The Difference Between Mythology & Religion

There are several differences between religion and mythology, despite some similarities.

Religion and mythology are related but different. Religion and mythology both involve cycles of creation and origins of human life. This can make it difficult for some people to distinguish the two, but there are distinct differences. Most elements of mythology and religion can be identified as belonging to one or the other.

1 Definitions

Mythology is defined as a set of stories belonging to one culture or group of people. These stories are supernatural in nature and are often meant to be inspirational, but they do not impose morality.

Religion is a set of beliefs and practices combined with the belief in and worship of a god, gods or a superhuman controlling power. Followers generally believe in abiding by guidelines detailed within their religion's holy or sacred text.

2 Perception of Truth

One difference between mythology and religion has to do with truth. Although both mythology and religion can be associated with supernatural text and stories, religious stories are perceived by members of that religion to be true. Mythological stories are generally considered to be fiction.

3 Ancient Greek Mythology

The differences between religion and mythology can be less discernible when examining mythology's history in ancient Greece. Ancient Greek mythology involved stories of gods and creation combined with various rituals. For some people in ancient Greece, mythology was religion. Today, those stories are viewed as a part of mythology, and not religion.

4 Faith and Imagination

Mythology is solely viewed as a collection of stories. Religion encompasses a collection of stories, but it also includes a large set of beliefs, practices and moral code. Author Zenaide Ragozin refers to religion as a thing of feelings and mythology as a thing of imagination. Ragozin asserts that religion comes from within, whereas mythology comes from without. Essentially, religion is taken seriously by those who practice a religion, and mythology is studied as a set of interesting and creative stories.

Lacy Nichols is a graduate of Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., where she earned a Bachelor of Science in communication and English. She has written and produced several radio advertisements and commercials, with publications in several literary magazines as well.