Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Mythical Belief

I wonder sometimes what it is to believe in a mythical belief like the belief in God. I believe that this is a mythical belief because it has been constructed and edited over many years by us, human beings, just like many other mythical beliefs like the story of Mother Goose and of Loch Ness.
So what is it exactly to believe in a mythical belief like the belief in God? Many will tell you that it is down right true and that they hear the words of God on a daily basis. But, what about those groups of people that believe that they have, on many occasions, seen the Loch Ness Monster and have pictures to show for it? Are these pictures real and are their accounts true? It is very unlikely since the evidence to suggest that there is or ever was a Loch Ness Monster is non-existent. The same is true for the existence of God and for all of those accounts of ever seeing or talking to it. There is no experimental evidence to prove that there is a God. The many published articles that claim to present any evidence that there is a God have proven to be fraudulent and completely unscientific.

Now, isn't it the same to say that I have a belief in something that helps me too? Surely there is no difference between my belief and the belief in God. What I believe is that I as well as each and everyone on this Earth has a special greenhouse next to their home. Depending on the maintenance and care of the greenhouse some can be normal-looking and other can be totally invisible. This greenhouse is special because within it grows many different species of grass that, when used properly, can help someone. For example, if I was thirsty I could go to my greenhouse, pick a thick and wide blade of species of grass, blow on it until the right note is reached, and "presto" I am rehydrated again! Other pieces of grass can help you regain your strength, help you feel less tired, and help you feel happy. All I have to do is believe that this magical greenhouse is real and it will always be there for me when I need help. So this is my belief. What do you think of it? To many it may sound far-fetched and a little childish. But, what is the difference between my belief in this special greenhouse and the belief in God? Right, there is no difference because they are both mythical beliefs. They both sound far-fetched and childish because there is no evidence to support either case. The Word of God is also not evidence since it comes merely from other fellow human beings of long ago in the form of a book. The Word is actually opinions and fiction constructed by other human beings. The brilliance of Shakespeare's literature came from his own opinions which he used to construct fictional stories. But, I would much rather believe that the story of Romeo and Juliet were true over the story of God. It just sounds more realistic.

So how have people for so many generations maintained their strong belief in God when there are and have been so many other mythical beliefs that are more intruging and mysterious? The magical powers of Harry Potter are quite mysterious-- where does he get his power?, why are his powers stronger than others his age? After all, the mythical belief in God is so outdated and so 1st century. Why has this mythical belief been so popular for so long that even today the majority of the world's population believe in it?

Many people are told and pressured to believe in this mythical belief in God. They are influenced by their families and community to adhere to these beliefs without wholly questioning it. To question the belief in God is to offend and disrespect God and the rest of the community. Why aren't these rules and authority placed on other mythical beliefs like my belief in the magical greenhouse? Why does the mythical belief in God deserve the pleasure of enforcing authority and pressure to believe on human beings? Why do leaders within the realm of religious belief have the authority to pressure human beings to believe in the mythical belief in God? The reason why I pose these questions is to emphasize that to say that the mythical belief in God is an authority on human beings is selfish and egotistical. The belief in God is no more deserving of authority and truth than my belief in the magical greenhouse. Since my belief in the magical greenhouse is mythical so is the belief in God and so both beliefs are completely undeserving of any authoritative influence on human beings.

So, why are so many people wanting to find truth in this mythical belief in God? I'm compelled to believe that it is selfishness, solely because when asked about it, a religious person will tell you that they have a special relationship with God where God is there with them during prayer. Each religious person does not need to know how others interact with God but only that everyone is providing love and worship to this God. This is selfishness because religious people are directly imposing their own vision and idea of God onto their mythical belief in God. This makes a religious person feel that their mythical belief in God is real. But, what it actually does is make their belief in God more like their belief in themselves. So, in turn, they believe that they are God-- a mind-game that they are regularly playing on themselves. This is why religious people believe that humans have souls. These souls represent their God in them which is selfish and egotistical.

Essentially what religious human beings have done on their own is changed a mythical belief in God into something far from a mythical belief-- a false fact. If this isn't selfishness, I don't know what is.


  1. I like many of the ideas in your posts. Especially, I like your concept of changing what one might first recognize as a myth to have the status of a (false) fact. We need to learn more about the ways that people thus convert the status of memes, because we'll need that knowledge to develop ways to teach people to do more critical thinking.

    marvin minsky, MIT

  2. Interesting post. I think it's important that, as you are doing, that Humanists begin to move beyond the "is there a God" debate and begin to better understand what it is about the human condition, the human mind that makes it so susceptible to Religious memes. I've spent countless hours pondering this question and while there isn't a simple, single answer, it certainly has much to do with the flaws present within human psychology. For the most part humans are NOT rational beings, and certainly the majority of humans are not particularly bright. Therefore, provide humans with a compelling dialog (story) which provides them with answers (albeit simple and false) to all of the big questions, provide them with everlasting life, and the majority will be more than happy to sign-up. Certainly for a certain percentage of the population who have the intelligence and education to innoculate our brains from these ideas (BTW - I love Memetics!), we are able to see Religion for what it is, but sadly, I fear that it will take generations of continued education and stronger, more organized Humanistic organization with a very Charismatic leader to defeat the ancient religions.