Реферат: Does Science Explain All Essay Research Paper

Does Science Explain All? Essay, Research Paper

Does Science Explain All?

In the beginning there was darkness. Then there was light. Then there

was consciousness. Then there were questions and then there was religion.

Religions sprouted up all over the world as a response to some of humanity’s

most troubling questions and fears. Why are we here? Where do we come from?

Why does the world and nature act as it does? What happens when you die?

Religions tended to answer all these questions with stories of gods and

goddesses and other supernatural forces that were beyond the understanding of

humans. Magic, in it’s essence, were the powers wielded by these superior

beings that caused the unexplainable to happen.

Fast forward a few thousand years to the present. In our age and time

there is little left unexplained. Science seems able to explain everything with

mathematical logic and concrete evidence right before our very eyes. The

subject of science is taught in almost every school on Earth. Gone are the days

of magic and wonder. The magic of so-called magicians like David Copperfield

are a jest. When people attend a magic show everyone looks for the invisible

wires and hidden projectors. No one really believes the magician has

supernatural powers, except for maybe a handful of children in the audience who

still have faith in Santa Clause.

Science does seem to explain all. It has enabled humans to fly, cure

incurable diseases, explore the depths of the oceans, stave off death, walk on

the moon and wipe out entire civilizations with the push of a button. It is

becoming more and more widespread in that people are putting their faith in

science above that in the gods. What parent wouldn’t rather bring their sick

child to a doctor than have faith in the healing power of some mystical entity

that may or may not exist.

However strong and almost perfect the view of science is in today’s

society it cannot and does not cover the entire spectrum of the human experience.

Nor does it explain some of the striking similarities present in the various

religions of Earth. These similarities occur in civilizations not only far from

each other but also in cultures separated by seemingly impossible to traverse

oceans of water. Many of these similarities occur in the cosmological or

creation myths of the various religions.

In the Bible and other in other comparable ancient literatures, creation

is a theme expressed in parables or stories to account for the world. In almost

every ancient culture the universe was thought of as darkness, nothing and chaos

until order is induced by the divine creative hand. The type of order

envisioned varied from culture to culture. In the Biblical perspective, it was

envisioned that light should be separated from dark, day from night; and that

the various forms of plant and animal life be properly categorized. Although

the figure differ from myth to myth, all the ancient stories intend to give a

poetic accounting for cosmic origins. When viewed in terms of creational motifs,

the stories tend to be similar.

Some myths of creation include myths of emergence, as from a

childbearing woman, or creation by the marriage of two beings representing the

heavens and earth. A common feature of some Hindu, African and Chinese myths is

that of a cosmic egg from which the first humans are “hatched” from. In other

cultures, it must be brought up from primordial waters by a diver, or is formed

from the dismembered body of a preexisting being. Whether the deity uses

preexisting materials, whether he leaves his creation once it is finished, how

perfect the creation is, and how the creator and the created interact vary among

the myths. The creation story also attempts to explain the origins of evil and

the nature of god and humanity.

An example of two different religions containing various aspects of each

other could be that of the creation myth of Christianity and aspects of

creationism found in African religion. The creator god in the African religion

is Nyambi. Nyambi creates a man, Kamonu, and the man does exactly as his god

does in every way; Similar to the way the god of Christianity creates man in his

own image. Also Nyambi creates for Kamonu a garden to live in, the same way the

Garden of Eden was created. Another motif repeated between these two religions

is that of the Bible’s Tower of Babel. Kamonu, after his god left him behind,

tried to build a tower to reach his god but like The Tower of Babel it collapsed

and the humans failed to reach heaven.

In Mesopotamian culture the epic tale Gilgamesh is almost totally

identical to the Biblical story of Noah and the ark. In the tale of Gilgamesh,

Gilgamesh is warned by Enki that a divine judgment has been passed and the world

is to be destroyed by a giant flood. Gilgamesh is instructed build a boat to

bring his family and animals so to escape the flood.

Another powerful example of the commonality of myth transcending

cultures is in the Trimurti of Brahman in post classical Hinduism when compared

to the holy trinity of Christianity. Brahman, the Hindu essence of ultimate

reality is at the very core of Hinduism, post classical Hinduism sees him in

three aspects. Each of these three aspects of Brahman is expressed by a god

from classical Indian literature: Brahma, the creator; Shiva, the destroyer;

and Vishnu, the preserver. Very similar to the Holy Christian Trinity of: God,

the father; Christ, the son; and the Holy Spirit. In both Hinduism and

Christianity the trinities are three and at the same time one entity.

In the mythology of many of the Central Asian Pastoral Tribes the

supreme deity of their religion is confronted by an adversary representing the

powers of darkness and evil. Very much like the relationship in the Christian

mythos between God and Lucifer, this figure of evil attempts to counter the

plans of the celestial good being and aims at gaining dominance over the world

and at establishing a realm of his own in which he would rule over humanity.

The forces of good and evil are not equally balanced, however, and there is

never any real doubt about the final supremacy of the sky-god. Yet according to

some myths the representative of evil and darkness succeeded in leading people

astray and bringing about a fall similar to that of Adam and Eve.

Other mythological motifs not involving Christianity or the Bible is

that of a god or a hero making the dangerous journey to the underworld, or

Hades, to retrieve a lost love. The Greek mythological tale of Orpheus and the

Japanese Shinto myths both contain very similar aspects. In both of these

stories, Orpheus and Izanagi, lose their spouses to death and venture into the

terrible underworld of Hades to try to wrest them back. In both stories they

are on the way to getting back each his wife as long as they don’t look back

towards her. In both tales both Izanagi and Orpheus look back, losing the

chance they had at having their loves returned to them.

These are just some of the universal myths contained within various

religions of the world. How do all these myths seem to transcend the

geographical and cultural boundaries of Earth? Carl Gustav Jung, a leading

psychologist and contemporary of Freud, came up with a theory involving the

collective unconscious of a person’s psyche. The collective unconscious,

according to Jung, is made up of what he called “archetypes”, or primordial

images. These correspond to such experiences such as confronting death or

choosing a mate and manifest themselves symbolically in religion, myths, fairy

tales and fantasies.

Joseph Campbell, considered by most to have been the foremost expert on

world religions and mythology, believed to be a fact that; “…mythologies and

their deities are productions and projections of the psyche”. It was his belief

that religions and myths come from one’s own creative imagination and

unconsciousness. He further believed that humankind is intrinsically linked in

that some part of human nature creates these myths and religions out of a need

for them. We all have the same basic psychological makeup just as we all have

the same basic physical makeup.

Recent scientific studies suggest that the average human uses only ten

to fifteen percent of his or her brain. What happens to the other eighty-five

to ninety percent of it? Does it just sit there and have absolutely no use? Or

does it perhaps contain the universal commonalties of what links us all as a

great big tribe of human beings; containing our greatest hopes, our worst fears,

our dreams and creativity. Perhaps it does contain a link to the realm of

mysticism and surrealism which artists such as Salvador Dali tried so hard to

render on canvas. Science doesn’t know what it contains. It’s in our skulls

and we’re not even sure what it contains, maybe the answers to our own

primordial questions.


World Religions From Ancient History to the Present editor: Geoffrey Parrinder,

copyright 1971, The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd.

Essays On a Science of Mythology Carl Jung, copyright 1949, Pantheon Books Inc.

Myths To Live By Joseph Campbell, copyright 1972, Viking Press

Religions of the World Lewis M. Hopfe, Copyright 1976, Prentice-Hall Inc.

Mythology Edith Hamilton, copyright 1942, Little Brown Inc.

Encarta ‘95 copyright 1995, Microsoft corp.

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