Jonathan Dyer

God and Godzilla: How an Atomic Metaphor Became a Modern Day Deity

Fields of religious study that attempt to identify and categorize syncretism between religions are confronted with the double fold problem of transmission and reinterpretation. For example, diffusionists like Bruce Lincoln are compelled to understand not only the recurrence of certain mythic tropes, but to explain how those tropes moved from one culture to another. One way to remedy this problem is to examine examples of mythic tropes that manifest themselves in modern popular culture. To this end, my paper examines the great monster of twentieth-century Japanese cinema, Godzilla. Godzilla starts out as a simple metaphor for the atomic bombing, but goes on to become a modern example of one of the most popular mythic archetypes, the Indo-Aryan storm god. My plan is to examine Godzilla's filmography and analyze how he shares characteristics with other Indo-Aryan storm gods, and show how he evolved into this role. In doing this, I hope to provide diffusionist scholars with a clear example of how certain mythic tropes recur within cultures.