Title: Mythopaic Man
Teacher: Chancellor Roger J. Magnuson
Topic: Compare the history of Creation given in Genesis 1 and 2 with the famous essay “The Two Tables” (by Sir Arthur Eddington) and with Phillip Johnson’s book Darwin on Trial. Putting to one side spiritual issues, which of the Bible account or the Darwinian account is more intellectually satisfying? Give three reasons why.
Time magazine had an article about two fish, speculating from which of them we evolved. In the British museum, there is a statue of the Philistine god Dagon, who was a fish. The ancient world differed in whom they should give homage to for their existence—fish, lion, etc. One must ask, Does that disprove evolution? The scientists are telling us what the Philistine priests were telling their people ages ago. No, they are all mythopaics—those who compose myths. We want to know why, how and what is underlying the creation of mythopaic man.
- The Commonness—of Mythopaic man.
- Nature of Man-No matter where you go in the world, you find myth-making; it is in man’s nature to make myths. When we define human being, we call him “homo sapiens,” man the wise. His ability to think distinguishes him from the animal world; he can scheme, he can purpose, he can ask ultimate questions. Second, he is “homo faber,” man the maker. While animals can construct dams, ant-hills, the only species on earth that can do systematic and complex building and doing is man the maker. Wherever they can, they leave walls and amphitheatres, fascinating and complex machinery. Man is a maker, not just a thinker. Third, he is “homo ludens,” man the player. Unlike your dog who will play a bit, sport around and frolic with other dogs, human beings organize themselves wherever they go, into ritual play. They have gymnasiums, track and field events, and love to play. Wisdom has an aspect of play to it—in Proverbs 8 we see, “I was playing before you for all eternity.” God has made us with a capacity to build worlds of illusion (skits), to play music, sports; a particular aspect of our life is enriched by playing.
- Necessity of Myths—Man is a mythmaker, too. Wherever you go, people construct mythical ways of understanding themselves and their environment. Their myths explain questions they need answered:
- Every culture has to have a myth about origins. If you go back to Bible times, there was the Gilgamesh epic. It was an account of a flood. The pre-Socratic philosophers, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Anaximander, Anaximenes, trying to come up with the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” The person who thinks about more than just the next event in his life has to come to grips with this question: why do I look around and see what I see? I’m not just a disembodied mind. There are things around me. The only reason we don’t ask it is because of the familiarity of the things around us, even though it is so amazing and awesome. People begin to construct some of the myths to fulfill their need.
- Mystery 2—“Why do I know what is right and do what is wrong?” Why do people do what hurts them? Why do they know what is right and still do wrong? People come to grips with their conscience and construct myths to explain why there is evil in the world: it may be that the air is filled with avatar or demons that you need to scare away with a totem, it may be that like the Roman and Greek gods, the gods themselves are evil and taught man to do wrong.
- Mystery 3—“Will we be held to account for what we do? What happens when we die?” To give a satisfactory answer to that, myths arise about what’s going to happen in the future. People in their imaginations create their own superstitions about what is going to happen in the future. For example, Mohammed, who taught that a man who dies in jihad will have the service of 100 virgins forever in heaven (shows his nature).
We want to link ourselves up with something grand and cosmic: a myth glorifies why we’re here, glorifies events. It gives people a sense of cosmic significance, more than just doing your life and dying. It has to do with the residual image of God in us; we know we were meant for something higher and are part of something greater than ourselves. German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach said, “Man makes God in his own images.” People make their myths and gods in the way that they want to be: their fears and joys are projected on the cosmos in the creation of these kinds of myths. The interesting thing is that myth making doesn’t stop when people get more sophisticated and more affluent. The same myths convenient in former days come back again in these days. The mythopaic is part of the nature of fallen man; they carve a tree and worship it…they do something to be part of the cosmic. We should not be surprised at modern mythology:
- Marx—Materialism. Marx is a god because he believed in dialectical materialism. The myth that “all people live for the material” gets him priestly status in modern culture.
- Freud—Sensualism. Freud says all human personality can be attributed to libido; his philosophy is inhibitions are bad, if it feels good, do it.
- Darwin—Perfect for those living in such a careless way that they don’t want to have to give account to a Creator. They want to be part of an evolutionary development, just a higher creature, no Maker.
- The Characteristics—The myths that people create in their own image are…
- Inverted—They invert God’s very good creation. The triangle of authority, submission, and consecration. There is a beautiful authority of higher things ruling over the lower. There are rulers and dominions. Satan intends man to be subject to his lower nature, submitting to those he should have ruled. Ultimately, creation is out of whack. The ground feeds on man, rather than man on the ground. Every myth shows inversion—for example, we are subject to fish. No. They were made for us. We do not bow down to fish, goats, dogs. They are meant to be under us. Myths relate also to inert nature: you carve out eyes in a stone, or a totem, and you bow down to it. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah sarcastically indicate how inverted the myths of their day were. How can we attribute to them power that they simply clearly don’t have? Superstition is attributing power to something that doesn’t have power, attributing spiritual power to the material. The Hindu mask of Ram has no power, the totem pole has no power, baptism or the consecrated wine has no power. Whether you are worshiping objects or processes, it is superstition.
- Irrational—It is irrational to attribute power to things that have none. If, for example, you were stranded on a desert island waiting hopefully for rescue, and there washed up on the shore this beautiful Swiss watch, you wound it up and it started ticking, can you imagine how irrational it would be to imagine that it came out of chance? You would see how everything in it was so beautifully put together that it fit absolutely perfectly. It would be irrational to say, “Look how remarkably billions and billions of years gave us this watch and put together the elements that made it.” An example we can look at now is the eye. Nothing rivals the eye for complexity and amazing ability to focus, to see. Natural selection says that it is an advantage to have an eye: therefore species without eyes gradually get beaten back and obliterated. But is such gradual development possible? No. There is no advantage to these characteristics until they are fully developed. The second law of thermodynamics says that things tend to get more and more disorganized until mind and energy are placed in the system. The chance that an amoeba would be more or that a fish would wish to overcome his gills is as irrational as Dagon the fish god.
- Idolatrous—It ascribes to things what should only be ascribed to God. It’s convenient—instead of facing the Great white throne of a God who knows all and judges all, we can absolve ourselves of responsibility before Him. Why am I here? (I’m just a product of chance). Why do I do what’s bad? (It’s not my fault: I’m still evolving). What’s going to ultimately happen to me? (I’ll just die and become part of the material universe). People answer these questions with their own myths rather than the truth.
- The Causes—What is the cause of mythopaic man? Here we have an absolutely crystal-clear explanation given by the greatest pathologist of all time, apostle Paul. Romans I gives us a report of evolution, determines the cause of the disease.
- Suppression—of the truth, Romans I says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…” (v. 20) It’s clear, you can’t miss it. The heavens declare the glory of God; it is intuitively obvious. But what Paul tells us is that people hold the truth in unrighteousness, but it really means suppress. It’s like trying to stuff all your things into a suitcase; you are trying to pack away the truth, stuff it away, even though it is right before your eyes. The invisible things indicating the power of God are clearly seen. The only way you get around them is if you suppress the truth in unrighteousness. If it is inexcusable ignorance to not acknowledge God as Creator, they are ignorant by choice, a choice made because they don’t want to stand before God to give an account. All mythopaic man comes from an unwillingness to address the truth.
- Superstition—As soon as you suppress the truth, you have to attribute evidences to something else. God gives up people to believe silly lies: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Rom. I :22-25) The very processes of nature, as well as inanimate objects, are attributed power that they simply do not have.
- Sensuality—”And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient…” (Rom. 1:28) Sensuality is a result of the superstitious myths people create, so that there is no accountability. The true nature of their wicked hearts acts up. The root of false teachings is false ideas, and ideas have consequences. There is no longer any idea of judgment, moral arbiter, no moral government; people are emboldened to be sensual. People intuitively know that there is a God—their conscience, our best ally when we present the Gospel—compels them to believe that. Only the Word of God can get between the spirit and the soul; once the Spirit of God gets into the control room, ultimately the life gets right. The mythopaic man comes because we suppress the truth; when we decide to suppress truth in any area, into our life floods superstitions and irrational idolatrous thoughts, out of which flows sensuality in our society.