Why Myth Matters

Here is my latest article for Intercollegiate Review on why people in the street thing myth is just a stupid fairy tale, but going on to show how important myth is to the modern mind.

One of the most tiresome misconceptions of the cynic in the street is his idea of myth. He uses the word “myth” to mean “useless fairy tale.” A myth is a fantasy, a fable or a fanciful fiction.  At best it is a harmless children’s story. It might be a pretend story told for a religious purpose or at worst it is an intentional fabrication devised to hoodwink the gullible.

Yes, some ancient fanciful stories are called myths and have a religious dimension.  This fact makes the definition of myth even more complex and therefore more easily misunderstood. Because ancient Greeks and Romans told stories about Zeus and Jupiter, and because they were fantasy stories, and because Zeus and Jupiter were gods, the cynic in the street concludes that all stories from ancient times that feature the supernatural must also be fanciful old time stories that may be somewhat entertaining, but which are all make believe.

To the scientific man a myth is a curious but valueless cultural artifact from a superstitious age. The worthlessness of myth is rooted in the work of several academics from the turn of the twentieth century.

Go here to read the whole article