One Man’s Mythology is Another Man’s Religion

One of the greatest ironies ever — ever — is that, despite many ancient civilizations having well established religions (see Greeks/Romans, Egyptians, etc.), our modern culture labels their religions, in a loving touch, as “mythologies” — like they’re somehow less feasible than the monotheist (excluding hinduism, of course) religions that dominate the world today. The point is: what makes them sure that, say, Greek mythology is less valid, and thus earning the tag of “mythology”, than, say, Islam or Christianity? Is it because people believe in those things today and aren’t worshipping Zeus or Thor or Osiris? Whether people believe in something or not is not necessarily a good metric for the validity of a belief — shouldn’t they be lumped in the same category of “myth” because they’re based around things that cannot be proved to be true?

Now, now, I’m betting someone will probably get where I’m going with this and say, “Well, the Bible isn’t to be taken literally, so there!” Well, there are two things I’d like to say about that: the first being that, if certain things in the Bible aren’t valid and are figurative, who’s to say that anything within is valid at all, and, secondly, Greek myths were created to teach — they were parables in their own right. Again, who’s to say Jesus actually DID do all he did, and all the parables are true? They could be made up, which challenges the Bible as an ignorant man’s guide to human life and death.

So, again, what separates “modern” religions from the defunct ones? The fact that dead men tell no tales. A Christian society has dominated the West for centuries and centuries, which explains why ancient Greek religion, the main precursor to Christianity (I’m equating Greek religion with Roman religion here) has been labeled as mythology — don’t get me wrong, it deserves the tag of “myth”, but I’m simply making a point that Christianity does too. So what’s next? Will the big, bad West conquer the Middle East and, over time, label Islam a “mythology” as well?

Here’s the scary thing: I’d bet that if another religion sprang up and conquered the monotheistically dominated society we live in now, over the course of 4-5 generations, that too would be labeled as “myth” in an effort to persuade people to join the one “true” religion.

Advertisements

  1. Roman, Greek, Norse, etc, paganism was both religion and mythology; Christianity as well is both religion and mythology. Its adherents believe that it is a “true myth”. But we emphasize the mythological aspect of ancient paganism because we’re more interested in the stories than their theological implications, and v.v. for Christianity.

  2. blahgblahg

    You have a good point. Mythology versus religion…there is no real difference in the end.
    Goodness should be our religious practice, whether we are Christian, Muslim, etc.

    If the atom smasher destroys the earth, then there will come a point in everlasting time that our existence will be mythological if there is no proof to other universal life of our existence here.
    I’m not being sarcastic, just playing with the words to which our minds are limited.

  3. I will come back to this, Brett – but the wife wants to go grocery shopping so I have to go for now – but I will do a longer reply.

    And from a committed Christian. 🙂

  4. Turin, blahg: Thanks for your comments — they are certainly much appreciated. There is almost nothing that separates mythologies and religions, and that’s the main point — they are one and the same, except one has connotations of, well, myth, and the other is supposed fact.

    Will: Looking forward to you trying to argue for religion not being myth. But it’s been a long time and you haven’t done so…

  5. On a purely speculative substance – and taking mythology at its core, its base and literal meaning you can see that religion and myth are a different beast altogether. But – and as we humans like to do this – a lot – we look to see what our perspective is and try to fit what we believe into it.

    Note that you can get several means of religion and myth from any given dictionary. But this isn’t about a simple explanation of the meaning of a word – it is what is asked in the first place.

    Many an atheist asks me how I can ‘believe’ in evolution and still believe in God – to them, and I can understand where they are coming from, it makes perfect sense that you cannot believe in both.

    But there the argument fails – if it is to be an argument.

    One is science – we see that those who wish to teach creationism in schools look toward the wording “Theory” in any given explanation as to what The Theory of Evolution is. They don’t look at the science behind what is evolution and in so doing fail to see how their particular argument doesn’t hold water.

    “One Man’s Mythology is Another Man’s Religion” Brett’s question or elution.

    So to the belief in God. Now this is where the argument for or against God comes in – we can, and practically always do, get the question as to how we prove that God exists or God doesn’t exist. But this is where we have that elution come into its own – myth and deity are intermixed to some degree – those who argue that it isn’t is – well…plainly stupid and don’t know what they are talking about. Mythology – in the sense of religion and not lecturing or speaking simply about myth, has been used for millennia to ‘explain’ the mystical aspect of religion – and to some degree God them self.

    We are human – and as human we are so arrogant that we seek that which is high and of higher power than us should, because of arrogance, be the same as us. “God made man in His image” Now remember that bit – it’s important.

    Dissecting religion is, in my view, a mug’s game – it is pointless. Why? Because we cannot disprove nor prove the very existence of God – we can only have faith that we do believe and that is as far as it can be. We can, if we so wish, have a go at categorising God with other Myths, this is where you get your Miriam Webster, or Oxford English out and take a peek at what they say about the two words, Religion and Mythology.

    If you do believe that God is simply a new way of speaking about the Roman gods, fine, Greek gods, fine, too. You are not wrong – you can’t be wrong because you are thinking it and that is how God fits into your world so all is OK.

    If you are saying that God doesn’t exist because He isn’t a proven fact – well, neither was gravity at one point – the mere assumption that our cells could be made up of something smaller would get you burned at the steak – believing that the world was not the centre of this universe would get you something worse still. And that is where we come back to that important bit I asked you to remember.

    Man made God in his image, not the other way around. Men, and today women but not as much, have taken The Text and made it work to his advantage – this si why God is questioned so much, why you get the question – “If there is a God why doesn’t He stop this or stop that or intervene…” that is the way MEN/Humankind have interpreted God – that He can/will come to our aid when we, well…basically fuck up.

    God is not a man, nor a woman – nor a dog or an elephant – God is the essence of you and everything that is, was and will be. And as long as we keep trying to put a timeline on what God is or could be, His ability to change something that is now we HAVE to believe that God exists to question why He didn’t stop that building falling on a small baby born not but seconds ago.

    For those who say God doesn’t exist or is just a myth MUST believe that God is there in the first place – if they didn’t they would ask the same question about a rock or a blade of grass.

    This will be controversial but, WE are God – God is us – that is why we are intertwined with each other and with everything about us. WE are the ones who can stop the wars or that second old baby being killed; God works through us and we Him.

    Men make God to be a superman – not God – God never did, in my belief. We are our own hero’s and we are our own evil.

    So is God one mans mythology and another’s religion? Simply put the simple answer is yes – it cannot be anything but a yes. If it is a no then you have to go one to the prove it to me point of the matter – and we cannot prove that God exists other than to say that we are those who choose to believe – or not as the case may be.

    When we made God an idol and not what is or was ever intended – it was mans failing, not the myth you chose to believe in or not.

    There are many religions in this world – there are also many detractors who insist that we who believe in God are idiots, well that very OK to me – I don’t mind that. As I look for more answers to my questions I see only more, and far more complex, questions.

    If that doesn’t answer Brett I can only say one thing – I am not God so how can I really answer this whole question? If I could then I would be a deity presumably – that is what I am told if you can answer such questions – or a crack pot.

    Lastly – I do apologise for referring to God as He – it is just the simple thing to do. God – in my mind and opinion is an it, a he/she/everything – but that is way too long to type.

  6. I didn’t forget you, Brett – I just wanted to word it right for this post.

  7. Will: your comment does nothing but strengthen my own argument.

    If you do believe that God is simply a new way of speaking about the Roman gods, fine, Greek gods, fine, too. You are not wrong – you can’t be wrong because you are thinking it and that is how God fits into your world so all is OK.

    You’re dead on; I see any and all Gods as, let’s say, continuations of what the Egyptians, Greeks, etc. started. That is, they religions are the direct products of man’s curiosity of and desire to explain things that he can’t comprehend (keep in mind that science was very very limited during those times). Ergo, man invented Gods to explain what seemed to be incomprehensible at the time. Since there wasn’t any other plausible explanation at those times, the idea of Gods overseeing the world seemed acceptable and plausible. Based on what I have observed, I believe God/Gods to be a metaphorical stand-in for what the writers of religious texts couldn’t explain at the time, nothing more. God, in my opinion, is nothing more than metaphor — though complications arise when people make Him/Her/It seem to be material and have some sort of influence. He doesn’t — in fact, I like the way you summed it up:

    God is not a man, nor a woman – nor a dog or an elephant – God is the essence of you and everything that is, was and will be. And as long as we keep trying to put a timeline on what God is or could be, His ability to change something that is now we HAVE to believe that God exists to question why He didn’t stop that building falling on a small baby born not but seconds ago.

    This will be controversial but, WE are God – God is us – that is why we are intertwined with each other and with everything about us. WE are the ones who can stop the wars or that second old baby being killed; God works through us and we Him.

    I’m a firm believer that we, as humans, control our destiny — I’m definitely against determinism (what would make life living if some higher power’s living vicariously through me anyways?!). I don’t believe that, however, you should even mention God if he is indeed just us. Us = Us, and we aren’t bound to any superpower wielding force that way. I’ve always said: Man should not believe in a God; he should believe in himself. Stop kneeling to something that doesn’t exist and love yourself. Now, I’m not saying go be an Objectivist (though I love Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead as works of fiction, Ayn Rand’s philosophy fails on a lot of levels for me), but have some trust in yourself as a capable human being. Don’t bow to a God and beg for forgiveness; grant yourself forgiveness. Don’t trust what someone else’s moral code dictates, trust what your own moral code dictates.

    I’m just glad we can dissect the theoretical points of a God without getting into the dirty facts of religion being used as a weapon of hegemony, of keeping the masses down. But that’s for another post…




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: