/*amazon_ad_exclude = "christian"*/ The Skin I Am In: My Sunday Sermon: Modern Mythology

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Sunday Sermon: Modern Mythology

It took years to cultivate, but I distinctly remember when the seed of religious doubt was planted within me. I was in the cradle of my youth, a sophomore in high school, when we examined Greek and Roman mythology in my Honors English class. I found the study culturally intriguing, yet ironically parallel to present times. These bygone civilizations, not unlike contemporary ones, placed the utmost reverence into superstitious deities who possessed unearthly powers. Several of my fellow Honors students found foolishness in these fictional far-fetched fables. Yet, what I found interesting was how the same intellectuals who mercilessly mocked mythology on Monday, mindlessly spent Sunday singing sappy sanctimonious songs.

Then I had an epiphany: it suddenly occurred to me that we super-intelligent present-day humans have done nothing more than reject one form of mythology to adopt another. How were the ancient mythological teachings any more preposterous than biblical ones? Mythology is defined as a body of stories held true by a particular culture which use the supernatural to decode the nature of the universe and humanity. Therefore, theistic theory is even more absurd today because we now have the scientific evidence revealing the answers to the mysteries that religion was originally created to explain!

In the 5th century BC once philosophy, history and rationalism began to take hold, poets and playwrights set about revising the myths to coalesce with new concepts and theories. It has been 2,600 years since radical philosophers began calling the tales comprising Greek mythology blasphemous lies. Although considered rebels at the time, they were eventually recognized for their unconventional theories and revered for exposing objective consideration as a necessary element in advancing societal ideals.

Yet, over two millennia later, traditionalists continue to repeat history. As science advances, Christians react in one of two ways. Negating any legitimacy to their claims whatsoever, they can simply reject scientific evidence and theories, such as the wacky fundamentalists who refute the existence of dinosaurs. Going this route is unwise, for in propagating such gibberish, they risk the threat of extinction. The more practiced alternative is to manipulate biblical passages to better fit a modern, scientifically consistent interpretation. This is why the bible's ambiguity is essential in maintaining it's credibility.

Minimizing the impact of scientific inconsistencies, any Christian will tell you that their loyalty is built upon faith, not proof. Of course it is! For without faith religion would cease to exist! Naturally, followers of ancient mythology believed in their traditions as whole-heartedly as current Christians, Jews, or Muslims. People are susceptible to discrediting logic in order to adopt faith because religion serves to ease concerns and provide a purpose to our lives. Moreover, it is inferred that by developing faith in light of what is tangible and scientific, one achieves even greater holiness.

I have yet to hear a compelling theistic argument worthy of my convictions. Personally, I find biblical tales and legends of Zeus equally entertaining. Nevertheless, just as in ancient times, modern mythologies serve a purpose to those who endorse them. In evaluating the purpose, one must consider that attempting to live a righteous existence is one thing; religious fanaticism is entirely another. I am genuinely intrigued how people can advocate one faith unequivocally, yet simultaneously reject the validity of all other religions throughout history. Spirituality is a very personal thing, and should be respected as such. Looking objectively, we can see that building societies on the foundation of fables and superstition only hinders progress for a more unified world.


Anonymous said...

Myth must have social function too. But Christianity plays the absurdity of equating myth with science. Conservative Christians refute science to defend Creation myth--the absurdity of all absurdities. I agree with you. You too have an honest reflection. Thanks.

doug said...

Yes this is the reason why I am a scientologist. All hail to the great Tom Cruise.

The Blogger Exposed said...

Doug, you aren't making fun of me, are you?

Cuz Tom Cruise rocks and scientology is founded in truth!

Ok, seriously, scientology is actually the most ridiculous of all belief-systems. I mean, normally I am a big fan of the new religious frontier: "Founded by Trekkies for Trekkies", but just not that one. They're a bunch of a rich snobs.

Naturally I don't have any first-hand experience, but I have this "friend" who will remain anonymous who really wanted to be a scientologist and even went to like, 5 meetings. I, er, she, totally agreed with everything they said, but just couldn't afford it. They totally look down on you if your weekly offerings are less than six digits. That's why she and I are co-founding a religion called "Cosmotheology". It will focus on the theology of cosmetology with an emphasis on the cosmos.

I hope you'll join! And donations are graciously accepted to further pursue our endeavor.

doug said...

Oh that sounds like fun!. I like to switch religions every couple of months anyway. I was Jewish once, then Hindu, Catholic, Mormon, Jehova Witness and now a Scientologist. I would love to give you all my money for some pointless crap that someone made up. Doesn't everyone operate like that? In case you didn't know I am totally kidding.

The Blogger Exposed said...

Well, I had a hunch. It was all pretty believable until you said you were Mormon once.

Travis Morgan said...

right on spot.

Christine Vyrnon said...

Great post! I too remember learning greek mythology, probably at the same age and time you were. It totally fascinated me. But when I ran it by my biblebelieving folks and church, you find that even fundies have a system of reasoning away this logical conclusion you came to.

A couple of options include: mythology represents gods/goddesses in the form of fallen angels/demons; mythology represents the preparation for all pre-christians to be led into the true, one and only God/trinity of christianity; mythology is a watered-down version and misinterpretation of the real message god was trying to send... successfully through christianity.

Now I realize mythology is mythology... allegorical, symbolic, story, earth centered... and no religion can claim exemption from it's mythical roots.

The_Mrs said...

I've never been a religious person and in fact, have never attended church except for weddings and funerals.

I'm agnostic and while my husband is Catholic, he can't explain anything to me without throwing in a 'it's just that way.. you just have to believe'. Uh.. can't do it.

I agree wholeheartedly with what you've said here.

FLOOG said...

Like so many of your posts, this was observant, honest and extremely well written.

The comment above from 'the mrs' is spot on, in my books.

Descartes said...

Great post-my dear old Mom's favorite quote was Faith is the Evidence of Things Unseen. Which pretty much means believe whatever they tell you, no matter what nonsense it is.
My favorite religion is one created by Robert A Heinlein in his very interesting book Job-it was The Church of the One Orgasm, where the service is always followed by an orgy.

Michael said...

On a similar point, this article talks about the continuing shifts in religion... http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/us/25cnd-religion.html?hp

The thing that I often find most useful is to not get caught up in the trappings and the ceremonies. If you don't worry about the creeds of a religion or the God to which it worships then you can pay attention to many of the commonalities. Such as the need for kindness, aid, and love. By looking at what all the different religions has in common, you can find those traits that are important for mankind.

The Blogger Exposed said...

To quotes like those of your mother, I feel very compelled to reply that in whatever fashion you choose to describe faith, "evidence" can not be a part of the definition. For that is the very essence of the word 'faith'--you have it in spite of the absence of evidence. Otherwise "faith" would be called "knowledge".

I think you are describing the healthiest possible way to regard religion. However, I feel that since recognizing the need for love, kindness, and empathy is inherent, religion only complicates what we already know or feel. Religion too often provides a scapegoat to justify acts that are wrong on a humanitarian level.

FerdC ~ Crazy Medical Cases said...

Your phrase that most caught my attention was "a higher level of spirituality." It seems to me that as kids, we respond to myths and magical thinking because we lack knowledge of the world, and can understand it better in symbolic terms. But as we grow older and wiser, so should our spirituality mature. The problem is that many people fail to evolve, lingering in a childish understanding. And there are plenty of organized religions ready to serve them what they want, and to take their money.

I totally agree with Michael's comment about "kindness, aid, and love." You'd like to think those are inherent human traits, but look around in time and space. We humans need lessons and constant reminders to use our powers for good and not for evil.

The Blogger Exposed said...

I wholeheartedly agree that kindness and empathy need to be rooted and nurtured, however, it doesn't require a bible lesson or the threat of spending eternity burning in hell to accomplish this.

My Morality of an Atheist post gives some good examples of where I'm coming from.

FerdC ~ Crazy Medical Cases said...

Amen to that, BE. We're mostly on the same wavelength.

Hey, BE, Princess Gail and I were just in NYC, and we visited St. Patrick's Cathedral. I don't know if you've seen it, or if you saw any cathedrals during your European adventures. What do you think of the amazing, truly awesome achievements like these cathedrals, and so many works of art, that have been done in God's name. I can't help feeling that it is a very good thing.

Libertine said...

I always figured that if you're going to pick a fairy tale to believe in, you might as well pick one that was fun. At least the Greek and Roman gods went around getting laid all the time and sound like they were a lot more fun than the stick in the mid ascetic Christian God and Jesus.

The Blogger Exposed said...


I have seen St.Patrick's (although not gone inside), and I find European cathedrals to be beautiful and amazing for the reason that I am drawn to structures and architecture which provide aesthetic appeal, as well as cultural significance. I equally gravitate toward the beauty and wonder of mosques, which is one reason I fell in love with Istanbul.

I have always maintained that religion serves a purpose, and of course, it isn't all bad. But if you think about it, cathedrals were essentially built for the same reason we have holy wars--people feel impassioned by their faith to accomplish something that they deem right for the sake of their religion. The real problem is when religion is deemed to be paramount to all else in the universe. This allows for inflexible views on any other matter. Some will use these core values for good, and some will use them for harm. A truly righteous religion would indoctrinate, above all else, that no harmful, prejudicial, or oppressive ideology is tolerated or justifiable by God. My entire 'platform' suggests that Christians need to spend their time on advancing their own ideals to be more compassionate and accepting, and quit worrying about what others are doing. They could do a lot more good if they spent less time pointing fingers!

Ok, back to cathedrals! You have sparked curiosity in me now, as to who invested the hard labor into most of these churches, and the danger involved in constructing them. I'm sure the mentality wasn't to put safety first when the end result was to glorify God. There is a book I would really like to read called, "The Pillars of the Earth" which chronicles the building of a cathedral in the 12th century. The author is an atheist, who like me, appreciates the beauty of these churches. It's nearly 1,000 pages, though so my own writing would have to suffer to get through it!

Dave Dubya said...

...And I thought cathedrals were built to empower the masons;-)

Maybe we need to separate the meanings of faith and belief. People believe in anything. From Santa and the tooth fairy to fascism and the "free market".

Religious dogma is full of crazy things to believe in.

Belief is acceptance with or without reason.

Faith is a deeper matter. It is based on conviction more than acceptance.

We have faith that dawn will follow the night. We have faith that things will somehow work out.
We have faith in love, and those we love.

We have faith in the forces that have proven to be of positive human value. Peace, justice, truth and compassion.

Contrast this with the belief in violence and war and power and greed that we see in business and government.

I just re-read "Island" by Aldous Huxley. One of the memorable lines is, "Give us this day our daily faith, but deliver us, oh Lord, from belief".

Alexander said...

Just for YOU! (My recommendation for you is to get the book...not the DVD)

Be a good sport!

The Case for Christ

The Blogger Exposed said...

I've been a good sport for over 33 years! I've spent my time in church. I've spent my time on mission trips. I've spent my time reading the bible. I've spent my time biting my tongue about my real feelings. And although I have disclosed my beliefs, or lack thereof, I continue to play the good sport by respecting each individuals right to believe as they choose.

Now, what have you done to be a good sport?

If you would like to try out for the part, please visit www.religioustolerance.org.


Angela WD said...
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The Blogger Exposed said...


I ask this as a serious question: Do you feel sorry for everyone who is not a Christian, ie, Muslims, Buddhists, maybe even Jews? Or do you not pity them because they do have some kind of faith? You specifically mentioned that it's because I haven't "experienced anything worthwhile with Christianity" as opposed to using the word faith, for example. I'm just trying to better understand where you're coming from.

Angela WD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.