Mythos, Logos, and Revelation
The Wall Street Journal ran an article in its Life & Style section a few weeks back called, “Man vs. God.” They had commissioned Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins to address the question, Where does evolution leave God? You can read the article here
If you’re familiar with outspoken atheist, Richard Dawkins, you won’t be surprised at his take. Evolution is. God isn’t. End of story.
Karen Armstrong’s response, though, was more artistic. She spoke of two complementary ways of arriving at truth, which the Greeks called mythos and logos. Both were recognized by scholars as legitimate. Logos was reason, logic, intellect. But logos alone couldn’t speak to the deep question human beings ask like, What is the meaning of life? and, Why do bad things happen to good people? For that, she said, people turned to mythos – stories, regardless of whether or not they were true, that helped us make sense out of the difficulties of life. They were therapeutic. We could think of them as an early form of psychology. Here’s what she said:
“Religion was not supposed to provide explanations that lay within the competence of reason but to help us live creatively with realities for which there are no easy solutions and find an interior haven of peace; today, however, many have opted for unsustainable certainty instead. But can we respond religiously to evolutionary theory? Can we use it to recover a more authentic notion of God?
“Darwin made it clear [that] we cannot regard God simply as a divine personality, who single-handedly created the world. This could direct our attention away from the idols of certainty and back to the ‘God beyond God.’ The best theology is a spiritual exercise, akin to poetry.”
Here’s how I understand what she’s saying: Not only is the truth of any religious story irrelevant, it is incorrect to believe any account concerning God as objectively true. To do so is to construct an idol of certainty. How do we know that? Because of the certainty of Darwinian Evolution.
Her response, at bottom, isn’t very different from the atheist’s. Evolution is. God isn’t. But some of us like to imagine that he is.
The frontrunner in “Man vs. God” according to the Wall Street Journal appears to be unanimous: Man. I’d love to have the platform of the Wall Street Journal, but since I don’t, I’ll just toss out my piece here: God is.
I suggest a third way of knowing truth – revelation. Because if there is a God, he can reveal himself if he so chooses. I like the ideas of mythos and logos. Some people come to believe in God through the portal of mythos. Rituals, stories, and artistic expressions can communicate to the soul in ways words can’t. Others come to know God through the portal of logos. Long time atheist intellectual, Antony Flew renounced his atheism a few years ago after seeing the complex language of DNA. “Intelligence must have been involved,” he said.
But revelation is a whole new realm, and my personal opinion is it only comes to those who want to know. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” God said. The real question is, Do you want to know?
For all my friends out there who do believe, I’d love to hear how you came to that place. Did it start through mythos? logos? Did God later reveal himself to you in a supernatural way? I suspect there are some great stories that are well worth being told. Here’s a platform. Would you tell it? Or if you don’t want it posted, send it to me in an email.
I believe the winner of Man vs. God will ultimately be God. What do you think?