Shuck and Jive

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Luck and Shuck Show

Rev. Jacqueline Luck and I just finished a radio interview with Dave Hogan and Carl Swann on WJCW's Thinking Out Loud. It is the Luck and Shuck radio show. We were discussing the Michael Dowd program her congregation and my congregation are co-hosting. I talked a bit about the Jesus Seminar as well. Carl and Dave are well-informed and excellent hosts.

You can hear the interview here.

Along those same lines, James McGrath of Exploring Our Matrix, has posted the quote of the day from Joel Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams:
"The narrow, local kind of mythic explanation that sufficed when cultures rarely mixed will never work in the emerging global culture. We now need myths that are not only scientifically believable but allow us to participate - all of us. To experience the human meaning of modern scientific cosmology, and to turn it into a working cosmology - a meaningful universe - in which we feel like participants, our culture will gradually have to transform it into myth. However, mythmaking is no longer a purely imaginative, spiritual endeavor. Today, the leeway for speculation about the nature of time, space, and matter has narrowed. Now that we have data, whole classes of possibilities have been ruled out, and science is closing in on the class of myths that could actually be true."


  1. As I've said before - "mythmaking", by which I generally mean meaning-making, will never ever be successful until we get over the fallacy that "myth" can never be "true".

    That is, in a data-based/reductionist definition of "truth" (which science must maintain to function as such), myths are false - as are metaphors, poems, religions and spiritualities for the most part. The aren't empirically testable and don't have a lot of concrete predictive power. I definitely respect where you're going here, but I don't think it'll be fruitful.

    Could be wrong.

    For me, science has its functions for the good, and so does myth-making (meaning-making), but I don't think there is necessarily much overlap, unless one or the other oversteps its epistemological bounds...

  2. In the above, btw, I was responding to the quote of the day:

    "Now that we have data, whole classes of possibilities have been ruled out, and science is closing in on the class of myths that could actually be true."

    I would say that collecting data will never have much impact on whether myths are true - and that, even moreso, it shouldn't, because that isn't what data is for (nor what myths are for).

  3. Hey Doug,

    Your comment is worth a post on my part in response. But a little warm-up here.

    I agree wholeheartedly that myth-making is meaning-making. Some myths are more meaningful than others. Think of all the myths that didn't last--that do not resonate with us anymore. In a sense they are not "true." Though I agree using the word "true" gets us off on the wrong thing.

    Perhaps "true" has to do with a myth that so resonates with us that we assume it as the way things really work.

    We have a myth that reflects a pre-Enlightenment understanding of the Universe. It is the Christian myth.

    Fixed earth. Fixed human nature. Suffering and injustice. Need of a savior figure who is promises to return and establish justice.

    This myth resonated for centuries. It resonated because it gave meaning to a Earth-centric universe with a fixed human nature.

    The myth said in effect, life matters, humanity matters, creation matters, "and God saw that it was good." Yet Earth (and humanity in particular) is messed up. But God will make it better.

    The universe as our ancestors saw it through the eyes of Christian myth was meaningful.

    Now we have a universe in which
    "creation" is not fixed but is always changing. Human nature is not fixed. It never was. We have common ancestors with every life-form on Earth. There is no "end" at least in any meaningful sense of that word. Death is the way the universe gives life.

    So, how do we make a myth or make meaning that resonates both with what we know from science AND gives us purpose and belonging?

    I didn't say the task was easy but, nevertheless, it is ours.