Morality Through Religion vs The State
In this article, we continue exploring the insights of Dr. Carl Jung about the nature of the State, the dangers of government, and the role of religion as found in his book The Undiscovered Self. Last week, we saw that those in government power fear the power of religion because it provides believers a moral worldview that inevitably comes into conflict with the worldview those in power and places the ultimate authority in the hands of God or gods and not human institutions. For this reason, those human institutions have always sought either to eliminate or subvert the power of religions away from worship of and reliance upon the Divine and to turn religion into a tool that validates and promotes the power of the government. From this understanding, Dr. Jung draws a difference between what he sees as religion and what he sees as creeds.
Religion is the actual personal relationship that the individual being has with Divinity and the extra-mundane; those forces, experiences, and beliefs outside of the normal physical world. Prayer and gaining revelation through the Holy Spirit would be an example of what Dr. Jung is talking about here. Though these have physically measurable components, the actual experience is extra-mundane – spiritual and otherworldly in a way that the believer often finds impossible to adequately explain. These experiences create an experience of adoration and awe for God within the believer and draw him or her into a deeper and deeper relationship with the Divine. As this happens, the rules of his or her religion, not the laws of the government or the facts of realpolitik, become the foundational basis by which the believer measures the veracity and value of all things, which dictate how he or she will live. Measured against the perfection of God, human political institutions must always fail and, in failing, lose the mystique and authority by which they claim and authorize their dominion.
In contrast to these are what Dr. Jung calls the creeds. Creeds are formal churches with defined doctrines that believers must accept in order to be members. The creeds themselves are not bad, in fact they’re necessary to organize the spiritual life of the faithful into something meaningful and effective. But Dr. Jung notes it is easy to be a member of a creed, a church, for purely social reasons. I think all of us can think of those we know for whom church isn’t really a religious devotion, but they do love seeing their friends there. So going to church is not the same thing as being religious. Those whose purpose for going to church rests mostly in its social aspects, for the sense of purpose and community they find there, often have no problem compromising their beliefs in the name of State dominated public considerations.
It is only the truly religious, those whose relationship with Divinity is the dominating and defining experience and relationship of life - those for whom “the incontrovertible experience of an intensely personal, reciprocal relationship between man and an extra-mundane authority [God] which acts as a counterpoise to the ‘world’ and its ‘reason,’” - that are led by their faith in God and His authority to challenge, question, even oppose the authority of the State and thereby to “lay the foundations for the freedom and autonomy of the individual.” (Self, pgs. 15-16) The division and subservience of the State leads to direct conflict:
“This formulation will not please either the mass man or the collective believer. For the former the policy of the State is the supreme principle of thought and action. Indeed, this was the purpose for which he was enlightened, and accordingly the mass man grants the individual a right to exist only in so far as the individual is a function of the State. The believer, on the other hand, while admitting that the State has a moral and factual claim, confesses to the belief that not only man but the State that rules him is subject to the over-lordship of “God” and that, in case of doubt, the supreme decision will be made by God and not by the State.” (Self, pg. 16)
In other words: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.” (Matt. 6:24) The faithful, the truly religious, bow to God alone. They may even be willing to die for their faith, for their morality. They will not comprise what they know to be good and true. You may kill them, but you cannot make them obey you, which is what those in power need to actually have power. The truly religious are unconquerable. In contrast are those whose morality exists solely within a human framework, based on human reasoning alone.
Have you ever wondered why so-called conservatives, minarchists, and libertarians end up supporting political regimes that are neither conservative, minarchist, or libertarian? How about the way that so-called progressives, liberals, and socialists end up supporting political regimes that are definitively neither progressive, liberal, or socialist? Here Dr. Jung explains one of the main reasons why. Ideology and political belief, is simply not strong enough.
“The individual who is not anchored in God can offer no resistance on his own resources to the physical and moral blandishments of the world. For this he needs the evidence of inner, transcendent experience which alone can protect him from the otherwise inevitable submersion in the mass. Merely intellectual or even moral insight into the stultification and moral irresponsibility of the mass man is a negative recognition only and amounts to not much more than a wavering on the road to the atomization of the individual. It lacks the driving force of religious conviction, since it is merely rational.” (Self, pgs. 16-17)
When all that is left to define morality and truth are which statistics you choose to cite or the studies you reference, any argument can be made by simply choosing those bits of datum that justify your position. Science can be made to say anything – just look at how people argue over masks and lockdowns or abortion for evidence of this – which of course really means it says nothing at all. Absent any final arbiter of course, the State uses its immense power to assert its authority as the ultimate interpreter and enforcer to which everyone else defers, not truly disputing it but really wishing to use it for their own rule. When given the chance, they abandon their claimed values for the power to rule because those claimed values were never more than a building without a foundation.