In Ireland, people often refer to ‘God’, flippantly or otherwise, as ‘the man above’. This is emblematic of the common view of a separate, person-like God – a kind of great humanoid in the sky, or a chief executive who can be taken to task for allowing bad things to happen. In my opinion, this is facile and illusory. Worse, the churches reinforce it by insisting on a separate, omnipotent ‘God’ to whose vagaries we are prey.
Recently I compiled an index for a book on influences on Carl Jung’s psychology, which I found inspiring (I won’t give details for the moment as it hasn’t been published yet). As the author sees it, monotheism and atheism are both based on a misconception: the existence/non-existence of a transcendent God (two sides of a worthless coin). In fact divinity is not separate from us – we are a contributing part of it. Divinity inheres in humanity (and in everything).
Mystical religious/philosophical traditions through the ages have embraced and developed this knowledge, but the institutional churches have played it down by way of a power grab, and hence have surrendered any spiritual vitality they might have possessed. Meanwhile reductionist scientism posits the idea of the isolated skull-encased mind, and of consciousness as merely an artefact of the brain. In this view, subjective experience is meaningless, and belief without scientific ‘evidence’ is risible. Nothing can be known except by the action of reason on data. Connection is denied – the doctrine of essential separateness espoused by both ‘factual’ scientism and ‘spiritual’ religion engenders angst and alienation.
In the Jungian/mystical view, (true) belief is experience arising unmediated from the soul, but ‘The ancient conception of the Logos as the mind’s participation in the divine … ceded in modernity to … its reduction to reason in interplay with the senses’ (and their measurable yield).
Jung raises the possibility of uniting the power of scientific reason with the subjective experience of the depths of the human psyche, in a synthesis affirming the truth and relative autonomy of both. The world and our scope as humans are bigger than the science and religion we are offered, and we know this intuitively.
There is more. We are more. Remember?