Isn’t Christianity a myth?
By Scott Youngren
God himself is the best poet
And the real is His song
–Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“It is remarkable that such ideas should arise from a study of the behavior or the most elementary systems. That such systems point to a world beyond themselves is a fact that will be loved by all who believe that there are truths of which we know little, that there are mysteries seen only by mystics, and that there are phenomena inexplicable within our normal view of what is possible. There is no harm in this—physics indeed points to the unknown. The emphasis, however, must be on the unknown, on the mystery, on the truths dimly glimpsed, on the things inexpressible except in the language of poetry, or religion, or metaphor.”
–Physicist Euan Squires discussing the role of consciousness in physics
Considering the nature of this website, it may shock many readers to learn that the answer we provide to the question posed in the title of this essay is an unqualified “yes.” But it may also shock the reader to learn that Christianity’s existence as a myth does not undercut, but rather bolsters, its veracity.
To resolve any confusion the above statements may create, one needs to gain a full understanding of just what “myth” is: Commonly understood, “myth” is synonymous with “falsehood.” Everyday language is full of such expressions as “the myth of the rational voter” and “the myth of the paperless office,” etc… And ancient myths (such as those of ancient Greece), though rewarding to read and of great cultural value, are often viewed by the average westerner as of little value beyond entertainment and literary enrichment. This is understandable considering that they were often fanciful and clearly not based on actual events.
But to grasp the deeper value and relevance of myth—and in particular—Christian myth, we turn to two individuals uniquely qualified in this subject matter: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien:
Few, if any, individuals who ever lived have enjoyed a broader and richer understanding of myth than C.S. Lewis. At one point a Professor of Medieval and Renaissance studies at Cambridge University, and at another point a lecturer in philosophy and fellow in English at Magdalen College at Oxford University, Lewis was a particularly gifted scholar. But it was Lewis’ nearly encyclopedic recall of ancient writings that was perhaps his most astonishing gift…
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