Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East

Gnosis, as a special kind of knowledge, should not be confused with. “Gnosticism.” ~Footnote #13, Psychology and Religion, Page 45.

For a certain type of intellectual mediocrity characterized by enlightened rationalism, a scientific theory that simplifies matters is a very good means of defense because of the tremendous faith modern man has in anything which bears the label “scientific.”

Such a label sets your mind at rest immediately, almost as well as Roma locuta causa finita: “Rome has spoken, the matter is settled.”

In itself any scientific theory, no matter how subtle, has, I think, less value from the standpoint of psychological truth than religious dogma, for the simple reason that a theory is necessarily highly abstract and exclusively rational, whereas dogma expresses an irrational whole by means of imagery.

This guarantees a far better rendering of an irrational fact like the psyche. Moreover, dogma owes its continued existence and its form on the one hand to so-called “revealed” or immediate experiences of the “Gnosis” [See Footnote #13] for instance, the God-man, the Cross, the Virgin Birth, the Immaculate Conception, the Trinity, and so on, and on the other hand to the ceaseless collaboration of many minds over many centuries.

It may not be quite clear why I call certain dogmas “immediate experiences” since in itself a dogma is the very thing that precludes immediate experience.

Yet the Christian images I have mentioned are not peculiar to Christianity alone (although in Christianity they have undergone a development and intensification of meaning not to be found in any other religion).

They occur just as often in pagan religions, and besides that they can reappear spontaneously in all sorts of variations as psychic phenomena, just as in the remote past they originated in visions, dreams, or trances. Ideas like these are never invented.

They came into being before man had learned to use his mind purposively.

Before man learned to produce thoughts, thoughts came to him.

He did not think he perceived his mind functioning.

Dogma is like a dream, reflecting the spontaneous and autonomous activity of the objective psyche, the unconscious.

Such an expression of the unconscious is a much more efficient means of defense against further immediate experiences than any scientific theory.

The theory has to disregard the emotional values of the experience.

The dogma, on the other hand, is extremely eloquent in just this respect.

One scientific theory is soon superseded by another. Dogma lasts for untold centuries.

The suffering God-Man may be at least five thousand years old and the Trinity is probably even older. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Pages 45-46.