious people, it's that they won't give up their faith on a technicallity. It makes no difference to them if you prove evolution or the big bang or if you find contradictions in their teachings. There is always an excuse. "God caused the big bang," "God started evolution,"or "God designed evolution." It's not that I don't think these perspectives satisfactorally invalidate all of the major religions, it's that I think the psychological perspective is much more compelling.

      I'll focus mainly on Carl Jung because he was one of the original pioneers in this field and it's what he focused most of his effort on. I'll try to make this brief: The gist of the argument is that, through studying the entire known history of world religions, from unique tribal societies to the major religious institutions that dominate the world, Jung has found that they all have certain elements in common and their roots can all be traced back to certain attributes of human psychology. There are no truly unique religions. It isn't random. They all have a significance to our mental health and they do indeed serve a psychological purpose. The concept of religion can be traced through evolution just and the development of any certain body part can. Jung believed that all religion is founded by the unconscious projection of our inner psychic makeup onto the outside world. With greater consciousness comes a greater curiosity and a greater level of anxiety about the world. We may in fact be the only species on the planet with the ability to contemplate our own death before it is imminent. This will invariably cause undue stress on the human mind. So the evolutionary advantage of religion would be as a coping strategy against insanity. If we can explain exactly how and why we have religion, in a scientific manner, should that not rule out the possibility of it's supernatural origin? I realize this argument has the same potential outcome of the biological perspective, but it should be at least enough to make you think. And as in psychotherapy, if you bring unconscious activity into consciousness, and realize in what ways you were acting unconsciously, it makes it much easier to consciously control those facets of your life that you thought you were in control of but it turns out you were just along for the ride. I am also interested in Jung's levels of conscioussness. He made a system of at least five levels of consciousness that a human may reach through the development of their personality (before he died he was also looking into the possibility of a 6th and even a 7th level existing.) These are arbitrary lines drawn by Jung but each level is characterized by distinct shifts in consciousness. He also found that the majority of people never make it passed level 3. By definition, a person who literally believes there is a God who is watching them and judging them, can never advance passed a level three of counsciousness unless they give up their belief. He feels that it is the natural course of development for a person to eventually give up that belief, but modern religion has succeeded in stimying this natural devlopment.

      From a mixed biological and psychological standpoint: Our brains, being a sexual ornament rather than a survival tool, carry along with them unforseen pitfalls. Just like a peacocks tail, the bigger and more colorful the tail, the more attractive you are, but then you have to lug that thing around which makes it hard to evade predators. That is a fitness indicator but it could also be seen as a survival hinderance. So my personal opinion would be that our higher levels of consiousness which resulted from the growth of our brains and it's use as a sexual ornament, have made us prone to psychological illness where our dumber ancestors never had any problems. Religion and spirituality are ways of coping with these ailments. With greater pleasure comes greater pain and only with effective coping strategies can we control our mental state to a level where we can live a normal and productive life.

      "Jung reached many of his conclusions based on comparative studies
      he made of the worldís various mythologies. These mythologies,
      he found, each constituted a similar compilation of fables, legends,
      and morality tales that exist among every human culture from the
      dawn of our species. Through its mythology, every human culture has
      codified its social and spiritual norms, rites, customs, ethical standards,
      and beliefs. Jung not only concluded that all cultures possessed a
      mythology, but that all of them also contained remarkable similarities.
      Whether he was studying the Old and New Testaments of Judeo-
      Christianity, the Zarathustrian Avestas, the Norse Eddas, the Icelandic
      Sagas, the Islamic Koran, the Egyptian or Tibetan Books of the Dead,
      Hesiodís Theogony, Homerís Iliad and Odyssey, Virgilís Aeneid, the Celtic
      Sagas, Urartian (Armenian) cuneiform, the Japanese Kojiki (Record of
      Ancient Masters) or Nihongi (the Chronicles), the Babylonian tales,
      the Ugaritic myths of Palestine and Syria, the Chinese Shi Ching
      (Book of History), the Hindu Rig Veda, Mahabharata and Ramayana,
      the Theravada Buddhist Vinanatthu, the myths from the various cultures
      of Africa, Polynesia, or South and Central America, or the manuscripts
      of the medieval Alchemists, Jung found common themes in
      each of these cultureís writings...........Because he found such similarities in the myths of every world
      culture, Jung concluded that the contents of these myths must be generated
      from some inherent psychic substrate that must be shared by
      our entire species. This he called our collective unconscious." --Matthew Alper


      "What is ordinarily called "religion" is a substitute.
      The substitute has the obvious purpose of replacing
      immediate experience by a choice of suitable symbols
      supported by an organized dogma and ritual." --Carl G. Jung



      William Cowper (1731-1800), an English poet and hymn writer (one of his most beloved hymns is "There is a Fountain Filled with Blood"), whose funeral was conducted by his good friend John Newton (the man who wrote "Amazing Grace"), once observed, "Religion makes the free by nature slaves!" Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) firmly believed that formalized religion, which he characterized as "a system of wish-illusions, incompatible with reality," had a distinct tendency to bring with it a type of neurosis he termed "obsessional limitation." In other words, the more a system of religion seeks to control all of one's thoughts and actions, the more pathologically obsessed one inevitably becomes, which in turn will invariably lead to the imposing of harsh restrictions and limitations, both upon self and others. When other men fail to perceive the spiritual significance of one's rigid religious regulations and rituals, each and all of these others will be perceived by the one obsessed by his/her dogma as apostate and fit for destruction. Such thinking invariably leads to the oppression of those deemed by these religious zealots as "godless, faithless wretches." Dr. Robert Lindner (1914-1956), who, in his tragically brief lifespan, penned some of our greatest works on psychoanalysis, astutely observed, "There is no formal religion that does not insist, as its first requirement, on a confession of conformity. Nor is there, any longer, a religion that offers a path to Heaven other than the autobahn of submission. One and all, they have conspired, in the name of the Spirit, against the spirit of man: one and all, they have sold him into slavery. Under threat of damnation, hell-fire, they have ordered him to renounce protest, to forego revolt, to be passive, to surrender" [Must You Conform?, written in 1956].

      http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx397.htm

      I'm interested in what a Christian has to say about all of this.

      Recommended reading:

      The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller

      The God Part of the Brain by Matthew Alper

      Jung's Map of the Soul by Dr. Bernstein

      Moder Man in Search of a Soul by Carl Jung

      Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung
      Last edited by Caprisun; 07-01-2010 at 11:59 PM.
      "Someday, I think you and I are going to have a serious disagreement." -- Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) Last of the Mohicans

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      DuB
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      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      So my personal opinion would be that our higher levels of consiousness which resulted from the growth of our brains and it's use as a sexual ornament, have made us prone to psychological illness where our dumber ancestors never had any problems. Religion and spirituality are ways of coping with these ailments. With greater pleasure comes greater pain and only with effective coping strategies can we control our mental state to a level where we can live a normal and productive life.
      So religion and "spirituality" are ways of coping with a "psychological illness" inherited from our "dumber ancestors." Okay. Now do you have anything empirically supported to say, or are you only offering speculative bullshit?

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      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      I am also interested in Jung's levels of conscioussness. He made a system of at least five levels of consciousness that a human may reach through the development of their personality (before he died he was also looking into the possibility of a 6th and even a 7th level existing.) These are arbitrary lines drawn by Jung but each level is characterized by distinct shifts in consciousness. He also found that the majority of people never make it passed level 3. By definition, a person who literally believes there is a God who is watching them and judging them, can never advance passed a level three of counsciousness unless they give up their belief. He feels that it is the natural course of development for a person to eventually give up that belief, but modern religion has succeeded in stimying this natural devlopment.
      I'm interested in how modern religion has actually stymied 'this natural development.' What's the development of the personality, also? It may be true for people who hold onto dogma, but surely not everybody. There are people who can still believe in religious teachings without being clouded by mere scriptures alone. Do you mind explaining this?

      So my personal opinion would be that our higher levels of consiousness which resulted from the growth of our brains and it's use as a sexual ornament, have made us prone to psychological illness where our dumber ancestors never had any problems. Religion and spirituality are ways of coping with these ailments. With greater pleasure comes greater pain and only with effective coping strategies can we control our mental state to a level where we can live a normal and productive life.
      Why is it then, that 'our dumber ancestors' had religion in their day? Do you also think that every religious person uses religion in the same way?

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      peyton manning Caprisun's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      So religion and "spirituality" are ways of coping with a "psychological illness" inherited from our "dumber ancestors." Okay. Now do you have anything empirically supported to say, or are you only offering speculative bullshit?
      I didn't forget to mention it was my opinion did I? It's just one way of looking at it. I'll admit, I was a little too vague with that sentence, but I was just trying to keep it under a thousand words. By "illness," I mean neurosis or pathological behavior, by "dumber ancestors," I mean apes, not homo sapiens. I'm speaking about the very distant past. For emperical evidence, all of Carl Jung's work supports this view, as well as most modern schools of psychology (which conveniently haven't changed much since Jung's time.) Why else would a religious function evolve if not for health or reproductive purposes? A straightforward book about the idea of a "religious function" is The God Part of the Brain. Carl Jung and philosophers such as Immanuel Kant also wrote extensively on the subject. It's obviously much more complicated than the way I described it, which is why I branded it as my opinion.

      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      I'm interested in how modern religion has actually stymied 'this natural development.' What's the development of the personality, also? It may be true for people who hold onto dogma, but surely not everybody. There are people who can still believe in religious teachings without being clouded by mere scriptures alone. Do you mind explaining this?
      "Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) firmly believed that formalized religion, which he characterized as "a system of wish-illusions, incompatible with reality," had a distinct tendency to bring with it a type of neurosis he termed "obsessional limitation." In other words, the more a system of religion seeks to control all of one's thoughts and actions, the more pathologically obsessed one inevitably becomes, which in turn will invariably lead to the imposing of harsh restrictions and limitations, both upon self and others. When other men fail to perceive the spiritual significance of one's rigid religious regulations and rituals, each and all of these others will be perceived by the one obsessed by his/her dogma as apostate and fit for destruction. Such thinking invariably leads to the oppression of those deemed by these religious zealots as "godless, faithless wretches."

      "Dr. Robert Lindner (1914-1956), who, in his tragically brief lifespan, penned some of our greatest works on psychoanalysis, astutely observed, "There is no formal religion that does not insist, as its first requirement, on a confession of conformity. Nor is there, any longer, a religion that offers a path to Heaven other than the autobahn of submission. One and all, they have conspired, in the name of the Spirit, against the spirit of man: one and all, they have sold him into slavery. Under threat of damnation, hell-fire, they have ordered him to renounce protest, to forego revolt, to be passive, to surrender" [Must You Conform?, written in 1956]. "

      The development of the personality has been studied and described by many different psychologists and it's a little confusing because they all call it something different and they all make up different terms for certain parts of the psyche. Jung called it "individuation." It's a lifelong process of overcoming personal biases and integrating your "shadow personality" along with all other unconscious archetypes into consciousness. It creates a cohesive, yet differentiated pscyhological unit whereas the average person's psyche is severly fragmented and apspects of thses fragments are constantly slipping in and out of consciousness without the deliberate control or awareness of the individual. That way you can be in control of all your previously unconscious behaviors and you can really be aware of the forces that cause you to move into action. As for a person who doesn't adhere to dogma but still believes in God, it doesn't make a difference if their beleifs are dogmatic or not. It is all about the frame of mind. Each level involves a different way of thinking, just like in developmental pscyhology where children go through a phase where if they don't physically see something, they don't believe it exists. If you walk out of the room, they have no concept of you existing outside of that room. They of course grow out of that phase eventually. Advancement to a level 4 consciousness, according to Jung, involves realizing how you were unconsciously projecting your thoughts onto the world and how that projection formed your belief in God. You can't advance to level four without that realization. I am not sure exactly what each level entails, incase you were planning on asking me, I just know that Carl Jung himself said you can't advance past level three if you believe in anything supernatural.

      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      Why is it then, that 'our dumber ancestors' had religion in their day? Do you also think that every religious person uses religion in the same way?
      They didn't have religion. That's my fault for being vague, but I was talking about the distant past, before religion.

      I didn't realize there was more than one way to use religion.
      Last edited by Caprisun; 07-02-2010 at 12:38 AM.
      "Someday, I think you and I are going to have a serious disagreement." -- Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) Last of the Mohicans

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      DuB
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      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      For emperical evidence, all of Carl Jung's work supports this view
      Oh brother. Jung's "work" consisted of little or no rigorous empirical evidence. It was one part casual observation, nine parts interesting but baseless (and untestable) speculation, and a bit of philosophy for good measure. Your post is a fitting extension of this.

      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      as well as most modern schools of psychology (which conveniently haven't changed much since Jung's time.)
      Oh, what "schools" would those be exactly? And for the record, things have changed a lot in psychology since Jung's time. For starters, psychoanalysis is dead; it is the Latin of psychology. I study psychology at the postgraduate level, and since I'm now published in the field's peer-reviewed academic literature I'd say it's safe to call me a psychologist, so you can take that one to the bank.

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      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      Dub, I don't think he was challenging you to a pissing contest. I don't understand why you are acting so offended. The ideas he talked about follow logic of notable merit but perhaps have not been proven to the point of being strong theories. I think Matthew Alper's notion of the "God part of the brain" makes really good sense. You should read his book on it.

      Also, psychoanalysis is not completely dead. It is true that a lot of Freud's "theories" are ridiculous, but some of them do hold water. I think many of his theories on the ways the subconscious manifests itself through various means to form defense mechanisms are right. The subconscious is very real, and Freud was one of the pioneering explorers of it. Many of his conclusions and methods for dealing with the subconscious are still highly regarded in psychology and practiced by psychologists, but it is true that the full specifics of his overall methods have mostly fallen.
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      I study psychology at the postgraduate level, and since I'm now published in the field's peer-reviewed academic literature I'd say it's safe to call me a psychologist, so you can take that one to the bank.
      May I ask what journal you are published under, and perhaps a link to the dissertation? I would be very interested.

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      peyton manning Caprisun's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      Oh brother. Jung's "work" consisted of little or no rigorous empirical evidence. It was one part casual observation, nine parts interesting but baseless (and untestable) speculation, and a bit of philosophy for good measure. Your post is a fitting extension of this.

      Oh, what "schools" would those be exactly? And for the record, things have changed a lot in psychology since Jung's time. For starters, psychoanalysis is dead; it is the Latin of psychology. I study psychology at the postgraduate level, and since I'm now published in the field's peer-reviewed academic literature I'd say it's safe to call me a psychologist, so you can take that one to the bank.
      Jesus. I'll call you a psychologist when you're really a psychologist. It isn't only Jung, if you'll look again, I had a little bit of variety in my sources, and that wasn't a comprehensive list. And Jung's work consisted of plenty of empirical evidence, at least for his most important theories. He is always careful to explain his methods of research, all of which can be tested and were tested and verified by him and others, hundreds of times. Is that not the definition of empirical? Give me specific examples of why any of his findings should be considered anything less than legitimate rather than giving an arrogant lecture about how ridiculous I am. Do you have anything of substance to offer or are you just being hypercritical for the sake of being hypercritical? I also study psychology in school, and though I'm not looking into that as a career, I'm not a moron. These aren't just random ideas that popped into my head.
      Last edited by Caprisun; 07-02-2010 at 03:50 AM.
      "Someday, I think you and I are going to have a serious disagreement." -- Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) Last of the Mohicans

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      DuB
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      Alright I guess I got carried away, I apologize. I'll disagree with the points about psychoanalysis being valid or in any way useful, but I'll just leave it at that rather than belabor the point. Mostly it just bothers me that that's all people seem to equate the entire field with--one of the more important side-effects of this is that it increasingly makes getting a respectable amount of funding a bitch. I wasn't near sober when I wrote my first reply (although I guess I don't have an excuse for the second) and I tend to lose all sense of diplomacy pretty quickly in that state... I ought to write a script to block Dreamviews from my browser between 2am and 6am

      Xei and Universal Mind like this.

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      Xei
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      I've learned previously that DuB takes poorly to treating psychology as a non-exact science.

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      You could say that it's one of my hot buttons Anyway it definitely is a non-exact science as is all social/behavioral science, but certainly a number of steps above doing a bunch of coke and making up stories about peoples' dreams. Do you know that people routinely ask me to analyze/interpret their dreams for them? I wish I were making this up.

      Edit: For laughs I thought I'd add a true story that I've always found amusing, about the first meeting between Gordon Allport and Sigmund Freud. Allport, a recent college graduate, was on his way to meet the famous Sigmund Freud in Vienna. When he arrives, Freud is silent and intense, one of his ever-present cigars in mouth. Allport nervously tries to break the silence by recounting a story from the train ride on the way over. He mentions that there was a little boy with his mother on the train who appeared to have a severe dirt phobia and wouldn't get close to anyone except his mother and refused to sit where anyone else had been seated. At the end of Allport's story, Freud takes the cigar out of his mouth and intones, "And was that little boy you?"
      Needless to say, this was a bit much for Allport.
      Last edited by DuB; 07-02-2010 at 05:03 AM.

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      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      I've learned previously that DuB takes poorly to treating psychology as a non-exact science.
      Nobody here has done that. Sometimes people who all treat something as an exact science will not all arrive at exactly the same conclusions concerning it. Therefore, we can all just be a happy love commune.

      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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