Saturday, July 11, 2009

Meta Narratives and "Understanding"

Our country's value of diversity got me thinking this morning about the value of meta-narratives. Meta-narratives are "The Big Story" that resonates within a certain society. These stories create the meaning-making paradigms that makes sense out of life.

Meta-narratives are "social constructs" that are not True, but "true". Meta-narratives are culturally bound. This is why people "assume" that our Country is a "Christian nation". This is the only understanding that some know. Truthfully, there were diverse viewpoints about 'God" and how He worked, but most agreed that "god" was useful to form society.

God was useful to form society because "god" could be "appealed" to in granting all people "inalienable rights". The 'Creator" was understood to bring "order" when America no longer valued the "Divine Right of Kings". We were a people bound together through identity with our government's "equality under law". Laws were the means of maintaining society's social contract.

Philosophers are men who like to imagine what is and formulate the ideas around what should be. Scientists are also philosophers, some without knowing it. These are natural philosophers that used to understand that their "discoveries" were based on natural laws. But, with modern science's understanding of the world as "chaotic", there was no more "ultimate meta-narrative". This is where the science and religion debate is presently.

Some start with premises about God and formulate their theology, while others want to base their theology on scientific knowledge, knowing that their understanding today may change tomorrow. The difference is where one begins; in speculation or "facts" of the real world. Many scientists don't even bother with speculation. These deal only with the facts, but they miss certain aspects of life that make life "human and humane".

So, while I do not agree that any one "meta-narrative" is the 'ultimate", meta-narratives are useful in society's formation. Religiousity is absolutizing the relative, while reliougiousness is a form of understanding meaning-making.

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