16
Oct
08

On Narratives

Narratives are the foundation of human communication and education and all have one thing in common. They are fictions. Examples of narratives range from historical narratives to scientific narratives. Why, then, are the religious and nonreligious at odds so frequently if both are based upon narratives which are fictions? Narration, in itself, implies the description of events which have happened, are happening, or will happen. Why support one narrative over any other? Indeed, this is often the objection raise by creationists, homosexual marriage rights opponents, those seeking to impose their idea of reproductive freedom on others, etc.#1

A narrative can be, but frequently is not, purely fiction, but often has elements which can be verified. Many aspects of various religious texts have elements of historical truth in them, but the metahistorical constructs they accompany are purely mythic. The degree to which narratives can be verified, I shall refer to as verifiability. An individual can easily verify what has happened or will happen either through multiple, independent, distinct sources or by repeating a procedure outlined by the author preparing the narrative. For example:

Hypothetical: A study found a statistically significant correlation between venom yield from Agkistrodon species and prey type. Method was introducing prey and immediately after the first strike, removing the prey item. Produce a whole animal homogenate of the organism and, using ELISA assays, test for venom concentration and extrapolate from concentration to total venom yield. Anyone using the same or similar methods should get the same results.

Hypothetical: YHWH said to Henry Paulson that many stocks were climbing too high and federal regulation of the two largest secondary mortage brokers in the country should not be increased.

These are both narratives, and as such, fictions, yet the fiction of the research, had it been done, is verifiable as the method for repeating such test is within the narrative itself. The narrative of the tetragrammaton giving orders to Paulson cannot be verified independently and, as such, the former maintains far more weight when presenting evidence as it can be verified. This is the foundation of scientific research.

1: these may be separate groups at times, but frequently, individuals can be considered as all of them)

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