The Death and Resurrection of God



The Conflict between Religion and Science


When the word ‘God’ is used, it typically refers to an anthropomorphic God—an extra-terrestrial super-human who, having created the world, is charged with the laborious task of overseeing its day-to-day operations. Any statement that seeks to explain the origins of the universe or the dynamics by which it is governed is a scientific statement, not a theological one, and therefore must be verified by scientific methods. Of course, neither creationism nor its sister hypothesis ‘intelligent design’ can be scientifically tested. As a result, believers often find themselves at odds with physicists and biologists. But as Joseph Campbell once observed, the conflict is not between science and religion. The conflict is between the science of the 21st century and the science of 2,000 BC.
Fundamentalists hang on every word of the Bible. As a result, they cling to an antiquated explanation of the physical universe and in doing so overlook the essential concern of religions thought. Religion is first and foremost concerned with salvation. The word “salvation”  comes from the Latin word salvus, meaning “wholeness, completion, good health.” Sure, for centuries religion was a catch-all. To some degree, everyone from St. Augustine to John of the Cross took the Bible’s creation story for granted. Like most people, they were curious about the origins of life and intelligent design was the science” of their day, but “science” was never their chief concern. Their wheel house was always the health and maintenance of the soul—man’s inner life.
The word spirit comes from the Greek word psykhe or psyche. We tend to associate the term psyche with the brain, but the Greek word to which it owes its origins has a subtler meaning. Spirit is presence or wakefulness. It is the breath of life itself, as in the animating force breathed into Adam’s body. The psyche or the spirit, is the image of God, so to speak.
The imago dei does not explain the phenomenon of being. It is an image or symbol for Being-itself. It is, as Tillich suggested, the “ground of being.” "I am-ness is God's true name and likeness. It is the foundation, the ground, the seed of wakefulness planted in the heart of man. The image of God is also the logos—the structure of our being, which is like a blueprint embedded deep in our body that intuits maturation, wholeness, and realization. It is, in more modern language, the unconscious seeking to become conscious. This inner reconciliation is the essence of salvation and is therefore at the heart of religion, which comes from the Latin word ‘religare’ meaning, “to bind together or unite.”
Religious or spiritual practice (actions that exercise or arouse the psykhe) seeks to unite the unconscious wisdom of the body with the light of awareness, allowing God to be born into the world. Freud saw the unconscious as a sort of blind, unintelligent lusting not to be trusted. Carl Jung saw intelligence, meaning, wholeness, or Holiness in the will of the unconscious. He described libido as “the drive, passion, or will of the spirit (psyche). Sure, like the wrathful demonstrations of divinity found in the Hebrew Bible, Jung warned of the dangers inherent in a confrontation with the unconscious, but on the whole saw that confrontation as unavoidable and working towards man’s “higher purpose”—salvation, enlightenment, individuation.
Salvation, or our inner-health and well-being, is the great anemia of modern man. We have misplaced our inner-world. Secularization has given birth to more collectivist paradigms, which enable large groups of people with differing points of view to harmoniously inhabit the same space, but unfortunately are incapable of arousing our spirit. While in many ways secularization is a necessary and vital step toward social progress, these external responsibilities do not negate our obligation to our inner world.* 
We cannot hope for a peaceful planet when we ourselves are troubled souls. Our body anticipates self-actualization, and failure to consent leads to internal division and suffering. The unconscious demands to be made conscious and “until you make the unconscious conscious,” Jung said, “it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” This drive or journey from potential to kinetic psychic energy—the unification of mind and body—is instinctual. Therefore, spirituality, religion, and myth are intrinsic to man. 

The biological and psychological imperative to make the inner journey necessitates a language that renders the instinctual forces of man accessible to his conscious mind. This language is mythology.  In short, mythology is the native tongue of the psyche. It is the map of our inner-terrain. 
We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, as Paul said in his epistle to the Philippians. Salvation is an individual responsibility. Therefore, it is a subjective journey. It is a journey that requires a map of metaphors and symbols that resonate with us, not objective latitudes and longitudes. The ubiquity of a secular world view is creating a sense of exile or disembodiment within modern man. Secularism has its place, but just as religious symbols cannot be used to answer scientific questions, secular language cannot satisfy spiritual longings.

Secularization is needed in the external world but in the inner world it is impotent. Modern man is becoming increasingly concerned with sterile facts and less observant of his inner world. As already stated, a secular point of view is helpful, even necessary for seven billion people to peacefully share this planet in an increasingly inter-dependent climate, but objectivity is impotent when it crosses the border of our skin into kingdom of our heart. It is incapable of connecting with the forces that stir deep in our psyche. Modern man has replaced his indigenous language with the language of his rational mind. He has replaced symbols with signs and as a result he lives in his head, exiled from the life of the body.
“[Signs] do no more than denote the objects to which they are attached,” said Jung. “A word or an image is symbolic when it implies something more than its immediate and obvious meaning. [There is] a wider unconscious that is never precisely defined or explained. Nor can one hope to define or explain it.” This “wider unconscious that is never precisely defined or explained” is the underlying sense of divinity which anticipates the realm of transcendence. It is the Ground of Being.
Signs are definitions or explanations; whereas symbols are gateways through which we can enter into an experience of mysteryWhen God is used as an explanation, it is fundamentalism or faux-science. The God-sign is dead. But when God is skillfully employed as a symbol, it is a portal through which we can enter into the Power of Being that animates us all. The God-symbol is life giving. The God-symbol, in the words of Joseph Campbell, “points past itself to a ground of meaning and being that is one with the consciousness of the beholder.”
Language enables us to express meaning, which is rooted in our experience. “Man uses the spoken or written word to express the meaning of what he wants to convey,” said Jung. In addition to mythology, poetry, art, and music are all forms of language that resonate with energetic principles embedded in the human psyche and serve as mediums through which these instinctual urges are pressed out into the field of our incarnation. 
In this case, the term ‘instinct’ refers to physiological urges or objective phenomena occurring within the envelope of skin and perceived by the senses. These urges are the forces behind the unfolding or the maturation of our human nature. Each of these urges has a distinct character. This character, in the language of Jung, is called an “archetype.” These characters represent the casts of the world's great mythologies.   

There is a core pantheon of archetypes that are universal and reoccurring throughout mythology. These archetypes constitute the basic framework of the spiritual journey—the unfolding of our person into the field of our incarnation. They are the shadow, the wise old man, the child, the mother, and the anima (feminine) in man and the animus {masculine} in woman. However, like various rivers emptying into a single monotheistic ocean, all of these archetypes lead back to the original image. This transcendent symbol is the image of God, or as Jung called it, the True Self. This Self is more real than our persona or the mask we wear, which is but a translation. It is the raw, unmediated experience of Being-itself, the Logos.
Of the limitless number of archetypal images that populate the human psyche there is one character of particular importance on the spiritual journey, namely the hero. The hero is the one with which we can all identify. The hero is the one who is willing to make the journey into the unknown. The hero is a spark of inspiration in the human psyche. It is the image in the back of our mind that remembers the innocence of the child, still hears the voice of the old man, and with the compassion and wisdom of the feminine and masculine principles in his arsenal is willing to brave the shadow land in order to reconnect with the True Self and return to the plane of daily life where he gifts himself to the world in which he lives. 

The hero is, in short, the sacrificial lamb. It is that quality in the structure of our Being that anticipates the Glory of God and is willing to give up its own life so that this indwelling God may be born into the realm of time and space.

*Given the current political climate I felt it necessary to qualify my comments on globalization and secularism. I am an advocate of both. They are indispensable mechanisms in the pursuit of social progress and political order. However, man has an obligation to the maintenance of his inner life and this obligation is no less important than his social or civic responsibilities. Secular language is collectivist in nature; whereas spirituality is a deeply individualistic concern. When secular language becomes our only language system, we misplace a vital tool in the service our inner-life.   

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