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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015

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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Creating our own mythology

There’s no such thing as science. Oh, you can accept common concepts like gravity if you want to and say that they are scientifically proven facts. But gravity could just as easily be explained by a giant organic magnet that lies at the core of the earth and holds organic matter to its surface. Just saying.

I prefer, in most instances, to make up my own mythology. I suppose that is why I’m a writer. I like to make stuff up.

For example: What separates humans from other life forms is not opposable thumbs, but an innate need to explain everything. It’s the question “Why?” My dogs know beyond a shadow of a doubt that feeding time is at 5:00 (a.m. or p.m.). But I’m pretty sure neither of them has ever asked why feeding time is at 5:00. There is no why in a dog’s life. But humans ask “why?” about everything.

When the DD was little, we moved her from a crib to her own little bed. For safety’s sake, her bed was nothing but a mattress on the floor. If she rolled out, the drop was four inches, max. We came in one day to find her doing what all little kids do at one time or another: Jumping on the bed. When we said she shouldn’t do that, she immediately asked “Why?” The DW quickly realized that any reason she gave would have been a myth. There were no springs to break. It was only 4" to the floor. There was nothing she could damage. And “No more monkeys jumping on the bed” seemed as silly as “Because I said so.” From then on, she jumped on the bed and worked out tons of childhood frustration in a safe and fun way.

Last year at Summer Solstice, I got a group of readers together to do a service at Northlake Unitarian called “Dragons Among Us.” It was devoted to making up our own creation myth and was based on the stage adaptation of Steven George & The Dragon. In the readers’ theater presentation, we recited all the different creation myths (in brief) and then the daughter asked, “But aren’t these all just stories? Are any of them real?” The mother answers, “Who says stories are not real? Stories are what define us.” Daughter: “But doesn’t that mean that we could just make up our story of creation? It’s all just a big ONCE UPON A TIME.”

And once-upon-a-time is what guides Steven through his quest to find a dragon. Each story told or heard enlightens him and us a little bit on the meaning and nature of his journey.

Every time I ask why, I start another myth.

Comments

What makes science different from mythology is that you can't just make it up yourself. Anything that can be expressed as a scientific fact ought to be verifiable by someone else running a separate experiment. If there are disagreements, then we have to figure out where the theory went wrong - but one of the points of scientific thinking is to strip as much of the individual human subjectivity from our understanding of the world as possible.

Even the fact that some parts of the world look like they're actually subjective - e.g. the fact that light looks like a particle or a wave depending on how specifically you're looking at it, and that its behavior seems to differ based on whether you're looking at it or not - have theories that explain that subjectivity in objective terms.

Which isn't to say that I don't love mythology. I'm in the middle of creating a new pantheon of gods for a D&D game I'm about to start. I haven't worked out a creation myth yet - I'm still working on the cast of characters - but it's fun, entertaining work.