You Need To Consider The Possibility Your Religion Is Mythology

This post by Travis Haan originally appeared at The Wise Sloth.

There are at least 4,200 religions in the world today, and countless more have been lost to history. It’s obvious there’s a 0% chance all of them are the true word of God. Some thinkers have speculated that each religion is at least a little divinely inspired and holds a piece of the puzzle left to us by God to put together. But the only way to come to that conclusion is to ignore huge tracts of doctrine in each religion. Ultimately, none of them are compatible. If any religion is true, there’s only one.

This means at least over 6 billion people alive today believe in a religion that was written 100% by human beings and 0% dictated by the creator of the universe. A belief system written by human beings that has no bearing on the factual nature of reality is mythology. The cold, hard truth of reality is that the vast majority of the people alive today believe in mythology and dogmatically refuse to even consider the possibility that’s true. So if you believe in religion, there’s automatically a 99% chance you believe in mythology. If you refuse to question your beliefs, there’s no way for you to know if they’re true, which increases the chance that you believe in mythology to 99.9%. This number is increased to 99.99% if your religion contains any of the following:

1: Human sacrifices

2: Moral values that reflect the needs and wants of a specific primitive culture

3: Instructions to hurt, kill or look down on other people

4: Reasons to look down on yourself

5: A pyramid-shaped authority structure

6: Scientifically inaccurate statements

7: Magical beings, powers or events that no longer exist

Some people have speculated that it doesn’t matter what religion you believe in as long as you believe in something that gives you meaning, instructions and peace. But believing in something that isn’t real is the definition of insanity. It’s not okay to be insane just because you like it because it holds you and society back.

Believing in mythology is counterproductive if for no other reason than it’s a waste of time. It keeps you busy going through meaningless motions while ignoring real world issues that have real consequences to you and the rest of mankind. Your life and everyone else’s would be improved by you focusing on real problems.

To this, you might reply, “But how can we know how to live without religion?” Remember that most of the world doesn’t believe in religion; they believe in mythology. So the real question is, “How can we know how to live without mythology?” If mythology is just a belief system made up by humans, and you’ve spent your whole life living according to those rules, you already know the answer. We can make up our own ethics, and in fact, that’s what we’ve been doing all along. We just haven’t been honest with ourselves about it. If taking personal responsibility for your own ethics sounds scary or haphazard, consider that mythologies can contain horrible rules that can lead you to hurt yourself or others, which makes it all the more imperative you question your beliefs.

This is especially true if you absolutely insist on believing one of our religions is the divine truth. Everyone wants to believe that their religion is the right one, but at least 6 billion people are dead wrong in their faith. Statistically, you’re probably one of them. The only way you or anyone else can find the right religion is to scrutinize yours objectively. This may sound like heresy, but it’s probably not a coincidence that you were created with the capacity for reason, skepticism, doubt, and logic. For the billions of people who believe in mythology, it’s a necessity. If your religion can stand the test of truth, there’s no danger in putting yours to it. If your religion can’t stand the test of truth, objectivity is the only way you’ll ever free yourself.

Your quest for truth isn’t just about you. Most religions encourage you to convert nonbelievers, and even without actively proselytizing on the street corner, you passively send out the message that people should join your faith just by living according to it. If you believe in one of the religions that are mythology, you’re leading unwitting victims into a trap. If enough people in one area buy into mythology, one way or another, their beliefs are going to determine social norms and even laws. This has a harsh real-world impact on people who don’t believe in that particular brand of mythology. Another danger of spreading mythology is that some people will inevitably latch onto the most violent, oppressive, absurd rules within that belief system and use them to justifying hurting other people. So before you go spreading the good word, it’s imperative that you make sure it passes the most rigorous test of truth, not just for your sake but for all of ours.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

Travis Haan is the editor of The Wise Sloth blog. The Wise Sloth contains editorial, philosophical, instructional, inspirational and satirical posts in the form of essays, lists, comics, and fiction, which tend to be irreverent, humorous and controversial.

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  1. Hey there. Stumbled on this site andhave enjoyed the vigorous thought challenges it provides.
    Im a hard core Christian of 30+ years who preaches and teaches for a living. Hope you wont hold that against me.
    Anyway, I totally understand the skepticism here. I really cant blame you considering how muddy the waters of world religion have become and especially how abismal modern Christianity has become.

    I have a bit to offer for your consideration.
    In looking at all the references to the unproven I cant help but think of a bible story where a prophet of the “one true God” challenged the false prophets of Baal to a test of evidence. They went up on a mountain and all the people watched. They set up a sacrifice (an ox) and dug a small mote around it and it was on top of wood and rocks. Then the doused it all withwater. The rules were theGod who answered by fire and consumed the sacrifice was real. So the false prophets went first and cried and prayed and even self mutilated all day long but their God never answered. Elijah then took his turn and said a short prayer and fire fell from the sky and consumed the ox and the rocks and the water. All the people fell on thier face and declard the Lord as God. They chased down all the false prophets and put them to the sword…yikes.

    Anyway. I think your demand for proof is quote reasonable in light of that biblical story. The bible seems to say it is as well.

    I have my own personal set of objective proofs. But much like Ellie in the movie Contact, I cant prove them to you I can only tell them to you. I have seen undisputable physical miracles in answer to prayer. I have seen doctors say “that can only be explained as a miracle”.

    Im out of time, need to run, but hopefully i can share a few of mystoriesfor your reading amusement. Until then God loves you very much and He sympathizes with your doubt.

    • You cannot have your own set of objective proofs. They are either universally objective or they aren’t. Another point: your bible is not proof of anything. It is a claim with nothing outside your book to support it. The author of the article proved his point, until you subject your belief and the book from which it derives to non-biblical scrutiny, your religion can be myth, too.

  2. Organized religions may include a fact here or there (a person name Jesus may have existed), but much is made up (the virgin birth) to fit an agenda. That should be the focus here. WHY where these myths/religions created? Perhaps to give comfort so people can survive. Perhaps to remove the angst of the unknown – what happens when we die. None of that bothers me. But large organized religions were developed by men to control the masses. They aren't called sheep for nothing. The power of religion over people has resulted in violence and adversity throughout the ages and stunted the growth of human knowledge and progress. If we can't eliminate it, we at least must ensue that it doesn't touch education or politics.

  3. The 'Peanuts' cartoon is alluding to Christianity intramural debate;

    Well, "consider:"

    (pre-empirical science; 'All Scripture is God-directed,' 2 Timothy 3:16) Job 26:7 New King James Version

    7 He stretches out the north over empty space;
    He hangs the Earth on nothing.

    If Scripture got this right ergo I trust the Bible in, say, a Jesus Christ, the Lord of the constellations–, a He came down and nursed mother's milk (like us)–God.

    Here, Job 26:7: ’e-reṣ, the Earth; in Genesis 13:12: bə-’e-reṣ, the land.

    Is it, of course the Bible teaches the correct shape of the Earth? Isaiah 40:22 says God sits above “the circle of the Earth” (the Hebrew word for “circle” can also mean a “sphere”). ’e-reṣ, the Earth.

    Also, Luke 17:34-36 depicts Christ's Second Coming as happening while some are asleep at night, midnight-grinding grain, and others are working at daytime activities in the field—an indication of a rotating Earth, with day and night at the same time. (One can read that this is antipode to Israel, 12 hours away; say, Polynesia.)

  4. Then you have to accept that currently christianty is a mythology. It is unproven. If you take out the man made book, what do you have? people who believe it to be real? How is that different than any other faith? christianity says god created this and that, but so does the greek patheon or norse gods. When you say "you need to consider the possibility your religion is mythology" that goes for christians too.

  5. "There are at least 4,200 religions in the world today, and countless more have been lost to history. It’s obvious there’s a 0% chance all of them are the true word of God. Some thinkers have speculated that each religion is at least a little divinely inspired and holds a piece of the puzzle left to us by God to put together. But the only way to come to that conclusion is to ignore huge tracts of doctrine in each religion. Ultimately, none of them are compatible. If any religion is true, there’s only one."

    That's a whole series of assumptions lumped together, which really does make for a poor case.

    "It's obvious there's a 0% chance all of them are the true word of God." – There are religions that form a continuum, most obviously the Abrahamic faiths, and Islam does, in fact, teach that Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and "Sabeans" (the meaning of that term is unclear) are all following God. There are also religions that don't consider themselves the actual words of God – Buddhism, for one. The Baha'i hold that all scripture is holy in one way or another. This assertion is both unprovable and ignores what religions themselves have to say.

    "Some thinkers have speculated that each religion is at least a little divinely inspired and holds a piece of the puzzle left to us by God to put together. But the only way to come to that conclusion is to ignore huge tracts of doctrine in each religion." – Some thinkers actually reduces a large and complex strain of thought that is hardly inconsequential. Mystics of all stripes hold that there is a kernel of truth everywhere. If you go to a mall book shop you can find books on the subject for general readers. The assertion that there is only one, and wrong, way to come to this notion is demonstrably false.

    "Ultimately, none of them are compatible." – This is also demonstrably false. Different faiths have co-existed in various ways for most all of history.

    " If any religion is true, there’s only one." – To begin an assault on religion by insisting that there is "one true faith" in the manner of hardcore dogmatists is……just weird.

    Argue better, is what I'm saying. This piece doesn't speak to anyone except those who already hold these views, and even then it's sloppy and ill-informed.

  6. Actually, this is entirely one sided and not actually based on the facts. You do not even consider anything else, and you are saying "religious people" are more biased than the "rational" and "open minded" atheists.

  7. The biggest mythology is NOT Believing in The Father of Christ Jesus.
    If U do not believe it’s a Choice.
    If U do Believe then That’s A choice.
    I would Rather Be A Believer ( as by the way have seen miracles in my own life)
    Than not Believe… Such a void.

    • Pascal's Wager. But If God exists (does not), and he is Omnipotent and Omniscient as it is believed, He knows you are believing (just in case) and you are a hypocrite. You fool no one but yourself.

  8. It's not a possibility. Anybody who has studied mythology will tell you ALL religion – including his or her own – is, by definition, mythology.

    "Myth" has two definitions, and because they are opposites, it confuses people very often.

    Joseph Campbell uses the definition of "a story – literally true or not – told to reveal higher metaphorical and spiritual truths." From this perspective, not only is all religion mythology, but also a large number of jokes and even some biographies of living people. This is the one closely related to the original Greek word "mythus," which just means anything conveyed through speech.

    Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman use the more common usage definition (which only started in the mid-19th century) of "a claim or belief that is false."

  9. We walk by faith, not by sight. I won’t debate it. Because the debate has been settled on the cross and on the following Sunday. I don’t believe in Santa, yet I don’t spend a second thought about him. Yet there are others who won’t let it go and have to prove Jesus wrong. Jesus Christ never lied. He always spoke truth. Prove him wrong. Not me. I believe him and no argument you put forth will change that. I make this as a statement of faith. Thus leading back to the first sentence of this post.

    • No such person named Jesus existed. A person named Jeshua (or Yeshua) existed and he was not a blonde/brown haired and blue eyed, Caucasian. Jeshua was from the middle east, Jewish and dark skinned and tight curly dark hair. Even then, he had no supernatural powers.

      You don't believe in Santa, who doesn't/never existed. You don't try to convince people he did/does.

      Yet you believe in Jesus who doesn't/never existed and you try to impose your beliefs about him onto other people and convince them he did/does…

      figure that out, but you won't. you will refuse to consider that your worldview is wrong and double down on your belief.
      Just stop trying to make other people believe you are right.

  10. I feel you don’t believe he exists, why do you expend any energy at all refuting the evidence? It makes no sense to me to be angry or upset about a fictitious person. I chose to believe years ago. I have evidence. But I won’t lower myself to explain, then have you refute. It will end in a stalemate. No matter what evidence you have.

  11. I believe the debate you are doing is beautifully described by J.B.Bury in his book’ A History of Freedom of Thought ‘ which was published in 1914.I advise all of you to read the book thoroughly you will get your answer.