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Cowboy Bebop At His Computer: Myth And Religion
Being around for thousands of years doesn't prevent some stories from falling victim to Cowboy Bebop at His Computer.

  • The idea that the Antichrist is a character in the Bible is the result of this trope combined with something like values dissonance. Centuries of religious scholars struggling to find something new and fresh to say about Scripture, millennia after the stuff was written, is bound to produce some unusual theories. Although the term "Antichrist" doesn't appear a single time in the book of Revelation, the term "the Beast" is used instead.
    • It does appear five times in the epistles 1 John and 2 John, once in plural form and four times in the singular, always with a small "a". In one of these mentions the antichrist is said to be already present in the world. The plainest meaning, given context, is that a movement or tendency is meant, rather than a character.
      • It must be noted (in the interest of forestalling an editing war) that there is a difference of opinion among Christians about the nature of the Antichrist. Biblical literalists are of the opinion that prior to the Second Coming of Christ, there will be a literal individual who is the Antichrist. He is called the Beast in the book of Revelation, and is mentioned as "Gog" in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Amillennialism teaches that the binding of Satan - which would have followed the reign of the Antichrist, described in Revelation, has already occurred; he has been prevented from "deceiving the nations" by the spread of the gospel. This is the first binding he suffered in history after his fall from heaven.
    • "666" is the number of the beast, it's the number of a man. It means the beast is a human (sometimes theorized to be Nero by modern scholars, though the identity of the man in question is open season when it comes to theories and wild speculations- for traditional Protestants it's the Pope of Rome; for some it's whichever evil dictator or political opponent that happens to be around at the time, though these people are often derided).
      • And it is six-hundred sixty six (or six-hundred sixteen, in some translations), so any reference that depends on the visual representation of three sixes, such as 999 from End of Days, is just plain wrong. The Book of Revelation predates the introduction of Arabic numerals in the West by many centuries.
    • There's no Book of Revelations in the Bible, either. It's Revelation. No S. And it's the Revelation of Jesus Christ, not St. John. John is recording the Revelation, not making it.
      • Apocalypse (which is Greek for "uncovering") is the name of the book in various languages, not the name of the End Of The World. The term "revelation" suffers from the same associations; it literally means the same thing "apocalypse" does, only in Latin.
      • For that matter, Armageddon isn't a name for the end of the world either. It's a real place where the final battle is prophesied to be fought.
  • Many, many people do not seem to realize that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary, not Jesus. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception means that Mary, although conceived by normal biological means, was miraculously preserved from original sin. (The conception of Jesus is called the Incarnation.) This is perhaps understandable in some contexts, but the confusion is often propagated by people making an argument for the divine nature of Jesus.
    • And people who've picked up the pop-culture notion that Christianity just hates sex, making "immaculate" equivalent to "sexless."
    • And oft-repeated snarky comments about "super-short pregnancy", since the Feast of Immaculate Conception comes shortly before Christmas. The Feast of Annunciation is exactly 9 months before Christmas. Furthermore, most educated Christians are aware that December 25 is not the actual birth date of Jesus.
    • "Killjoy Pope crushes Christmas nativity traditions." It's hard to know where to start with this one. Basically, all Benedict was saying was that much of the traditional Christmas imagery doesn't come from the Gospels, and that Jesus was almost certainly born a few years before the start of the Christian Era. Both of those points have been well known for centuries and are accepted by all but the most reactionary Christian scholars and clergy. "For the Pope to admit a flaw in something so fundamental to Catholic faith is surprising." The Anno Domini system is not "fundamental to Catholic faith." It was created by a monk who wasn't trying to figure out the exact date of Jesus' birth, just an approximate year that could be associated with Jesus rather than a Roman emperor, and it became widespread because it was endorsed by Charlemagne, not the Church.
  • Because of Catholicism being the most visible form of Christianity in the West, as well as the presence of The Pope as a clearly identifiable leader figure, it is often associated in mainstream culture with various ideas coming from Protestant groups. Some examples:
    • The idea that the Catholic Church endorses creationism and has persecuted scientists in the past, to the point where it is cited as THE force behind the controversy surrounding Darwinism. The official teaching of the Church is that the question of evolution vs. creationism is irrelevant to salvation and therefore everyone is free to take whatever stance they want on that; in practice, the mainstream of Church thought on the matter leans toward theistic evolution (God intends His creations to evolve). Also, this has actually been the Church's first official statement concerning evolution, made in the early 20th century. The controversy over Darwinism was primarily an Anglican thing. Plus, many non-religious naturalists of Darwin's time were also against his theory.
    • Pope John Paul II made some definitive statements favoring evolution.
    • The recent date for the Rapture set by an American preacher has led to many, many comments on the Internet saying something to the effect of "The Pope should give that guy a stern warning." The Rapture is an entirely Protestant concept with no analogue in Catholicism.
    • And historically, the Catholic Church is invariably associated with "witch burning". While the Church is not innocent itself - the Inquisition has led to executions of a fair number of heretics - witch hunts and burnings were a Protestant thing, mostly done by Lutherans and Calvinists.
    • The witch hunts were both Protestant and Catholic. France saw a large number of trials. That said, over most of its history Catholic doctrine was officially that witchcraft did not exist. Witch trials peaked after the Protestant Reformation occurred. This does not exonerate Catholics who were involved, but the Protestants-who took a more literal view of the Bible in general, including the parts professing a belief in and condemning witchcraft-contributed more heavily to this trend.
    • Jewish discussions of whether or not Christians count as Noachides (i.e., righteous Gentiles) tend to focus disproportionately on Catholic doctrine, despite Catholicism holding many problematic practices and beliefs (e.g., praying to saints) that were later abandoned by Protestantism. This is largely because the Christian doctrines most relevant to the issue (e.g., the Trinity) are extremely confusing to non-theologians.
      • The whole "praying to saints" thing brings to mind another moment of Critical Research Failure levied against Catholics, i.e. that when a Catholic prays to a saint or member of the Holy Family (e.g. Mary the Mother of Jesus), that means they're worshiping said saint/member of the Holy Family. No they're not; they're simply conversing with whomever they're praying to, usually in hopes of that intermediary conveying a message to Jesus Christ/God but sometimes just to converse. The latter predominantly happens whenever one uses prayer to converse with a deceased loved one, which also happens a lot of the time.
  • "Never again the Burning Times!" Wiccans were not burned at Salem. Women accused of witchcraft (who were innocent but had land the accuser wanted) were the ones being killed, and almost all of them were hanged.
    • As were most convicted witches executed in England. And witchcraft qua witchcraft was not even a capital offense until the 17th century, after the accession of James VI.
    • Actually, there were plenty of "witch burnings" in America... by the Indians, who did not need white men to tell them to be harsh on (accusations of) anti-social magic working.
    • Wiccans did not exist until the 20th century. Some think the afflicted girls (and women and boys) were at most influenced by family enmities about land in selecting victims. Both men and women were hanged (though more women than men, as was usual in witch hunts).
    • It should be noted that places like Scandinavia and Germany did burn people suspected of witchcraft at the stake, however. This was what happened to people like Maren Spliid and Merga Bien.
    • Also worth noting: Witches weren't necessarily burned alive. In many cases, the punishment for witchcraft was being hanged, then having ones' body burned at the stake. Funeral rituals were Serious Business, and being burned rather than properly buried was a horrible thought to most Christians back in the day.
  • Many people nowadays are under the impression that "Paganism" is the name of a religion, when in fact "pagan" is a derogatory term used by Mediæval Christians to refer to anyone who followed any non-Abrahamic, polytheistic religion (which is to say, almost every religion ever), and later any religion that wasn't Christianity.
    • Although to be fair, plenty of modern neopagans are more than willing to use the term to identify themselves, and followers of the old Germanic religion (which goes by several names, most prominently Asatru) use the similar term "Heathen" to refer to themselves. Both words originally meant "rustic" or "country folk", who were historically the last to convert to Christianity.
    • Many people think the Catholic Church burned witches because of Saint Joan of Arc. Joan was actually burned as a relapsed heretic. Her sin was cross-dressing (her real sin, of course, was the common sense and intelligence that helped her plan strategies and lead French troops to victory over the English.)
      • And she was convicted by English and pro-English clergy overseen by English commanders, who were overruled by the Pope after Joan was dead for violating canon law from beginning to end, and exonerating her of their spurious charges.
  • In Mexico, it is an increasingly common trend for Christian-based religious leaders and ultraconservative Catholic Moral Guardians to accuse Halloween of being a Satanic ritual. It was originally a Celtic festivity.
    • It also entirely dodges the fact that Christmas itself coincides relatively neatly with the Winter Solstice, a common time for pagan festivals. note 
    • It's not just Mexico. It's almost guaranteed that Christian radio stations in the U.S. will spend the month of October ranting over the airwaves about Satanic Halloween. At least the Catholic Church recognizes that November 1 is a holy day of obligation (All Saints' Day), not Satan's birthday.
    • Although some Protestant leaders in Mexico would tell their followers not to celebrate either Halloween or Mexican Dia de Muertos because of their unbiblical origins, Catholic groups almost exclusively accuse Halloween of it, while encouraging people to celebrate Dia de Muertos, disregarding its nature as a pagan ancestor worship celebration.
  • Plenty of people do not know anything about Judaism except that Jews cannot eat pork, their Bible is the same as the Old Testament and they celebrate Hanukkah (which is basically like Christmas, right?)note . In reality, Jews have a lot of different dietary laws, they have an entirely different tradition of exegesis from Christianity (based on the Talmud) and they have several important holidays (among them Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Passover and Purim). That's not even getting into the differences between Orthodox and mainstream Judaism (or, why those guys wear those funny hats) or the reasons behind kosher slaughter and circumcision (depending on who you talk to, you'd think Jews do nothing but lop the penises off innocent baby boys and slit the throats of farm animals just For the Evulz).
    • Interestingly, the Christmas/Hanukkah thing goes both ways. Many Jews assume Christmas to be as spiritually important to the Christian calendar as Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur are to the Jewish calendar, not realizing that Christmas is much less important ecclesiastically than it is in the secular world.
  • Mormons have been subject to this ad infinitum.
    • No, they do not pray to Joseph Smith or consider him to be in any way divine.
    • They also don't believe that every man will get his own planet when he dies. The minority who worry about theosis expect a lot more than a single planet.
    • They don't practice polygamy anymore, either.
      • Technically, they do, just not in mortality. Marriages that are sealed in the temple last eternally, and a man can get sealed to another woman after his first wife dies.
    • They don't require anybody to go through shock therapy to "cure" their homosexuality.
    • They're also not explicitly forbidden to drink caffeine. Many of them just choose not to.
      • They are forbidden to drink "hot drinks". This has been clarified by leaders of the church since then to refer to coffee and non-herbal tea. Caffeine in general i.e. soda, energy drinks, etc, is eschewed by many members because of the negative effects that it can have on the body, although there is no doctrine stating that caffeine is prohibited.
  • Islam gets it particularly bad. Most Westerners don't know anything about the religion and its beliefs, let alone that Muslims hold Jesus and Mary in high esteem, or that killing civilians is strictly forbidden under Islamic law. This isn't a new thing either: in medieval Europe there was a widespread belief that Islam was a pagan desert cult centered around the worship of Muhammadnote  and its followers were called "Mohammedans" for this reason. Even today, most Westerners who criticize Islam on the grounds of its being misogynist, violent, and reactionary etc. have doubtless never read the entire Qur'an.
    • Or think the radical terrorist groups are representative of the religion as a whole. Never mind that these groups are about as likely to kill fellow Muslims as they are to kill anyone else who disagrees with them.
    • A common mistake is thinking that Muslims worship a God named Allah. In fact, "Allah" is just the Arabic word for "God" (cognate of Hebrew "Elohim"), and refers to the same God Christians and Jews also worship. Arab Christians (of whom there are many) also call God "Allah" when speaking Arabic. It would be like saying that French Christians don't worship God, they worship some other deity called "Dieu."
    • Another, medieval Cowboy Bebop about Islam was that they worship a god, or a demon, named Termagant, along with the "false prophet Mahound".
      • At the same time, this debate is itself peripheral to the real issue. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam might claim to worship the same God, but they (or at least their strictest adherents) claim that their way is the one correct way to worship Him, and that worshiping Him incorrectly is as bad if not worse than not worshiping Him at all.
    • Not to mention all the Christian fundamentalists who misinterpret the moon and star symbol found on the flags of many Islamic countries as "the symbol of the Pagan Moon-God Allah", when the symbol has practically nothing to do with Islam and could be more accurately said to represent the the region itself as a holdover from the Ottoman Empire.
      • Indeed, many Muslims find the moon symbol offensive, no one more than the violent radicals who tend to come from just about anywhere but Turkey (a rather secular country in modern times).
      • This one's especially egregious because the crescent-and-star symbol began as the symbol of the City of Constantinople, a city built by a Christian Roman Emperor. The Ottomans adopted it after taking the city as a way to legitimize their rule over former Byzantine territory by claiming to be the rightful successors to previous emperors.
    • And the fact that many Christians don't think that the honor Muslims have for Jesus constitutes high esteem at all. Islam does after all hold as a key tenet that "Allah has no son." Jesus is considered a great prophet, the second only to Muhammed, but fully mortal (although he did ascend bodily into heaven in the Quran as well). On the other hand, some Nontrinitarian Christian sects also deny the divinity of Jesus, particularly the Unitarians,note  although some Nontrinitarian sects accept that Jesus is God's son in some sense of the term.
  • Native American Mythology has a lot of cases of one god being put in another tribe's mythos, conflation of transvestites with contraries (people who do everything backward), and the like.
    • Most people more familiar with a Judeo-Christian mythology feel the need to assign all mythological characters to either good or evil. As such, most Native American tricksters tend to be thought of as Always Chaotic Evil. Coyote in particular is often given this treatment, sometimes even referred to as something like "the Native American Satan". In fact, Coyote is, by and large, simply Chaotic Neutral. He is sometimes malicious, to be sure, but he is just as often a culture hero.
      • This depends somewhat on which tribes you are talking about, as many share characters but have them in different roles. Some Native American myths do indeed present the Coyote as a creature of pure malice, though hardly identical to the Christian Devil, while others present him as more a neutral trickster.
      • The Navajo's version of Coyote, for example, is portrayed as one of two things, by turns: an idiot (constantly screwing up First Man's plans), and a witch—and when Navajos say "witch", they mean Kill It with Fire. Well, with a stone club, but potayto, potahto. Then again, First Man is himself often pretty evil, having invented Witchery Way in the first place. The only gods in their religion who are uniformly good are the Hero Twins, Changing Woman, and Talking God—and Talking God is spooky as hell even though he's not malevolent.
      • And of course, the Sioux use a spider as a trickster animal, but it's never noticed, because there's nothing trickster-like about building traps and it's not like a famous West African trickster is a spider either.
  • Mistakes like this are also common with Classical Mythology. Possibly the most glaring example is the Titan Atlas. He held up the sky, not the earth.
    • This misconception probably stems from his being depicted as holding up a sphere in art. This, however, is not the Earth but the Heavenly Sphere, which no longer makes sense to people with a modern understanding of cosmology.
    • Most people only understand Greek gods by highly stereotypical archetypes, like Athena being the hero-aiding goddess of wisdom, Zeus the petty and depraved hurler of lightning, etc. In reality, they were exceptionally complex in every facet of their existence, with a very wide variety of roles and many different depictions of their personalities. It's basically analogous to depicting Jesus only as a fig-cursing asshole.
  • Buddhism is a frequent victim of this. Budai (also known as Fat Buddha) is often mistakenly called Buddha in the West. While he is a Buddha, he is not the Buddha.
    • A lot of people believe Buddha is a deity worshiped by Buddhists.
    • Even Buddhists refer to Siddharta Gautaman as "Buddha". The Buddha. Even though technically any creature who has reached Enlightenment is a Buddha (which means "the awakened one" in Sanskrit).
    • Partly these misconceptions stem from the fact that, like many religions, Buddhism has been practiced very differently in various places, and mixed with other local belief systems.
  • What does the average Westerner (or Easterner) know about Hinduism? Let's guess: they have tons of gods, which are all blue and have multiple arms (somewhat Truth in Television, yes, but how many can they name?) they like cows, and they have a sacred river, and this book called the Bhagavad-Gita, and they can all reincarnate at willnote . The more worldly among them might know there is an autumn festival called Divali, but that's about it.
    • What a lot of people don't know is that Hindus are essentially monotheistic (well, most of the sects anyway), in the sense that they believe that the gods are all various forms of the one God (in other words, it's similar to the Catholic concept of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being one God...which is, admittedly, not a perfect analogy, but it's a good place to get started). These sects then proceed to differ on which god of the pantheon is the One God, of which all other gods are manifestations (the largest two sects are Vaishnavism, which broadly holds Vishnu to be the One, and Shaivism, which broadly holds Shiva to be the One).
    • Also, another annoying misconception is about the nature of yoga. Most Westerners think of yoga as some sort of effete, trendy workout routine, when it's actually a millennia-old method of prayer. While the physical benefits have always been known, Hindus have always considered the physical benefits of yoga to be secondary to the religious benefits. Interestingly enough, in the West, yoga is often seen as a trendy practice of young women and metrosexual men, but in Hindu culture, yoga's usually seen as something practiced by one's elders (technically they are all encouraged to practice it, but in practice it's usually the elderly who are the most regular yogis). The current Western version of yoga was in fact introduced c. 1960 and is mostly based not on the ancient practice, but military physical exercises of the Indian Army in the 19th century. Its conflation (and especially the use of prayers to gods such as Vishnu or Hanuman) is a source of great annoyance to more traditional Hindus.
      • Hindus are also often stereotyped in Western media as being a bunch of hippies, or at least the religion is stereotyped as being a "hippie" religion, probably because A. Most Westerners' main exposure to Hinduism (and Buddhism) was when Western hippies practiced their own WILDLY inaccurate Theme Park Version of Hinduism and Buddhism in The Sixties, and B. because the most famous Indian and Hindu in the West's frame of reference is the pacifist Mahatma Gandhi. But in actuality, the Hindu faith encourages people not to shy away from a fight (at least, when the fight is viewed as being necessary and justified). The Bhagavad Gita is all about Lord Krishna instructing the reluctant warrior Arjuna to be brave, and urging him to charge fearlessly into battle against the bad guys. The Gita is actually a very pro-military book. So yeah, Hindus are not a bunch of hippies, thank you very much.
      • Also probably impacted by some Hindus being vegetarian (which is mostly to do with the belief that people are reincarnated into animals, with it being very bad karma to eat one's relatives in animal form).
      • And the very word "Hindu" is just the Farsi word for the river Indus. It just means "India". The religions of the sub-continent are not one religion; rather they are a network of interrelated faiths, which share a group of certain core traits.
      • Hinduism is diverse enough that it is in fact the first belief system which incorporated atheism. Like Buddhism, Hinduism is compatible with atheism or agnosticism in regards to the gods (who may be seen as symbolic, or merely especially powerful beings who aren't actually divine).
  • Voodoo, or more accurately vodou, is often stereotyped as a Satanic cult dedicated to human sacrifices, inflicting curses, and raising zombies, when in fact there are two forms of vodou: Haitian and Louisiana, both of which originate from the syncretism of the West African vodun religion with Roman Catholicism. Vodou, Haitian vodou in particular, involves the veneration of spirits called loa or lwa, who act as intermediaries between the Houngan, or priest, and a supreme deity called Bondye, similar to the relationship between angels and God in Abrahamic traditions. Louisiana voodoo, which is often conflated with its Caribbean counterpart, is similar but places more emphasis on charms called gris-grisnote , voodoo queens (or more properly, mambos), use of Hoodoo occult paraphernalia, and the veneration of Li Grand Zombi, a snake deity.
  • Richard Dawkins has said that he hopes that some day no one will believe in currently popular religions, just as no one now believes in Jupiter or Thor... apparently no one bothered to inform modern neo-pagans of their non-existence.
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