Mythology And Religion
MYTHOLOGY AND RELIGION
Throughout history people have been fascinated with the subject of religion and mythology. In this paper I will define both religion and mythology, and show how mythology can be seen as a religion.
First you must have some understanding and definition of religion before you can see how it relates to mythology. Webster's New Riverside Dictionary defines religion as, a. Belief in and reference for a supernatural power accepted as the creator and governor of the universe. My definition of religion would be a belief in a god as a higher or Supreme Being, and with a system of beliefs and practices. I perceive religion as a way to explain the unexplainable.
Secondly you must determine what myths are and how they are created. The word myth comes from the Greek word mythos, which in turn means story, tale or fiction. Webster's New Riverside Dictionary defines a myth as, A traditional story originating in a preliterate society, dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serve as primordial types in a primitive view of the world. Myths like any religion try to provide an explanation for unanswerable questions.
Greek mythology should not be mistaken for fact since there is no scientific evidence of these events but should be taken as advice. This is not saying that all mythology is untrue or fictional. Like in any religion, faith is the domineering factor; for without faith religion would cease to exist. Joseph Campbell states that, The material of myth is the material of our life, the material of our body, and the material of our environment, and a living, vital mythology deals with these in terms that are appropriate to the nature of knowledge of the time (Campbell 01).
Greek mythology is similar to modern religion in many ways. Like Christianity, Mythology gave meaning to everyday situations. It also formed religious bases and a social structure for which it laid the common law for people. In today's religious setting most would see the common law to live by illustrated in the Bible. Like the Greeks we build altars, temples and churches to give praise to our God.
In every religion we as a society have created a hero or savior that will save the believer from great despair and tragedy. Prometheus and his battle for mankind is seen as one of the greatest Greek heroes. Though heroes do not have to be strong and mighty, they must be able to turn chaos into order. Campbell speaks of the metaphysical hero Buddha, who conquers chaos within himself to find nirvana. Buddha believed that if you could conquer the chaos inside of yourself you would find internal peace and happiness. For the Christian believer Jesus can be seen as a hero for he to conquers everyday chaos.
Though twenty-four hundred years have elapsed we really have not evolved that much from the Greek era. Our world still searches for the truth and tries to discover the unknown and conquer the unimaginable. It is important to remember that without myths there would be an unexplainable void in history. Mythology is not only an explanation for the unknown but a tool that helps us better understand one another.