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Carl Jung on why some people believe in God

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Letters Volume II

To B . A. Snowdon

Dear Mr. Snowdon, 7 May 1955

You were quite right in believing I would answer your letter.

You are obviously a sincere man to whom one can give a straight answer.

You want to know why you believe so confidently in the existence of God, and you mention your friends who believe they are able to explain the reason for our existence or who say that the world can just as well be accidental, or similar things.

Nobody can answer such questions since there is no answer to them.

Whether the world is accidental, or intended or planned, nobody can say.

That I myself have a reasonable and provable cause is no news, but that man’s existence in general has a definite and verifiable cause nobody can
say, as little as we know the reasons why there are elephants, or trees, or amoebas, or anything else.

Of course there are reasons why they exist, but they are all unpredictable facts, which means that in past geological ages nobody would have been in a position to predict the coming of mammals and incidentally of man.

People who believe that they can explain these things are just a bit muddle-headed and victims of their own illusions.

The only thing we can safely state is that all the said things do exist,
for reasons unknown.

Now when you ask why you so confidently believe in the existence of God, nobody can tell you why.

It is just a fact, a result or a fruit of your living mind.

The mind is like a tree bringing forth its characteristic blossom and fruit; it is just so.

As you call something that pleases you beautiful or good, so you confess to believe in God.

As an apple tree that bears no fruit would be all wrong, so you would be all wrong if you didn’t confess your truth.

It just grows in arid through you, and this great unknown thing that makes the universe tick at all, and incidentally causes ourselves to produce such thoughts and convictions, is what man since time immemorial has called “gods” or “God.”

It does not matter what he calls his God, whether he gives Him the name of “first cause,” “matter,” “ether,” “will to be,” “creative urge,” etc.

When somebody says that the thing he suggests is something new or other than God, he is a bit soft in the brain, i .e., he is incapable of thinking clearly.

He still believes in the magic power of words as if he were able to change something in the world by saying: “This is not God, but something else.”

God is an immediate experience of a very primordial nature, one of the most natural products of our mental life, as the birds sing, as the wind whistles, like the thunder of the surf.

If you find such a belief in you, you are just natural, and we know that your mind functions properly, but equally we are unable to say why there are different kinds of birds, or why there are birds at all; we cannot find the reasons why their song exists in its particular way.

No scientist is able to tell you why we see a certain wave-length as green or red or blue, since all we can make out is only the length of the light waves, but it is a fact that we see these colours.

People who think that they know the reasons for everything are unaware of the obvious fact that the existence of the universe itself is one big unfathomable secret, and so is our human existence.

You can just be glad to have such a conviction, like a man who is in a happy frame of mind, even if nobody else, not even himself, knows why, but certainly nobody could prove to him that he is unhappy or that his feeling happy is an illusion.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 252-253.