Sunday, July 25, 2010

True Mythology

There are features and commonalities that are ubiquitous to all human societies.  By understanding these universals we can better understand what it means to be human as opposed to just being a particular ethnicity.  It may in fact teach us our 'true selves', the most fundamental, essential part of our identity.  One idea or theme that is common to all groups of mankind (woman kind) is a story of origins - an explanation of whence came humanity.

What can we learn from this?  Well, that we are not, not, not okay with having no past.  We demand a past so much so that we're willing to make one up or embrace even the most ludicrous methods of creation - mud, spit, rocks, spontaneous generation, birth, semen, sneezing, fire, reordering of chaos, divine fiat - all sorts of methods have been concocted as the means of creation...

 Because we just can't leave our past alone.

We demand to know where we come from and from that our identity and from that what life is all about.

I've found that true even with myself.

And I've found a powerful means of satisfying that craving.

It isn't new.

Or, original.

It's got the main elements of every creation story - drama, tragedy, comedy, passion, an obstacle to overcome, character development, etc.

But, boy do I wish we'd be more explicit about thinking of it this way.

The reason that I love biology so much is that to understand any branch of biology you have to understand the roots of that branch - it's evolutionary history.  Every kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus and species on down has something to tell us about ourselves - just one miniscule twig peering down over the entire tree. It either does this by further illuminating our own direct evolutionary path toward greater complexity and specificity or that they illustrate a similar path that just might be illustrative in understanding our own.

Is there value in thinking of biology anthropomorphically?

The research disadvantages and biases are apparent, but what about the didactic advantages?  From an educational stand point, isn't there something to be said to showing the relevance, the power, the humanity and 'creation myth' behind the last 4 billion years of life on Earth?  If we could do this more explicitly, more dynamically in the classroom wouldn't our students be more engaged, better informed and far more ready to absorb lofty and cumbersome ideas of science?  Wouldn't we be able to tap into a fundamentally human need?  I believe it would and that society would be better of because of it.

Teach the story.

Teach the drama.

Teach our place in the tragedy, comedy and plot line of evolutionary history.

Catch people up in the true myth of creation.


  1. You're gonna make a great teacher.

  2. Thanks Meh! I sure hope to! It's the greatest story ever told!


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