I have always been a lover of mythology; it is a small hobby that began when I was little, collecting and reading books about Greek and Roman mythology.
Since then my interest has grown, and along with Greek and Roman I have begun reading more on Celtic, Norse and Native American mythologies. A few years ago I purchased a book that contained Greek, Norse, Celtic, as well as Egypt and West Asian mythology.
Skimming through the section I recognized familiar names: Adam, Eve, Abraham. At that time I foolishly thought that perhaps in the past these Biblical characters would simply be stories to some people.
But then I learned about the God Graveyard.
The God Graveyard was set up first by students of the University of North Georgia Skeptics Society and then by the group Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin. The second featured over 200 graves dedicated to once believed in gods who have since “died” and been forgotten. Such gods mentioned are Pluto, Anubis, Zhurong, Loki, as well as a number of others.
I wasn’t horrified by the God Graveyard like many people were. I was interested and I began to think about what linked mythology and Catholicism. I began to find many comparisons between the two in the stories they tell.
Both have creation stories: in Norse mythology the story is of when Odin and his brothers killed the first giant Ymir and constructed the world from his corpse. In the Bible there is the book of Genesis that explains how God created the world in seven days.
Both contain examples of divine intervention, especially with women, who give birth to children. A popular motif in many mythology stories, the best known is probably Greek mythology with Zeus and his many interactions with mortal women. Some of the children produced from these relationships were Hercules and Helen of Troy. In the Christian religion this is shown through Mary’s Immaculate Conception with Jesus Christ.
Both contain stories have significant animals: Celtic mythology have a number of symbolic animals that portray both good and bad such as the hound, deer/stag, boar and many other animals. Similarly the Bible has, to name a few, the dove, serpent, fish and lamb.
These three examples are only some of many comparisons that can be found between the two which leads to the question: how long can a religion survive? And what is it that kills a god?
Is it lack of follows or is it peer pressure? Or perhaps is it a combination of the two?
Christianity has been around for thousands of years and in the past and present has attempted to convert people away from their religion. My father has told me that growing up in the 60’s his teachers would tell students that if they did not convert one person to Christianity they would not get into Heaven.
If someone were to say they were followers of Zeus or Odin nowadays society would mock and shun them. But just because Greek, Norse and other religions have been term “mythologies” today does that make them any less valid than Christianity?
So what is the life span of a religion? Looking at the pictures of the many “dead” gods, I can’t help but wonder if one day soon the figures of Christianity will one day lay among Athena and Freya, a myth that we foolish people of the past believed in.