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They Are Hard To Believe, Aren't They?

Updated on May 6, 2012

Will the real myth please stand up?

Four leaf clovers, angels wings, burning bushes. Myths?
Four leaf clovers, angels wings, burning bushes. Myths? | Source
Pegasus, the winged steed of Greek Mythology
Pegasus, the winged steed of Greek Mythology | Source
A Banshee (from Irish baen si = woman of the fairy mounds.)  They were said to appear and wail when someone in the house was going to die.
A Banshee (from Irish baen si = woman of the fairy mounds.) They were said to appear and wail when someone in the house was going to die. | Source
Just-born Dionysos on the lap of Hermes surrounded by Nektar, Ambrosia and Theogonia
Just-born Dionysos on the lap of Hermes surrounded by Nektar, Ambrosia and Theogonia | Source
Moses at the burning bush
Moses at the burning bush | Source
I actually don't like this picture but it's a good representation of the waxing and waning angel craze.
I actually don't like this picture but it's a good representation of the waxing and waning angel craze. | Source
3rd Century catacombe painting of Christ as the Good Shepherd. Jesus is an actual historical figure who has become all things to all people, but demanded to be everything for each person.
3rd Century catacombe painting of Christ as the Good Shepherd. Jesus is an actual historical figure who has become all things to all people, but demanded to be everything for each person. | Source

My answer to: Why are Religious stories unbelievable?

I mean, come on, they are hard to believe, aren't they? What kind of person believes in gods, goddesses, angels, burning bushes, people going up to Heaven, flying horses, screaming little people waiting to steal your soul and exchange your body for some loathsome beastie that's going to look like you until the age of 18?

Lacks common sense, doesn't it? Lacks believability, veracity, and just that sort of je ne sais quois that good old fashioned reality has going for it, n'est ce pas?


From time immemorial, all religions have had a mystical (or supernatural if you prefer) aspect to them. I cannot think of one religion (except possibly for certain Confucian strains) that lack such an element. Of course, it is taken for granted that a long time ago (like, centuries or even millenia) people were much simpler and, since they lacked basic understanding of things like physics, electomagnetism and germs, that meant that they were open to accepting any story as an explanation of the natural world. Believe it or not, my 10th grade World History teacher said pretty much that exact thing in reference to Greek mythology and Jewish beliefs about God. In a public school in 1982. But were they really that simple? Did they just believe willy-nilly that any old explanation for natural events, the more fantastic the better, would do?

Obviously, some of them did. Let's face it, there are some people today who seem the same way. Don't even try to tell me you've never known someone like that!

But let's not sell the ancients short, here. They weren't stupid people. If they were really that dumb, then no amount of evolution could have preserved the species. Groups of people were perfectly able to observe, quantify and replicate long before the "scientific method" came to be used as such. Peoples who took it for granted that gods and demons existed were nevertheless quite able to not only cultivate soil and hunt animals but invent tools and refine techniques. And yet, they still worshipped all kinds of deities, from polytheistic to monotheistic, from benign to whimsical to downright malevolent.

Nor frankly was skepticism an invention of "The Enlightenment." It's not exactly as if the phrase "I think, therefor I am," was printed and suddenly masses of people previously unable to think for themselves threw off all religion and became free, self-actualized entities. Even Herodotus (if my memory serves me) wrote about how one of the Hercules legends had its roots in an actual story about a wild boar that was terrorizing the countryside in Greece.

Which is a long-winded and somewhat roundabout way of getting to my answer to the question: Why Are Religious Stories So Hard To Believe?

The answer: it depends. It depends on which stories you're talking about, and with whom you are discussing them.

Now, what do I mean by that? Truth in advertising time here, I am a conservative Christian. You know, we call ourselves Evangelicals but those less kindly disposed dismiss us as "fundies." However, I'm not a Charismatic, nor a Pentecostal. Of course I don't believe in leprechauns, nor ogres, nor Pegasus. And I struggle with a lot of stories about visiting Heaven and hell. And contrary to what one wag once pondered, just because something is written in a book doesn't mean I'll automatically believe it!

But what I wrote about several paragraphs ago remains true, all religions have some mystical elements in them. Now, the tendency is to go to one of the extremes, either to get so caught up in the mystical experiences that they become the object of worship (the proverbial "holy rollers,") or go the other way and all but deny any supernatural elements at all. In Evangelical circles, this would be exemplified by people like John MacArthur, who teaches that the Holy Spirit has not moved since the close of the Apostolic Age. Of course true atheists go even further, denying any supernatural elements and deriding those who believe.

I have experienced supernatural events. Sometimes it's truly supernatural, what Christians call "being filled with the Holy Spirit." This is a euphoria that is unexplainable to those who have not experienced it, which includes other Christians. Sometimes it's something that seems mundane, but the timing and circumstances of the event make it difficult (if not impossible) to discount the Hand of God in the action. At least they do for me, though others might disagree. And again, I am not a "holy roller." I believe that Speaking in Tongues is not something that can simply be conjured, nor that happens to every single believer.

So, to reiterate, why are religious stories unbelievable? That depends on who you ask, and why!

copyright (C) 2012 christopher w neal all rights reserved

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    • Chris Neal profile image

      Chris Neal 5 years ago from Fishers, IN


      Thanks so much. You're right. Glad you enjoyed the hub!

    • profile image

      Kerry43 5 years ago

      G'day, Chris, how are you this fine afternoon?

      Excellent hub, and one that ended in the best way. There are no right or wrong answers to any such questions as you pointed out. It seems funny to me that people are so skeptical of the unknown, and this one could attribute to the obvious, fear of the unknown, yet they believe so much of what they see and hear in the media. Quite the irony.

      I hope you've had a fun day!


    • Elijah7 profile image

      Elijah7 5 years ago from Israel - England - Hong Kong - Hawaii - Paradise

      Hi Chris..

      To encourage MORE and to provide some great background music, crank up the volume and enjoy these Special Songs - Amen :-

      RIGHT CLICK the links below and open in new tab or window to avoid navigating away from your Hub Page - Amen

      Listen twice for The Depths of The Word - Watch for "The Crescendo Climax" - [tears] :-

      Likewise :-

      And again :-

      Finally my personal favourites (natural smile) :-

      And that makes Seven...Amen..

      Blessings In Love - Elijah †

      † Psalm 33 : 3 †

      "Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise."

      † Psalm 149 : 1 †

      "Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints."

    • Chris Neal profile image

      Chris Neal 5 years ago from Fishers, IN

      Thank you Elijah!

    • Elijah7 profile image

      Elijah7 5 years ago from Israel - England - Hong Kong - Hawaii - Paradise


    • Elijah7 profile image

      Elijah7 5 years ago from Israel - England - Hong Kong - Hawaii - Paradise

      Great Topic brother...

      The ONLY "religious stories" i PERSONALLY Love are actually His-Stories.

      The Most Holy Bible, contrary to the recent epidemic of skeptics and critics, especially since the late 19th century, but now a global pandemic since the 1960's, ("church" of satan founded on 6/6/1966 in CA) is ACTUALLY a Perfectly Accurate HISTORY BOOK.

      Everything Seen, Said, Done, Taught and Experienced, from 4000 BC thru 100 AD (approximately, give or take 4-14 years tops) IS Recorded TODAY, in every major language group on the planet.

      The FIRST Printed Book IS The Holy Bible.

      The MOST Published Book in History IS The Holy Bible.

      The MOST Influential Writings are contained IN The Holy Bible.

      The MOST Famous People in History are REAL people that lived from 4000 BC thru 100 AD, IN The Holy Bible.

      The MOST Believed Supernatural Realities are IN the Holy Bible.

      The MOST argued with and vilified Writings are LIKEWISE in The Most Holy Bible.

      Our Calendar TODAY is SET to Date from The Birth Of The Lord JESUS Christ, The Day Star OF The Most Holy Bible - Amen.

      Events PRIOR to His Virgin Birth (As Recorded) are Dated Before Christ or BC.

      These are Immutable Facts.

      Therefore, WHY do people disbelieve the Historical Entries in the Translated Records of the Old & The New Testaments?

      They may as well try issuing a New Calendar. MOST all scholarly and First & Second Millennium dating records would ALL have to be scrapped, IF The Book were fiction.

      Then, where would they start dating FROM?

      The oldest records of civilisation have their Genesis in Sumeria and Egypt. The Historical Record of The Most Holy Bible EXPLAINS this Genesis († 11 : 1-9 †) regarding ALL known and unknown SPOKEN TONGUES...Here :-

      Recent geological studies of the planet since the mid 19th century, REVEAL The Global Cataclysm (by way of "The Layers" and "The Fossils"). The Holy Bible EXPLAINS how they got there - THE GREAT FLOOD 1656 years AFTER The First Creatures and Man & Woman (male and female of each species) were CREATED.

      This History Book Contains THOUSANDS Of Prophecies, with a HUGE QUANTITY of These Prophecies NOW Pin-Pointed to ACTUAL Historical Events AFTER The Prophecies were Written in Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek.

      The Prophecies CANNOT be refuted, because it IS QED Proven When They Were Written and When They Were FULFILLED.

      So, to be quite honest, there is NOTHING difficult involved in Believing The Stories In The Holy Bible, BECAUSE THEY ALL ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

      Of course, BECAUSE we are dealing with Spiritual Content ALSO, there is one particular spirit that DOES NOT want people Believing The Most Famous History Book of ALL TIME...

      Another, MUCH MORE POWERFUL "Spirit", DOES WANT people to Know The Truth.

      History is LITTERED with the casualties of THIS WAR, and so is the atheist's forum in this Hub Domain.

      GOD Wins - satan LOSES - End of Story; and THEN, All the sensible folk down through History that DID and DO Believe The Gospel Truth of THE GREAT HISTORY BOOK, (AND Followed The Instructions Therein) go on to LIVE FOREVER....Amen †

      This is NOT just a "Nice Ending" - THIS IS A PROPHETIC FACT OF ETERNAL LIFE † In JESUS' Most Holy Name - Amen & Amen †

      † Revelation 20 : 5 - 6 †

      "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

      † Revelation 20 : 10 †

      "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

      † Revelation 20 : 12 - 15 †

      "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire."

      "This is the second death."

      "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

      † Revelation 21 : 7 - 8 †

      "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."

      "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

    • Chris Neal profile image

      Chris Neal 5 years ago from Fishers, IN

      Trish - Thanks very much for the comment.

      I had not heard about Dawkins having any kind of experience like that, that would be worth checking out!

      I had heard about the "religion sized hole." I also saw many years ago on the news that scientists think that people who pray regularly strengthen a particular part of their brain.

      There's no question that many leaders both religious and political (and sometimes the line has been blurred beyond recognition) have used religion for their own ends and still do. That doesn't erase the benefits or the veracity of it.

      Thank you so much for your comment! Nice to hear from you!

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 5 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hello Chris :)

      You are actually asking a very complex question here.

      Why do we have religious stories?

      Why do we have religion?

      Why do religions include supernatural elements?


      I read that scientists had discovered that we have a 'religion-shaped space' in our brains and I think that it was Richard Dawkins, who said that man may have possibly developed this, as a result of societies safely working together ~ children would believe and obey their parents for their own safety, etc. Thus, not only would they keep away from tigers, but they would also accept their parents', or leaders', supernatural beliefs.

      But why did these adults have supernatural beliefs?

      I think that this is easy to explain ~ fear of the unknown.

      What was causing the storms, the floods, the thunder and lightning, the diseases, etc? Or the flowers and the rainbows? Where did babies come from? ~ The supernatural filled the gaps ~ ie gods, goddesses, demons, imps, etc, etc.

      Furthermore, people do have strange experiences; they see ghosts, they hear voices, etc. I do not know the explanation, but they would certainly cause people to believe in the supernatural.

      Religion would be pretty pointless without a supernatural element.

      Each culture develops or borrows their own belief pattern. There had to be explanations for floods and thunder, etc, so stories developed ~ Thor's Hammer, Noah's Ark, etc.

      As time went by and people became more educated and sophisticated, they learned the truth about thunder and tsunanis, etc.

      It is not supernatural, at all. Thus, people began / begin to doubt.

      Those, who have had supernatural experiences, may become believers or agnostics, depending on their personality, background, etc. Those who have not, may become atheists.

      As for the 'euphoria that is unexplainable to those who have not experienced it', I would suggest that many people experience it ~ even atheists. For example, I have heard Richard Dawkins talking about such experiences.

      The 'unbelievability' of religious stories depends upon the content of the story and the background, personality, etc, of the listener.

      The people of old were not stupid, but even the learned ones were very ignorant on some subjects. They might still believe the unbelievavle.

      Other leaders might just have used the benefits of religion to their own ends.