Psychology and Religion

The Lucifer legend is in no sense an absurd fairytale; like the story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, it is a “therapeutic” myth.

We naturally boggle at the thought that good and evil are both contained in God, and we think God could not possibly want such a thing.

We should be careful, though, not to pare down God’s omnipotence to the level of our human opinions; but that is just how we do think, despite everything.

Even so, it would not do to impute all evil to God: thanks to his moral autonomy, man can put down a sizable portion of it to his own account.

Evil is a relative thing, partly avoidable, partly fate just as virtue is, and often one does not know which is worse.

Think of the fate of a woman married to a recognized saint!

What sins must not the children commit in order to feel their lives their own under the overwhelming influence of such a father!

Life, being an energic process, needs the opposites, for without opposition there is, as we know, no energy.

Good and evil are simply the moral aspects of this natural polarity.

The fact that we have to feel this polarity so excruciatingly makes human existence all the more complicated.

Yet the suffering that necessarily attaches to life cannot be evaded.

The tension of opposites that makes energy possible is a universal law, fittingly expressed in the yang and yin of Chinese philosophy.

Good and evil are feeling-values of human provenance, and we cannot extend them beyond the human realm.

What happens beyond this is beyond our judgment: God is not to be caught with human attributes.

Besides, where would the fear of God be if only good —i.e., what seems good to us—were to be expected from him?

After all, eternal damnation doesn’t bear much resemblance to goodness as we understand it!

Although good and evil are unshakable as moral values, they still need to be subjected to a bit of psychological revision.

Much, that is to say, that proves to be abysmally evil in its ultimate effects does not come from man’s wickedness but from his stupidity and unconsciousness.

One has only to think of the devastating effects of Prohibition in America or of the hundred thousand autos-da-fe in Spain, which were all caused by a praiseworthy zeal to save people’s souls.

One of the toughest roots of all evil is unconsciousness, and I could wish that the saying of Jesus, “Man, if thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blessed, but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor of the law,” were still in the gospels, even though it has only one authentic source.

It might well be the motto for a new morality. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 291