Posted by: clholoman | June 18, 2012

Everything old is new again

interesting article in the Chronicle Review today about some recent finds in Israel and their ramifications:

For the past 20 years, archaeologists have been locked in a battle over the very existence of David and his son Solomon, the extent of their influence, and when they reigned, if at all. Though the events under discussion occurred some 3,000 years ago, the debate has stirred strong emotions fueled by modern-day politics, academic rivalry, and a very 21st-century recruitment of modern media techniques that have divided the dry and dusty world of archaeological research into warring digital camps.

In a way, this also links to the previous post about Big History. In the introduction to Maps of Time, David Christian is explicit that his task, (as well as that of Big History, presumably) is  “to assemble a coherent and accessible account of origins, a modern creation myth.” He writes powerfully about the importance of creation myths, and in doing so, notes that in most earlier civilizations, creation myths were embedded in religious teaching. Now, with the divorce (my word, not his) of science and religion, “we seem incapable of offering a unified account of how things came to be the way they are.” (You can read most, if not all of the introduction thanks to the miracle of Amazon Look Inside here.) So the question is, as current knowledge is superseded and becomes “myth,” does that mean that everything in the myth is “a fictitious or imaginary story, person or thing” as my dictionary says? Do we only learn broad lessons, or morals, or metaphors from myths, or do myths, such as the David story, contain things that are still “factual” by our modern standards? What in our current creation myth will future generations be consigning to the category of fictitious or imaginary?

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