Mythology and Religion

What is mythology?

Myths are generally stories based on tradition and legend designed to explain the universal and local beginnings ("creation myths and "founding myths", natural phenomena, inexplicable cultural conventions, and anything else for which no simple explanation presents itself. Not all myths need have this explicatory purpose, however. Likewise, most myths involve a supernatural force or deity, but many simple legends and narratives passed down orally from generation to generation have mythic content. The Brothers Grimm demonstrated that there is mythic content embedded even in the least promising fairy tales.

Mythology and Religion

Mythology figures prominently in most religions, and most mythology is tied to at least one religion. Some use the words "myth" and "mythology" to portray the stories of one or more religions as false, or dubious at best. The term is most often used in this sense to describe religions founded by ancient societies, such as Roman mythology, Greek mythology, and Norse mythology, which were nearly extinct at one time. However, it is important to keep in mind that while some view the Norse and Celtic pantheons as mere fable, others hold them as a religion (See Neopaganism). By extension, many people do not regard the tales surrounding the origin and development of religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam as literal accounts of events, but instead regard them as figurative representations of their belief systems.


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