According to Mary Magoulick, Professor of English and Rhetoric at Georgia College, there are several identifiable characteristics of a myth. Those characteristics follow:
1. A story that is or was considered a true explanation of the natural world (and how it came to be).
2. Characters are often non-human – e.g. gods, goddesses, supernatural beings, first people.
3. Setting is a previous proto-world (somewhat like this one but also different).
4. Plot may involve interplay between worlds (this world and previous or original world).
5. Depicts events that bend or break natural laws (reflective of connection to previous world).
6. Cosmogonic/metaphysical explanation of universe (formative of worldview).
7. Functional: “Charter for social action” – conveys how to live: assumptions, values, core meanings of individuals, families, communities.
8. Evokes the presence of Mystery, the Unknown (has a “sacred” tinge).
9. Reflective and formative of basic structures (dualities: light/dark, good/bad, being/nothingness, raw/cooked, etc.) that we must reconcile. Dualities often mediated by characters in myths.
10. Common theme: language helps order the world (cosmos); thus includes many lists, names, etc.
11. Metaphoric, narrative consideration/explanation of “ontology” (study of being). Myths seek to answer, “Why are we here?” “Who are we?” “What is our purpose?” etc. – life’s fundamental questions.
12. Sometimes: the narrative aspect of a significant ritual (core narrative of most important religious practices of society; fundamentally connected to belief system; sometimes the source of rituals)
Somewhere along the way I realized that the creation stories (yes, both of them) in Genesis are nothing more than myth. They have many of the characteristics mentioned above. For instance, #1 is obvious; both of these myths are about the creation of the world, although many fundamental Christians take them as a true account of the beginning of Earth. #2 is pretty obvious as well, exemplified by God and the talking serpent. #5 is also exemplified by the talking serpent, but also by the speed at which the creation happened. I’m not going to go through the whole list. You can do that yourself. It’s pretty easy to see how the creation stories are characteristic of myths.
In addition, we have tons of evidence from the sciences that point to an earth, and even human beings, that is much older than 6500 years, or however old fundamentalist Christians say it is. Not only do we have the remains of people that have been carbon dated to be older than that, we also have the writings of ancient civilizations and other archaeological evidences that provide positive proof that people have existed longer than the creation myths in Genesis claim.
The Venus of Hohle Fels is a 40,000 year old statuette, predating the claim of the genesis myth by over 33,000 years. In 2009 Professor Nick Conard discovered some 42,000-43,000 year old bone flutes in Germany. In Sulawesi, cave paintings have been dated to at least 35,000 years ago. 9,000 year old stone masks have been found in the Judean desert. The Dispilio Tablet, found in Northern Greece is the oldest example of writing. It dates to 5260 BC. Which means our ancestors were writing over 7200 years ago, several centuries before the creation of the world, according to Genesis. All of the things that we typically consider as things only humans do, such as art, music, and writing, have existed long before the creation of the world as recorded in the Genesis Myths.
Another interesting point is that the two myths recorded in Genesis do not agree with each other. They give different orders for the creation of things as well as have different names for the god who does the creating. In the first myth, in Genesis 1:1-2:3, the god Elohim creates the Earth in six days culminating with the creation of mankind. In the second myth, in Genesis 2:4-2:24, the god Yahweh creates mankind first, then follows up with the rest. These two accounts are irreconcilable, although many have tried.
So this leaves us with two different accounts of creation that are obviously myths based on their characteristics, and science that provides a better explanation of when the world was created and when we came along. So here’s the main question. After pondering this evidence, do you really believe that Adam and Eve existed in the garden of Eden? Sure, you can deny the obvious facts and continue with your cycle of circular logic: “It’s in the Bible, so it’s true.” Anyone with any shred of self-confidence and self-respect would admit that this is all all a big falsehood and that the Garden of Eden, along with its inhabitants, Adam, Eve, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the talking serpent never actually existed.
And now we can get down to brass tacks! If the Garden never existed, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil never existed. If the talking serpent never existed, then there was no one to tempt these first humans into eating of the fruit of the tree. And guess what? If no one ate that fruit against god’s will, THERE WAS NO ORIGINAL SIN! Follow the logic with me: If there was no original sin, there never was a need for Jesus to come and die on the cross to redeem us from our sin. No sin means no need for a savior.
So there we have it. More discrepancies of the Bible with itself and scientific evidence, not to mention logic and sound thinking.