Kevin makes an astute remark when he claims the brain’s propensity to look for patterns. I am reminded of Joseph Campbell’s book The Power of Myth where, amongst many themes, he notes that there is a universal propensity amongst cultures to try and make sense of this capricious world, to explain nature, to explain suffering, often in the form of stories, or myths. Campbell does not try to undermine religion or faith, but instead ties them to this universal need. Most interestingly, he notes the common and recurrent myths that prevail in most cultures (and very often pre-date Christianity) -creation, serpents, virgin births, resurrections, ascensions, the hero’s adventure, predetermination, gods/saints working behind the scenes, etc.
So when I read about a family’s belief that their prayers to Bishop Fulton Sheen saved their baby, I am reminded of man’s need to explain the inexplicable. To inject the supernatural into something that can be explained by science, if we had all of the facts. This reinforces for me the importance of teaching our children critical thinking skills in order to discern claims, to evaluate the science and to question the myths. Read the rest of this entry »