Comprehendible deliverance of the following essay first requires a coherent distinction between the terms “Mythos” and “Logos” The two terms are commonly used in the study of religion. The former represents a religion coupled with faith, belief of the unknown, no questioning or logic involved. It is commonly referred to the era, which Greeks believed in gods, goddesses and other mythical beings of the spiritual realm. The mythical nature of this concept gave rise to the word “mythos” which has some Greek ring to it.
Logos, as the name suggests, represents logic. This is the modern, fact-oriented approach to religion. Scholars believe in scientific facts of phenomena, they themselves have tested and proven their authenticity. Unlike the mythical approach, this relies entirely on fact, not faith and belief but pure fact. Armstrong in her book, The Case of God, argues that religious and aesthetic fundamentalism is achieved through the logos approach to religion.
Mythos and Idolatry
The author argues that religion was centered so much on spiritual beliefs that it was on the brink of becoming idolatrous. This is revealed in the following quotation from the book. “Theology was not only becoming aridly theoretical, without the discipline of the apophatic, but it was also in danger of becoming idolatrous.” This revealed that belief in religion had become so pronounced, that was almost approaching idolatrous standards (Armstrong, 2009).
This clearly states that an approach to religion that is so much bent on belief while offering little, if any support to logic facts is so much likely to end up following the wrong path (Życiński, 2006). This hence adds up to the reasons as to why Armstrong concludes that a logos approach to religion may be the best alternative available. A religion based on belief alone and not logic is not always the best choice (Armstrong, 2009). These are the reasons why Armstrong encourages the logos way of religion. By integrating logic and fact onto a religious act, one may stay on course and avoid drifting into unacceptable practices such as idol worship, as stated above (Ellwood & Alles, 2007).
Logos and Innovation
Armstrong believed that the Logos approach a religion built rooms for innovation. Innovation was what led to industrial developments and technological advancements in the European era. A belief that was dependent on facts rather than sheer belief alone had numerous advantages, one of which is innovation (Armstrong, 2009). Armstrong talks about the Perils of Christopher Columbus whose voyages led to important discoveries, such as the sea route to India as well as discovering the Americas in the process. Armstrong stresses that the discoveries would not have been possible were it not for instruments of innovation such as the magnetic compass and astronomical insights. She states “This voyage would have been impossible without such scientific discoveries as the magnetic compass,” while referring to Columbus’s voyages.
The point she is trying to prove is that too much indulgence in beliefs prevents innovation, which is inspired by logic, not faith. Lack of innovation works to produce a nonproductive society that does not take advantage of the available resources around them (Armstrong, 2009). This might, in turn, encourage exploitation from others.
The sixteenth century was a period of innovation and change in Europe (Armstrong, 2009). Armstrong puts it the following way “By the sixteenth century, therefore, a complex process was at work in Europe that was slowly changing the way people thought and experienced the world. Inventions were occurring simultaneously in many different fields; none seemed particularly momentous at the time, but their cumulative effect would be decisive” The quote highlights two important aspects of the revolution. This is the fact that innovation was moving at an increasingly fast pace and that change was a necessary driving factor for it (Siniscalchi, 2015). Nevertheless, what needed to be changed? The answer is religious faiths and beliefs. Armstrong puts it out clearly in the following statement, “And as society altered to accommodate these developments, religion would also have to change.” Armstrong alludes to the impractical religious beliefs that existed at that time. They were a hindrance to innovation, productivity and other forms of advancements.
It is also imperative to note that while the outdated, religious beliefs impeded innovation and technological advancements, they also gave rise to unreligious states such as secularization (Armstrong, 2009). Armstrong puts it as follows, “At this point, faith still pervaded the whole of life and had not yet been confined to a distinct sphere. But secularization was beginning.” People had become lodged to the fact that logic was more important than religion. The carder hence abandoned all ties to religion and began living a life characterized by secular values (Armstrong, 2009). Secular values are the exact opposite of religion (Ellwood & Alles, 2007). The deeds of individuals identified with secular values are not spiritual in any way.
Armstrong shows that religious practices based on beliefs needed to be outlawed in pursuit of innovation (Armstrong, 2009). Innovation itself is responsible for the technological advancements that can be seen today. She also goes on explain the bad side of adopting a life of innovation and logic by showing us that it leads to the imminent spread of secularization (Armstrong, 2009). Secularization itself is the exact opposite of religion, as any form of spiritual guidance does not affect secular values. They are based on logic alone (Ellwood & Alles, 2007). This, in turn, works hand in hand to degrade the spiritual value of society (Kabay, 2015). Armstrong presents us with a double- edged sword that is because of using the logos approach in religion. One cannot help but wonder, is it worth it.
Armstrong agrees that the logos approach to religion is without a doubt effective. This is mainly because it works as a regulator such that no one is involved with religion to the extent that it constitutes idol worship. The logos approach also works to encourage innovation because it takes logic into account but at some time, encouraging secularization.
Armstrong, K. (2009) “The Case of God.” Mcralen Pub.
Ellwood and Alles (2007). the Encyclopedia of World Religions. McGrawHill pub.
Eliade (2005). Ed. Encyclopedia of Religion. (16 vol.; 2nd ed 15 vol. 2005; online at Gale Virtual Reference Library).
Kabay, P. (2015). Nonetheism: A Non-atheistic Account of a Non-existent God. Forum Philosophicum, 20, 7-28. doi:10.5840/forphil2015202
Siniscalchi, G. B. (2015). Modified Divine Commands, Atheistic Moral Realism, and Thomistic Natural Law. New Blackfriars, 96(1064), 419-444. doi:10.1111/j.1741-2005.2011.01466.x
Życiński, J. (2006). God and evolution: Fundamental questions of Christian evolutionism. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press.