How Myth and Storytelling Point to Intelligent Design

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I read the story of the cross, of Jesus’ death, and I cry. That this sinless, eternal Being would willingly suffer torture and death so that I would have a chance at redemption is both heartbreaking and extremely heartening.

I can’t help but ask, “Why?” What would possess such a perfect God to die for me? It’s love, of course. That’s the only thing it can be. It forces me to think about whether or not I would do the same for those that I love. I am then living vicariously through Christ, in some small way. I think about what that pain must have felt like. I can’t properly imagine it, honestly. My worst pain is nothing compared to what He went through.

But still, I vicariously experience some minute level of that pain. There are a lot of things to learn from His sacrifice, but one in particular that I want to talk about today. I’ve learned to conclude that we live in a moral universe. For if the Creator of that Universe would willingly suffer such a drastically sacrificial act for the good of humanity past and future, then He is the epitome of morality, the very height of doing what is good for others. And if He is moral, His creation is moral, or at least capable of being so.

Many people don’t believe in the God of the Bible, though. How, then, are there so many people who don’t believe in God yet still claim to be moral? I think the answer is found in myth; in stories.

Many people more intelligent than me have postulated over the centuries about the lack of need for myth now that we are in the age of science, but I believe it plays a huge role in keeping good people good, or in helping people to, at the very least, believe that there is a sense of objective morals and values to which they can and should adhere for the good of themselves and the planet.

Thousands of years ago people all over the world genuinely believed in their culture’s pantheon of gods, and for good reason. They needed to make sense of the universe in a way that would give them some semblance of control over their own lives. That control came through pleasing the gods, who would then in turn show them favor.

But they also had good gods and bad gods. The good gods were their heroes, as were those mortals favored by the gods to be mighty warriors and such. Ancient people had myths which their very cultures were grounded in, and around which they lived their lives. They heard stories of their heroes doing heroic things, making wise choices and sacrificing, and they believed they lived in a moral universe. If the gods were moral in all their power, then the people could and should be also.

Many nineteenth and twentieth century thinkers may be astounded if they saw the mass resurgence in myth in modern times in the form of superhero and fantasy stories told through any number of mediums. 

It’s not like we believe these superheros to be real, though, right? So why do they have such a profound impact on us? I think it’s because they serve the same purpose to modern people as the stories of ancient heroes did for ancient peoples. They define good and evil. They show us what it means to be good, and that it is possible to do so even through pain and suffering. We see our heroes, whether we believe them to be real or not, and it profoundly affects our subconscious to the degree that we want to be more like them.

They make us want to be moral. They make us want to be good. They make us believe that goodness is possible and therefore that we live in a moral universe. They allow us to see a plot, or design, to the universe in which we live on a subconscious level. And just like with any good story, plot is crucial. The story has to be designed with care if it is to be of any value at all. We see the plot in the heroic stories we see played out on the big screen, or in the pages of books, and we know that someone designed the story to be the way it is.

It is in this way that we can see that our own universe, our own morality, our own story, was plotted, designed, by a Master Storyteller. By God.

Until next time,
JP

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