The world has over forty-two thousand active religions at present. And believe it or not, every religion has its own mythological stories. Many of us often tend to confuse religion with mythology, but they are not the same thing. Moreover, many believe that mythology is the religion that people have stopped following, or that today’s religion is tomorrow’s mythology. But, it does not work this way, any religion does not become a myth once people stop following it. Therefore, this article might help help you understand the true meaning of religion and mythology and the difference between them both.
1What is Religion?
A system of belief, involving a certain code of ethics and philosophy. A religion practices a set of morals, beliefs, and rituals that guide people. Religion refers to the belief and faith in divinity or god(s) and worshiping the supreme power. However, not every religion has or believes in idol worship. Every religion has a hierarchy of people known as guardians or priests that protects and spread the religious teachings. But, the most important characters of any religion are the followers. These followers believe in religious stories, teachings, and methods of worship and prayers. However, the beliefs of one religious story might seem mythological to another.
2What is Mythology?
Mythology means a collection of myths, associated with a religion. Mythology happens to be stories with characters like demigods, hybrid humans, and animals, etcetera. Moreover, mythology narrates fantastic events that might have happened in the past, without attempting to prove it. Mythology plays a very important role in every religion. It allows us to understand the individual society as well as the human culture as a whole. However, people have found nothing to prove that how or when any particular myth in any religion started.
3Difference Between Religion and Mythology
As you already read that what religion and mythology mean, let us get in-depth about what are the major differences between them. In short, we know that the religious stories that we believe are considered true, whereas the mythological stories might or might not be factual.
TRUTH: Religious stories and texts have been considered true whereas myths are considered a work of traditions passed over generations. While some can be proven through historical evidence, some are merely reduced to works of fiction. However, mythological stories of every religion establish faith through the epics and stories of various religions.
INTERDEPENDENCE: Every religion has its own set of myths and mythological stories and they vary from religion to religion. Religion is a wide concept, of which mythology is a part among others.
COMPONENTS: We came to know about the myths with the stories that sages and ancient saints developed and created. Whereas, religion has a set of rules, ethics, and rituals that great religious leaders develop and carry forward.
ACCEPTANCE: As we know that the main characteristic of every religion is the followers. Therefore, religion deals with the customs and beliefs of a particular community on the acceptance of some important faith and practicing rituals. However, mythology does not have to deal with the acceptance of faith or belief from the society of the community.
SURVIVAL: Religion believes in superhuman powers in the form of god(s). Therefore, the mythological stories aim to prove the faiths and beliefs established by the religion. The mythological characters prove the religious stories, therefore the survival of every religion depends on its mythology.
4Why The Confusion?
The majority of the population still thinks that mythology and religion are somewhat the same things. But little do we know that mythology comes under religion. So why and how did this confusion arise? Well, every religion has stories that go on and around building faith in the people. Once the faith and belief set in, people start following in the religion. With that, the people believe in the mythological stories, the philosophy behind the religion, and practice the rituals and the set of rules on which a certain religion lives. Moreover, the mythology of every religion consists of supernatural beings that possess magical powers, which supports the religion and helps in establishing the faith amongst people.
For example, Christianity is the most popular religion in the world. Therefore, the five main beliefs of Christianity comprises of- Uniqueness of Jesus (Virgin Birth), One God (The Trinity), The Necessity of the Cross (Salvation) and Resurrection and Second Coming, and the Inspiration of Scripture. Therefore, even the holy Bile consists of the mythological stories in Genesis 1 and 2 like the story of Eve’s temptation. The stories of angels and demons come under myths as there is no proof of their actual existence, something that people who do not follow Christianity might say. But, for people who do follow Christianity, all these stories are true.
“Every Religion, every mythology, is true in this sense: It is true as metaphorical of the human and cosmic mystery.” – Joseph Campbell
Therefore, just like Christianity has its set of religious texts as well as mythological stories, every religion has the same. Religion has tried to connect certain ideas which prove the existence of superhuman powers in the form of God(s). Whereas, mythology aims to prove the truths and faiths in religion. The characters that appear in the mythological stories, prove the authenticity of religious opinion. Therefore, without mythology, the religion will become weak in due course of time.