Barbara Sproul and Mircea Eliade are respectively authors of “Primal myths “and the “Meaning and End of Religion “that focus on the meaning of creation and religion. Primal Myth is a large collection of stories and myths around the world. Through this collection, Sproul expresses her comprehension of creation and religion. In the introduction, she demonstrates how our daily realities, myths and stories are interwinds. In “The Meaning and End of Religion”, Smith rejects the notion of religion described by the west and suggests that the notion should be abandoned to another concept. Hence forgetting faith and traditions at the profit of religion is a mistake and for Smith, believe should only be defined by faith and traditions. Smith and Sproul use two distinct methods two prove their point of view. This essay is to compare and draw a conclusion between Primal Myths of Sproul and the Meaning and End of Religion of Smith.
In his book “The Meaning and End of Religion”, Smith rejects the notion of religion as described by western society because it standardizes the term religion. And by doing so, it denies other cultures and traditions. In this case Smith asserts that “One has not understood religion if one’s interpretation applies to only one of its forms. “These interpretations have brought Westerners to name other religions using the ending “ism” to differentiate their own set of beliefs from other religions. For example, they named other religions originated outside olden Europe as Islam, Buddhism, and Confucianism. They did it with the sole purpose of rejecting them as false and wrong. Smith in this sense indicates that” We are now in a position to recognize that it was not fortuitous that the religious concepts, having arisen in Western Europe, are inherently depreciative “(Pg. 139). For instance, Christianity especially in his protestant form that originated in olden Europe has completely depreciated other conception of religions. Thusly, they conceptualized the term” religion” by excluding the transcendent dimension of it. Therefore, He proposes to reject the term religion entirely and adopt a new approach based on “faith” and “cumulative tradition “as more realistic to comprehend mankind’s religion. Cumulative tradition being the observable religious evidence built through generation. In one word the mundane aspect of religion. Faith being the innate drive of a person to search for meaning, purpose, and significance that can be resumed in the transcendent aspect of religion. Smith goes on to say “Christians have regularly failed or refused to recognize that the faith of non-Christian has that transcendence, that God does, in fact, encounter men in Buddhist, Muslim, and Hottentot forms, as he does in the Christians.”(Pg. 139)
While Smith indicates that religion shouldn’t be conceptualized to fit the definition of western society believes, Sproul In Primal Myths argues that there is a lot of creation stories about our world, but the most profound are the ones that deal with creation myths. These creation myths are the one that guides our daily life and gives a sense to our existence. According to Sproul” Myths proclaim such attitudes toward reality. They organize the way we perceive facts and understand ourselves and the world. Whether we adhere to them consciously or not, they remain pervasively influential. “For example, westerner whether they believe or not in Christianity, they adhere to the idea that man is sacred and a creature of God. Also, they organize their time according to seventh day week with one for rest. Today all this is a reality whether we adhere to the notion of religion defined by the west or not because it is part of the first myth of Genesis (1–2:3). Based on these assertions, Sproul thinks that people should believe in the existence of a supreme being who is in charge of the entire existence. To cement her position, Sproul asserts that “Myth is an integral part of religion. As such, it proclaims a central reality and then builds a structure of valuation around and in relation to it.” This quote explains how the creation stories that explain our existent has become a creation myth and have infiltrated the world in which humans live in. This creation myth confirms the existence of a Supreme being to the believers and that he is omnipresent and immanent as well as transcendent. Therefore, people have the autonomy to believe or fail to think in these creation stories.
Both Sproul and Smith provide important insight on the meaning of religion and creation. Smith uses faith and cumulative tradition to expose his understanding of religion, while Sproul indicates her position through a large collection of stories and myths around the world. Smith believes that religion shouldn’t be defined solely based on a western conceptualization of the term” Religion”. While in Primal myths focus on the important role of creation stories that deal with the existence of our world. In conclusion, Sproul’s position reifies Christianity while Smith thinks to reify Christianity is misleading.