Myth and science: their varying relationships

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The relationship between myth and science is a subject as old as that of myth and science themselves. The position on the issue taken by modern theories of myth can be divided chronologically by the centuries. In the nineteenth century, myth and science were commonly taken to be incompatible. One could not consistently accept both. Because moderns were assumed to be scientific, the choice had already been made for them: they had to abandon myth. In the twentieth century, by contrast, myth and science were usually taken to be compatible, so that one could consistently accept both. Moderns were still assumed to be scientific, but myth was now re-characterized to accommodate science. Only recently, with the rise of postmodernism, has the deference to science assumed by both nineteenth- and twentieth-century theorists been challenged. This article concentrates on the varying positions on myth and science taken in both centuries by those for whom myth and science intersect rather than diverge. Whether, as the ‘mission’ of the twenty-first century, myth can be brought back to the world – the world explained by science – is finally considered with the case of Gaia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-358
Number of pages22
JournalReligion Compass
Issue number2
Early online date12 Feb 2009
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


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