Monday, December 6, 2010

Myth vs. Religion

Before I begin I would like to take a moment to define the words myth and religion. I will be citing both definitions from the Merriam Webster online dictionary. Let's look at the definition for myth: 1.a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon. 3. a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence. Now let's look at the definitions for religion 1b: the service and worship of God or the supernatural. 2a: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

Quite frankly I personally don't see the difference between religion and mythology. In fact mythology at one time served the same purpose as religion, it was a means of understanding the world around us as being the result of divine creation. At one time those same beliefs that we now call myths were just as real and believed by the populace of the various cultures from which they originated.

As the title of my blog implies the biblical god is in fact a myth, it's just a myth that many in our culture happen to believe in. Out of the two definitions I used above several characteristics stand out, one is that myths were a way for a people to explain some of their practices or beliefs (worldviews). Religion likewise refers to a certain set of beliefs and practices and also are in place to explain a similar worldview ( that God created everything).

Today's myths are nothing more than yesterdays religions and beliefs just as today's beliefs are nothing more than today's myths. In myths the definition states that it involves a person or thing of imaginary or unverifiable existence (that sounds a lot like god). You can't prove or disprove the existence of the biblical god just like you cant disprove the existence or non-existence of Zeus, Thor, or Loki.

Many of the ancient myths were polytheistic, they had many deities to worship and as is demonstrated by Greek mythology they seemed to have a deity for every natural phenomenon to the then known world. Sort of like the Catholic church seems to have a saint to intercede for just about any specific need. The only difference between myths and religion is that myths are religions that we no longer believe in and religions are myths we do believe in. But who is to say that today's religions wont be tomorrows myths?

Through the process of anthropomorphism man has created his mythical deities of yesterday and his deities of today to suit his religious beliefs.


  1. "You can't prove or disprove the existence of the biblical god"

    If he does exist, wouldn't you be in big trouble?

  2. Anonymous - fantastic use of Pascal's Wager. I would ask you "Wouldn't you be in big trouble if you found out you were following the wrong religion?" Imagine your disappointment if you found out after death that you were supposed to be worshiping cows or sacrificing to Zeus.

    Stephen S. Roberts: "I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other gods you will understand why I dismiss yours"

  3. Anonymous, it must be hard to be stuck in primitive thinking that is solely based on ignorance and superstition.

  4. Back from the beyond ... and a bit of time to comment ...
    Perhaps we need to understand what is not a myth.
    Consider the many myths that surround the assignation of JFK – but is the shooting of JFK itself a myth? So it is possible for myth to surround an actual event – the telling of the event is the source of myth or inaccuracy.

    Another example is myths surrounding the Tour de France this year. Who took drugs, who did not, did Contador know Schleck’s chain had broken when he launched his attack. Reading different reports of the event even now it is hard believe that they all relate to teh same event.

    Imagine what the stories about the 2010 tour will be like in the year 4010! Much myth will be created. However whilst most reports will be a mix of fact and fiction, reality and misconception, truth and speculation there will be a core of truth: the Tour did take place and Contador won.

    So what is myth and what is not? Are we surprised to find fact surrounded by error? Are we surprised that the Old Testament contains different accounts of the same events – as does the New Testament?

    Certainly the God of the literally true inerrant bible is a myth – I don’t believe in that God and nor does mainstream Christianity. We have that much in common.

    Sala kahle - peace

  5. akakiwibear

    Except that we have multiple sources of information that corroborate that JFK and the Tour de France participants actually exist. I would very much love to see some evidence outside the bible that a person by the name of Jesus ever even existed.

    If the bible is not the literal word of God - then in your opinion, where do the words come from and how are we supposed to understand what they mean? Would love to hear your opinion.

  6. akakiwibear
    What are the myths surrounded the mainstream Christian god?

  7. Dennis asked If the bible is not the literal word of God - then in your opinion, where do the words come from and how are we supposed to understand what they mean?

    where do the words come from? What we are presented with in the bible is the evolution of God’s revelation of salvation to the Jewish people. The record is written in the context of the times social, religious & political and reflect the evolving understanding of the authors over time of this revelation.

    Mainstream Christians believe the authors were inspired to record the events but that the words were not dictated by God.
    So the words are the authors’ own – their best effort. Remember that most of the Bible was written long after the events occurred, so the authors were depending on oral tradition (Old Testament) and in some cases witness accounts (Gospels & Acts). It sets events to record in much the same way as the various journalists covered the Tour de France – with discrepancies, personal opinion and external influences.

    how are we supposed to understand what they mean? Firstly by recognising what the bible is and is not. It is not literally true and without error. It is not a text book of history, science or medicine.
    It is, Christians believe, true only in the area of the evolving revelation of God’s path to salvation for us.

    So how do we understand it? By reading it in context, perhaps with the help of some genuine scholarship. Easiest is to focus on what it is intended to convey to us – guidance on how to live our lives – and even then to look for consistency of message, in particular into the New Testament.

    Hope I answered your question.

    Sala kahle – peace

  8. Anonymous asked What are the myths surrounded the mainstream Christian god? Too many to mention – the first 10 chapters of Genesis for a start - that includes the creation myths.

    An example. How about God destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah. The destruction is likely, that God did it is myth – the culture of the day ascribed everything to the peoples’ god/s. The timing is most likely myth.

    Was Lot saved by his faith – most likely he responded to God’s message to leave. Was his wife turned into a pillar of salt – most likely myth.

    Dennis – the salvation message (= the only part that really matter.) there was that by pure living one was open to hearing God’s word – in this case to leave a place of evil.

    Sala kahle -peace

  9. So then how am I supposed to distinguish between those words written by the authors own intelligence, versus those that were guided by god? Obviously there will be those that claim they are divinely inspired and aren't. It seems to me that what you are saying is the evolution of things like morality are guided by god, but why even involve a supernatural force when we have shown the process can occur completely naturally? Matter of fact, I would state that the process of developing a moral society is hampered by the process of trying to figure out what god wants as opposed to what is best for the society/individual (AIDS and condoms being an excellent example). You use the term "saved by faith" - I'm assuming this concept comes from the bible? How do you know this isn't an improper interpretation? Also - we can apply all of these same concepts to lets say the Hindu or Norse religions - why should I think that christianity is any better?

    Salvation Message - I would love an example of salvation with some form of evidence. In an absolute sense I do not think there is such a thing as evil - there is a world that is indifferent with respect to our survival (hence the problem of a god that appears to allow "evil" things to occur is solved). As far as "evil" human actions - there are people who are so far on the edge of the moral bell curve that their actions are considered "evil", mass murders for instance. But in some other biological context (bears for example) the actions of a mass murder are well within their social norms.

  10. akakiwibear said:"so the authors were depending on oral tradition (Old Testament) and in some cases witness accounts (Gospels & Acts)."

    This statement is incorrect when referring to the gospels and the book of acts. The earliest synoptic gospel is believed to have been the book of Mark and it has been dated to around 70 CE, almost 40 yrs. after the alleged death of Christ! So much for eye witness accounts. Also I don't consider Paul an eye witness since you would have to accept his tale of conversion on faith, and believe that he had the so called experience he mentions on the road to Damascus as he wrote it without any embellishments.

    Even more important is the fact that the synoptic gospels Matthew,Mark,and Luke were presented as anonymous works and did not have those names attached to them till the middle of the second century. So in all truth its authors are unknown and anonymous.

    The entire bible is constructed out of oral and even borrowed pagan myths that predated both Judaism and Christianity.

    By the way akakiwibear, it's good to have you back.

  11. Chat, what evidence is there the synoptic gospels were originally unnamed? Aren't the oldest copies from the 3rd century, the dead sea scrolls?

  12. ex-minister when I say the synoptic gospels I am referring specifically to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These three works were originally presented as anonymous works and do not appear anywhere else with the names that have been attached to them until the middle of the second century.

    Mark is considered to be the oldest of the three because it is believed to have been written on or after 70 CE. This is due to a text in Mark that refers to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem which scholars believe was mentioned by Jesus in Mark 13:1,2. This is not believed to have been a prophecy but to have been written after the fact.

    The dead sea scrolls had nothing to do with the gospels or the New Testament, they are believed to have been authored by an ancient Hebrew sect know as the Essenes and are generally dated from 150 BCE. to 70 CE. Wikipedia has a great article on the dead sea scrolls. They usually refer to O.T. apocryphal works but not the N.T.

    I will find you a good online source regarding the topic of anonymity of the gospels later on. I have to do some homework for school today that is due tomorrow.

  13. Hi David,

    I've been MIA for a while...shit happens, ya know?

    Hey, Have you had a chance to check out David Fitzgeralds' book; NAILED?

    It is frickin' AWESOME.

  14. Hi speck good to see you again. I have not read that book but I did get a 100 page pdf on '10 reasons why Jesus did not exist' by the same author. I have read many books on this subject matter so I have become convinced myself a long time ago that Jesus was a fictional person. Another good book to read on the subject is 'The Jesus Puzzle' by Doherty and a good website to check out is

  15. Hey Chatpilot - Here's my little essay on the subject of monotheism.
    Thanks for your awesome stuff!

    In the struggle between monotheism vs. atheism, it is monotheism that poses and sells itself as being the “good guy”. By framing unbelief as being dangerous or even down right evil, it tricks people out of their option of ever giving serious consideration to the possibility that there may not even be any actual god to serve and fear. It hinders discovery and prohibits our true nature and understanding of the universe. This universe is our true creator and it is every bit as self sustaining as any invented god might claim to be.

    Today’s monotheism is the dying yet still powerful remnant of a pre-scientific solution that ancient minds invented in order to create a desperately needed sense of security. It’s foundational building blocks are myths that enshrine ignorance and fear which are in turn cemented together by unquestionable authority. It’s main objective has been to hold inquiry in check under the false notion that human advancement and progress are evil and new discovery is equal to arrogance and rebellion.

    Monotheism extorts it’s supporting funds through it’s shameless coercion of the gullible while tapping into the kindness of the human heart. It methodically manipulates minds via it’s subconsciously applied pressure which cloaks itself beneath a consciously undetectable fear of death. The only remaining (non) option it offers is an eternity of relentless and unending torture backed with a written guarantee.

    Monotheism is a coward that hides it’s true and hideous face behind a thin veil of human benevolence. It smiles and shakes your hand as it whispers terror into your ear and picks your pocket. It swallows the dreams of children through the nightmares that have been pressed upon the parents. Generation to generation it reshapes its sales pitch into whatever sly, necessary lies that are effective to keep it’s unwary serfs from escaping the emotional servitude it requires for it‘s own survival. It promises heaven in the unseen hereafter, but creates a tangible hell in this undeniable and otherwise beautiful world. A real world that only wants to grow, blossom and lift itself towards the sun of truth.

    Monotheism is a weed that has morphed and spread itself throughout our earthly garden. A place that could be a paradise were it not for the noxious species that has flowered to reveal no other ultimate purpose except to blot out the beauty and truth that it jealously seeks to destroy. It has had 2500 years to spread its seed. Only it’s sewer’s can deny the bitterness of it’s ripening fruit and the human death toll that it promises in the wake of it’s inevitable harvest.

    Monotheism. It is the friendly faced destroyer that dwells among us in plain sight.


  16. Thanks for sharing that essay Billy I really enjoyed reading it and I am sure that the rest of my readers will appreciate it as well. I have always stated that religion is the bane of mans existence and it has proven me right through it bloody history. And even today it continues to hinder the progress of science and society in so many subtle ways.