In an anthropology class I took my last semester of school someone made a comment that individuals within a society gain meaning and identity through myths. This concept/idea has been on my mind a lot lately as I look around an see countless people worshiping various ideas, traditions, and gods. While this concept may seem basic, it is not a perspective I had ever consciously thought about before. I find this notion fascinating because it demonstrates how stories, regardless of if they are factual or historical, influence people’s beliefs, morals, and perspectives. It also demonstrates how erroneous and even immoral belief systems stay dominant within humanity. In this sense, morals learned through myths become social norms that are hard to see past. I think this is an accurate representative of how society operates. I also feel that religion has the same effect on people and society. The question that I have had in the back of my mind lately is what is the difference between myth and religion?
It is interesting to me that while myths are inconsistent and illogical they are still seen as being actual representations of not only how the world was created but also why it operates in certain ways. An example of this is the creation myth in the Hebrew bible. Some obvious inconsistencies with this creation myth are: God creates light (day 1) before he creates the sun (Genesis 1:3); God creates plants (day 3) before he creates the sun (Genesis 1:11); the sun is not made till the 4th day (Genesis 1:16). That makes photosynthesis pretty hard. These are just a few of the many inconsistencies in the Hebrew bible creation myth that raise scientific questions such as how did photosynthesis occur without the sun, how was there day and night without the sun to mark them (Genesis 1:5), etc. Genesis’s account of the earth’s creation conflicts with the natural order of events that are known to science yet the Genesis account of the earth’s creation is unmistakably embedded in western ideology.