In our search for relation between religion and science, the psychological and psychotherapeutic disciplines appear to have a particularly close relevance for that function of religion called saving of souls, not only nominally but practically. During the past half-century there has grown a widespread incorporation of psychotherapeutic theory and clinical training in the education of the clergy, and it has had a considerable impact on pastoral care and counseling. In another practical operation, religious education, the technology of psychology has been applied in religious programs. Thus, at the practical level, there seems to be a good deal of integration between religion and psychology in mainstream religious ministry.
Is man inherently good? Is he inherently evil? Or is he neither, an amoral, ethically neutral creature? Despite many recent attempts to show that morality cannot be defined precisely or investigated scientifically and is therefore a meaningless problem, we go right ahead talking about virtue and evil, and judging conduct, both our own and that of others, as good or bad. So it would seem that, at the outset, we can eliminate the supposition that man is morally indifferent, ethically insensitive, amoral. Instead we must apparently posit that for him morality is a vital, relevant, and enduring concern. This then reduces the issue, as originally formulated, to a dichotomy: is man inherently good or inherently evil?
A lively debate usually ensues whenever one assumes and defends one of these alternatives as against the other. But we will, it seems, be on sounder ground if we take the position that there are inherent tendencies in human beings which dispose us all toward both good and evil. These tendencies, as I shall try to show, are deeply rooted in human nature, and there are strong forces propelling man toward virtue but also pulling him toward evil. Although we may not believe in the formal doctrines of Original Sin and the Substitutionary Atonement, the inescapable fact seems to be that man is an original and recurrent sinner and always will be; but he is also capable of creativity and originality in finding ways of extricating himself from sin and working out his own salvation. Thus, we may say man is perennially disposed toward goodness, wisdom, and virtue, as well as toward evil, stupidity, and folly.
If these reflections are valid, it follows that life must always be lived in the context of a certain amount of tension and strain; and although there are personal strategies and life styles which will lessen or increase this tension, it can never be altogether eliminated. So we may say that all men have the capacity for both good and evil; and, to paraphrase a common proverb, we may add that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. The problem, then, practically speaking, is how to capitalize on our propensities for goodness and self-control and minimize our susceptibility to temptation and evil. …
O. Hobart Mowrer is professor of psychology, University of Illinois.
Religion and the Collective Unconscious: Common Ground of Psychology and Religion by June K. Singer
Whether psychologists choose to orient their research toward investigating phenomena arising from observable sources or from hidden ones, the reality of unconscious motivation as a psychological factor and a frequent determinant of behavior is generally accepted. Since the unconscious is unconscious, all remarks which are made concerning it are necessarily the results of inferences and interpretations made from empirical observations. We can never observe the unconscious directly, not even in dreams, for all we remember of dreams is what has crossed a hypothetical threshold between the unconscious and consciousness. The sure knowledge we have that there is more to the dream than is remembered is a personally felt experience of the unconscious. While a dream fragment cannot be proved to be part of a whole, few people would deny it. In my own experience as an analyst, I have observed how patients often bring a dream into their session almost apologetically, saying that only a bit is remembered, but, as they begin to speak about it, they become aware of more than they had thought they had recalled. Their reaction to this is a mixture of relief at recapturing what they felt they had possessed but had lost, and pleasure in being able to achieve a feeling of harmony between what they knew directly and immediately, and what they later were able to perceive and to report. …
Dr. June K. Singer is a practicing analytical psychologist in Chicago.
Psychology and Hermeneutics: Jungs Contribution by Peter Homans
Theological studies are today, to employ one of theologys own more banal euphemisms, in a state of flux. While it may not be entirely correct to state that the high and grand theologies of neoorthodoxy have run their course, their influence is hardly as pervasive and compelling as it once was. In the face of their decline, a variety of minor emphases or approaches have appeared: death-of-God theology, religionless Christianity, theology of the secular, and, more recently, the theology of hope. Each has made the claim of freshness and renewal; yet each too, it seems, has already largely spent much of whatever energy it had. …
Peter Homans is associate professor of religion and personality, Divinity School, University of Chicago.
The Importance of the Three Phases of Freud for the Understanding of Religion by Heije Faber
It is possible to describe the scientific method quite simply as the attempt to coordinate things and then to make out whether the correlation is correct. Every branch of science constructs hypotheses about possible connections between given facts and then investigates whether the hypotheses hold water. As a result it is possible to make gingerly a modest prognostication.
However, I must warn you. In a typical investigation the scholarly researcher tries to show a connection between two phenomena, each as clear as can be. Whenever possible he will create a laboratory situation so that he can be certain that he can isolate the phenomena with which he is working from disturbing elements.
What I intend to do is, in comparison, debatable. I want to try to coordinate two theories, and not even two theories from the same branch of scholarship but from two different sciences. Thus I put myself outside the usual patterns of scientific investigation. The possibility of putting my hypothesis to the test is also very limited. I have to trust that the theories which I have chosen to coordinate have, each in its own field, been sufficiently verified. Yet I know that on their home grounds there is anything but unanimity of opinion about them. So I ask you to join me on a somewhat adventurous journey, from which, however, I trust you will gain something. We shall have to work with daring generalizations, but perhaps they will let us have a glimpse of new perspectives here and there which we otherwise would miss. …
Heije Faber is reader in pastoral psychology, Leiden University.