Myths According to Joseph Campbell

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Kevin Gerbier
What is a myth? When one thinks of a myth perhaps one thinks about a story being told by the fire, or a dramatic tale about an invincible hero, or perhaps a cosmological occurrence that caused everything to be. Personally, when I think of the word myth, I think of the ancient Greeks or Romans with their many gods and goddesses; however, to most, the story being told by a myth is simply that, just a story. To most the term “myth” has been confused for a legend or folklore. The truth of the matter is however, that to religious scholars, a myth is more than just a story; a myth is how a society’s religion came to explain what seemed the inexplicable. With modern science booming and being capable of explaining the events that our ancestors could not, there has been a mix up on the term “myth” and on the function that it plays in the religious backbone.

As a scientist, when I hear the word myth or that something is simply a myth, I understand that as being false or completely untrue; or, when people in south America are told the horrendous story of the “chupa cabra” that is simply disregarded as a “myth,” a folklore invented by someone who may have seen an animal they did not know and simply disguised it as a monster. The reality of the matter however, is that, scholarly, a myth is as true as anything else can be. This does not necessarily mean that when one hears the story of the great flood it literally means that god flooded the entire world. A myth can be based on historical facts or none at all; the facts are not what make a myth true but it is the story that inspired it and the content of it. A myth is simply a metaphorical poem telling a story that explains the human encounter with the unknown. This is where the religious aspect ties in with the scholarly view of myths. Every religion has it’s own story or “myth” on how the universe was created, how humans came to be, where life came from, and so on. These stories show a kind of...
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