You Need To Consider The Possibility Your Religion Is Mythology

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

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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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207 COMMENTS

    • To make your points you have to deliberately confuse the two definitions of belief. In your contention that knowledge is a subset of belief, you are using the broad general definition of belief, which is reasonable expectation, based on prior experience and empirical evidence. But the second definition, religious belief, is that subset of belief in general which does not intersect with knowledge. Religious belief and knowledge do not shade into each other, they share a clear border, which is what can be demonstrated to those who do not share the belief. You can only call it knowledge if you can produce empirical evidence, which religion has yet to do.

  1. I’d be ashamed of myself if I were cowardly and allowed an innocent person to be punished because of something wrong that I did. A brave and honorable man would say, let me die for my own sins. Ironically, I eventually will anyway, simply because I was born. According to some religions I was born into sin as a sinner at birth. Killing a lamb and offering it’s blood to a God is barbaric. If such a God did or does exist while I’d possibly fear him, I’d never love nor respect him. Maybe I’d try to keep it a secret lest he torture me. Yet, by saving myself, and not being honest to myself, I’d have dishonored myself out of fear because I’d have chosen to live as a coward. Living a life of inward shame may be worse than quickly dying. The only justification for living a lie would be of a military nature where a soilder may fake loyalty to an enemy with the idea to live and resist again. Since I’m not at war with these Mythologies I feel Mythologies can be used to learn important truths as long as we don’t take them literally. Religion divides and herds sheep into pastures. Free thinkers open the gates. Religious people seem to think truth is the enemy because we who seek or speak truth threaten to free the sheep who are empowering the leaders.

  2. "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.

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