Myth and sciences

Interpreting or explaining myths tends to make us raise the question whether the myth is superfluous. Why can’t we just extract the ethical kernel and throw the rest away? Once we learn, say, that curiosity that defies authority is dangerous but that it can be redeemed by hope, can’t we just forget the story of Pandora, or maybe keep her around as a useful didactic tool or memory aid?

What’s so interesting about this move is how utterly arbitrary it is. If myths and ethical precepts are equivalent in this way we might just as easily take the ethics as pre-mythical. Why can’t ethical imperatives be the primitive stages before embodiment in stories, epics, and liturgies? There’s no shortage of popular science media that seem aimed at making the sciences/ universe just such an object of devotion. Contrarily, it’s certainly a sign of the corruption of Christianity that its best work is now abstract and argumentative and not artistic, architectural, or expressed with decent poetry or hymns.

We might be busily deconstructing old myths and explaining their ethical kernel, but all this is autopsy. People want the sciences to be the embryo of a new humanist myth. As a Christian and a theist I’m horrified by this, and even see it as the staging ground for the Antichrist. But then again, God help me, I miss high culture, literature, art aiming at transcendence, and maybe even a public liturgy (though I’ve never seen one).

The great apostasy is not everyone becoming skeptical and enlightened, but in rediscovering the thrill of state liturgy, even if it’s the worship of the flesh.

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