5 Myths You Probably Believe About Major Religions
As a comedy website, we tend to stay away from too much talk about religion. Sure, we'll run the occasional article about Jesus riding dragons -- but no way are we going to start declaring huge aspects of major religions "wrong." That's just not our place, and we'll never do it ... after today.
Oh, relax. We're just going to point out some popular misconceptions about certain religions. Of course there's no wrong religion.*
*Except for Scientology.
The Amish Do Not Use Technology
We picture the Amish as neck-bearded real-life hobbits, shunning the modern world and living a blessed life with no knowledge of material decadence or, more importantly, the Kardashians. Sure, they're probably aware of the existence of television, cellphones, and the Internet, in the same way we're aware of the planet Uranus. They just don't care -- they're content riding their adorable horse-drawn carriages and building huge barns using nothing but a hammer and a hacksaw and the inhuman strength granted by repressed sexual urges.
"Next time churn it slower ... longer."
The Amish Ordnung stresses the concepts of modesty, necessity, productivity, and especially community. Nothing in there says anything about shunning the Internet. It's just that the idea of sitting alone in the dark while reading dick jokes off a $2,000 glowing rectangle is pretty much their idea of hell. They're completely cool with modern gadgetry when its use is necessary and doesn't cause adverse effects to the community. And contrary to what you might have heard, they have nothing against electricity. They just think the public grid is bullshit, so they use home generators, solar power, and batteries instead. The attitudes vary between communities, but all in all, things like cellphones and washing machines are not unusual. An Amish mother can totally take a taxi to Walmart and use an ATM card to buy disposable diapers, a pint of Rocky Road, and prescription Valium.
And as for that idyllic image of Amish farmers raising barns built with their own bare hands? We're sorry, but that's also just not accurate. This isn't some Portland hipster building a green-sourced hot dog stand:
"Hot dogs are a tool of the devil. We're a God-fearing, bratwurst-eating people."
The Star of David Is the Official Ancient Symbol of Judaism
The Star of David is easily the strongest and most recognizable symbol of Judaism and Jewish identity. The figure was first emblazoned on King David's battle shield (hence its original name, Magen David, which means David's shield), just to let any enemies of Israel who got close enough to see it know exactly which god he was about to send them to.
"H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A!"
The shield of a divinely backed warrior-king is a pretty sweet logo. Beats the hell out of the Starbucks mermaid, anyway. Too bad the Star of David has absolutely nothing to do with that. The six-pointed star we think of as the ultimate symbol of Judaism is actually just some random shape. It looks neat, so it keeps popping up in various cultures and contexts. The Jewish used it in their ancient synagogues, but it was strictly for decorative purposes. You could see it right there along with other symbols, such as five-pointed stars, flowers, and even swastikas. Weirdest bowl of Lucky Charms we've ever heard of.
"Hey, get the Israel office on the line. I've got an idea."
In the Middle Ages, the star started gathering mystical gravitas in places where it could be spotted by Jewish folks. Even then, they didn't bite at first; instead, the symbol became popular in Christian folklore. For the longest time, your best bet for seeing a Star of David was a church, or at a sketchy magician's place (the star was a common symbol in alchemy and magic). The modern Star of David didn't start to see widespread usage until the 19th century, when they redesigned a local flag for the Prague Jewish community and it struck a chord with the Zionist movement. So why did it become so prominent? Simple: Because it looks cool and is memorable. Same reason people wore Hypercolor.
Creationists Have Been Dragging Down Scientific Progress for Millennia
Ah, creationism! The age-old belief that everything in the Bible is literal, up to and especially Genesis. Its believers insist that God created the world literally in seven days, about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. As such, things that don't fit the idea -- like evolution and dinosaur bones and tons of scientific proof -- can freely and vigorously suck it.
"You're just putting random bones together to make random bullshit. I can do that with LEGOs."
The rabid anti-evolutionary school of religious thought that most people picture when they think of creationism is actually a recent and radical subset called Young Earth Creationism. Based on a long-standing fringe theory about the Earth being merely a few thousand years old, the idea of a "young Earth" was popularized in the early 20th century by a man called George McCready Price, a Canadian wannabe geologist and anti-evolutionist who made up for his total lack of scientific training with an unbridled enthusiasm for ignorance. Seriously, he was proud of the fact that he never caught "the disease of Universityitis."
"You know, except for the times I tried to write textbooks for them."
Even in ancient times, Christian scholars didn't buy that bunk. Take St. Augustine of Hippo, who was extremely clear that no one should view the Book of Genesis as a documentary. St. Augustine, it should be mentioned, lived in the 5th century. For centuries, it was understood that the Genesis was an allegory: The "days" of creation weren't actual 24-hour periods, but metaphors for a really long time, which in the eyes of an eternal, omnipotent, time-transcendent God just seemed like an average work week. That's not just the stance of one surprisingly progressive Hippo; this very view was and remains the Vatican's (and therefore the Catholic Church's) official stance on the subject.
Muslims Reject Jesus
Islam is pretty clear about a few things: There is one God, Muhammad is his prophet, and this is absolutely not up for debate. Obviously, Muslims don't worship Jesus as their messiah. That would essentially make them Christians, and we're fairly sure that Muslims aren't Christians. Otherwise, why would they be called Muslims? Airtight logic right there.
There totally is a messiah in Islam. You might have heard of him, he's a dude called Jesus -- or rather, Isa, as he's known in the Quran.
"Everyone can call me Wank Spanksoff if it gets you all to stop killing each other."
Muhammad was never the only prophet in Islam; he just happened to be the last guy (chronologically) Allah picked for the team, so his was the name that stuck. You might know some of his colleagues, of which he has plenty: Adam, Abraham, Noah, David, Moses, John the Baptist, and, of course, Isa. Isa-Jesus is Islam's al-Masih, messiah, as God personally made him to be the final prophet to the children of Israel. Sure, there are a few differences in how Islam depicts Big J, as opposed to his gig in the Bible: Isa is emphatically not either God himself or his son. However, in exchange for loss of divinity, the Quran gives the guy a sweet set of superpowers Christian Jesus can only dream about.
The non-Liefeld version, at least.
One passage has a fresh-from-the-womb Isa instantly stand up in his cradle and lay some smackdown on people trash-talking his unwed mother, Mary (who gets her own book in the Quran, by the way). Another has a bored Jesus dabbling in some light Frankensteining by giving life to various clay abominations. Islam Jesus will also lead God's armies at the end of the world, killing his enemies with his breath, and personally challenging Masih ad-Dajjal -- the Islamic antichrist -- to battle. Isa will then melt the antichrist with some kind of holy laser vision, and stab whatever's left with a spear. Dang. Islam-Jesus should totally be played by The Rock.
Buddhism Has No Heaven or Hell
The Buddhist cycle of rebirth is pretty sweet. Being constantly reborn makes life a kind of video game level you can just keep retrying until you get it right. Of course, this means there's no possibility for spending an eternity in Heaven, but on the bright side, it also means we won't burn in hell. Which, let's face it, was by far the likeliest of the two.
Incognito Mode doesn't work on karma.
No, this is totally right. Buddhists don't have a hell. They have a ton of hells.
The tangled web of cause and effect that is karma does indeed deal out scorecards at the end of your life, but the way you're reborn is by no means limited to a sliding scale between a dung beetle and a Buddha. Your karmic rank may send you anywhere in the Six Realms of Existence, only two of which (animal and human) are even remotely connected to life as we know it. Those with good karma might find themselves reborn in the Heavenly Realms, living a blessed existence as a deva, a holy spirit that exists for 30,000 years of pleasure before entering the rebirth cycle again. Those with really low karma reports will be reborn in Naraka, the Hell Realms. We'd say it's exactly how you imagine it, but we want to give you the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully your imagination isn't this fucked up:
This is technically Diyu, a Chinese variant of Naraka. But when you're being pile-drived by demons into a giant juicer, why quibble?
Naraka is full of ironic punishments that make Dante's Inferno look like Fluffy's Cuddle Nook of Slight Inconvenience. Murderers will be killed and re-killed for millennia. Adulterers will climb a tree of metal thorns while giant, fiery, razor-toothed women devour them. People who kill animals go to a slaughterhouse and are crushed into a fine pulp. People who like to pick fights get their fingernails turned into flaming swords. Well that last one seems a bit unfair -- wouldn't that just make them better fighters? Hopefully the guy that thought that one up got fired:
Gary, Chooser of Ironic Punishments: "You like picking fights, eh? Let's see how you like being Flaming Wolverine!"
Bloodthirsty Fighter: "It. Is. AWESOME."
Gary, Chooser of Ironic Punishments: "Aw, man! This is worse than the time I sentenced the guy who likes blow jobs to eternal blow jobs. I'm gonna go back to school and get my MBA."
For more on religion, check out The 5 Most Ridiculously Unjust Religious Afterlives and 5 Ham-Fisted Religious Websites.
Buddhism is more badass than most people give it credit for being. Correct this injustice and click the Facebook 'share' button below.