A revelation can change your whole perspective of the world. That’s what happened to me my senior year in high school.
Still, I signed up for a class on the great mythologies of the world—or it might have been about the great literature of the world or the great religions of the world; I really don’t remember the exact wording of the class. But I do remember it was the 1970s in a public school system in Texas. The class might have been through the English Department or perhaps the Sociology Department. But, interestingly enough, in conservative west Texas, this class existed.
Our teacher presented us with different mythological writings and teachings throughout many different cultures. I expected literature about the raven and the bear from the Native Americans, the stories of the pantheon of gods interfering with man from the Greek culture and the tales of the god-pharaohs from ancient Egypt. I did not expect to be confronted with the stories of Jonah and the whale, Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel from the Old Testament. As I looked at so many of these stories with the fresh eyes of literary discovery, I realized that they were myths—myths that had been passed down from generation to generation.
Even more importantly, a light bulb went off in my head. These stories were passed on in the same way as the stories from the Bhagavad Gita or the tales of Homer. All are equally fantastic, filled with super heroes and impossible human acts.
This got me thinking even more—if these specific stories of the Bible are myths, then what else is mythology that I have accepted as reality? What has my church and my family been propagating on me as fact, when, in fact, the stories are grand tales?
Education is dangerous. It opens your mind and engages you to think, to question and, ultimately, to explore. Education has always been dangerous to religion. A population that does not question can much more easily be contained and led. History has shown us that time and time again, dictatorial leaders from Adolf Hitler to Mao Tse-tung to Pol Pot begin their reigns by removing the intelligentsia, the thinkers, the university professors and administrators. These are the people who would question not only their ideas, but also the motives behind those ideas.
Knowledge is power and it has the power to end the promulgation of ridiculous, religions stories that are passed off as reality.