Reblog: Mythology

NOTE: This is a reblog as a result of comments made on my post here.

Often we hear Christians and various sorts talking about the good parts of religion. They still want to believe in the Judeo-Christian god but none of the bad parts. I call this picking and choosing – creating your own religion. It’s not Christianity. It’s something else. It’s fine to do that but if you’re going to call it Christianity you’ll have to accept all the baggage that comes with it. Namely accepting the holy text as the revalatory word of that god, all of it. You don’t get to say it’s your god’s word and then tell me what parts are and are not your god’s word. If you want to judge me and condemn me because of what your book says you have to accept all the bad parts. You know the parts, the ones that non-believers seem ever ready to talk about. Same goes for Islam and Judaism. You can be good and moral without the crap in your religion but you have chosen it over everything else – live with the consequences.

J_AGATHOKLES has chosen a set of beliefs which is comfortable them and helps get through each day. When you choose a set of beliefs that are caustic to society people will criticize and argue with you. When your religion is full of stupid and bad ideas people will react negatively. If you say ‘no, I only believe in the good parts’ you’ll most likely be mocked and called hypocrite.

Fable and myth have lessons to learn in them. The holy texts of Abrahamic faiths do not. It’s as simple as the 10 commandments. Christians of all stripes seem universally to accept these as the foundation of morality yet from the same author and part of the book there are laws that they think do not apply to them. Their Jesus character never negated Jewish law. What that results in is ridiculousness such as honor your mother and father because they can have you stoned to death. Honor the sabbath and keep it holy or die. If you’re going to believe it as the word of a god you don’t get to pick and choose which words you find acceptable. That puts you in the position of deciding who is sinful and who is not, something you are admonished to not do.
No matter what theists think, if you want to call yourself Christian or Jew or Muslim you don’t get to pick which parts of the book apply to you – that makes you something else, and typically it makes you a bad adherent. Go on, search around, find something not so caustic to live your life by. There is plenty to choose from. One of my favorites is Aesop’s Fables. The Brother’s Grim, Ghandi, Buddha and many others have stuff you can borrow. Personally, I have no religion but I like stuff that others have said and I incorporate it into my life where it seems appropriate. I don’t have to be Buddhist, Jewish, Christian etc. I am me and I can learn good from many sources. If there was a god that didn’t want me to do this … well, that god can either come explain it to me or that god does not exist. Yes, I am as good as any god ever imagined. Cogito ergo sum. I am, that I am. I do not need a savior or invisible friend to help me deal with life. If your god created everything then why didn’t your god make it so that you could cope with life without them?
Sigh… I’m just tired of the picking and choosing. physicsandwhiskey, are you listening?


  1. Could you clarify how the title pertains to the contents of the post for me? I’m ata bit of a loss seeing the connection.

    • I may have not done well here. I rebloged this because of another post here

      The question that started it all was “is it audacious to say there are no gods” and a regular commenter who is Hellenistic commented. I wanted to post what they have to say about gods and religion and myth because it is not monotheistic and gives a much wider view of the topics.

      The problem I spoke of here is the same encountered almost everywhere in Christianity these days. Not many Christians can agree on what parts of their bible to believe literally and which to accept as myth.

      Perhaps I’m not making anything more clear with this either. Sorry. It is not audacious to say there are no gods, but rather to call them myth. In such there are still lessons and guidance, but it does not give us divine right to rule over the lives of others as the Abrahamic faiths seem to think they have.

      Hopefully that helps?

      • Indeed it does help.

        There is always a problem in epistemology regarding how someone chooses which bits of some religious doctrine should be metaphor and which parts literal. Sure, people do this, and try to pass off their preferred choices as reasonable and evidence-based but when push comes to shove, people arbitrarily tend to choose stuff to be taken literally what already fits with what they believe while rejecting the bits that are so problematic to be metaphor. I had just such a discussion here with these very sophisticated theologians and could not get anyone to admit this epistemological problem of standardization; instead, I was the problem and science was the ‘myth’.

        It’s truly incredible how easily so many deceive themselves in the name of piety.

        I have a problem with the way youngflemishhellenist classifies what is a myth (because it is a wonderful area of writing that is need of some standardizing!). My research reveals myth to be a terrific source of wisdom because it offers signposts about its symbolism – sort of a map with a key for you use/utilize when exploring real life. Very cool. Very valuable. I really like Campbell>‘s explanation that myth is the public dream using symbols made meaningful from the private dream. Love that explanation. In other words, myth offers us the personal experience it provides (we are the ones, after all, assigning the personal yet universal meaning to these symbols) to make our lives better wisely. Reading any of it to be literal – and this is where I think youngflemishhellenist goes astray as he assigns belief of the religious kind to some of its agents – alters the nature of the narrative away from metaphor (and allegory) towards the literal and so skews the meaning away from symbols and towards imaginary agencies to become manifested as real somewhere ‘out there’. This undermines the ‘experience’ itself and so renders myth to be just another set of narratives similar to those that populate religious beliefs.

        • I am glad there is agreement. I don’t see youngflemishhellenist as doing more than adding ritual and structure to life by using myth. This is of no harm. In the overall view, their method is neither denying truth nor claiming it… rather it is that they choose to do things this one way, taking meaning and lessons from a particular set of mythology. In this I find no particular harm as these actions do not require anything of anyone else nor do they judge others harshly. I did not say I’m Hellenistic. When you can openly say that you know it’s not ‘real’ it is not superstition… rather it is ritual. We all need ritual and structure and I am not qualified to inform others of what structure is best for them. This is where I draw the line for myself. I think you have misread them… maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

          In much the way that a football supporter cannot explain why they support one team over another, the support is shared by all fans of a given level. Which team is not the important part here, but that they support one. It is structure and ritual. They will feast together and be happy… not because they support the same team, but because the structure and ritual is rewarding and uniting. In this way I think of youngflemishhellenist and how they feel about others of similar thought.

          • No, I’m not trying to suggest public harm directly – other than another way of supporting the belief in some agency of Oogity Boogity. My understanding of youngflemishhellenist is that the belief is not just ritual but of actual agencies and literal gods. I wanted to say that I, too, find myth enriching but I wouldn’t dream of trying to turn this appreciation into a religious belief and present that as if rational. Only in this sense do I have any criticism because belief in Oogity Boogity is of a kind regardless of how benign or malignant is the object of the faith-based belief. And it is this willingness to believe by means of faith that I think is the root cause of much unnecessary harm and suffering. Of course, YFH is welcome to believe whatever he or she wishes; I just don’t find them in any sense rational.

            • I think we only disagree on the point where it becomes dangerous. I find this no more harmful than the religious way some treat their automobiles or lawns. It is meaningful to them and they are not bothered that it does not agree with all. It is their way to do these things because it is useful to them. If all religion were this way, it would be good. Hellenism does not ask the adherent to vote against human rights or deny science.

              • Hellenism does not ask the adherent to vote against human rights or deny science.

                Sure it does, and this is exactly the problem. In the broad sense, science is a method that allows reality to determine the justifications of our beliefs about it. That’s why beliefs can change if compelling evidence supports this. Holding beliefs to be true first and then imposing them on reality to explain its workings is deeply anti-scientific because they are unfalsifiable. It is a guaranteed way to fool ourselves. That’s how such belief – even aimed at seemingly innocuous and even beneficent objects – provides fuel for harm. The harm is not caused directly but as a residual effect (that fuels stuff like anti-vaxer propaganda, naturopathic ‘remedies’, superstitious claims, etc.. All of these depend on excluding reality from arbitrating claims made about it.

                • gah, this is frustrating. Typed up two long replies and had them disappear.
                  I find that what I believe as I lay down to sleep is nobody else’s business and vice versa. There is a gray area that we are talking about and I don’t think it is well enough defined to make decisions for others that they are headed the wrong way. Education and denial of blatantly bad and dangerous ideas is good. Thought policing is not. Without demonstrated harm, I cannot say there is harm done. The human condition is not black and white. Some will use medication or therapy while others apply a religious method. It is not my place to judge them until wrong is happening. The link to homeopothy, anti-vaxer stuff etc. is strong I will admit. Still, if no damage is seen, one cannot claim damage is done. With the big three Abrahamic faiths we can point and say look at the damage done. This is what your belief leads to. Not so much with Hellenism etc. I won’t hesitate to call it when I see it, we are not in disagreement on that, but when it shows no more harm than sports fanaticism it is difficult for me to claim there is harm. The emotional states of sports fans certainly edge on excluding reality, yet we do not wish to eliminate sports or fandom.

                  This is an area of discussion that I believe needs to be out and talked about much more. I think that I will post on just that soon. Know that I do not disagree with you. I simply believe that I am not in a place to be judge and jury on anything I might deem as bad unless harm can be shown.

  2. Regarding why hellenistic belief is anti-science because it worships interventionist agencies for which there is no evidence (but utilizes myth to identify these agencies), youngflemishhellenist writes:

    The view of the Gods as archetypes isn’t generally accepted by Hellenists, even if some may do so. The Gods are considered real and distinct entities, the immortal forces who keep, sustain, animate, harmonise, transform, etc., the Kosmos. They not usually considered archetypes as that would defeat the whole purpose of offering them worship and sacrifices, if one doesn’t accept that there is anyone there to receive them.

    ‘Accepting’ is code for ‘faith’, meaning an a priori commitment to impose beliefs on reality to describe it. As I wrote previously, science respects reality to adjudicate claims made about it and not – as faith does – the other way around. That’s why any faith-based method to inquire into the universe and everything it contains is deeply anti-scientific and a guaranteed way to fool one’s self and put others at risk to harm just as real as, say, a religious inquisition.

    How so?

    Well, this willingness to be fooled – and ask others to respect some faith-based belief’s pseudo-explanations as another way of knowing – meaning equivalent to scientific explanations – is just as harmful in its effects as direct harm. Perhaps even more.

    Let me explain.

    You seem quite willing to address overt harm, where the causal connection between a religious belief results in direct harm done in its name, with much needed criticism. This is great. But I don’t think goes far enough because it treats only a symptom. I criticize all faith-based belief because of its overt as well as covert harm. In other words, empowering faith is root cause for much harm on innocents who are not given the opportunity to consent but must still submit to the harm caused by faith-based ignorance. Covert harm from faith-based belief undermines respect for – and decisions made in the name of – what’s knowable and what’s true about the reality we share and replaces these with made up shit based solely and wholly on beliefs that are without justification. Exercising this kind of belief that is in conflict with justified knowledge is exactly what is needed to allow all kinds of non-consensual harm… such as outbreaks of preventable disease like measles, for example, to once again main and kill real people in real life because a bunch of people put the human herd at risk because of faith-based belief about potential harm of vaccinations; to allow real illnesses from real diseases to go untreated by real medicine; to allow snake oil prescriptions to be exempt from pharmaceutical regulation and oversight; to allow tax exemptions for local superstitions in more ‘advanced’ countries to mob justice carried out against people believed to be hosts for demonic agencies; to categorize those without superstitious allegiances to be considered something less than human equivalent and so worthy of social, economic, political, and legal sanctions; and so on. The harm – even covert – from allowing faith-based beliefs to be respected if it doesn’t directly seem to cause it is still very much real and still very much a danger to all of us because it is treated as if harmless, as if compatible with science, as if equivalent in producing insight into how the universe actually works.

    I don’t think it is any of these but acts contrary to all of them, and so I criticize it whenever I encounter it in whatever form I find it.

    • I don’t disagree with you. I wonder though where you would draw the line. If first we rid the world of religion and its harms, should we move on to rid the world of eating habits which lead to death or poor health? Perhaps we should stop people from believing in homeopathy or any superstitions. We may have killed off professional sports in the act, but such is life.

      I agree with you but think there is a point that is just one point too far. That point is in a gray area that I do not see very clearly defined. That I think is our only real difference. I have hopes we can educate most people so they are no longer in the gray area or the wrong side of it.

      • Well, this is just it: I have no intention of ridding the world of anything. I have every intention of trying to convince people through reason and criticism that investing any acceptance and/or promotion of, and/or respect for, faith-based belief in the public domain is counter productive if one wants a better world than the one we entered. I do not advocate any use of force or banning or any curtailment of our shared rights and freedoms, duties and obligations, legal equality and mutual respect for the dignity of people to accomplish this herculean task. I advocate for reason, for critical and creative thinking, for confrontation utilizing reasoned criticism and humor to support this endeavor. But I do think it is self-defeating to criticize only one aspect of faith-based belief in the public domain – to grant it special status, so to speak – while withholding it from an equal dose in other aspects.

        The point I also make (that I suspect you might overlook or confuse) is the public versus private domain issue.

        All people have every right to incorporate whatever faith-based beliefs they wish in their private lives (although I think it is quite silly to do so but, hey, whatever floats boats) including superstitions and weird and wonderful sporting actions (growing beards during playoffs, wearing dirty socks, touching objects for luck, and so on). This is fine.

        I draw a very necessary and firm line, however, when we enter the public domain.

        By this term I mean the public sphere of governance and financing: public law, public legislation, public policies, public ceremonies, public procedures, public defense, public enforcement, public education, public research and development, public medicine, public science, public media, and so on. Faith-based beliefs have no place – zero right to be pertinent – in any of these public arenas, no reason to have influence or inclusion or accommodation or tolerated in this domain. At. All.

        Such private faith-based beliefs are entirely and unequivocally out of place in this arena, and should never – ever – be supported by those confused agents who hold and exercise authority in the public’s name in these public offices and public positions. It is these folk who are in dire need of sustained and loud criticism to be shown the error of their ways. And I think leaders in these public agencies have every right to set public standards of professional conduct and attire and fire the asses of any agents – from supreme court justices to sanitiary engineers, from sheriffs to scientists to teachers to police officers and firefighters who do not understand and confuse their proper private/public boundaries… especially those who use their public office to promote a private faith-based agenda. There should be zero tolerance for this crossing of the secular Rubicon. There is no grey area here.

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