Saturday, December 03, 2005

Where Have All the Myths Gone?

Have you ever wondered why there are no modern myths? In ancient times society would tell myths and pass it on from generation to generation. Why have we stopped doing this? And are we better off with out them?

The obvious answer is that we living in modern societies are much more literate and educated then the ancient societies. It is also obvious that our modern techniques of gaining knowledge is far superior than the ancient way. We base our world view on scientific facts, and not tall tales or mere figment of the imagination. We therefore have a greater understanding of how the natural world works, and there is no need for these mythical stories anymore.

While I largely agree with this opinion, I wonder if it is the complete story? Is there another purpose to myths other than to explain the natural world? Can we really do with out them?


Anonymous Sarah M said...

we have new Myths. We will always have Myths. keep in mind that a living Myth is the overarching story of why the world is the way it is, and more than being a story, people believe it and live thier lives according to rules that it sets. Todays myths are evolution, big bang, etc. I dont mean to imply that they are wrong, only that they funtion for us tha way religion and myth have functioned for other societies. one set of myths debunks the one before it, but we always have some system for understanding the world.

11:03 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...


good point. I was going to add that as a follow up post. The problem with the "Big Bang" as myth is that it's not very inspiring. So it was all a big accident, who cares? The Myths that people care about are ones that add meaning to our lives not the other way around.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

What about books and movies? Isn't Hamlet a myth? Star Wars? Rock stars? George Washington and the cherry tree?

There are two enormous differences between us and our ancestors:

1)Instead of living in bands of a few dozen, we live in huge countries, so obviously our mythologies will be more fractured. Instead of a single, monolithic mythology for a tribe, we have millions of little mythologies.

2) We can read and we can watch movies. We no longer live in a culture in which (oral) storytelling is the only method of passing on myths.

12:27 AM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

Jewish Atheist,

You make some good points. But were myths something that our ancestors actually believed to be true or not?

I don't think the entertainment culture as Myth because the purpose of them is more for escaping from reality rather than making reality comprehensible to us.

what do you think about sarah m's point that Big Bang and evolution are modern day Myths?

5:56 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Big Bang and evolution are only partly mythological. They explain the universe to us, but they lack the human element. Greek gods, despite their supernatural abilities, were very human. So is Yahweh for most of the Torah.

11:24 PM  

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