The future of our shared myths

In many ways, common myths are the glue that hold human society together. This does not make these myths “true”. It just makes them true enough for a large enough majority to believe in. When people believe in something, really truly believe in it, they will do almost anything to defend that belief, often to the death.

In the past these common myths included:

The divine rights of kings.

A natural hierarchy of mankind. That some people were born to be poor peasants, slaves, tax payers, lower-caste – while others were born to be rulers, slave owners and tax recipients.

The will of the gods. Which gods wills did not really matter; the fact is almost every civillistation and society up until the 20th century was defined by some sort of common religious mandate, often with violent consequences. Humans have a cognitive bias towards religion (read up on the neurobiological home of spirituality in our human brains). A handy god (or set of gods) is a very useful tool in persuading people to do things they otherwise wouldn’t do for their king and kind, things like human sacrifices, the Crusades, building pyramids, The Spanish Inquisition, The Salem Which Trials, Istishhad. Those sorts of things.)

Today we may scoff at the myths of the past, yet our modern, civilised society is full of myths of our own:

We believe in the value of money.

We believe in nation states.

We believe in human rights.

We believe in property rights.

Yet all these things, as wonderful as they are, are make-believe. 

What will future generations think of our myths? What myths will create for themselves?

Will they worship the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient Singularity as a god?

Will they laugh at our naive trust in money and markets?

Will they believe that all sentient beings (including animals and artificially intelligent robots) should have the same rights as homo sapiens?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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