In God We Trust

This slogan crossed my path, and I stopped to think: Perhaps a bit cynical, but is a country’s foundation…or their currency, at least…is built upon vapour, what does that say about the country and its citizens?

Sure, Rome of the Ancients had a myth-based origin story. They had their wolf, and we’ve got some hoary bearded Birkenstock-wearing gentleman sporting a toga, but does it matter that it’s all pretend?

Humans thrive on stories, but what happens when most people understand that the emperor’s wearing no clothes…not even that toga?

Sure, Nietzsche posed the same question. God is dead, right? And then what? Would this social fabric just disintegrate into dust, no longer supporting the thread-bare culture into the bin?

Entropy, right?

Can a society even exist with out some common mythos? What would happen to a society based on some other glue? Is there such an adhesive?

I can imagine a society centred on money or science, but these still rely on some underlying faith and a different metanarrative.

Is a common mythos necessary for society, or is this just reflective of some paucity of imagination?

6 thoughts on “In God We Trust

  1. I don’t think that most people know anything. I think when we intellectuals start talking about “everyone knowing something “like all the various ideological tropes in this and that, we are really speaking only about us and so far as we want to impose it upon “everyone“ we are actually in acting the kind of nihilism that destroys societies. Because “most people“ know nothing of the kind and if anything they just throw around terms because they hear it, just so they sound semi-intelligent or in an effort to assert their identity. But I would also say that “most people“ don’t even entertain these kind of intellectual vacuous ideas. Most people are invested in their myths such that it is only we intellectuals that call them myths, even while we attempt to prove our self righteousness in equity upon these people they could give a fuck about our intellectual self righteousness. 😝

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  2. Agreed. Intellectualism is a luxury good. Most people don’t have the luxury, and many aren’t equipped in the first place. Critical thinking is rarer than so-called antimatter. More importantly, most people are not very reflective or pensive.

    I suppose this is why some claim that ignorance is bliss.


  3. I do think you need some kind of founding myth, it just seems to be something that gets formed over time, no matter what tribe you’re a part of. If you think your movement/institution/group is in the right in some way, you’ll end up telling a history that glorifies the history of your movement.

    Interesting that their are often counter narratives going on.

    In the case of America, the religious right likes to claim that the founders were Christians founding a Christian nation. Others like to claim America was founded on enlightenment principles. Even if you start to challenge that whole view, that their is anything exceptional about America, you can’t get away from the myths. The claim becomes something like America was founded on white supremacy, but it was with the civil rights movement and the abolition of slavery that something better started to emerge.

    I think we are fundamentally storied beings.

    A question I have is whether its possible to have a nation with real pluralism, where we have competing narratives operating within the same space, each equally legitimate, and not subservient to a secular narrative. That might be the future.


    1. I can’t agree more. We’ve got many mutually exclusive origin threads going on simultaneously, but these are not uncontested positions. As Nietzsche pointed out, the lack of a thread subscribed, in his instance ‘God’, by most members, the fabric of the culture becomes frayed.


  4. Why does it matter where things come from? It only matters to the extent that a thing’s origin informs its nature and workings right now. So any theory that accounts for the facts is pragmatically true enough. It satisfices.

    In fact, it’s gravy. If you know how something works, you can deal with it, and how it came to be doesn’t matter.

    But if you don’t know how something works, then knowing where it came from may help you understand how it works. Or maybe not. That’s the only possible use of it.

    Evolution only matters if it’s going on right now in real time and we can use it somehow. A purely deistic God who never answers prayers is an irrelevant God. I don’t care whether or not the Watchmaker was blind. How do I set the time on this thing?

    (Atheists like to lecture that we should solve our own problems instead of looking to some Sky Fairy to bail us out. But religion exists precisely because we can’t solve our own problems.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ► ‘Evolution only matters if it’s going on right now in real time’

      Evolution is going on now and in real-time. However, it’s running at an epoch pace. It makes sense to measure the days until Christmas with a calendar and not a watch for a reason. That laypeople tend to misunderstand evolution and its general mechanism is problematic. Attempting to ascribe a purpose to it is another. Evolution is not teleological.

      ► ‘Atheists like to lecture that we should solve our own problems’

      I am not sure the ‘Atheists’ are some monolith, but I’ve never heard one say ‘that we should solve our own problems’, only that we shouldn’t invent solutions whole cloth with little connection to reality.

      ► ‘religion exists precisely because we can’t solve our own problems’

      My reaction here is that religion does not provide a solution. At best, it provides a bandage, but it doesn’t care whether the symptom is a wound, a headache, or the flu. Besides, many of the solutions it offers are available without religion: compassion, caring, understanding, forgiveness, and so on…


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