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. Regardless of where you stand on the religion issue, this writer’s article is nothing but opinion, grounded in his own personal disdain for theocracy. Nowhere does he cite any backing for his claims. He contradicts himself in acknowledging we are “created” beings with the ability to think and reason. We create our own ethics? Good luck. Bless this guy.

    • 99% people believing into mythology is a fact not an option, when he says we are created he is trying to appeal on belief from believers standpoint (even if we are created, why would you give a being ability to reason, is his point). If only one religion is true, therefore 99% of the people in other religions are therefore believers in mythology, very simple logic. His question is how do you know that yours is correct one, everyone else has exactly the sense of certainty about their religion as you have, it makes more sense to put it to the test and if you prove it to be wrong it will only set you free from life in deception. Love the article btw. Huge thumbs up.

      • 99% really time to check world population and what they believe a simple google will show you this article is based on opinions and no facts

    • “Created” is just another example of how religion has flavoured our language and culture. He can’t really say that we are born with the ability to reason and use logic. These things need to be taught like other skills. But we are born with the future capacity to use reason and logic.
      It is true that geography plays a good part of what religion you follow. So any religion that says theirs is the only and correct one has to be validated with proof. And we’ve not seen that yet. (Please don’t use the bible to prove god. that’s so obviously absurd.)

    • @Alex Elkin

      Isn’t it ironic that you said that he does not cite anything to back his claim or stance and yet no religious scripture cites anything to back their claims and people still accept it on no more than blind faith?

  2. 99% people believing into mythology is a fact not an option, when he says we are created he is trying to appeal on belief from believers standpoint (even if we are created, why would you give a being ability to reason, is his point). If only one religion is true, therefore 99% of the people in other religions are therefore believers in mythology, very simple logic. His question is how do you know that yours is correct one, everyone else has exactly the sense of certainty about their religion as you have, it makes more sense to put it to the test and if you prove it to be wrong it will only set you free from life in deception. Love the article btw. Huge thumbs up.

    • I don’t think the author has done his due diligence in examining other religions especially if there are 4200 of them (I think he’s counting religious sects and not independent religions). He obviously hasn’t looked at the Baha’i Faith. I would encourage anyone reading this article to take the 7 questions asked and look at how the Baha’i Faith measure up. Bahá’ís don’t proselytize and one does not “convert” to the Faith so this is not my reason for this share. If you truly investigate this Faith you will find some very logical answers to the reason for the existence of the primary world religions and that this is a
      Part of a much greater plan.

  3. Despite what anyone says we must ALWAYS REMEMBER that “religion” was CREATED BY MAN….Spirituality applies to ANYONE who has an intuition and is born knowing, naturally, the difference between right and wrong or good and bad.

    • No one is born with innate sense of knowing. Belief yes, but not knowing. We know through trial and error. Only then do we know for certain. We “know” that we must breathe but what we don’t know what exactly we should breathe. The same thing can be said for drinking and eating. But is that really knowing or more of an involuntary response while we seek out resources?

      Good, bad, right, wrong, are all subjective based on societal constructs or norms that can change at a moments notice.

  4. God created us but he did not abandon us. He gave us free moral choice and brain power to learn create and discover Gods handwork. He gave us general rules then left it up to us to make our way. Closest word-picture that goes part way to describe is the loving parent image that stands back as children leave home, and have children of their own. There are limits to parental intervention but love is always there. It’s up to us to stay in relationship with a loving God. Forgiveness has already been given if we ask for it, then actively repent, then choose to live within the boundaries of the love of the Holy Spirit. Gods love for us should inspire faith in our heart, which the is the energy and wisdom to engage a wicked world.

  5. A loving god would never put a tree with forbidden fruit in the middle of the garden and tell them not to eat it AND allow someone who would convince them otherwise to enter or talk to them. A loving parent wouldn’t let millions of his children suffer in death and disease. (And it’s sheer arrogance if you believes a god answers your prayers and ignore the urgency of theirs) A loving father wouldn’t commit genocide by drowning the world. Belief and faith are poor excuses for bad behaviour in any religion.

  6. It's okay too take this point of view, but that doesn't make it true, though "rational." The theory that evil spirits we're emitted by yawns and sneezes is certainly not the whole factual reality but is also not strictly "false." With mythology , the stories are narratives to illustrates metaphorical truth. As many theologians have said for centuries, if not millennia, literalism is not what what real religion is about. More problematically, taking the view that rationalism is somehow truer than narrative mythology can produce a culture devoid of morality that accepts inhumane attitudes and values as rationally justified in a sociopathic mindset.

    Of course we need reason, but there is no absolute foundation to show what "truth" is without emotion and experience. Facilely argued logic is no more true than skillfully narrated myth. In fact, myth serves important psychosocial and cultural functions which science and reason do not and cannot. Religion principally serves the purpose of binding together communities with common values and practices. Deciding that's wrong simply because it may be based on faith is actually itself irrational and unjustified. On an empirical basis, one needs to compare actual alternative strategies, not theoretical ones.

  7. Why are there so many ridiculous Religions, if there is only one God ? ? Why crimes have been committed in the name of Religion or God. ? ?

  8. I read the article referenced below with interest, both personal and ministerial.

    I will suggest that I am
    at least a minor authority on the subjects presented. My experiential credentials include a 50+ year search for the Truth, having been instructed and baptized as a Lutheran, as a Baptist, and again in an Assembly of God Church, followed by a minor investigation
    into Catholicism, a two-year study of Judaism, two years as a seminary student of the Church of the Brethren, participation in womens’ spirituality, 35 years of immersion into a yoga of Hindu orientation with multiple extended visits to Ashrams in India and
    in this country, combined with five years of investigation into Buddhism and Confucianism, studying in this country and in Singapore. I visited and investigated the teachings in mosques, a Baha’i temple, and a Morman temple, and toured multiple dozens of
    religious temples throughout multiple Asian countries, as I engaged in a search for a common thread of understanding that might weave through otherwise incompatible belief systems. So, I’ve been around.

    Most recently, I have engaged
    in another track in Christianity, this time from what is for me an “enlightened” perspective. What is different with this investigation? A critical difference in personal experience. What I have learned is that the search for the Truth can be illusory. The
    search can be exciting, enjoyable, invigorating, but ultimately unfulfilled—until the inner eyes of understanding are opened.

    What I read in the article,
    “You Need to Consider the Possibility Your Religion is Mythology,” by Travis Haan, does not convince me that the writer has investigated any particular belief system, systems that he terms as “mythology,” with the intent to immerse himself in the teachings
    in order to understand them fully from the perspective of the practitioner. What I read is, rather, an intellectual criticism with the intent to disavow any legitimacy in the spiritual experience and the legitimacy of a spiritual discipline.

    What I know is this:
    without the experience of “knowing” through personal revelation, one is not qualified as an authority, in spite of surveys and statistical computations, on the subject of spiritual experience and the legitimacy of the writings and doctrines of any spiritual
    discipline. The person, who assumes such authority, but writes without personal experience, becomes a purveyor of misinformation, even potentially damaging misinformation.

    The question then arises,
    “Is the experience of personal revelation legitimate?” One will never know, for sure, until the experience comes. Once it comes, for that person, there is no question of its legitimacy, for that experience of spiritual revelation is qualitatively different
    from any other life experience. Nothing else compares. All questions of legitimacy are erased at that moment.

    The legitimacy of the spiritual
    experience can be debated by those who do not understand. But, for the person who does have such an experience, all debate ends at the point of receiving the inner knowledge imparted in personal revelation.

    This is a debate that will
    never be won by writers such as Mr. Haan, if they write from a position of not knowing. It becomes simply an intellectual exercise, one to be believed or discarded. I, for one, who has been around, choose to discard this particular writing.

    As one, who for decades,
    did not understand the Bible, who did not agree with commonly understood teachings from the Bible, and as one who celebrated intellectual debate of the Bible’s legitimacy, everything changed in an identifiable moment of inner revelation. Mine is not a singular
    experience. It is the experience of any of those touched by God’s Spirit, who received His message in their own spirit, and who have accepted the transformation that it imparts.

    Sent from my iPhone

  9. Attacking the author does not invalidate the article.

    Any human being who has reached adulthood under ordinary circumstances has experienced religion. One does not need to immerse oneself in water to understand that it is wet.

    No one is arguing that a story that teaches a lesson is bad. As children learn the basics from adults. Later we learn from our peers. To truly understand things, we must discern what is hyperbole, exaggeration, sarcasm, and opinion. If we don’t do this, we cannot continue to learn as adults. We fall back on what we believe. We surround ourselves with people who believe as we do. We want people to believe as we do. We don’t question ourselves. We believe that everyone who is different is wrong.

    There are many things that we believe as children and take at face value that we question and laugh at as adults. Other than the basic behaviors and ethics common to ALL religions, philosophies, and moral codes upon which we all agree, why should we accept religion at face value without question?

  10. So basically, you wrote all that (with a “Dr” in your on screen name to give it a pretense of authority) only to say you believe in the god myth.

  11. Here in the United States of America, a lot of people consider themselves to be, or to worship as Christians. That's how I was raised at least. Within that category, most if not all religions are based on man-made premises, thoughts, and ideas. And, most if not all are very poorly designed. They don't understand scripture, and so they just make stuff up based on how much sleep they lost at night staying up trying to come up with something believable, and that can control the most people possible, preferably with large bank accounts, or even just willing to give their last penny and starve to death or tithe 10 percent, and try to get by without that 10 percent they need each and every month without having to beg for food, live on the streets, or in a car, or go on welfare.

  12. So that one moment painted an image so strongly that you accepted its wisdom and refuse to deny that your imagination had anything g to do with the experience and we all carry on. No one here has offered a real value of religion to humans and it is not the here after. It is the social order that is generated between people of common ideology. Whatever the calling humans require a team approach to lifes challenges. Without morals without community without common goals we would likely all end up like lemmings and throw ourselves off of cliffs.

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