Evolution of the God Image
God has changed over time. Before you get mad at me for this bold statement, let me explain that I am referring to the God image that we all carry inside our psyche and is reflected in the Bible. The Yahweh of the Old Testament is different from Jesus, the sweet God of the New Testament
The real God, the major force that created the Big-Bang, or, if you prefer, created the world in six days as told in Genesis, cannot be grasped by the human mind. This Force is unknowable, well above human thinking. Probably the only ones that can contact this major power are the mystics, but the human language hinders them from communicating effectively their experiences. The God that we may know, the God that we can talk about is what Jung called the Image of God we keep inside our psyche. Therefore, when we talk about the evolution of God, we refer to the image of God we hold inside our psyche, or, using a Jungian term, the Self. The God Image evolved through six stage:
Through human history we can discern six major stages in the evolution of the God-image. The fist one – Animism – was present during the hunting and gathering phase of civilization. Our primitive ancestrals saw spirits everywhere: animals, trees, mountains rivers, stones.
A second period – Matriarchy – came when agriculture was discovered. The nourishing earth, responsible for the crops – the Great Mother– was the deity.
A third period – Patriarchy – corresponded to the development of the cities and the starting of wars. The masculine element grew in importance and humanity turned to a polytheism dominated by male Gods. Of special notice for the Western Civilization are the Greek Gods, ruled by Zeus.
Tribal MonotheismA fourth period – Tribal Monotheism – started, at least in the Western world, with the Hebrews. Out of the many deities that populated the near Middle East, Yahweh, the God of one little tribe of nomads came forth.
The fifth period – Universal Monotheism – came forth from the religion of the Hebrews. Christianity was the result of the universalizing of the Hebrew religion, and dominates the Western world for the last twenty centuries.
The major difference of Yahweh and Jesus is that the first was complete, encompassing good and evil. A better way of expressing this idea is to say that Yahweh was above good and evil. He did not dwell in the duality, but in the unicity. The Christian religion, with his exclusively good God – Jesus – called forth the demon. In the duality we live, there is no cold without warm, no light without darkness, no good without evil. Clement of Rome, one of the first fathers of the church is quoted saying that God governs the world with Christ in the right hand and the devil in the left. As a consequence, the devil appears four times in the Old Testament and sixty six in the New Testament.
The sixth period – Individuation – is dawning in the world with the development of individualism in human beings. More and more persons are distancing themselves from what we could call the herd-complex and looking for their individual ways to search for happiness and the fulfillment of their lives.
Edward Edinger in his excellent book “The Creation of Consciousness” states that “human society cannot long survive unless its members are psychologically contained within a central living myth.” The problem is that the Christian myth, that sustained Western Civilization for two thousand years, is losing its attraction. Its symbols are getting old, and not being renovated. As a result, civilization is are passing through a chaotic stage. Human beings are more and more materialists, and I venture to say that the God that rules the world today is money.
The purpose of life
A new myth in accordance with the individualist leanings of modern human beings is gaining recognition. This is the Arthurian Myth, that I call new because it started to spread in the Western world in the XII century, although it has ancient roots in the Celtic and Irish myths.
When Parsifal and the round table noble went in their search for the Grail, they were instructed to follow an individual path, one that had never been treaded. It was considered shameful to choose an already tried route. This advice matches perfectly with Jung psychology. For him, each person has to choose his exclusive path in his journey of individuation. This is the purpose of life.