In this series about Creationism in which we are currently examining Noah and the flood, the issue of mythology needs to be addressed:
What is a myth?
Answers.Com defines a myth as:
1. A traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society: the myth of Eros and Psyche; a creation myth.
2. Such stories considered as a group: the realm of myth.
2. A popular belief or story that has become associated with a person, institution, or occurrence, especially one considered to illustrate a cultural ideal: a star whose fame turned her into a myth; the pioneer myth of suburbia.
3. A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology.
4. A fictitious story, person, or thing: German artillery superiority on the Western Front was a myth (Leon Wolff).
Myths are fictitious stories which arise from the oral traditions of ancient, primitive people. It is possible that oral traditions which weren't immediately written down and superstitious beliefs can distort facts but this does not mean that all ancient accounts are false and are to be classified as myth. Some stories, such as the Greek and Roman myths, were written as allegories by intelligent men with great understanding of human nature but they helped add to the belief that all accounts from antiquity are allegorical and not be taken as truth.
The following is a list of what makes a myth, from About Com:
A myth is a story containing within and having about it certain identifiable characteristics. These are, specifically, that:
* It is a religious story, no matter from which culture and will therefore involve the existence and activities of a supernatural being, such as a god, a demigod, a goddess, or several such entities;
* It will seek to explain at least some aspect of the origin or manner of things (where people came from, how rainbows first came to be, why whales have blow spouts, why people and animals feel hunger) if not of the very universe itself;
* It is not an isolated tale but connects up in some significant way with other similar stories within a culture, involving other deities who collectively form a pantheon;
* Its authorship is communally shared, that is, attributable to no single person, and it came into existence through oral tradition, and therefore usually has more than one version;
* It is believed to be essentially true by those in the society for whom it is one part of a cultural mythology.
The Biblical accounts of Creationism and Noah certainly meet all these criteria but remember, this classification system is devised by man. This list presumes that all early accounts are false and that it is only that society from whom it originates that considers it true.
In mathematics, it is easy to check the computations for mistakes, but to examine an argument, one has to look at the premises, one at a time, to check for truth or error.
An important but often overlooked premise that is inherent in every man is their religious belief. A well meaning and intelligent man,Joseph Campbell, is a world renown scholar on mythology. He teaches that the Bible is a "tribally circumscribed mythology." He is also an atheist. His beliefs cause him to interpret the Bible in a certain way. The idea that scholarly men are impartial observers is often a fallacy.
Christian beliefs also may lead to conclusions which are contrary to the non-religious man. These differences of premises can both lead to different interpretations of the facts.
So when looking at these arguments, on what is a myth or what does this ancient document really mean, it is necessary to keep these differences in premises in mind.
Do you have any ideas to add regarding the definition of mythology?
Discussing Creationism Part I