"Heathens" Unite

Thursday, June 12, 2003:

Will Jesus be a Myth in a Thousand Years?
One of the earliest known belief structures from the
Ancient Greek culture. We all learned this one in school. Zeus, Apollo, the mighty Aphrodite, Poseidon and the rest of the gang from Mt. Olympus. This was all but lifted by the Romans, but the names were changed to protect the innocent. We learned the belief structure of the Romans in school as well.

Then we have a whole bunch of other religions that come about around the same time. Hinduism in India, believing in reaching a high state of being of belonging to the Brahman. This path to the enlightenment is measured by karma: how many times will you need to be reincarnated until you lead a pure life that will allow you to leave this earth and pass on to the next. Up until the the late 1980s, this was seen as a strange eastern myth. Very similar to Hinduism was Buddhism, which came about somewhere around 500 years before Christ was allegedly born. Again, this was seen as a strange myth, up until very recently.

I point this out, because this is something that has always fascinated me: the transformation of beliefs to myths and sometimes the repeating of this pattern.

Very few people still believe in the belief structure of ancient Rome and ancient Greece. In today's world, that is a myth. Even Buddhism and Hinduism, which are still practiced today, are seen by most of the world as funny myths about life, not as alternative religions. This is especially true, I have noticed, with Christians, who believe that their way is the only way; everything else is wrong or is a myth which is not even worth arguing against.

Oddly enough, that was the same idea most Greeks and Romans had about their polytheistic belief structure. To them, that was the only answer. Up until the beginning of trade with Japan, Buddhism and Shinto were really their only answer to religious questions. The same holds true for Hinduism in India. Then the Christians entered these societies and broke down these belief structures and replaced them.

What I am driving at is this: the belief structures of the past are seen as myths in todays world. This forces me to wonder if in 1000 years, people will begin to think that the idea of Jesus being reborn and being the son of some great spirit in the sky is just a myth. I can hear the Christians: no we, have the true religion; the Greeks and Romans were wrong. Oddly, that is what the Romans originally said about the Christians, and now the Romans are viewed as believing in myths.

Let me get at this a different way:

Religion is incredibly related to societal conditions. Fewer people believe in Christianity today in the same way people believed in Christianity 1000 or even 500 years ago. The core beliefs of the Bible are still there to be sure, but more and more the Bible is being viewed as a collection of stories that drive to moral points; no longer are the Biblical stories literary tales about actual occurrences, for the most part. In large part, this is because of the development of scientific technique which has proved or at the very challenged the authenticity of the tales in the Bible. Put differently, the Biblical stories which were seen as complete truths up until 500 or 600 years ago, are now being seen as myths that tell stories about ethical points, much in the same way the Greeks and Roman are seen today. The only difference is that the Bible is viewed as having a religious nature to it, and the Greek and roman stories are viewed as having an historical nature to it.

Let me sum it up this way: there are many ways of approaching religion. All of them answer pretty much the same questions, and many do so in the same or in very similar ways. Those that believe in a particular belief structure tend to support it as the only truth, when in reality that belief might be proved wrong in a few hundred years and might join the ranks of being just a myth.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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