Why do we call some religions “mythologies” (ancient Greek, Norse, Egyptian, etc.) and others religions? Is this fair? What does this show about how relevant certain ideas are as society progresses?
I’ve always been fascinated by mythology. It’s storytelling at it’s finest form. But we trivialize some religions as mythologies because the civilization that gave them to us no longer holds much power in the world. To us, they’re nothing but stories. They stem from old and fallen civilizations that are nothing but a distant memory. Our advances in science and technology makes it hard for us to relate to a group of people who believed that if they didn’t sacrifice other people the sun would fail to rise. Today’s main religions of the world are monotheist whereas many of the old religions are polytheistic. Polytheism doesn’t make sense to people in today’s culture and is seen by many as primitive which discredits it and makes it hard for us to take seriously.
Society changes. I want to say it advances but at times I wonder. Even in 2015 we have a tendency to be primitive and barbaric with our views and beliefs. But one thing that can’t be denied is man’s apparent need to worship a higher being. It’s the main topic of The Grand Inquisitor that I posted a few days ago.
I’m not a religious person but understand why people are. I have no problem with religion until it causes people to stop thinking for themselves and follow the crowd. Groupthink can be a dangerous thing. Religion and myths have always helped to give people direction. That’s their purpose. They help humanity feel like they aren’t alone in the universe and give us a true sense of connection be it with each other or with a god.
It’s important to remember that there is little difference between how ancient civilizations viewed their gods and how people today view theirs. As a vital part of their culture. As something to believe in and give their lives purpose because that’s what they needed to keep living. To believe that they were doing god’s will because to them that made their life matter. Believing that you’re important enough to matter in god’s grand scheme is a comforting feeling. Furthermore, religion and its perceived rewards and punishments helped to guide people’s behavior within a society’s paradigm. These ideas are still relevant today.
There’s no doubt in my mind that in 500 years if religion exists at all, for statistics show it to be in a decline, that people of that time will view our religious customs the same way we view those of the Greeks, Norse, and Egyptians. Anytime a society changes and looks back on the past they are never fully able to grasp how realistic and intrinsic some things were to the old society. No, it’s not fair but few things are when you have the benefit of hindsight.