Yes, indeed. I'm convinced that the clergy as well has interiorized the law of evolution in some way and that they don't believe the fairytale of Adam and Eve anymore. Nonetheless, they hang on to it because they think it's an important part of their credo when instead it's something this can perfectly do without.
Yes, but we shouldn't forget that Plato used some myths to illustrate his theories, but he invented many as well. Since he never intended to be a prophet, and he wasn't considered as such by his contemporaries, his inventing myths would have been the equivalent to anybody adding pages to the Bible, not something the religious elites could easily approve. It's certainly possible to establish what the cultural and religious life of our ancestors was like; what's more difficult, is to ascertain to what degree the cultural and religious elites believed themselves in the genuinity of all the stories surrounding their religion, and, on the other hand, to what extent they intended those stories mainly as translation of religious values into images that the lower classes could understand (to convey moral/religious messages). For sure, since the V century b.C., the intellectual elites in Greece started to be familiar with a more modern way of intending history (collection of facts), and with the concept of myth as something different from the discipline of narrating facts.
Of course not, from an epistemologic standpoint: the tools our mind have at disposal weren't decided by us. But I was wondering: maybe it's like when we remember something as beautiful when instead it was not: our memory removes most of the bad in a past experience, maybe moved by some instinct of self-preservation (our peace of mind). That must be true also for regret and hope, if we intend hope as a projection of what we already experienced. Time, allied with a defective memory, can be the source of many illusions.
That's right. Just think about a scientist studying nature and how he can be fascinated by the artistic perfection of what he sees (no matter if he thinks it comess from God of from nature itself). Of course the dychotomy is the legacy of our philosophical history (Plato). But if we try to modernize it, maybe it can turn out to be a productive thing, only the other way around, in a way that highlights and "glorifies" passion over rationality. A nuclear scientist studying nature in its simplest forms (atoms, neutrons and the like) cannot admire nature the way a scientist observing and studying evoluted living forms can. It will drift towards pure rationalithy rather than towards passion. Pure rationality is the risk we have been facing in the past 100 years, not passion. The moment you can admire the overwhelming power of nature in a mushroom cloud, maybe it's just a little too late, isn't it?
That's why I think that: 1) we should embrace the cultural endeavour to do away with that dychotomy. 2) we should entrust our progress (which this way could be cultural as much as scientific) to more modern fields of scientific research, which can have the passion of the "young" and also allow for a more "passionate" contact with nature (if this may be the case of biotechnology can be open to debate, but it might definitely be: in some ways biotech resembles the original principle of art, the imitation of nature. Only, for industrial pursposes).
You've touched a topic that would deserve to be well discussed. If you think of regret as referred to something you didn't do that you'd wish you had done, then this is maybe the same thing as hope, only addressing the past. It makes me think about the philosophers who claim that the time dimension is only an illusion (Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer). Maybe you weren't supposed to do that thing, for reasons that you've forgotten, now that your desire takes over. Perhaps you had another desire at that time, and if you hadn't followed that one, than your regret would still be there, only with a different object. And, speaking of hope, I agree with your saying that hope is mostly referred to something negative (I hope that it won't...). Both convey a sense of fear (in the past and for the future). I wonder: how many things apparently different to human perception would be one and the same if we were to abstract from time?
Myths should remain myths. They are there to teach us something. If they are based on some real historical event, no matter to which extent, researching the historical foundations of a myth can depotentiate the message of the myth, which is what it exists for. Take fairytales, for example. If we found out that Snow White and the Witch really existed, their characterization would be mitigated, in that maybe we'd find out that Snow White wasn't really so innocent and good, and that the Witch wasn't actually that mean. Fairytales, just like myths, need strong characterization because they must convey an ethical message, whereas real history has always many facets and grey zones. We need to know what's good and what's bad in it, what's right and wrong, etc. Of course, when you switch to literary masterpieces like the Iliad, complexity increases, but still the identification of the characters with some qualities of the human personality (although more complex than simply "good" and "bad", that goes without saying) and events are there helping us understand human nature and fate.
Being italian, I can see your concept in a precise perspective. The Vatican State is geographically incorporated in the italian state, but it is a state on its own, a sovereign state with its own laws. Nonetheless, despite that, it interferes regularly and heavily in the political and moral life of Italy. To say more, it has created a system of economic power that stretches way beyond its geographic boundaries. As an example, almost all private clinics in Italy are owned by the Vatican through associations like "Comunione and Liberazione" (Communion and Liberation, "CL").
I know maybe I'm trivializing the concept, but only for the purpose of contextualising it and of indicating that it can have a precise perspective: to keep alive the need of a pure concept of Christianity, without any political incarnation, which always entails a conflict between the moral essence of christian spirituality and the down-to-earth interests of a political entity.
It's a very complex matter. In a nutshell, the use of statistics constitute the elective method of modern sociology in its aspiration to become a science. Of course, having to deal with societies as dynamic organisms made of people, means their statistics are the results of questionnaires, which also need interpretation. The collection of opinions is meant for obtaining a broad understanding of society through the separate understanding of the singular parts of it. The critics of the Frankfurt School to this method are: 1) the method is positivistic, and so is sociology, in that it helps only get access to the surface of the dynamics operating in the studied society, not even getting close to the psychological and cultural dynamics through which those opinions are formed, and the important role that the culture industry plays in all that. If you consider opinions as main source of truth, you are looking at the surface of the society you are studying, just like positivism identifies reality with its external manifestations(phenomena). By doing so, you can only describe the shell, the external effects of the autoritarian power that underlies modern societies and that controls them through behavioural patterns induced by the mass-media, and organized into an established mass-commmunication and mass-culture (with no substantial differencies between capitalist and communist societies). It can be noticed that many of the communicationg clichés used by Mussolini and Hitler are adopted in the culture and advertising industries; moreover, it's no mistery that modern means of communications like the radio played a determining role in consolidating Hitler's and Mussolini's regimes; 2) sociology reproduces - and is part of - a division of labour in the sciences that makes a thorough uderstanding of society AS A WHOLE impossible. Philosophy is for Horkheimer, Marcuse and Adorno no other than the mission of unifying all human sciences (psychoanalisis, sociology, politics, economics, critics of culture and others) with the purpose of gaining an universal perspective on society in all its complexity.
If you have questions (and if you find my english understandable enough - it's by no means perfect by I'm working on it) I'll be glad to answer.
Statistics are fine if they limit themselves to what they were originally created for: the measurement of objective data. But when we apply the human-subjective factor (as in the poll, which is kind of a craze nowadays) then the whole perspective is skewed and we disregard the objective factors that end up conditioning what people state when interviewed. In fact, we are slowly becoming more interested in what people think about a phenomenon that in the phenomenon itself. Much have been written about that by the authors of the Frankfurt School (preminently by Adorno).