Feb 2, 2015
Foundations of Mythology
Merriam-Webster online dictionary (Merriam-Webster mobile search, n.d.) , describes a myth as, “a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon”. A myth is perceived very differently depending on where a person lives their culture, values and lifestyle. In Western society today the word is popularly used to describe a story or tale that has no authenticity or is not true. Academically, a myth is an effort to answer the questions of human existence (Rosenberg, 2006). Personally speaking, the word myth means an exaggerated story that has been told from generation to generation with no truth to it, but often times sends a very meaningful message or moral that can be used in life.
There are many mythological themes that span from culture to culture, but the most common theme is the plot of good versus evil. Different cultures may have different characters, but the plot of the story is always the "good guy" struggling to overcome some kind of obstacle, that will eventually make him a better person, while at the same time fighting against the "bad guy". In the end, the story delivers a message or moral to the readers about life. Across the different cultures, the storyline and the characters may be different, but there is always a moral or lesson that is delivered. Different cultures have their myths about events or occurrences, but most share a universal theme because they all share the same questions about life and the universe around them (Leonard & McGraw, 2004). For example, most cultures believe in a higher power, for some cultures that may be a god like Buddha and some cultures believe in God as a higher power. Even though Buddhist beliefs and Christian beliefs are different, there is a common theme of believing in a power that is greater than oneself that some way controls the universe and all things in it. The myth of higher powers existing explains the unknown and the trials and tribulations of all humans because it is human nature to feel that everything is controlled by something even if it is an unseen power.
Mythos is a Greek word that in its beginning meant “History”. Cultures long ago used this word in relation to what they thought to be real, things and occurrences that they believed to be accurate and factual about the universe around them (Leonard & McGraw, 2004). Over the centuries, as one religion superseded the last, myths became legends and was viewed as fantastical stories with no real historical value and became synonymous with fairytales. Mythology and religion tend to intersect because myths are based on religious beliefs (Rosenberg, 2006). Religions that are actively practiced today will someday be replaced by new ones and then also be regarded as myths. Knowledge is factual information, true stories, and concepts; however, belief is the assertion that something is true without having proof, facts or evidence to back up the claim. Myth and religion are very close in relation to one another; however the validity of the two is what differentiates them. Myth is