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Author Topic: religion and mythology.  (Read 3674 times)

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Offline tozhma

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #50 on: October 09, 2012, 06:29:57 PM »
My point is that Nicea got everyone moving in lockstep on certain issues, so there wouldn't have been as much infighting. We can argue sematics all day, and I'll certainly concede on this point, but you have to understand that while there are holes and inconsistencies, the Bible is littered with contradictions from Gospel to Gospel, they are either justified properly enough, or obfuscated well enough to move the masses. I'm sure you've met people who will tell you how perfect the Bible is that it is GOD'S WORD, but of course they never care to look at the galring differences in the number of angles present at Jesus' tomb during the resurrection, etc.

Humans are really good at cognitive dissonance etc. dude.

Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #51 on: October 10, 2012, 12:43:58 AM »
The problem with Christianity is that it has two gods. the god in the first movie was definitely another actor than the second movie.

Part 1 or the old testament has a vengeful god, bent on dooming people with fire and brimstone, rampant floods, killing firstborn locust and frogs if you didn't follow his commands. He refused Moses entry into the holy land for saving one of the Jews god says he loves so much.

Then in the sequel suddenly we have this loving hippy god who is all about forgiving and forgetting, who'd apparently embrace you after you raped his mommy, if only you said you were sorry.

Read it in context next time.
Also I like kinda how lewis black explained it. he's no theologian, but it makes a bit of sense if you look at it from the era it was written.

The purpose of the old testiment was to give the anchent hebrews rules to live by.
Because those guys at work who are morons, would still be morons.

This is where myths come from.

"Sodom was whiped off the face of the earth with salt and fire because the entire city was doing stuff like you are concidering."
"But... why?"
"Because they were total assholes, God even sent angels to make sure because abraham asked for mercy on their behalf. You know what happened..."
"what?"
"the people there formed a freaking rape mob, and went after the angels because they were beautiful. The guys had to throw a holy flashbang and run for it with the only four people nice enough to take them in."
"oh shit"
"yeah, so when they reported back what do you think happened?"
"damn..."
"exactly, now do you now understand why you can't fuck camels?"
"yes... um... are donkies okay"
"NO you cannot fuck donkies either. The only person you can fuck is your wife."
"can I mary the..."
"NO!"

joking aside... that is where I think many myths come from. and they are meant to teach moral lessons.
in the OT, those lessons are interwoven with the history of the people who wrote the book.

Now what happenes when even divine law stagnates, when the piles and piles or orders and laws are all immutable as they are handed down by god, or his peiests?
God changes the rules and writes a new book. since the old one wasn't working out so well being all focused on punishment, law, and smiting.

Christans like myself believe he came down in flesh, lived a life as a mortal, got some perspective, taught his virtues of kindness and forgiveness. Then exploited his own loophole along the lines of "well someone still has to be punished for all the sins... Well no point in preaching love and virtue if you don't lead by example. I'll take it all, I'll let these pissed off priests & romans nail me to 2X4's and die in the most horrifficly painful way imaginable."
He got back up after three days, finished his teaching his followers, and went back home looked around and said "okay if everyone's coming I gotta make this place bigger."

of course saying that right there would likely get me lynched by far right fundies. because I didn't include the mythological lightningbolts, cherubs, and talk about hating gays.
If I'm reading some of these dead sea scrolls right, one of his followers (not an aposle, but one of the entourage surrounding him.) might've been gay.
I think the guy who broke bread with whores, thieves, ect, treated them with basic human respect, and forgave them all would probably not approve of a lot of crap that's been done by people using his book to justify what they were going to do anyways.


Phew ranty bit done.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #52 on: October 10, 2012, 12:48:10 AM »
Now why the hell did a nice conversation about nature of myth and the development and codification of belief systems have to turn into a discussion based on pseudo-history and pro/anti Christianity? I don't know if your are aware, but there are other religions and far more important matters.

Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #53 on: October 10, 2012, 01:00:27 AM »
*pants, then exhales, regaining his composure*
Because that is the religion most americans and europeans are fimilar with being involved in their daily lives, and fimilarity breeds contempt, or at least dissillousionment.
This is the reason that people are not afraid to bash christans on forums or hold them up as examples of religous stupidity.
Yet many hesitate or feel guilty if they were to bash various Druidic, Neo-Pagan, Native, Buddist, Hindu, ect. groups.

This is because christanity is the largest religious instution in the western world, and thus, because most religious people are Christans, it follows that most stupid religious people are also Christans.

Offline tozhma

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #54 on: October 10, 2012, 02:31:22 AM »
*pants, then exhales, regaining his composure*
Because that is the religion most americans and europeans are fimilar with being involved in their daily lives, and fimilarity breeds contempt, or at least dissillousionment.
This is the reason that people are not afraid to bash christans on forums or hold them up as examples of religous stupidity.
Yet many hesitate or feel guilty if they were to bash various Druidic, Neo-Pagan, Native, Buddist, Hindu, ect. groups.

This is because christanity is the largest religious instution in the western world, and thus, because most religious people are Christans, it follows that most stupid religious people are also Christans.

It's pretty easy to find connections between blatant hate groups and a claim to follow the teachings of Christ (http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/christian-identity) Furthermore, in the West we're only used to hearing about rich, white hippies adopting Buddhism, and aren't familiar with its adherent who promote genocide (http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/plight-rohingya-0022301) Basically, I think a lot of it has to do with what we're exposed to in terms of socially unpopular attitudes etc. In the West we've come to embrace multiculturalism which has nudged a lot of the conservative end of religion to the side. Atheism is on the rise now, and most of those who embrace multiculturalism though are still religious for some reason seem to be latching on to New Age and Eastern faiths which at least appear more compatible with their values.


Offline Sabby

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #55 on: October 10, 2012, 03:16:42 AM »
Isn't there some law that says if people talk long enough Hitler will always get name dropped? In all my time in these volatile topics, I've never seen Hitler show up but the Christianity train is never late. Can we make a law for that?

Offline doodasaurus

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #56 on: October 10, 2012, 07:05:26 AM »
Yet many hesitate or feel guilty if they were to bash various Druidic, Neo-Pagan, Native, Buddist, Hindu, ect. groups.

This is because christanity is the largest religious instution in the western world, and thus, because most religious people are Christans, it follows that most stupid religious people are also Christans.

That's not the only reason.  The other reason is when discussing people of from cultures not your own, it's easy to slip into a racist element.  So, if you're criticizing Islam or Hinduism, a really good question to ask is your critique driven from good faith or from racism towards another group.  So people don't do it unless they get tarred with the brush of racism, justified or not.  (If you go to pretty much any politically conservative forum, you will find people criticizing Islam with great energy and little knowledge, in ways so utterly racist it hurts.  Even I, who am an atheist who is generally critical of religion, wince at their hatred and ignorance.)

However, for most English speaking people, Christianity is the dominate religion of their own country.  It is practiced by people who look, talk and act like them, even if they are not, themselves, Christian.  One can criticize Christianity or use it as an example of religion without fear of being branded (or being) a racist.

And if you're an American or, say, Italian, there's the additional impetus that Christianity intrudes into your life even if you're not Christian.  It has such political power that it's always there as a relevant political idea.  Not a day goes by that I don't read a news story about some religious politician doing or saying something utterly outrageous (for instance, yesterday, Arkansas state rep Loy Mauch was reported as saying, "If slavery were so God-awful, why didn't Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn't there a war before 1861?"  This was just says after another Arkansas politician, Charlie Fuqua, was reported saying that children who was disrespectful to their parents should be executed, legally, as per Biblical law.  This doesn't even go into, of course, the persistent religious backing of serious limitations to women's rights, gay rights, and scientific education.)  It's always there, doing things.

That said, I largely agree vis-a-vis this particular thread.  I come down on the narratives of religion being mythology regardless of the size of the religion and when people make the distinction, otherwise, I get a slight whiff of racism -- because it's my experience people have little trouble calling Hindu religious narratives or Chinese animism's religious narratives mythology.

Offline TamhansenTopic starter

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #57 on: October 10, 2012, 07:16:35 AM »
Wait. Which bible law says to execute disrespectful children? I know the line that says honor thy father and mother, guess the 'or you shall be stoned to death' bit is missing in my copy.

And yes the bible does portray the good guys holding slaves, but also polygyny so could we have that one back instead?

Offline doodasaurus

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #58 on: October 10, 2012, 07:20:40 AM »
Deut 21: 18-21

If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid

Offline TamhansenTopic starter

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #59 on: October 10, 2012, 07:48:15 AM »
Yup missed that one. Isn't it great, such a loving and forgiving religion.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #60 on: October 10, 2012, 09:29:20 AM »
We all live with myth and religion of some sort in our daily lives.  The myth is the fact that you team has won every time you wear a certain pair of socks.  From the myth comes the belief or faith that wearing those socks is going to help your team win.  Out of that belief comes the religion, the wearing of the socks when your team plays.

Here in Pittsburgh we have the religion or cult of the Terrible Towel.  Some years ago one of our local sports casters asked Steeler fans to show their support during a play-off game by waving a yellow or gold towel at the game.  The Steelers won and the myth was born.  From the myth came the belief that showing support for the team, in particular waving a yellow or gold towel, helped them win.  Yes, it's a belief widely held that positive energy is always a good thing.  Anyway, more and more fans brought their towels to play-off games and the Steelers won more and more games.  This created the foundation for the religion of the Terrible Towel.

Now, to show how religions can grow and take over parts of our lives look at the current times.  The Terrible Towel is a fixture in Pittsburgh Steelers game day preparations and rituals.  Every sporting goods store sells them and you can buy them online.  Other cities have explored the concept with less success than here in Pittsburgh.  The man who invented the Terrible Towel trademarked the concept and licensed the rights for Official Terrible Towel production.  The proceeds go to the support of a school for disabled children.  His son is a resident of the school.

Myth is a cultural exponent of an answer to the age-old question "Why?"  Keep in mind that myth is often based on fact, sometimes documented and sometimes handed down by word of mouth.

Faith is the belief that the myth is true, beneficial, good and will work for me.

Religion, which has nothing to do with any supernatural/divine/higher being except tangentially, is a construct of humans to promote a structure or form of ritual or worship to give them power.  The number of believers, the size of the temple/church/worship venue, the amount of money involved are all signs of power and as we know power corrupts.  Greed, jealousy, avarice, envy; these are all at the root of religion whether as a cause of it or as a result of them being used against a group that just want the peace to worship as they choose.

My own philosophy is very simple.  Study the myth, question the faith and beware of the religion but never confuse religion for faith for that only leads to misunderstanding.


Offline DarklingAlice

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #61 on: October 10, 2012, 09:36:08 AM »
I think my point has been missed. I am not only asking about the focus on Christianity, but more importantly asking why we are having a pro/anti Christianity discussion at all? I mean it would seem apropos to maybe talk about why Christians believe what they believe and how this relates to myth structure, or even to poke a bit of fun at Christianity for believing it has a monopoly on its myths or is somehow unique. But how is a positive or negative value judgement relevant to the nature of myth and religion? In addition to being a gridlock topic, whether or not we like any given religion doesn't matter to the way myths and religions form or the distinction between the two.

E.g. Why not talk about -why- ancient Christians had the recommendation to stone disobedient children, and -why- modern Christians have a selective relationship with their holy text instead of going 'that's evil' 'nuh uh' 'uh huh', etc.

Offline Oniya

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Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #62 on: October 10, 2012, 09:51:59 AM »
I think I may offer some insight on why 'stoning' is such a popular punishment, at least in the Old Testament.  The thing about a stoning is that, with a few exceptions that require a certain degree of accuracy, a single thrown rock is not going to kill anyone.  As a result, any one person throwing a rock isn't 'the one that killed' the person.  The death (and the guilt of killing) is, instead, distributed over the whole community.  The community has deemed this person unworthy of living, and has enacted sentence.  The community takes part in the punishment, and therefore the whole community also gets the message of what can happen if they break the law.  At the same time, however, they can salve their individual consciences by saying 'It wasn't my stone that killed them.'

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #63 on: October 10, 2012, 09:56:17 AM »
This is the same reason a firing squad has one gun loaded with blanks and some death chambers require three people to push the button but only one works.  No one knows who really did it and there is always the belief you were the one who didn't.

Offline TamhansenTopic starter

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #64 on: October 10, 2012, 10:30:18 AM »
Actually questioning where beliefs come from is always a prickly situation. Taking the focus to Judaism and Islam for a sec, why is pig's meat considered haram/ not kosher?

My theory is that it has two reasons. Hygiene and economics.

1) hygiene: Pig's are genetically closer to humans than other livestock. There for pig illnesses crossed over easier. Ergo pig farmers got sick more often as did people eating pig's meat, especially since pig's meat spoils real quickly.

2) economics: chickens lay eggs, cows give milk, sheep give wool. Pigs don't. Pigs are a waste of space until they get slaughtered. Especially considering the lack of truffles in the dessert. So ancient people would discourage the holding of pigs, and what better excuse than, god says it's wrong.


I placed this hypothesis before my proto history class, and got rather good critique, except for the Muslims in my class, who accused me of ridiculing their religion and holy texts. The point for me is that many people on either side of the fence don't like their beliefs challenged, but does that make it a reason not to challenge them?

Offline doodasaurus

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #65 on: October 10, 2012, 10:44:46 AM »
I like #2 quite a bit, though my guess is still some dude got sick or died after improperly prepared pork and they made a rule "no more pork".  You can see the same sort of invented-in-my-head reasoning with shellfish -- certain mussels are poisonous to eat some parts of the year.  It was just easier to say "no seafood" than it was figure out which non-finned critters of the sea were edible during what parts of the year.

But, yeah, that kind of reasoning is always specious.  We weren't there to see what really happened, so it smacks of inventing narratives that fit the way you see the world.  Sorta like evolutionary psychology.  ;D

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #66 on: October 10, 2012, 10:49:18 AM »
Pigs and shellfish are considered scavengers and garbage eaters and are therefore unclean.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #67 on: October 10, 2012, 10:52:59 AM »
The same thought process and disdain can be seen for modern types of food such as catfish which is considered a “bottom feeder” in some parts of the United States.  People in the South enjoy eating catfish while I have gone to places in the North and Mid-West where there was obvious disdain and a refusal to serve the food.  While not codified into religious doctrine against the much beloved catfish, there is an easy parallel to see.

Offline TamhansenTopic starter

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #68 on: October 10, 2012, 11:03:38 AM »
Sorry, I should have been clearer. I was just using it as an example, but I guess by elaborating I made it the focus. I apologize.

What I was trying to get at is that many religious people view any questioning of these religious traditions as an attack on their religion, while in fact it is mere scientific curiosity.

As a side note: proto history is indeed based on conjecture, but considering there are very few reliable written sources conjecture and hypothesis is our best route to understanding. By testing hypothesis we find plausible answers which we can build on.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #69 on: October 10, 2012, 11:08:44 AM »
A lot depends on how the curiosity is expressed.  Genuine interest in how certain practices have come about and why they are incorporated in the belief system and seldom hurtful.

Snide comments, sarcasm and derision are usually seen as an attack because that is what they are. 

If you don't want to be seen as attacking a person's beliefs or rituals be respectful, polite and back off if you see people are becoming irritated.


And by "you" I mean the general you and not a specific person because that is how I roll.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #70 on: October 10, 2012, 11:11:47 AM »
Well, I don’t think that this type of questioning simply ruffles the feathers of the religious.  Such questions and inquiries also make others anxious when say their political ideology is questioned, their cultural beliefs and any part of what they hold as their identity.  I dare say atheists get prickly as well when their rational and reasons for lack of belief in a God are questioned.  Any view or belief held by someone that is considered part of themselves and is held close is going to cause them to become defensive when questioned.  People do not like being wrong.

Offline doodasaurus

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #71 on: October 10, 2012, 11:14:57 AM »
Unfortunately, with social constructs that no longer exist, how does one test them?  Historical and archaeological studies grapple with this all the time.

But -- and this might be getting afield -- it is my experience with historical inquiries that religious institutions are quite willing to draw attention away from information that doesn't align with it's religion.  It is a constant burden with history and archaeology in the Western Mediterranean, in particular.

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Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #72 on: October 10, 2012, 11:21:13 AM »
As a friend of mine who teaches History and Social Studies observed history is constantly being revised; it all depends on who is telling the story.

We can only try to have faith in our own beliefs and respect those of others.  Comment and question with respect and an attitude that communicates a desire to learn and not one that can be seen as an attempt to undermine or convert the other person.  Treat the beliefs and opinions of others as you would have yours treated. 

You are not right and you are not wrong.  You just are.  So is the other person. 

Offline doodasaurus

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #73 on: October 10, 2012, 11:22:55 AM »
I dare say atheists get prickly as well when their rational and reasons for lack of belief in a God are questioned.  Any view or belief held by someone that is considered part of themselves and is held close is going to cause them to become defensive when questioned.  People do not like being wrong.

As a vocal atheist, mostly, no, we don't.  It pretty much happens all the time, too.  One of the things I have found about atheists is most of them are better educated about religion than the people who challenge them and they have strong, well-thought out reasons for being atheists.

Atheists are far, far more likely to get frothing at the mouth upset over people who defend why they're religious.  It just makes no sense at all to a great many atheists -- sometimes I lose sight of why people are religious, myself -- so it drives them bananas.  On the other hand, atheists are pretty knowledgeable about why they're atheists and most of us are extremely confident in those reasons.

Also, probably because, as an atheist, you have to routinely go through that gauntlet of "why are you an atheist?" so you get used to it.  The conversation is so *predictable*.  It's lost it's zing.

Offline Sabby

Re: religion and mythology.
« Reply #74 on: October 10, 2012, 11:26:13 AM »
I dare say atheists get prickly as well when their rational and reasons for lack of belief in a God are questioned.  Any view or belief held by someone that is considered part of themselves and is held close is going to cause them to become defensive when questioned.  People do not like being wrong.

Really now? How many Atheists have you met? Because if we had so much as a sigh every time we were questioned we all would have died from stress induced heart attacks before the age of 30 >.> If anything, I'm annoyed at constant assertions that my lack of faith is somehow bad, instead of, ya know... the default mindset every person is born with. But being asked why I think that doesn't make me recoil lest my fragile reality be threatened.