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The Myth of Modern Mythlessness

I don’t usually have posts that do nothing but link elsewhere, but I couldn’t resist pointing you over to Ali’s latest, The Group of Twenty and the Mythology of the Market. Ali’s thesis is that myths are not just stories that our ancestors believed back when the human race was young and full of childlike innocence, but are alive and well today.  We don’t recognize them as myths because we think they’re true, and everyone knows that myths are false. Right?…

But if you step back and take a serious look, you can see that there are certain pervasive modern beliefs that have the same structure, function, and emotional punch that the myths of our ancestors did. They provide a meaningful worldview, giving our society a place in the universe, and holding up examples of heroes and villains to guide individuals toward ethical action.  They even have “gods” and “priests” and “prophets” and “blood sacrifices”, though they’re not called that any longer…

Examples?

  • America the Free.  This one comes complete with Creation Myth (the Revolution, with Washington taking the place of Zeus as he battles the insane Titan-like George III), prophets (Paine, Jefferson, Lincoln), high priests (presidents and other military commanders, pundits and politicians), idols (The Statue of Liberty, the Flag) and even human sacrifice (young people sent off to “die for freedom”).
  • Science the Savior.  Ironically enough, in this Creation Myth, Science the Savior conquers Myth itself to give order to the world and society, just like Zeus vs. the Titans, Odin vs. the Jotuns, and George Washington vs. George III.  Prophets include Alhazen, Bacon, Descartes, and Mill; modern priests include Dawkins and P. Z. Myers.  The Cult of Science does not generally demand human sacrifice, but it does demand animal sacrifice — in laboratories, by the millions.
  • Humanity Rules the Earth.  Read Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit.  No, really — read it.
  • The Omniscient, Omnipotent Market.  But this one is the subject of Ali’s excellent post.  So get on over there and read it already!

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Selling Salvation III: Property and Prostitution

Suppose you know the Meaning of Life.  Would it be moral sell that information to the highest bidder?

becomedeathA year ago, in “Selling Salvation:  How Much is it Worth?”, I pointed out that the great religious leaders of the past — Jesus, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Mohammed — had given Salvation away for free, to anyone who would listen.  Shouldn’t we follow their example?

Quite apart from that, I argued that a free market in religious ideas (or any kind of information) tends to drive prices down to zero.  I decided that it was not only probably immoral to sell information; it was, in the long run, almost impossible.  Therefore, immediately, I started offering everything on my site for free.

Amazingly enough, I haven’t gone broke — on the contrary, I’m doing quite well.  How can this be?

I’ll explain.  But first:  prostitution.  Trust me, it’s relevant.

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