Monday, September 20, 2010

What to believe?

Some people believe it to be physically true that Christ was born as the son of a virgin, while others deny this as a physical impossibility. Everyone can see there is no logical solution to this conflict, and that one would do better not to get involved in such sterile disputes.

Both views are right and wrong. Religious sentiments are of this type. They refer without objection to things that cannot be established as physical facts.

C. G. Jung, Answer to Job: The Problem of Evil; Its Psychological and Religious Origins

1 comment:

  1. If we have no firm evidence that a virgin birth occurred and we have no theory to explain how a female without a "Y" chromosome could give birth to a male, exactly how is there no logical solution here?

    Christianity has a privileged status in our culture and folks are reluctant to question too deeply.

    Would we apply this ambiguous "both right and wrong" viewpoint to religions that are less privileged?

    Would we apply it to Greek and Roman mythology?

    Would we apply it to Scientology's claims about the story of Xenu (the tyrant ruler of the "Galactic Confederacy") who is claimed to have brought billions of people to Earth 75 million years ago in spaceships that resemble DC-8 jetliners?

    If we would not apply Jung's idea to Greek mythology or Scientology, then we should not apply it to Christianity.

    Jung's "both right and wrong" comment are an example of what the philosopher Daniel Dennett calls a "deepity."

    A "deepity" is a proposition that seems to be profound because it is actually logically ill-formed.

    A deepity balances precariously between multiple interpretations, at least one of which is obvious and trivial and at least one of which would be earth-shaking except that it is false.

    An example of a "deepity" suggested by Dennett is "Love is just a word." On one level the statement is perfectly true (i.e., love is a four letter word) but the deeper meaning of the phrase is false. Love is many things - a feeling, an emotion, a condition and not simply a word.