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Birth of an Origin Myth

four horsemenWhat is an origin myth?  According to the entry for “origin myth” in Wikipedia:

An origin myth is a myth that purports to describe the origin of some feature of the natural or social world. One type of origin myth is the cosmogonic myth, which describes the creation of the world.  . . . Every origin myth is a tale of creation: origin myths describe how some new reality came into existence.

Few early Greek philosophers delved into origin myths.  Most of them tried to discover truth regarding some aspect of the world.  They observed the physical world and speculated on what they saw.

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Science or Speculation?

Do clouds make thunder?

Do clouds make thunder?

What is science?  Suppose someone hears rumbles of thunder in the storm clouds overhead.  He can make an observation, like, “Wow! That was a loud rumble of thunder.”  This report is a simple observation of a natural event.  Is it science?

Suppose our observer goes further and says, “The thunder was caused when two clouds bumped together.”  Lucretius gave this explanation for thunder in his book On the Nature of Things. This is an explanation for the event.  It goes beyond a simple statement.  This explanation appears rational.  It gives what seems to be a reasonable justification for the thunder.  But is it science or speculation? Read more