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31 October 2003 @ 12:23 pm
The Wisdom of the Ancients  

It says here*: "Like the Babylonians, the Aryans [who wrote the Rig-Veda in the Indus valley in approximately the 17th century BCE] were quite aware that their myths were not factual accounts of reality but expressed a mystery that not even the gods themselves could explain adequately."

I cannot help but wonder if the ancients were really all that far advanced than the people of today, many of whom, for example, believe that God created the heavens and the earth in exactly 6 24-hour days as we reckon time; that rocket ships cannot really travel through space because there's nothing out there to push against; that the most recent US Presidential election was fair and honest; or some other equally wild and improbably myth.

As with an number of my other recent postings, I must ponder this, as it seems a curious thing.

*Karen Armstrong, A History of God, page 28

Current Mood: curiouscurious
   .numbat on October 31st, 2003 03:10 pm (UTC)
Well many people do like to believe whatever requires the least effort.
Peter Hentgesjbru on November 1st, 2003 04:08 am (UTC)
I think it reasonable to think that *some* ancients were aware of their myths, or the stories of their religions, as "just" stories. I look at the Sufi tradition and its very obvious that the stories told there are intended to be deliberately instructional in the way that Zen koans are; they get you thinking in different ways. Extrapolating from there to the possibility that some ancients might use or invent stories for the same or similar purposes is a small step.
Carol Kennedycakmpls on November 1st, 2003 06:37 am (UTC)
I generally appreciate Armstrong's writing, but I don't take everything she writes as proven fact. There have been some academic critics of her scholarship.

I suspect that the Babylonians and Aryans had believers, skeptics, and don't-give-a-damners, like most of humankind through history.