Excerpt from The Angel's Game ...

Since I have a ChiCon 7 panel on Getting it Right: Religions, I have been hyperalert for anything that discusses the origins of myths and religions. I finished Carlos Ruiz Zafón's most excellent novel, The Angel's Game, last week. In it, the protagonist David Martin is researching myths and religion. Martin has lunch with a librarian who has helped him with his research and he explains what he has discovered.

This is probably the most succinct and accurate description of what the origin of myths and religions have in common:

...beliefs arise from an event or character that may or may not be authentic and rapidly evolve into social movements that are conditioned and shaped by the political, economic, and societal circumstance of the group that accept them ...

A large part of the mythology that develops around each of these doctrines, from its liturgy to its rules and taboos, comes from the bureaucracy generated as they develop and not from the supposed supernatural act that originated them. Most of the simple, well-intentioned anecdotes are a mixture of common sense and folklore, and all the belligerent force they eventually develop comes from a subsequent interpretation of those principles, or even their distortion, at the hands of bureaucrats. The administrative and hierarchic aspects seem to be crucial in the evolution of belief systems. The truth is first revealed to all men to interpret, administer, and, if need be, alter this truth in the name of the common good. To this end they establish a powerful and potentially repressive organization. This phenomenon, which biology shows us is common to any social group, soon transforms the doctrine into a means of achieving control and political power. Divisions, wars, and breakups become inevitable. Sooner or later, the word becomes flesh and the flesh bleeds.

And let us not forget that, like the flesh, the soul bleeds too ...