Religion v. Myth

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by stellaluna, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Religions don't seem to be replaced by science, they become myths when a new cult forms around a new religion...
     
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Here's my view, from the outside as it were, as an atheist fascinated by religions but not a member of any religious group:

    Science cannot provide meaning. Science is descriptive and predictive, it answers "how" "what" "where" "when" but never "why". The scientific method relies on finding new observations that rule out false descriptions and predictions. Scientific truth strives to be universally applicable, objectively demonstrable, and reliable.

    Meaning is provided by the stories, myths, spiritualities, legends, poems, pictures, ceremonies, practices, feasts, magic, traditions, mysteries, religions and so on. Meaning relies on questions which cannot be answered once and for all, on subjective experience, and it depends a great deal on context.

    Us human beings depend on both, the reliability of science and the meaning provided by endeavours such as religion, to be comfortable.

    The two don't mix well. You can't ask science to provide the meaning of a star. And if you apply the scientific method to religious concepts like God, you end up with things like New Atheists wielding Russells Teapot into battle.

    I think religions really shine when they engage us with the difficult, personal questions and keep us engaged with them. Religions that just provide pat answers (in the worst case answers that can be demonstrated to be false by applying the scientific method), wither and die (religions also die out for other reasons) Religions that keep the engagement with the meaning-seeking questions up, are successful (there are other factors as well).
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
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  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    When we want meaning from a star we get astrology.
    That is our human frailty, wanting meaning where there is none so we invent it.
     
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  4. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    When we want meaning from a star, we get funny memes about smarter ways to harness energy.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Do I sense a bit of nihilism here?
     
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    I believe our frailty, rightfully acknowledged, is our secret superpower.

    Anyway, I want to quote Terry Pratchett, may his memory last a very long time, on this very subject. It's from his book Hogfather, and if you haven't read it, this is a bit of a spoiler, so go, read it first. Really good fantasy story, with some really interesting and fairly deep thoughts splinkled in here and there.

    Here it goes. All-Caps is always the character of Death speaking. It is a dialogue between Susan and Death.

    WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU HADN'T SAVED HIM?
    "Yes! The sun would have risen just the same, yes?"
    NO.
    "Oh, come on. You can't expect me to believe that. It's an astronomical fact."
    THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN.
    She turned on him.
    "It's been a long night, Grandfather! I'm tired and I need a bath! I don't need silliness!"
    THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN.
    "Really? Then what would have happened, pray?"
    A MERE BALL OF FLAMING GAS WOULD HAVE ILLUMINATED THE WORLD.​

    The passage continues some more, exploring a lot of good questions.
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Why do I come here? For the edjamacation I Nevers got.
    Will heads for the dictionary....and gasps! No, I'm a fellow follower of brother John birch I belong to the Baptist Antioch church, I ain't even got a garage you can go home and ask my wife... (Steering brain back on track) I get a lot from attending church and catching up with services online when I miss. However just like politics, I am perfectly comfortable pointing out fallacy and foibles deemed sacred by many.
    If G!d wanted us to use solar power he would have made a nuclear fusion reactor available to all.
    Only up to chapter six in Beyond Biocentrism....sheesh
     
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  8. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Sheesh and thanx that is.
     
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  9. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    The wizard of OZ is a perennial Myth.

    IMO, Rap Music is a Myth.
     
  10. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  11. The Artis Magistra

    The Artis Magistra Member

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    Hello! That is a great question! My answer might sound a bit silly too, but I hope you might like it in some way.

    Myth and Religion are words meant to describe two different things. These words also took on different meanings and connotations over time as well.

    Today, myth refers to old tales about ancient things or how things came to be or what happened, told in an unrealistic, magical, or symbolic way, often with anthropomorphic descriptions of things behaving in ways that they can't or don't if taken literally, and this is part of the poetic tendencies in myths as well. The Sun may be described as if it is a person for example, even though we can see the Sun is not really a person and doesn't look like or behave like a real person either. People in the past could likely see this as well, so myths were likely never considered literally true, but were very likely considered true in some way or as poetic descriptions of real things possibly by some or having some basis in reality.

    1830, from French Mythe (1818) and directly from Modern Latin mythus, from Greek mythos "speech, thought, story, myth, anything delivered by word of mouth," of unknown origin.

    Myths are "stories about divine beings, generally arranged in a coherent system; they are revered as true and sacred; they are endorsed by rulers and priests; and closely linked to religion. Once this link is broken, and the actors in the story are not regarded as gods but as human heroes, giants or fairies, it is no longer a myth but a folktale. Where the central actor is divine but the story is trivial ... the result is religious legend, not myth." [J. Simpson & S. Roud, "Dictionary of English Folklore," Oxford, 2000, p.254]

    That is one modern distinction.

    Religion is considered a set of beliefs and practices which are generally based in some way or related to those beliefs. The beliefs often stem from or relate to stories, sacred speech turned into text, or myths.

    So first someone says Once upon a time there were people doing such and such things which were considered bad and the Sun roasted them when God told the Sun to roast them. Maybe it was based on some natural disaster that actually happened.

    Next is the belief, Oh God doesn't like such and such stuff because those people were roasted for it by the Sun at God's command.

    Then comes the practice and rule and discipline, we do not do such and such because we believe God thinks such and such is bad because once there were these people who did it and they were roasted by the Sun at God's command, which we also believe happened or is at least ultimately true in at least some way if not entirely literally or as described in the ancient and approved speech or myths.

    So I hope that helped in describing the various stages and distinctions related to these words. People use the words loosely though, and sometimes people may be describing stories or myths and call it a religion without describing the beliefs or practices that stem from the sacred stories or speech.

    Myth eventually took on the meaning of "lies" and is used by many people today as a descriptive word for something untrue. This connotation stems from later groups of people increasingly rejecting the more ancient myths or stories as fanciful fabrications which became increasingly difficult to keep excusing in relation to later popular religions like Christianity and Islam and then also Scientific Materialism and also literalist tendencies in thinking and a loss of poeticism in writing as realism became increasingly dominant and popular.
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    If you think of a myth as a narrative, then the myths of antiquity were the fruit of contemplating the big questions, where did we come from? stuff like that. They also encompass often profound and complex moral issues ... the Greek myths, for example, were a handbook of psychodynamic understandings, and many of the terms and the ideas contained therein are still valid today.

    The Old Testament, for example, contains myths of origin. I've argued here often that the Creation and the Adam and Eve in the Garden stories are really quite metaphysically deep, and utterly staggering when one thinks they date back thousands of years ... all that stuff in so few words ...

    People today tend to read myths superficially, the way they would read the instructions for a domestic appliance, or perhaps I mean people need things delivered to them today in this time-starved culture that anything that requires you to sit down and think about it, over maybe a long time, is just not worth the effort.

    As someone once said, 'Fairy Tales' are so rich, they're wasted on children.
     
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  13. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Myths renew themselves all the time, which shows how hungry we are.

    Many 'apocryphal tales' you hear are re-spinning of old myths in a modern context ... the point being we are narrative creatures before all else, we need context, and without it, we're lost.

    So there are religious myths, historical myths, Hollywood myths, sports myths, science myths ... every form of human activity will have its myths.
     
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  14. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I'm with you on that, although I would not say I hate the term, but rather have some sympathy (in the 'they cannot help it) sense, for those who try to 'reduce, ridicule and trivialize' religion, especially for those who, by so doing, avoid the big questions and make it easier to dismiss.

    I would agree if that's all that people think there is to the ancient belief systems.

    Any also that myth-making is alive and well! We know next to nothing about traditions such as wicca, but everyone buys into the inventions of a middle class Englishman who single-handedly laid the foundations of its contemporary invention.

    Yep. There's a load of scientific evidence, and a load of upper-class, white, male elitist myth-making in its interpretation!

    But then any scientific discovery soon becomes the stuff of myth – Quantum Physics is bursting at the seams with it, Neuroscience was another one ...
     
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  15. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Maybe not, but it is based on experience
     
  16. The Artis Magistra

    The Artis Magistra Member

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    I think there is not a single myth that I like or enjoy.
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Nope. Science and religion are two quite different and exclusive fields. No authentic religion has any dependence on science for its validation, any more than science depends on religious doctrine.
     
  18. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Or learn from?
     
  19. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  20. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing. Seems interesting.
     

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