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Carl Jung on Religion, Science and Belief
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Carl Jung Letters Vol 1 1906-1950

To Paul Maag

Dear Colleague, 12 June 1933

Best thanks for your kind letter.

You assume, unjustly, that your specifically orthodox position arouses in me a feeling of mockery.

Nothing could be further from my mind.

I can only emphasize yet again that I must fulfill my scientific duty as a psychologist and therefore may not go beyond the bounds proper to science without making myself guilty of intellectual presumption.

I cannot under any circumstances square it with my scientific conscience to presume to make any arrogant assertions about God that spring from a belief or a subjective opinion.

Even what I may personally believe about the ultimate things is, regarded as an object of science, open to scientific criticism.

But that in no way prevents me from having views of my own.

These views cannot possibly be known to you since I have never expressed them.

When therefore you state in• your estimable letter that you know exactly what kind of God I believe in, I can only marvel at your powers of imagination.

In my humble opinion you would perhaps have done better to ask me first what I actually think about God outside the bounds of my science.

It might then have turned out that I am a Mohammedan, or a Buddhist, or possibly even an orthodox Christian like you.

Whatever my subjective opinion may be, I would consider it absolutely immoral to use them to anticipate what is scientifically knowable.

My subjective attitude is that I hold every religious position in high esteem but draw an inexorable dividing line between the content of belief and the requirements of science.

I consider it unclean to confuse these incommensurables.

Even more, I consider it presumptuous to credit human knowledge with a faculty that demonstrably exceeds its limitations.

We must admit in all modesty the limitations of all human knowledge and take it as a gift of grace if ever an experience of the Unfathomable should come our way.

What men have always named God is the Unfathomable itself. Were that not so, it would be as possible for an ant to know man and his nature as it is for us to know the nature of the ant.

As you. see, I am wholly incorrigible and utterly incapable of coming up with a mixture of theology and science.

This was, as you well know: the prerogative of the early Middle Ages and is still the prerogative of the Catholic Church today, which has set the Summa of Thomas Aquinas above the whole of science.

It has been one of the greatest achievements of Protestantism to have separated the things of God from .the things of the world.

With our human knowledge we always move in the human sphere, but in the things of God we should keep quiet and not make any arrogant assertions about what is greater than ourselves.

Belief as a religious phenomenon cannot be discussed.

It seems to me, however, that when belief enters into practical life we are entitled to the opinion that it should be coupled with the Christian virtue of modesty, which does not brag about absoluteness but brings itself to admit the unfathomable ways of God which have nothing to do with the Christian revelation.

Even though the apostles and Paul and John of the Apocalypse himself emphasize its uniqueness and exclusiveness, we nevertheless know that they were all mortal men who for that reason were also subject to the limitations of human knowledge.

Hoping I have made my standpoint sufficiently plain,

With collegial regards,

C.G. Jung, ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 124-125.