When Myth Misleads

Building off my post on religion and myth, Andrew Sprung outlines his problem with the "the doctrine of the fall" which he regards "as a really pernicious myth that fundamentally miscasts the human condition":

[I]n an era in which humanity has built up detailed if fragmented understanding of how organisms interact with each other and with the nonorganic physical world, how the body processes nourishment and fights off disease, how our behavior is related to that of our primate ancestors and mammalian cousins-- and how our values and behavior have evolved over time -- the notion that our limitations and nonadaptive impulses derive from some fundamental originary act of disobedience -- whether understood collectively or individually -- is simply not adequate, not helpful, not in keeping with the factual knowledge we have acquired.  We are what the physical universe and the biology of this planet have made us. Increasingly, as we acquire knowledge, we are what we make ourselves -- we have the capacity to at least partially shape our own evolution, for better or for worse. If the notion of an "unfallen" society haunts us, it should be as a hope of the future, not a dream of the past.

Unsurprisingly, I disagree. But it's a huge topic. The key to wisdom about human affairs, in my view, is the rejection of any concept of a future utopia, of a return to a pre-lapsarian fate. Yes, we can make things better, attend to and adjust our laws and lives to new facts or social change or random events. But we make things better best in the knowledge of no perfection. I guess that's why I remain a conservative and Andrew is a liberal. I reman deeply skeptical of any idea of progress that leads to the resolution of the deepest problems.

This, in fact, is my most heretical thought: a doubt about the Second Coming. This is how Christianity deals with the psychologically hard concept of no future earthly salvation - a future divine salvation for all. What interests me more is what interested Oakeshott: an idea of salvation that has nothing to do with the future.