Using myth to understand God

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  • Created by: sally789
  • Created on: 01-12-15 11:25
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  • Using myth to understand God
    • What is it?
      •  most complex type of symbolic language, since it incorporates symbols, metaphors and models.
      • many people, argue- myths are to say that something is untrue. However a modern understanding sees myths as giving insights into human experience. 
      • Some theologians have chosen to interpret religious statements and texts as myths. 
    • Three senses
      • The myth could be a story that is not true but has some other value.  Braithwaite  -religious stories are inspirational to us, and they provide us with the motivation to lead a moral life. 
      • literary device that enables us to talk about things that are “ineffable” i.e. beyond language.
      • The myth could be a method of interpreting ultimate reality. So myths have a symbolic meaning in the sense that  they open up new levels of reality. Randall argues their purpose is to bind communities together and urge us to take action. 
        • The myth could be a story that is not true but has some other value.  Braithwaite  -religious stories are inspirational to us, and they provide us with the motivation to lead a moral life. 
    • Using myth
      • Taking a mythological view of religious language also side steps the criticisms of Flew and Ayer. Namely that religious language is not factually significant and therefore meaningless.
      • If we interpret the bible in a mythological sense then the stories of the Old and New Testament can not be proved wrong by scientific or historical evidence.    
      • These attacks are irrelevant if it is conceded that religious statements are myths. This is because we don’t expect myths to be factually significant.   
      • There is a further advantage of not taking a literal view of religious language. 
      • interpreting religious language as mythological is that biblical stories, which seem strange to the scientifically minded, become more palatable. 
        • “And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”   2 Kings 2: 11
          • These attacks are irrelevant if it is conceded that religious statements are myths. This is because we don’t expect myths to be factually significant.   
    • Bultman
      • It is clear to Bultmann that the Bible was written in pre-scientific era when myths were everywhere and were an acceptable method of conveying meaning.   
      • Bultmann believers can no longer takes these biblical parables.
      • He agued that it is only by reading the Bible as a mythological text that modern believers are able to square their scientific understanding of the world with the miraculous events of the Bible. 
    • Evaluation
      • Weaknesses
        • Plantinga argues that to claim that “God exists” is to make an existential assertion. It is not to talk symbolically of mythological or to adopt a certain attitude.  
        • Plantinga maintains that when a Christian speaks of the existence of God they are claiming first that there exists a person of a certain sort a being who, acts, holds beliefs, and has aims and purposes. 
        • undermines their status as true accounts of the events. 
        • In other words, it must be capable of treating religious concepts, such as God, as if they refer to something real.  
        • This person, secondly, is immaterial, is perfect in goodness, knowledge, and power, and is such that the world depends on him for existence. 
      • Stengths
        • Reminds us of our need for meaning that scientism cannot offer
        • Innate to humanity
        • Speaks in existential terms and can thus ocnvey truth that other forms of language can't
        • Myths from different cultures share so much common ground that they can be seen to convey truth, potentially revelatory
        • Multi-layered and capable of speaking to the human condition in multiple ways at different times of life
  • Some theologians have chosen to interpret religious statements and texts as myths. 

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