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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190 COMMENTS

  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.

        • The archeological record. Linguistics. Science. Fire doesn't fall from the sky. because a book written mostly by King Josiah, commissioned to act as a propaganda tool to coalesce power around the throne and temple says it does does not mean it did. You need to get with the reality that the vast majority of what's in the bible never happened.

    • Thank You, for being here and sharing just when and what I needed to hear just when I need to hear it! God is Forever good all the time and all the time God is good.

    • Dear Mark,

      Tell me more about those miracles you are lying about…

      “The God who andered by fire?” Are you kidding me? The Creator had nothing better in his head than consuming an ox with fire?
      Just a simple question: “WHY would he do that?”

      He could just say: “Hey guys, its me!”

      Always drama…and very bad written ones, of course.

    • Your "personal set of objective (!!!??) proofs" are merely your opinions and are entirely irrelevant if they are unobservable, unrepeatable and unfalsifiable.

    • When you can explain why a miracle happens for one and not the thousands and thousands of others, your work will have only just begun.

      Men of the cloth are increasingly losing their faith because they find out that prayer doesn't work. If you've been at it a while, I expect the thought is nibbling at the fringes of your mind. You might find The Clergy Project of interest – https://clergyproject.org/

    • Well stated. I'm an atheist, with a scientific bent, but have to hand it to you for the rational and thoughtful way in which you defended your faith. Well done. I wish all people of faith were as calm and considerate as yourself. I would listen more.

  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; https://youtu.be/k1ST6lvGDMo.

    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.)

      • ““Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.”
        ‭‭Job‬ ‭38:4
        Yes it’s in the Bible there was
        But you have to read it first
        And with understanding?

    • You're simply finding correlation within a massive text that is so varied it will ALWAYS have something you can look deeper into, latch onto, and dig at. But as we all know, correlation =/= causation. Just because the word for circle can ALSO mean sphere doesn't automatically mean they had "otherworldly knowledge" or an advanced grasp of astronomy due to heavenly intervention. The simple exercise Occam's Razor provides should clear this up for you logically, what is the simplest explanation? The first evidence of Spherical Earth theories appears in drawings dating much later than any biblical texts.

      And simple travel would have required the revelation that distant travel affected time. Without the understanding that time was geographically dependent, trade could never have existed the way it did long before Jesus' time. You're just grasping for straws because you WANT to find something to grasp. It's confirmation bias.

      • Right… but many times science is proving what the Bible said…

        I have tons of questions in my head too which can not be answered by any pastor in the contexts of logic, but that doesn't mean atheism is the best way out.
        It also carry many many flaws. Bb theory remains a theory until today, the only good thing about it is that it is still morphing. Well, a morphing theory.

        In the end, tons of questions will remain unanswered till the day of our death.

  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.

    • That is actually true, and Billy Graham gave an entire sermon about it. The premise of what he said in that sermon was that to believe in God, and all of the writings in what Christians call "the Bible" took faith. Jews call it the Torah, and does not include the part Christians refer to as the "new testament." Then, there are many translations of the Bible. Most are very similar, except for just a few including the "Catholic" Bible. But, there are speed bumps one has to look out for. For instance, some Bibles and churches are incorrect in their teachings based solely on an incorrect translation of one particular scripture in the popular King James version of the Bible. There are a lot of pitfalls, and stumbling blocks in all of the Bibles, but having read in the Bible itself that it was all planned by God, I understand why. The Word in fact states that itself is a stumbling block for those who willfully will not believe. It must be "rightly divided" or studied to discover the Bible's true meaning. It is quite fascinating if one does it intensely enough. The reward is immeasurable. It doesn't take reading it from cover to cover endlessly as my grandfather did for most of his life either. It takes a will to learn, and that word again, faith.

  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.

  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."

    • Please prove that Krishna is not a myth.

      You can't.

      You can not prove that Krishna is real any more than Abrahamic religions (and their many sub religions) can prove that their god is real.

      I can't prove that 'god' or 'gods' do not exist any more than you can prove they do exist – maybe they do, you can't prove a negative – but common sense, human nature and history tell me god/gods do not exist.

      History and current events do prove that religious people are bigots and very often killers. Including Hindus.

      Religion is bullsh*t. Prove me wrong. The idea of faith is a joke and not a funny one.

  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.

    • Jesus Christ never really existed. There isn't even a single contemporary document that describes him and his works. I've read the NT. Here is a man purported to have raised the dead, healed the blind, healed leppers, kicked out dozens of money changers out of the temple, fed the multitudes from one basket of fish and bread, preached to thousands of people, rode into Jerusalem triumphantly in front of thousands and was tried before Pilate himself. One would think that in a city with hundreds of literate Jewish scholars and Roman authorities such a man would have been the subject of many letters. Instead, we get radio silence. The earliest source material is hypothesized to come from the 70s AD and the earliest extant copy of a Christian writing is Mark (ca 125 to 250 AD).

      In other words, complete radio silence about an extraordinary man who did the most amazing things in a pretty well populated part of the Roman Empire. Why the silence?

      • You're wrong, there are other writings about Jesus. look into the historian Josephus
        And an interesting read is The Case for Christ, the author backed up everything with experts and Facts

        • Josephus was not born until AD 37. He was not a witness to Jesus. Plus all his references to Jesus appear to have been added in the 14th Century. Do your homework.

  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.

    • What evidence? There is nothing to refute since there is no evidence. We really wouldn't care to refute your faith if you and your Christian brethren didn't find it necessary to push your religion down our throats on dozens of issues that affect us all, from abortion, to LGBT rights, women's rights, etc.

  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.

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