I saved this item the other day while I was reading a newspaper from nearby Knoxville, Tennessee. It caught my attention and I thought it might make a good blog post. There was an ongoing letters-to-the-editor discussion about the question: Does God hear the prayers of non-Christians.
One fellow, while giving his thoughts, opined:
I am constantly amazed at the fact that people still believe in the myths, legends, and superstitions of a bunch of Bronze Age goat herders.
"Now, hold on there," I thought to myself.
I'm not superstitious (at least I don't think so), although I find the study of superstitions fascinating. But I have come to greatly appreciate what Joseph Campbell called "The Power of Myth." If you think of myth as mere silliness, I think you don't understand the subject very well.
And fables are a source of wisdom I have found useful my whole life. My personal opinion is that we are poorer as people because story telling has fallen out of fashion.
When I was in grammar school I had been given a book of Aesop's fables. How I loved that book! I read from it nearly everyday. Now that I think about it, at that particular period of my life, I read Aesop more than I read the Bible - and I got more out of it!
Our angry rationalist in his above letter may or may not be aware that the concept of a Bronze Age comes from a rather ancient book - which is dated back to a time during which parts of the Old Testament was being written and well before any of the New Testament was - which itself is steeped in mythology and legend, Hesiod's Ages of Man.
But that is probably a big never-mind for many because historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists have validated something like Hesiod's concept of a Bronze Age, minus the legendary elements, of course. The point is that practically nothing old can be truly useful, I suppose. These poor, ignorant ancients supposedly had such a poor understanding of life and human nature they could hardly give us any truly useful insights. That is the supposed point.
However, I would ask if it isn't a skeptical myth that the Bible was written by "a bunch of Bronze Age goat herders"?
Seriously, who really believes such a thing? Do the skeptics who spout that meme so frequently? Of course not. It is a myth in the sense that it is presented as a tale of how ignorant ancients lacked understanding about life in the Cosmos and so can be safely ignored. Yet many still find the ancient concept of a Bronze Age valid, and many other ancient ideas still have currency (think of how ancient the concept of biological evolution is).
So what's the real problem?
Of course knowledge is ever increasing. Should human life continue a few more millennia our present state of knowledge will appear primitive. However, I venture to say the beauty of our art and vitality of our spirit will live on. I also suspect the human quest for an understanding of a divine reality will continue, no doubt refined by better understanding of the Cosmos, but still vibrant as a part of the human psyche.