Discuss about the Origin Stories and Destiny for Religious Studies.
Origin stories refer to the origin myth. This describes the way through which some new reality came into existence. Origin stories are present in every culture and it has a great contribution to person’s understanding. Such stories reveal the meaning of life and the reasons of human existence (Bosch and Miller 2016). This study deals with the role of origin stories in human understanding of freedom and destiny.
Diverse Religious Beliefs / Religious Debates
H0:- Rise of Existentialism and religious debates does not affect origin stories and man’s understanding of the ultimate questions in life, especially regarding freedom and destiny.
H1:- Rise of Existentialism and religious debates questions the validity and purpose of origin stories, thereby affecting man’s understanding of the ultimate questions in life, especially those related to freedom and destiny.
Origin stories are the back stories, which reveal the features or characters of the people, what makes the person an good or bad in a particular society (Finnegan and Wallace 2014). The origin stories highlight how the human characters evolve over the time, based on their continuous search to find the cause of our existence. They negate the presence of any other realities. On the other hand, there has been a growing debate regarding the freedom of human being and the existence of destiny. From which aspects the human beings are free is a big question. Some people believe in destiny while some do not. People search the meaning of life while existentialism does not believe in any destiny and considers life to be essentially meaningless. (Bosch and Miller 2016).
The various religious foundational myths and stories aim to unite human beings under a common Godhead and a set of dictums to be professed by that omnipotent and omnipresent Godhead which human beings should follow to lead a happy life. These dictums were to be received by the saints or messengers of God and subsequently declared in front of the common mass. The purpose of constructing these belief systems have been more social than religious, that of binding the society in one unified whole. However, with the passage of time, diverse religious beliefs hand in hand with human civilization, led to conflicting ideas about these myths. All these stories relate to a myth of creation from different perspectives, the goal being the same. This gave rise to the arguments about the destiny of human lives and its meaning. Hope and the idea of destiny is what motivates humans to follow these origin myths. The advancement of science and technology posed a serious threat to the purpose of these religious belief, which was furthered by the questioning of faith by the theories of modern existentialist philosophers. Charles Darwin may be considered the father figure these rebellious ideas. His theory of ‘Origin of Species’ shattered the faith of humans on the Supreme Being and prompted them to question the integrity of the traditional belief system. They idea of a heavenly abode after death was challenged. This gave modern existentialists like Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, and Jean Paul Sartre to promote the idea of meaninglessness of life. The fate of these origin stories and religious myths of salvation through honourable lifestyle was further put to risk by the novels of Albert Camus and Franz Kafka, and by the Absurdist Drama, like ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett, where God does not keep the promise of returning, thereby relegating the possibility of salvation to the background (Belevi?ius 2014). The idea of a happy destiny had bounded human beings from performing unjust actions, on moral grounds. As mentioned earlier, their purpose was to keep the society clean. As such morality curbed certain freedom of human beings to a certain extent. In the modern world, a clash between the theologists and philosophers exist on the ground of this freedom. Existentialists ignore the purpose and claim that such assurance in the name of a God, is a binder, and such a binder is imposed because society is incapable of controlling itself otherwise. Such a proposition was dealt with by Michel Foucault’s theory about the ‘Panopticon’. In his ‘Discipline and Punishment’ Foucault had claimed that society, in trying to establish discipline, proposes certain so-called civilized codes of conduct as an remedy against criminality, without being able to define the margins of both (Dreyfus and Rabinow 2014). Existentialists oppose popular theological beliefs of human salvation and destiny in a similar way, putting the definition of ‘freedom’ on slippery grounds.
Therefore, it may be concluded by saying that human beings have always been prompted to search for a purpose and meaning in life. Belief in a supreme being has been professed to be a guiding principle behind this belief system. Modern age gave way to rational thinking and a more nuanced belief system. Religious debates regarding the concept of freedom has continued to exist. Such debates between different religions have helped anti-God beliefs to gain a strong foothold. Thus the ultimate questions in life underwent marked changes over the years. However, the idea of predetermination of fate and will continue to be a subject of speculation for as long civilization continue to exist on earth. Thus, in the end, the hypothesis ‘H1’ holds true, the rise of existentialism and various religious debates threatened the position of origin stories and critically questioned the meaning of human existence, their freedom and destiny.
Belevi?ius, E., 2014. Existentialism and Happiness in Samuel Becket’s “Waiting for Godot”.
Bosch, T.C. and Miller, D.J., 2016. Major Events in the Evolution of Planet Earth: Some Origin Stories. In The Holobiont Imperative (pp. 11-26). Springer, Vienna.
Dreyfus, H.L. and Rabinow, P., 2014. Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics. Routledge.
Finnegan, C.A. and Wallace, M.L., 2014. Origin stories and dreams of collaboration: Rethinking histories of the Communication course and the relationships between English and Speech. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 44(5), pp.401-426.