April 13, 2012 4 Comments
Many years ago, our human ancestors huddled around fires listening to shamans and elders telling narrative stories by which they made sense of their world and their lives in it. They told myths about the world’s origins, and about how they as peoples came to be….They recounted myths about fairies, spirits, gods, and powerful cosmic forces. By narrating such fictional stories, our ancestors recounted meaningful explanations of a world that was to them mysterious and dangerous….As primitives, telling such stories, myths, and legends was the only way they knew how to explain the world and contemplate how to live in it…
But all of that has changed. We moderns no longer have to huddle around fires telling fanciful myths about creations, floods, trials, conquests, and hoped-for paradises. Science, industry, rationality, and technology have dispelled the darkness and ignorance that once held the human race captive to its fanciful fables. Today, through progress, enlightenment, and cultural evolution, we now possess positive knowledge, scientific facts, rational analyses. We no longer need to be a people of ballads and legends, for we are a people of periodic tables, technical manuals, genetic maps, and computer codes….We have left behind myths and legends….Indeed, by struggling to break out of the fear and ignorance of our ancestral myth-making past into the clear daylight of rational, scientific knowledge, we have opened up for the human race a future of greater prosperity, longevity, and happiness.
Such is the story we moderns–huddled around our televisions and computer work stations–like to tell each other. This is the dominant narrative by which we make sense of our world and the purpose of our lives in it. (Moral, Believing Animals, 63-4) Read more of this post