Once, a rationalist and a mythologist, went to a bar.
Few drinks down, the stated respect for each others discipline descended into a sparring match.
“All mythology is a product of an unschooled mind” The rationalist scoffed “When you forgo rationality look at all the fiction it spawns, the Sun God, the avatars and demons, the afterlife and its preparations and what not. Trying to explain nature with stories, instead of equations is a lot like tarot card reading session. You can have a good time but you are none the wiser. So tell me what do you intend to achieve by study of these primitive minds and their exotic tales. “
“All of science is merely a logic ghetto. It is the cold orthodoxy of human reasoning process.” The mythologist countered. “World narrative was dominated for almost 5000 years by the man’s need for meaning of their environment and hence the treasure of fantastic tales we have, explaining that. For last 400 years though the wheel has spinned and reason (explanation) instead of communion (meaning) has become dominant . Who can predict the wheel’s motion and how it might spin again?”
“Are you kidding me” the rationalist was aghast “You are calling science an orthodoxy !! Look around yourself and see all the benefits we have attained in last 4 centuries. Life spans have improved, diseases have been curbed, earth has been mapped, space is being explored. However why am I even listing these achievements. Can you name even one advantage that all those tales and rituals that you study, have brought.”
Mythologist looked at the rationalist and with a straight face and replied “Mythology’s main advantage is that it funnels the sacred into human life. Just as body gets sick without nutrition and mind without erudition or study, the soul becomes sick without the sacred. So when you narrate and connect with these stories, the holy communion with nature gets achieved at subconscious level and that triggers the soul food or the sacred, in your life.
Secondly brother, I am not sure if science is such a pure blessing. It is actually the Promethean fire which can cook but also singe. So when you factor in all the costs of science like pollution, wildlife extinction, retreat of forest cover, global warming along with its benefits, you get to the real picture of science which is far less flattering.
Thirdly let me draw your attention to modern societies which worship pure rationality (as societies of past worshiped only their myths). As sacred is increasingly lost from a community and nature becomes an asset to plunder, you see rampant anxiety in the whole of population. This is often expressed as rampant consumerism, addictions, loss of connects and family, aggression as also heavy dependence on anti-depressants drugs. This modern age psychological epidemic is not going to go away inspite of the best reasoning processes you bring to it.”
The rationalist factored in this robust defense of the irrational before asking “ So what are you saying? That we should abandon rationality and scientific pursuits and devote ourselves to worship of the occult?”
“ Of course not, I am actually advocating that instead of taking a pill lets adopt a deity. Ok, jokes apart, I am saying why does it have to be one or the other and why cant we have both? When myths ruled we had little objective progress. When rationality is dominant we have huge inner disconnects. So an ideal situation would be that we continue to investigate the parts but still be in ethereal awe of the whole” the mythologist concluded.