470. Religion and Mythology

I was raised to be a devout atheist. My father taught me that belief in God was responsible for a great deal of trouble in the world. Without religion, he taught me, there wouldn’t be so much war, poverty, oppression, and so on. My mother didn’t say much on the subject. I am now an agnostic. Sometimes I go to synagogue, and sometimes to the local Unitarian Society. If there were a Society of Friends easy for me to get to, I might go to that, too. I still lean towards atheism, but I’m not so devout now.
Teachers can’t avoid mentioning religion. Religion has been part of history, and is still going strong. Teachers are not supposed to present any one religion as being better than any other, but I don’t think there’s
any way to avoid doing that. The religions that are prevalent today in our country may be presented respectfully. And some teachers talk about less
prevalent but still modern religions with respect. But religions that don’t have so many devotees here and now are sometimes presented as if they are illegitimate.
Take Greek mythology, for example. Prometheus stole fire from the gods, and gave it to people. That was a pretty gutsy thing to do, and he got punished for it. And we got fire, which has proven to be quite useful. But now the whole story is treated as a myth – something that people used to believe, but don’t any more. According to us, the people who believed that story were wrong.
But children are told to respect the stories told by modern religions. To me, some of those stories sound just as fantastic as the story of Prometheus. They’ve been around for a few thousand years, and they’re considered sacred, just as the story of Prometheus was once considered sacred. In fact, though I’m thinking of specific stories as I write this article, I’m not going to tell you which ones I’m thinking of. I don’t want to offend you by implying that the story you believe in is at all
equivalent to the story of Prometheus.
I capitalize the names of all deities, but there are only certain deities Who get capital letters even when I use pronouns to refer to Them. When I refer to Zeus, I refer to him as him, not Him. When religion
becomes mythology, it loses a lot of its power.
I was thinking about all this as I heard a teacher talking with her class about mythology. Children love thinking about myths. I don’t think Hercules is far from Batman in their minds; they’re both incredibly great
people, neither one is or was real, and religion is something else, entirely. As an agnostic, I don’t have a conclusion. But it’s interesting to think about it.

Comments are closed.