By coincidence, I was preparing a series of articles about the need for a new mythology which might unite humanity, when Jack Preston King published an article on Medium.com on the same theme¹.
Jack says: “Humans require meaning to survive. It is not enough to simply live. We must know why we live, what it all ‘means’. But finding that meaning, measuring the depth, quality and purpose of our lives, requires a greater context, a ‘frame’ of meaning within which our lives can be judged… Traditionally, these larger models of reality have been found in religion, in mythologies that purport to explain the nature of reality and of humanity, and all significant connections and interrelations between them. Such ‘absolute’ models have long offered human beings both a way to understand the world and a way for individuals to live meaningfully in relation to that world. But what happens when the traditional models break down? When our experience of reality changes and they no longer allow us to meaningfully orient our lives? We must find new models — and fast, if we hope to survive”.
Jack goes on to discuss the thoughts on this theme of theologian Paul Tillich, who calls our current age the Age of Spiritual Anxiety, locating (as Jack puts it) “the roots of our anxiety in the breakdown of the religious, social, political and cosmological ‘absolutes’ that once neatly framed our lives”.
Traditionally Western Culture “placed Man at the center of Creation, named him ‘made in God’s image’, and guaranteed him a central position in the vast cosmic scheme. But the flowering of science as a social force in the 19th Century, and the rapid advance of technology throughout the 20th, began to chip away at that model”. Tillich: “The earth had been thrown out of the center of the world by Copernicus and Galileo. It had become small… a feeling of being lost in the ocean of cosmic bodies and among the unbreakable rules of their motion crept into the hearts of many… It had to take into itself the deep anxiety of nonbeing in a universe without limits and without humanly understandable meaning”. JPK: “And we fell into anxiety. In the absence of a universal mythology in relation to which we could measure meaning, we began to suspect the worst — that maybe, just maybe, there wasn’t any meaning to be had. That if we were to scratch the surface of life, we might find beneath it — not God or Truth or Absolute Reality — but simply nothing”.
This is, of course, what many modern philosophers and scientists are trying to persuade us is the case, for example:
- Bertrand Russell: “All these things (atheistic materialism), if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built”.
- Richard Dawkins: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference”.
All of the above sets the context for my series of articles. I shall be exploring:
- the nature and purpose of mythology
- the falseness of the modern viewpoint, and the inadequacy of the stories and myths with which it is trying to replace traditional ones
…and seeking a new mythology, a unifying story based upon true science and spirituality, which will refute the modern view.
Click here for the next article, The Importance of Myth