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We have a lets shy away from direct religious questions on this site policy, which i think is good. However, where do we draw the line on what is religion and what is myth? The Greek gods, Roman gods, Norse gods, and Egyptian gods are all classified as myths when you search for them online, or in history books. While it was pointed out some of these have an active following, (the Greeks have about 2000 active worshipers) for the rest of the world these religions are dead. By definition myth's are

"an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true"

"a story that was told in an ancient culture to explain a practice, belief, or natural occurrence" source

So should subjects that are classified by the "world" as mythology be off topic, or on topic?

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    "an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true" You mean the bible? My belief/non-belief aside, I feel that's a dangerous yardstick to use. – phantom42 Apr 23 '15 at 15:22
  • @phantom42 my point is these are called myths now, not religions, theirs a line a religion crosses where it essentially doesn't matter anymore, dies, and becomes a myth. All faith in the above myths died out thousands of years ago, if anyone practices today, its a new occurrence. theres more juggalos' then people actively practicing these myths. These myths are the corner stone to much of our current fantasy. – Himarm Apr 23 '15 at 15:26
  • the 2 billion people that believe in the bible are the reason its a religion vs a myth. it seems a simple numbers game to me. when you loose the numbers you loose the name. – Himarm Apr 23 '15 at 15:30
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    My point is that While number of believers or how contemporary a religion is may be a possibly valid measure, defining it on whether or not it's "true or not" is a terrible idea. – phantom42 Apr 23 '15 at 15:30
  • I think we should eventually migrate all mythology questions to Mythology SE. They are neither Sci-Fi nor Fantasy. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Apr 23 '15 at 17:11
  • I'm with @phantom42 on this one. – Slytherincess Apr 24 '15 at 13:37
  • @phantom42 - "Truth" is a very subjective thing when it comes to religion. As an atheist, my view is that it's all baloney. – Valorum Apr 24 '15 at 17:24
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My opinion, which I've stated before on related questions, is that trying to classify "mythology" as fantasy or religion is the wrong question. What we're really after is knowing if mythology questions are on-topic here.

As a general rule, we consider things to be on-topic here if they relate to:

  • One or more specific works of fantasy and science fiction, or
  • The practical details (history/evolution/production/etc) of that genre.

What we don't deal with are all the other topics that are brought in to a work of fantasy as part of telling a good story. The classic example is that we don't take questions on general relativity just because someone made Interstellar.

I think that we should apply the same rule to mythology as we would to science, or history, or whatever else. That is, Greek mythology as a whole is not on-topic for this site. That doesn't mean we can't talk about The Odyssey or Beowulf: those are acknowledged works of fiction, which happen to use mythology as the basis for their stories.

We can talk about the dozens of different ways Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece has been portrayed over the centuries, but I think asking "how many people were actually Argonauts" is off-topic.

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I believe you're asking the wrong question for what you mean.

Myths and mythology are broader terms than just stories from old, largely historic religions. There are plenty of contemporary myths that have nothing to do with religions.

I think, and feel free to correct me, what you're really trying to get at is

Should ancient/historic/largely unfollowed religions be on topic?

Your contention is that since no one follows them anymore, they are no longer "religions", and have crossed over into some sort of public domain, for a lack of a better term. In a sense, this is true. The average person doesn't think of Zeus and wonder if the guy next door secretly has a shrine to him. For many today, Greek or Egyptian "myths" hold as much truth as Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Without trying or wanting to get into a big religious debate, I'm going to put this out there: to me, all religions (current, or ancient, and regardless of the numbers of followers are equally true/untrue/legitimate/illegitimate as none of them can be proven as more or less true than any other. This is why I mentioned in comments that defining a "myth" based on the definition you provided is such a dangerous idea. If we hold that any religion is false, we must hold them all false, and if we hold any of them true, we must hold them all true. That's not a discussion we want to be having.

We have already banned religious texts such as the Bible and no one has ever contested that - only the scope of how much we were going to ban. Now, to my knowledge, there are no Ancient Greek Holy Texts (I could be wrong; I'm no expert on the subject), but religious teachings, beliefs, rules, and dogma stem from more than just texts.

That said, as discussed here, allowances are made for fictional works based on the religions/myths, provided that they are intended as a fictional work, and not a documentary.

Questions about the mythology mentioned in Clash of the Titans? We're good. Questions about the mythology mentioned in The Mummy? We're good. Questions about Noah, the movie? We're good. Questions about The Iliad or The Odyssey? Maybe a little fuzzier, but I'd say we're good. But questions about religions in general? I'm going to say no. We may have a lot of overlapping interests, but we (as a group) are sci-fi/fantasy experts, not religious experts.

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  • For the record there are (to my knowledge) no continuous worshippers of the norse religion, paganism, wiccanism, etc. All of these religions are "revivalist". – Valorum Apr 24 '15 at 17:25
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    @Valorum Does that matter, though? – user31178 Jun 11 '16 at 21:04
  • @CreationEdge - Not much. I thought it was interesting is all. – Valorum Jun 11 '16 at 21:11
  • @Valorum What do you classify as "continuous"? I cannot continue the worship of my parents, it is my own worship. My worhsip has a start and an end. Would - under your definition - a worship be continuous, if - at any given time - there was at least one worhsipper, even if they never interacted with each other, each of them just "reviving" the worship for themselves, over and over again? – I'm with Monica Feb 23 '18 at 9:04
  • @AlexanderKosubek - Continuous is exactly what it says, passed from follower to follower. Revival religions are those that take old religious observances and recreate what they think they those religions are about and make up/invent any missing details – Valorum Feb 23 '18 at 12:36

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