A story can be a myth and be true

In short, yes, the stories in religious texts can be myths. In fact, many of them are myths. The problem lies in our understanding of what a myth is.

We’ve determined that myths are bad because they are false, unreliable, as if they have nothing to teach us because they are not “factual.” Myth, however, is a powerful form of literature, a way to teach, empower and convict through narrative.

The problem, I think, is two-fold: We have devalued myth as a genre on par with fairy tales (which have a narrative power in their own right), and many of us have deified our religious texts to a point of being unable to engage them in conversation, critique and reflection.

For many of us, a myth is something that is unequivocally false, and scripture has “no room for error;” both claims are unhelpful in truly understanding our ancient, religious texts.

Simultaneously holding such claims causes us to “miss the forest for the trees.” These sorts of claims cause us to argue over the historicity of Adam, Eve and talking snakes, while missing the actual point of the narrative (humankind’s penchant towards selfishness as the direct opposite of God’s will … but that’s just my interpretation).

When we misunderstand the value of myth and its role in our religious texts, we wind up arguing about whether the prophet Jonah was swallowed by a fish or a whale, rather than understanding that the whole point of the story is God’s care for all people — even our enemies.

Could the narratives in our texts be myths? Yes, and I for one am glad they are, for they are powerful stories that have shaped my understanding of God and my place in this world.

— Chris Thomas, First Baptist Church of Williams, Jacksonville


The Quran is true and unchanging

The religion of Islam’s scriptural text is the Quran. The Quran is not myth for several reasons: One is the scientific facts of the Quran, revealed centuries before science actually discovered those facts.

For instance, the stages of the embryo revealed by the Quran were scientifically discovered only in 1677, when the microscope was invented. The Quran described it 1,000 years before: “We made him as a drop in a place of settlement, firmly fixed. Then We made the drop into like a leech, then We made the leech into a like a chewed substance” (Quran 23:12-14).

For more details, please see an interesting book, “The Bible, the Quran and Science,” by French physician Maurice Bucaille.

Another reason is predictions of the Quran that came true. For example, when Persia destroyed Rome and took the original cross and killed 90,000 Romans in 614, the Quran predicted in chapter 30, verses 3-4, that Rome would defeat Persia within 10 years. After exactly 10 years, Rome defeated Persia in 624 in the Byzantine-Sasanian War.

Yet another reason is that God promises in chapter 15, verse 9, that He will protect the text of the Quran from any changes. Since the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad until now, its text has been pure and free from any changes. Some 1.9 billion Muslims all over the world in 50 majority countries, including Sunnis and Shias, all read the same Quran with no second version.

All over the world, hundreds of thousands of Muslims memorize the whole Quran voluntarily in its original Arabic language. Within the last few years, six children have memorized the whole Quran here in Anniston.

— Muhammad Haq, Anniston Islamic Center