Secular Religion: What did the Greeks call Zeus?

by phil on Saturday Jan 3, 2009 4:10 PM
secular religion

I'm curious to know how the Ancient Greeks treated religion. Was Zeus semantically equivalent to our God? Also, we tend to refer to a Greek mythology, but did they refer to their myths with words like "gospel" and "revelation"?

When we think of the word "religion," often we are imagining a Abrahamic religion. While as with Buddhism, I often hear it referred to as "Buddhist practice." And with Shinto, I often hear about "Shinto rites."

What is up with the Japanese who, I've heard, have "Buddhist births, Christian weddings, and Shinto funerals"? While I'm sure that is not exactly the case for the Japanese, there is some element of truth to that. For example, 64% of Japanese don't believe in God. However, the atheists in Japan are not militant. The basic attitude that would fly in Japan (or at least in Tokyo) is that "belief in religion has some benefits, though there probably is no God."

An anthropologist or sociologist could go to town with trying to classify the varieties of religious attitudes. For example, according to a Baylor University study in 2006, 91.8% of Americans believe in God, but that there are four different Gods we believe in: An Authoritarian, Benevolent, Critical, and a Distant God.

Maybe each of those Four should have different names.

Or better yet, why not try to come up with an inventory of all the different words (in their native languages), that people use to refer to religious concepts. What do they call their God. What do they call angels? What do they call their afterlife? Following that, it would be interesting to learn about the etymology of those words, or understand what those words mean in the context of their own culture.

For example, I think it's interesting that Americans think that Muslims believe in "Allah," while as Christians believe in "God." That's not exactly true, Allah is just their word for God, so they believe the same thing. (At the same time, that's also not completely true either, because Muslims in America still refer to Allah, not God). Is Allah splitting off from God?

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