When does religion become myth?

by whyhideit 17 Replies latest jw friends

  • Carmel

    The central figures of all the world's religions, including Jesus, became subjects of over zealous followers and hagiographics abound within the very generation of their existence. The term "religion' means "gathering toghether" and I'm sure that means in terms of belief as well as physical proximity. The exagerated stories are not the religion. Those are products of humans wanting to make their "leader" special. Hence, Jesus becomes deified just as have the gods of the past. As to when it becomes myth varies with how soon humanity outgrows its usefulness. For many of us the fantasy stories of the bible have done just that and our search is to make sense of the world in terms of scientific reality while at the same time retaining the positive values taught by our respective "gods".


  • Valis

    I'm thinking a better question is when does myth become religion? And when did we stop creating new religions based on new myths? It seems we are in a bit of a epistemilogical and transcendental quagmire, stuck currently with major religions and crackpots who merely take old ideas and rehash them for the masses.


    District Overbeer

  • whyhideit

    This is a good link on the Jesus Myth and how it was taken from many other cultures.

  • joannadandy

    I took a greek mythology literature course. My final paper for that class was comparing stories from the old testement to those found in the stories we had read. Of course this class was three years ago and I forget which stories I compared to what, but there were enough of them to fill 25 pages.

    My thesis was actually very similar to your orginal post here whyhideit. Only my paper was more focused on how can we call such outdated religions foolish, when we hold the very same principles near and dear to our hearts through our own inspired literature.

    My professor liked it so much he copied it and put it on file for his classes. He tried to convince me to get it published. I tried one journal but they weren't that intersted so, I gave up...I will have to see if I can find it and perhaps cut and paste some of the info.

    It is facinating stuff. If you even read Ovid's Metamorphis, he is writing at a time when the religion has become less important, and is really almost mocking the stories. They are designed to be literature. He even arranges the stories in semi-coherent pattern to read like a much larger story from the smaller stories (much like the Bible).

    It sort of becomes like the Romantics and their literature. (They loved the greek culture so it's not hard to miss the similarities) But they didn't reject the Bible and it's stories, but they did seriously question it. (Milton also heavily influenced most of the Romantics-and his paradise lost puts a whole different spin on the Bible) Many poets, I believe it was Wordsworth specifically, claimed to want to follow such "pagen" religions because they were more true to the human spirit than the cold mechanical church they were following at the time.

  • gsx1138

    Being Wiccan myself I understand that what I believe is considered Myth (or devil worship) by the majority of the planet. However, even I know that the stories of old are just that stories. I see them as morality plays to learn from not literal. I really think literal interpretation is a modern phenomena. As far as I'm concerned ALL religion is myth. It really plays a minor role in spirituality which I think is good for the psyche.

  • La Capra
    La Capra

    Ah this takes me back to freshman seminar, when I was an undergraduate so very long ago (the same semester I dissasociated). Much mytholgy was to be covered and discussed (including Judeo-Christian). It became evident that anything that was not Jude-Christian was considered by most of my seminar-mates to be ficitonal stories. There was no empathizing with what the human condition and mind was like thousands and thousands of years ago. People didn't read, they didn't write, and they only knew what their ancestors passed on to them orally. They didn't have a scientific explanation as to why thunder or lightening occurred, so their explanaiton was a god making it happen. If they got an idea to do soemthing or invent something, they attributed it's arrival in their brain to a goddess. If a ship got lost at sea, they blamed an angry god.

    The human condition requires that we have understanding of why and how things happen. Absent scientific explanations, others were needed. I cannot bring myself to believe that all the ancient folk before us who believed in the explanations we refer to as myths (which implies untrue-I disagree) were any less understanding "of stuff" than we are. We are told by our teachers why it snows, or why the tides change, and even how we come up with creative ideas (the most mythical-imagination, not muses). It is no different. We trust that the scientific evidence was there for someone to disseminate and we believe it. Our ancient predessors believed the evidence given by their story tellers, in much the same fashion.

    It is far more alluring and interesting to think that a little tiff between Artemis and Athena over some god might be the reason a deer got run over last week, than to think that it was drawn out by the light of the full moon, and then when it saw the headlights coming, its instincts forced it to freeze, thus getting herself killed.

    Oh crap, I am supposed to be briefing crimes cases right now. Oops

  • Goshawk

    When does a religion become a myth?

    When the population of adherents falls below the critical mass to keep the religion relevant to the general population. The ratio of followers to non-followers in a population has to be above some point as to effectively pass on this knowledge and keep the religion dynamic enough to be meaningful and or applicable to current events / scientific advances. This critical ratio would also be dynamic with the changes in information technology, education level of a population and level of interaction between the general population and followers of said religion.

    Any thoughts on this type of belief propagation versus population model.


  • Beans

    Genesis 1,1


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