Mythology

clip_image002On a recent vacation we stumbled across an old used book store. We love books, and especially old books. I enjoy old books because they provide a glimpse into the past and what we as humans may or may not have found to be true at the time.

J found a book Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. It was published in London in 1959. For the most part the book is simply what it says in the title, an encyclopedia. What caught my attention was one of the opening paragraphs.

“Mythology is the study of whatever religious or heroic legends are so foreign to a student’s experience that he cannot believe them to be true. Hence the English adjective ‘mythical’, meaning ‘incredible’; and hence the omission from standard European mythologies, such as this, of all Biblical narratives even when closely paralleled by myths from Persia, Babylonia, Egypt and Greece” and of all hagiological legends. “

Of course the part that I find interesting and most amusing is that the author admits to Biblical narratives closely paralleling other hagiological legends, but then states they will not be documented in this book.

The introduction continues;

“Myth has two main functions. The first is to answer the sort of awkward questions that children ask, such as: ‘Who made the world? How will it end? Who was the first man? Where do souls go after death?’ The answers, necessarily graphic and positive, confer enormous power on the various deities credited with the creation and care of souls – and incidentally on their priesthoods.”

The author specifically points out that the questions come from children. This would lead one to imply that once grown a person would not be asking such questions because reason and logic would provide the correct answers to replace the childish fairytales. Second the author specifically labels the questions as awkward. I find this interesting simply because it would be the grownup answering them and at some point the adult should have obtained the correct answers which they could then provide to the child thus rendering them “non-awkward” I’m not sure why this author finds these questions to be awkward.

The author continues;

“The second function of myth is to justify an existing social system and account for traditional rites and customs. “

This would lead one to believe that a society is using the myth to justify something that is not reasonable. If something is reasonable and serves a purpose then no justification should be required.

Conclusions;

One thing I have always maintained is that religious books should not have a separate place within book stores or libraries. At best they belong in a subsection of philosophy but I would rather see them shelved in the fiction section or a section for mythological studies.

The Biblical mythologies and all the documentation associated with them should be regarded with the same reproach and skepticism as is given to every other story of fancy and frivolity. For the most part the Jewish Torah, the Muslim Qur’an, and the Christian Bible are horrific accounts of human indecency inflicted by man upon man, with all the credit given to an imaginary monster. The perpetuation of these myths does little more than provide support and justification to the priesthoods that preside over said myths.

It is time to put away the childish things…

Peace

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Houston, TX, United States
I live in Houston Texas, married to my best friend with two wonderful kids (both teenagers). I enjoy philosophy, psychology, theism – atheism, quantum computing. I work in the technology industry with focus on energy and computer theory. I love to engage in discussions of rationality, logic, and reasonability.

Introduction

Growing Up…
I had a great childhood. I had loving parents and a very easy life. I never wanted for anything. So I was never “mad at god”. I did have a lot of physical problems as a child but I never “blamed” them on anyone or anything. I was just born that way. I believe my parents were “religious” because of my physical birth defects. Because of these defects I spent a lot of time in the hospital as a child. Several times I was close to death. I believe this had a lot of influence on my parent’s belief system.

I have lost friends and family, I have experienced hardships. But that is just life as it happens. I did not have a great first marriage, but I did have two great kids come out of it. I am now married to the most wonderful woman on the planet and am very happy. For the most part life is good. Some have even told me that I have never “found god” because I have never truly suffered in life. That argument doesn’t hold water, but is interesting.

I begin questioning my Christian upbringing about age 10. I was asking questions and wasn’t getting satisfactory answers. I was raised in a small town in east Texas; this does not provide a whole lot of exposure to other religions. As I aged and begin to learn more I found it interesting that there were and had been so many religions and gods throughout the history of man. I begin to question why some believed in one god while others believed in theirs. I wondered how anyone could prove, or at the very least have some level of confidence they were worshiping the “right” god.

I can’t say I ever lost my faith. I never really had any. When I was young of course I didn’t know I was an Atheist. I just didn’t believe what everyone else was telling me. With my friends it never really came up that “I’m an Atheist”. When I told my mother I didn’t believe in god she just dismissed it as something I was going through. My father was indifferent to my proclamation. My closest friend is Jewish. I try my best to honor his belief system and he reciprocates.

Focusing Thoughts…
Once I realized that there were so many different religions it just seemed clear to me that none of them were real. Then I learned that there was a name for what I believed and it is called Atheism. Once I found others who believed as I did I begin to learn more about the religions and how they controlled so much of our lives. I wanted to know as much as I could about all of them. I even wrote an anthology paper in collage on how everyone could be worshiping the same god, just using different names.

I find it extremely easy and comforting to be an Atheist. Life is very simple, and so much less complicated. I follow simple rules for living; be nice to all living creatures, and the earth. Don’t think that you are better than anything or anyone else. I don’t think this is an original way of thinking or living but I don’t subscribe to it because it is part of some other philosophy, it simply feels like the “right” way to live.

I do tend to “pick on” Christianity more than other religions simply because it is the one that is most prevalent and intrusive in my life. While I think extremist or radicals in any religion are responsible for a large majority of the damage done to humanity, I also believe anyone who follows that religious teaching is responsible. You are responsible because you do not get to pick and chose which part of a religion you want to follow. Saying that you are against gay marriage while you are eating a bacon sandwich just doesn’t cut it with me. (If you don’t understand that last sentence look up the Christian bible and refer to the book of Leviticus.) If you only pick out the parts of a religion you want to follow you have just created a new religion.

I do make it evident in my life that I am an Atheist. I have a bumper sticker on my vehicle, I have sayings and quotes around my desk at work or around my house. I do this to let others know who they are approaching if they want to engage me in conversation or wish to ask questions. Just as others put “fish” on their vehicle or place religions symbols around their house.

Why am I an atheist? Because I ask questions and ask for the answers to be empirically evident. I consider my self to be a rationalist. I do not believe in faith, nor do I believe in statements like “we can not comprehend.” Do I have all the answers to life’s questions? Well of course not. It just means that we don’t have all the answers. I also believe that when we die, we just die. We are no different that any other living organism in the universe Wow is it really that simple? Yes it really is that simple. We just keep investigating the world around us as we have done throughout history. I have enough answers to get me through this thing called life. I will enjoy it while I am here and try to help those I care to help along the way. I will do so based on a moral compass in my heart, not one dictated by a religion.


Have a great day
TK
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