The Marriage of Science and Religion


Plato and Aristotle’s identification of the two ways of thinking I call logos and mythos was based on the human tendency to perceive and classify all phenomena into pairs of opposites. Since ancient times, the supreme pair of opposites under which we have categorized all others has been the metaphors of masculine and feminine.  When used as metaphors, these terms are not about gender or sexuality, but ways of helping us categorize related ideas.
When Jung set out to better understand the psyche he used the same metaphors to express the findings of his research. One of his major conclusions was that the psyche is a union of conscious (masculine) and unconscious (feminine). An even more ground-breaking discovery was the fundamental archetype composed of the union of the masculine and feminine. He called this archetype of wholeness the Self, with a capital S to denote its difference from the ego self, and defined it as our God-image.
Like Plato, Jung also thought of the masculine principle as logos, but he named the feminine principle Eros, after the Greek god of love. For him, logos represented all the spiritual phenomena of life (including mental discrimination, judgment, and insight), and Eros symbolized all physical phenomena, i.e. the things we mean by the term soul, including matter and our physical bodies with their instincts, emotions, and capacity to relate. While readily admitting that these concepts cannot be defined accurately or exhaustively, Jung believed they had great practical value for clarifying a field of experience that is particularly difficult to define.
One stumbling block for some Jungians is the use of the name of a masculine Greek God (Eros) for the feminine principle! This is why I prefer the term mythos, which is non-gender specific. A related issue is that associating “spiritual” phenomena with the masculine principle removes the feminine from the spiritual playing field. Today, however, science has dramatically refined these concepts with new research in brain-lateralization.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Leonard Shlain notes that the nonverbal “feminine” right hemisphere of the brain integrates feelings, recognizes images, and expresses being. More often than the word-oriented “masculine” left hemisphere it generates feeling-states like love, humor, or aesthetic appreciation, all of which are non-logical. These feeling-states are authentic experiences that are verified beyond debate by an internal voice. Among other things, they allow us to have faith in God.
In sum, associated with all that is mysterious, unconscious, felt, organic, imaginative, and personally compelling, mythos is the non-verbal way we experience the truths of spirit and soul. Moreover, using mythos to explore the enigmas of the outer and inner universes brings enormous psychological and spiritual advances because it is inherently integrating and self-validating. And it is the birthright of every brain, male and female alike.
Increasingly over the past five thousand years, we have exalted logos over mythos, repressing our “feminine” ways of thinking and imagining God in left-hemisphere ways.  But we are living in extraordinary times. With the marriage of science and religion we are unveiling our unconscious and undeveloped feminine dimensions and integrating the wisdom of Sophia, God’s feminine side.

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0 Responses

  1. I suppose, like most healthy marriages, the masculine accepts the occasional feminine useless endeavors, while the feminine accepts the occasional masculine pointless endeavors?
    At least, that’s what I arrive at if I simply accept your conclusion.
    Considering your reasoning, I find it presumptuous that all that is mythos equates to religion when it simply allows us to have faith in god. I also find it presumptuous to equate science with the word-oriented, masculine, left hemisphere, since words often encompass, as yours ably do, quite vague, hard-to-define concepts.
    To wit, just because the right hemisphere generates non-logical feeling-states, doesn’t imply that it can’t also generate logical feeling states. Also, just because a faith in god is allowed by the feeling-states doesn’t imply that a faith in god is required.
    These doubts regarding your above missive are simply attempts to bridge the logical gaps I see in your reasoning. My desire for logic is a strong one, stemming from the notion that one can logically arrive at religion just as easily as one can have faith in science.

  2. twio,
    Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment. I respect and appreciate your opinions; there’s room here for all fair-minded perspectives.
    I see some clarification of my thoughts is in order. In highlighting the pairs “science and religion,” as in “masculine and feminine” and “logos and mythos,” my intent was to build on earlier posts by drawing attention to parallel movements within all three sets—i.e. the movement toward integrating so-called opposites that have historically been wrongly polarized—and not to suggest that any one of these sets fully equates to another. Although science, for instance, bases its scientific method in the logos mode, it is no more immume to mythos thinking than religion is immune to logos. Indeed, some religious groups seem to function quite happily with a dominant orientation to the “word” while tending to dismiss the proof of subjective experience, and of course the opposite is true as well.
    I share your strong desire for logic, but admit to great affection for the view expressed by Albert Einstein and quoted in an earlier post that “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

  3. Jeanie,
    I’ve re-read your post a couple of times and find it compelling.
    I had a practice as an EEG Biofeedback clinician for 10 years and find your description of brain function related to hemisphere in accord with those currently accepted.
    Certainly, the mythic union of complementary halves of the unitary nature of reality has been symbolized by an externalization of the human body (that which is most intimate to us, signifying an extension of intimacy outwards with the world) and termed masculine and feminine as you point out.
    If your point in the post is to allude to a growing momentum toward unification of the left hemisphere “science” and right hemisphere “religion” and equate that to a growing awareness among many folks of the need to conduct their own personal alchemical “mysterium conjunctionis” or sacred marriage of the masculine and feminine halves making up each person, then I think your message was expressed clearly and cogently.
    I greatly enjoyed this post and look forward to your further explorations.

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