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Social Necessity without Metaphysical Necessity: Why Mythology and Religion Interest us, but Shouldn’t

August 24th, 2008 2 comments

In the relationship of mankind to nature, there is absolutely no place in it for religion or mythology, just as there is no place for any other false metaphysical statements. As one of my favorite quotes goes (best uttered in a booming voice): “Nature, to be commanded, MUST BE OBEYED.” It turns out that the world has issued us no commands for us to obey relating to worship or ritual, as evidenced by the fact that nature is just so bafflingly indifferent to our commands in dances, sacrifices, very focused thoughts with clasped hands, shuffling processions, and organized flames in front of an idol. Yet lots of people, even those free of myth’s delusions, spend an inordinate amount of time discussing it with great intellectual furor. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are two of many scholars who have made a fortune crusading against Christ. Why? What could the intense study of imaginative, but false stories offer? We can certainly watch the Star Wars films, play its games, and read it books. That’s plenty fun. But are there thousands of Star Wars scholars engaged in constant debate? Put aside the forum geeks for a moment, and focus solely on those in the respected intellectual institutions of society: how many people care about the force, Death Stars, and X-wings?

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