I don’t know about you, but discovering ancient Greek and Roman mythology back in like, seventh grade was a huge eye-opener for me. It was fun, it was flashy, it was slightly naughty…but obviously, to the people of the ancient world it was a very serious religion.
Nowadays, you might have noticed that people take their religion seriously, as well – but aren’t they all mythologies at their core?
16 Redditors are weighing in on what, if anything, is the difference!
16. A sacred narrative.
The late folkorist Alan Dundes put it like this:
Myth: myth is not a synonym for error, as when people say, “Oh, that’s just a myth.”
A myth is, to the folklorist, a sacred narrative explaining how the world or mankind came to be in their present form. So all societies have myths; all religions have myths.
15. If you take the religion part away…
Mythology encompasses the stories surrounding the faith and as such the stories within the bible are sometimes referred to as biblical Mythology.
If you were to worship the Greek pantheon that’s your religion but the stories without the context of religion are myths.
14. Some things didn’t make it.
There is also a ton of Christian and Jewish mythology which isn’t or wasn’t accepted as “canon”.
1-Becoming an angel when you die
2-The existence of Lilith
4-Demonology and Exorcisms
5-Hell being a fiery place lorded over by the devil.
13. You can have one without the other.
This is the real answer.
All (or at least most) religions have a mythology, but the term “religion” as a whole not only encompasses the myths and legends, but also the rituals, practices, customs, and worship practices associated with that religion
12. Are they, though?
Mythology and religion are two different things.
The mythology of today is the fiction that appears in our books, movies, video games and such and we know is fictional, but nonetheless forms our beliefs about how the world works.
A typical example are romantic ideas such as falling in love at first sight or our idea of whoever we believe is the bad guy in international politics.
11. A whole history lesson.
I’ve always found the “definition based on number of followers” to be incredibly demeaning to the fascinating concept of what religion really is. Even if you (understandably) dislike the historical consequences of religion, insight into how belief systems arise and evolve is so valuable to understanding human civilizations.
It’s far, far more than “no one believes it anymore, so mythology means it’s fake.” I mean, if you just google “mythology,” look at the definition that comes up.
a collection of myths, especially one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition. “a book discussing Jewish and Christian mythologies”
The example literally refers to the mythos of contemporary religions, not a dead religion. Every religion has a mythology, and the sociological context of the term isn’t a derogatory one, people just misunderstand it.
10. Don’t say that too loud.
Mythology is the stories about the gods.
The story of how Thor got his hammer, or how Hades stole Persephone are mythology.
The story of Noah and the boat, and Cain & Abel are mythology.
9. For example.
The story of Jesus walking on water is a myth (according to historians).
But the religion of Christianity is set of beliefs and practices, not only stories.
8. Was it the “writing down?”
“Myth” comes from the Greek word “mythos” which means “spoken word.”
Mythology refers to the study of the spoken word, but is now generally taken to mean stories about religion in other cultures because they were passed on through speech for generations before ever being written down, so they are also seen as “made-up” compared to the mythology of modern religions because there is more variation.
7. Don’t say this too loudly in some places.
Technically speaking the parables of Jesus are really no different than Aesop’s fables or some of the myths you may encounter in Greek history mythology. They are stories that teach its followers a valuable lesson.
Whether it’s real or not I think doesn’t matter as the intent of such machinations is to teach others values. Ya the adventures of the Greek mythic heroes are cool, but they are shared because of the tragedy or lesson that comes from them.
6. It was a long, long time ago.
One reason we don’t refer to them as religions is that we don’t actually know very much about their religious practices. We know their stories and characters, and that’s the mythology, but we don’t know a lot about what the followers actually did, which would be the part that would make it a religion.
Also understand that myths were shared between multiple different religions of the time.
Imagine if we knew the stories of the Bible, but we didn’t really know what Christians actually did in a church. It’s basically that.
5. Do you believe they’re true?
Yeh, but what’s a myth?
“a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature. stories or matter of this kind: realm of myth.”
It seems very fair to say people refer to religious stories as myths once no one thinks they are true.
4. Great characters.
Religion is belief. Mythology is the stories and characters associated with that belief.
You can also talk about Ancient Greek religion as opposed to Ancient Greek mythology. Their religion would encompass all the worshiping and rituals they did, and beliefs they held.
Similarly, you can talk about a Judeo-Christian mythology, who would include characters like Jesus, and stories such as the Great Flood.
3. Education matters.
Like most things, education matters a ton. There’s just a lot of oversimplifications given to kids in elementary school. And people go through their lives with those oversimplifications.
Everything has a mythos.
The stories in the bible are part of the Christian mythos.
2. Good evidence.
Does the term “mythology” apply to people we know existed? “Jesus Mythicism” has been debunked by a lot of scholars, Christian, agnostic, atheist and everything in-between.
Bart Ehrman, an agnostic scholar, maintains that there is simply too much evidence to give the Christ Myth theory any real credit.
1. Problems, indeed.
An interesting thing I heard about the early days of Roman Christianity is that while they forced everyone to believe in the Christian God and Jesus, they didn’t care if you still believed in your old Gods.
Problems only arose when you said that their God wasn’t real.
These are some really interesting points, as usual.
How do you feel about these arguments? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!