Creation

From DaynalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Lighterstill.jpg
Creationinloveupright.jpg

Cosmogony, or cosmogeny, is any theory concerning the coming into existence or origin of the universe, or about how reality came to be. The word comes from the Greek κοσμογονία (or κοσμογενία), from κόσμος "cosmos, the world", and the root of γί(γ)νομαι / γέγονα "to be born, come about". In the specialized context of space science and astronomy, the term refers to theories of creation of (and study of) the Solar System.

Cosmogony can be distinguished from cosmology, which studies the universe at large and throughout its existence, and which technically does not inquire directly into the source of its origins. There is some ambiguity between the two terms, for example, the cosmological argument from theology regarding the existence of God is technically an appeal to cosmogonical rather than cosmological ideas. In practice, there is a scientific distinction between cosmological and cosmogonical ideas. Physical cosmology is the science that attempts to explain all observations relevant to the development and characteristics of the universe as a whole. Questions regarding why the universe behaves in such a way have been described by physicists and cosmologists as being extra-scientific, though speculations are made from a variety of perspectives which include extrapolation of scientific theories to untested regimes and philosophical or religious ideas.

For lessons on the topic of Creation, follow this link.

Attempts to create a naturalistic cosmogony are subject to two separate limitations. One is based in the philosophy of science and the epistemological constraints of science itself, especially with regards to whether scientific inquiry can ask questions of "why" the universe exists. Another more pragmatic problem is that there is no physical model which can explain the earliest moments of the universe's existence (Planck time) because of a lack of a consistent theory of quantum gravity.

Epistemological limitations to cosmogony

The assumptions of naturalism that underlie the scientific method have led some scientists, especially observationalists, to question whether the ultimate reason or source for the universe to exist can be answered in a scientific fashion. In particular, the principle of sufficient reason seems to indicate that there should be such an explanation, but whether a satisfactory explanation can be obtained through scientific inquiry is debatable. A scientific examination of cosmogony using existing physical models would face many challenges. For example, equations used to develop models of the origin do not in themselves explain how the conditions of the universe that the equations model came to be in the first place.

Theistic explanations for origins indicate one or more supernatural beings as the explanation, though atheist commentators often point to this as an argument from ignorance or a God of the gaps fallacy, and that such an assumption provides no explanation for existence of the deity. Nondual explanations by contrast state that the very question is misleading, since it contains erroneous assumptions of beginnings, endings and the nature of existence itself, and consider the visible universe as phenomenology.

As a result of this, scientific cosmogonies are sometimes supplemented by reference to metaphysical and theistic belief systems. The problem can be summarized as three classical paradoxes. These paradoxes (discussed by both Kierkegaard and Leibniz) are:

  1. reconciling a doctrine of causation (similar to the 13th century proof of God posed by Thomas Aquinas);
  2. reconciling the conservation law ("something from nothing");
  3. reconciling issues of temporality (as in Zeno's paradoxes) and logical regression.

However, some of the metaphysical principles used to formulate these classical paradoxes no longer enjoy an unchallenged status as laws of thought. For instance, quantum mechanics gives an independent motivation to challenge the principle of sufficient reason. For this reason, theories of "origin" are more appropriately described as mythology whether transmitted orally or in written forms .

Creation Mythology

A creation myth or cosmogonic myth is a supernatural explanation that describes the beginnings of humanity, earth, life, and the universe (cosmogony),[1] often as a deliberate act by one or more deities.

Many creation myths share broadly similar themes. Common motifs include the fractionation of the things of the world from a primordial chaos; the separation of the mother and father gods; land emerging from an infinite and timeless ocean; or creation ex nihilo (out of nothing).

The term creation myth is sometimes used in a derogatory way to describe stories which are still believed today, as the term myth may suggest something which is absurd or fictional. While these beliefs and stories need not be a literal account of actual events, they may yet express ideas that are perceived by some people and cultures to be truths at a deeper or more symbolic level. Author Daniel Quinn notes that in this sense creation myths need not be religious in nature, and they have secular analogues in modern cultures.

Africa

Bakuba

The Bakuba account of demiurge is as follows. Originally, the Earth was nothing but water and darkness. Mbombo, the white giant, ruled over this chaos. One day, he felt a terrible pain in his stomach, and vomited the sun, the moon, and the stars. The sun shone fiercely and water steamed up in clouds. Gradually, the dry hills appeared. Mbombo vomited again, this time the trees came out of his stomach, and animals, and people, and many other things: the first woman, the leopard, the eagle, the anvil, the monkey, Fumu, the first man, the firmament, medicine, and lighting. Nchienge, the woman of the waters, lived in the East. She had a son, Woto, and a daughter, Labama. Woto was the first king of the Bakuba. [African Mythology, ISBN 1404207686, pages= 22]

Maasai

The Maasai of Kenya in their creation narrative recount the origin of humanity to be fashioned by the Creator deity from a single tree or leg which split into three pieces. To the first father of the Maasai, he gave a stick. To the first father of the Kikuyu, he gave a hoe. To the first father of the Kamba, he gave a bow and arrow. Each son survived in the wild. The first father of the Maasai used his stick to herd animals. The first father of the Kikuyu used his hoe to cultivate the ground. The first father of the Kamba used his bow and arrow to hunt.

Mandinka

The traditional creation narrative of the Mandinka people of southern Mali begins with Mangala, a singular, powerful being who is perceived to be a round, energetic presence. Within Mangala existed four divisions, which were symbolic of, among many things, the four days of the week (time), the four elements (matter), and the four directions (space). Mangala also contained two sets of dual gendered twins. Mangala was tired of keeping all of this matter inside, so the god removed it and compiled it into a seed. The seed was his creation of the world. The seed however did not hold together well and blew up. Mangala was disappointed with this and destroyed the world he created.

Mangala did not lose hope; the creator began again, this time with two sets of twin seeds. Mangala planted the seeds in an egg shaped womb where they gestated. Mangala continued to put more sets of twin seeds in the womb until he had 8 sets of seeds. In the womb, the gestating seeds transformed themselves into fish. The fish is considered a symbol of fertility in the Mande world. This time, Mangala's creation was successful. This is important, because it illustrates the idea of dual gendered twinship, an idea that permeates Mande culture.

Mangala tried to maintain this perfect creation, but chaos crept in; one of the male twins became ambitious and tried to escape from the egg. This chaotic character is called Pemba. He is a trickster figure whose first trick was to steal a piece of the womb's placenta and throw it down. This action made the earth. Pemba then tried to refertilize what was left of the womb, committing incest against his mother, the womb.

Mangala decided to sacrifice Pemba's brother Farro to save what was left of his creation. He castrated him and then killed him in order to raise him from the dead. Mangala took what was left of the placenta and transformed it into the sun, thus associating Pemba with darkness and the night. Farro was transformed into a human being and was taught the language of creation by Mangala. Farro's knowledge of words is very powerful and the tool he used to defeat Pemba's mischief. Farro and his newly created twins came to Earth and got married (not to each other). This is the basis for the foundation of exogamy in Mande.

Next, a being named Sourakata arrived from the sky with the first sacred drum, hammer, and the sacrificed skull of Farro. Sourakata began to play on the drum and sang for the first rain to come. Sourakata is a magical being who can control nature, and he taught Farro and his followers.

Voodoo

Damballah (Sky-serpent loa and wise and loving Father archetype) created all the waters of the earth. In the form of a serpent, the movement of his 7,000 coils formed hills and valleys on earth and brought forth stars and planets in the cosmos. He forged metals from heat and sent forth lightning bolts to form the sacred rocks and stones.

When he shed his skin in the sun, releasing all the waters over the land, the sun shone in the water and created the rainbow. Damballah loved the rainbow's beauty and made her his wife, Aida-Wedo. (Aida-Wedo represents the sky powers and is symbolized by the rainbow; wife of Damballah, she shares his function as cosmic protector and giver of blessing.)

The revelations of the loa (deity) descended upon the first faithful in Ifé, a legendary city located in Nigeria. Therefore, everything in life and all spiritual strength comes from Ifé. The homeland of all voodoo devotees, where Ifé is located, is Ginen, from where they were forced to flee in the African Diaspora. In death, the higher soul will return to Ginen (the world of the dead, said to be under the water below the earth) to reside with the loa and the ancestral spirits. Because of this, all practitioners of voodoo refer to themselves as ti guinin, sons or daughters of Ginen.

Yoruba

The Yoruba creator is called Olorun or Olodumare and is often assisted by the spirit, or "lesser god", Obatala. In the beginning, there was only water and chaos. The supreme being sent Obatala or Orishanla down from the sky to create some land out of the chaos. He descended on a long chain (umbilical cord) and brought with him a rooster, some iron, and a palm kernel. First, he put the metal on the earth and the rooster on top of that. The rooster scratched the metal and spread it out to create land. Then he planted the palm seed and from it grew the earth's vegetation. Olurun named earth "Ife" and the first city "Ile-Ife." Orshilana created humans out of the earth and got Olurun to blow life into them.

Zulu

The Ancient One, known as Unkulunkulu, is the Zulu creator. He came from the reeds and from them he brought forth the people and the cattle. He created everything that is: mountains, streams, snakes, etc. He taught the Zulu how to hunt, how to make fire, and how to grow food.

Asia

India

Buddhist

Buddhism itself generally ignores the question regarding the origin of life. The Buddha regarding the origin of life has said "Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it."AN IV.77, and in regard to ignoring the question of the origin of life the Buddha has said "And why are they undeclared by me? Because they are not connected with the goal, are not fundamental to the holy life. They do not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are undeclared by me." MN 63. The Buddha also compared the question of the origin of life - as well as many other metaphysical questions - to the parable of the poison arrow: a man is shot with a poison arrow, but before the doctor pulls it out, he wants to know who shot it (arguing the existence of God), where the arrow came from (where the universe and/or God came from) why that person shot it (why God created the universe), etc. If the man keeps asking these questions before the arrow is pulled out, the Buddha reasoned, he will die before he gets the answers. Buddhism is less concerned with answering questions like the origin of life, and more concerned with the goal of saving oneself and other beings from suffering by attaining Nirvana (Enlightenment). However, the esoteric Buddhist teaching, the Kalachakra Tantra, deals with the formation and functioning of reality. Modern day Buddhists such as the Dalai Lama don't perceive a conflict between Buddhism and science and consider they are complementary means of understanding the world around us.[2]

In the Buddhist scriptures, there is a story in the Dīgha Nikā ya about how this world has come about. It is in the 27th Sutta, the Aggañña Sutta, and the Buddha uses it to explain how castes have come about, and why one caste is not really any better than the other<ref>M. Walshe: The Long Discourses of the Buddha, p. 407: "On Knowledge of Beginnings", Somerville, MASS, 1995.</ref>. At a point in time, this world contracts. When it expands again, beings are being reincarnated in it. All is water, and it is dark, but the beings are luminous. Later, earth is formed on the surface of the water. The beings start to eat from it, because this is tasty earth. Doing this, however, their own light disappears, and sun, moon, days and nights and seasons come into existence. The beings continue eating from the earth. They degenerate further: ugly ones and handsome ones come into existence. On top of that, the handsome ones get a bit arrogant. All of this makes the tasty earth disappear. Nice mushrooms take its place. The degeneration continues: beings become coarser, arrogant, and mushrooms are replaced by plants, and, then, good, ready-to-eat rice. Beings do still get coarser. They also become male or female. Sex is frowned upon, so people build shelter to be discrete. The next step is when people start to gather rice for a few meals at a time. Now, the rice's quality starts to deteriorate, and it does not grow back immediately. Later, people create rice fields with boundaries. This is the origin of theft and crime. To combat this crime, they offer a share of the rice to one of them to be their leader. In the end, all the different castes come about, originating from the same kind of beings.

Hindu

In Hindu philosophy, the existence of the universe is governed by the Trimurti of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Sustainer) and Shiva (the Destroyer). The sequence of Avatars of Vishnu - the Dasavatara (Dasa—ten, Avatara—divine descents) is generally accepted by most Hindus today as correlating well with Darwin's theory of evolution i.e. the first Avatar generating from the environment of water. Hindus believe that the universe was created from the Word (Aum/OM : ॐ) - the sacred sound uttered by every human being at the time of birth. The first five great elements or Panchamahabhuta (Pancha—five + Maha—great + Bhuta—elements) are: Akasha, Vayu, Agni, Ap, and Prithvi.

Hindus believe that the cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction has no beginning, Anadi. Hindus thus do not see much conflict between creation and evolution. Another reason for this could also be the Hindu concept of cyclic time, such as yugas, or days of Brahma. A Day of Brahma lasts 4.32 billion years and the night of Brahma also lasts for 4.32 billion years. Days and nights follow in cycles (unlike the concept of linear time in many other religions). In fact, time is represented as Kālá Chakra, the wheel of time.

In earlier Vedic thinking, the universe emanated from a cosmic egg, Hiranyagarbha (literally, 'the golden embryo'). Prajapati was born from the Hiranyagarbha world egg. Prajapati was later identified in the Puranas with the Demiurge Brahma. Various devas are credited with certain acts of the process of creation, as personified entities representing the laws governing the universe. For instance, the act of propping apart the Sky and the Earth suggests early ideas of an expanding universe. The Purusha Sukta hymn of Rig Veda further personifies and describes the story of the creation of the universe from the remains of a gigantic primaeval Cosmic Man, Purusha, sacrificed at the Purushamedha yajna.

In Hinduism, nature and all of God's creations are manifestations of Him. He is within and without His creations, pervading the entire universe and also observing it externally. Hence all animals and humans have a divine element in them that is covered by the ignorance and illusions of material or mundane existence, as a result of avidya (ignorance).

Several scholars have attempted breaking the code of cosmogenesis of the Rig Veda. According to Rig Veda, creation happened gradually. The universe in its primitive form was made up of Ishwar Tattva, which primarily spread homogeneously throughout the universe. The complete equilibrium and homogeneity, when broke, arose an inhomogenous state of the primordial fluid, Ap. With the transformation of undifferentiated primordial fluid into differentiated fluid through polarization of opposites, the universe moved from a homogenous to inhomogenous state when particles were formed first.

Jainism

According to Jain beliefs, the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. It is eternal but not unchangeable, because it passes through an endless series of cycles. Each of these upward or downward cycles is divided into six world ages (yugas). The present world age is the fifth age of one of these "cycles", which is in a downward movement. These ages are known as "Aaro" as in "Pehela Aara" or First Age, "Doosra Aara" or Second Age and so on. The last one is the "Chhatha Aara" or Sixth Age. All these ages have fixed time durations of thousands of years.

When this reaches its lowest level, even Jainism itself will be lost in its entirety. Then, in the course of the next upswing, the Jain religion will be rediscovered and reintroduced by new leaders called Tirthankaras (literally "Crossing Makers" or "Ford Finders"), only to be lost again at the end of the next downswing, and so on.

Sikhism
The Sikh Scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), recorded in the 16th century CE, details include planning and execution by the Creator and are briefly as follows, (pages are those of SGGS): prior to creation, all that existed was God (Vāhigurū) and his will (hukam). God contemplated over myriad ages in utter darkness when he alone existed.[3] quote=For endless eons, there was only utter darkness. There was no earth or sky; there was only the infinite Command of His Hukam. When the planning was complete all the resources required were created and enclosed in a shell like that of an egg. When God willed, the entire cosmos was created as the shell was burst and all elements of the universe started moving away from the point of bursting (P 839). It has been stated that in the process of creation involved first the creation of the ability for the living creatures and then the creatures came into being (P 130). From these beginnings, God nurtured "enticement and attachment" to māyā, or the human perception of reality. [Gurū Granth Sāhib | [4]
When He so willed, He created the world. Without any supporting power, He sustained the universe. He created Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; He fostered enticement and attachment to Maya.
Surat Shabda Yoga

Surat Shabda Yoga cosmology depicts the whole of creation (the macrocosm) as being emanated and arranged in a spiritually differentiated hierarchy, often referred to as eggs, regions, or planes. Typically, eight spiritual levels are described above the physical plane, although names and subdivisions within these levels will vary to some extent by mission and Master. (One version of the creation from a Surat Shabda Yoga perspective is depicted at the Sant Ajaib Singh Ji Memorial Site in “The Grand Scheme of All Creation”.) All planes below the purely spiritual regions are subject to cycles of creation and dissolution (pralya) or grand dissolution (maha pralya).

The constitution of the individual (the microcosm) is an exact replica of the macrocosm. Consequently, the microcosm consists of a number of bodies, each one suited to interact with its corresponding plane or region in the macrocosm. These bodies developed over the yugas through involution (emanating from higher planes to lower planes) and evolution (returning from lower planes to higher planes), including by karma and reincarnation in various states of consciousness.

Japan

Shinto

Shinto, being focused on Japan, relates its narratives about Japan, rather than other places. The god Izanagi and goddess Izanami churned the ocean with a spear to make a small island of curdled salt. Two deities went down to the island, mixed there, and bore main islands, deities, and forefathers of Japan. Beyond this, Shinto belief is that everything else has, simply, always been.

Korea

There were heavenly ones in the sky domain. JoMulJu created everything in the universe, and the heavenly ones had their own kingdom. The son of the Supreme Being (JoMulju or Hwan-in) came to the Earth with ministers (people and animals) who control rain, cloud, wind, and 360 kinds of things to govern the Earth, as he is in fact a human being as well as some kind of deity. A bear and a tiger wished to become humans. They prayed to the Supreme Being, Hwan-ung, and he gave them 20 cloves of garlic and a handful of mugwort, and told them to live in a dark cave for 100 days. The bear was patient enough to withstand the hardship of the cave and the starvation from eating only garlic and mugwort, but the tiger failed at the last minute and ran out of the cave. The bear became a girl and wanted to have a child, so the son of the Supreme Being married her. The son was Dangun who established the kingdom of Korea.

Mansi

The traditional account of creation by the Mansi people of Siberia involved two loons which dove to the bottom of primeval waters to retrieve a piece of the bottom and placed it on top of the water. From there the Earth grew. After a time, at the behest of his daughter, the spirit of the sky ordered his brother, the spirit of the lower world to create humanity. His brother made seven earthy, clay figures and which were quickened by the gods' sister, Mother Earth.

China

Mongol

There is no singular Mongol account of the creation and the beginning of the world, but from a variety of accounts from Mongol tribes of Central Asia, a general outline can be made. The creation of the world is attributed to a lama named Udan who is sometimes also conflated with God or Buddha Sakyamuni by the tribes influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. The primordial world is usually described as being covered in darkness with no separation between earth and sky. The construction of the cosmos proceeds in a variety of fashions. One account describes ninety-nine golden columns holding apart the sky and earth. In this description the world has three stories, the upper one being heaven where gods and goddesses live, the middle one being earth where man dwells, and the lower one being the place where man goes after death; heaven (sky) is the father and earth is the mother of man, animals, etc. Another narrative recounts that when the creator divided the heaven and earth he created a nine-story heaven, a nine-story earth, and nine rivers. In some accounts, the world first was a vast ocean, but dust and sand rose to cover the ocean surface and become earth. In another account, the land is placed on the back of a golden frog who was pierced with arrows causing fire and water to spew from him at various places

After the creation of the Earth itself, the first male and female couple were created out of clay. They would become the progenitors of all humanity. The various tribes and peoples were placed there with different characteristics. In the north, the men were paired with ewes as sexual mates and this was the spawn of the Mongol ethnicity while the Han Chinese were the spawn of hens while the Dorbed and the Buryats recount that they are the descendants of a coupling between hunters and Swan Maidens.

Another account tells that in the beginning, seven suns rose in the sky so that the rivers and vegetation on earth dried up, so the people asked the archer Erkei-Mergen to shoot the suns out of the sky. The archer shot down six, but while he was taking aim at the seventh a martin flew in front of the sun and was shot in the tail. From then on, the martin had a forked tail and there was a single sun remaining in the sky. The archer was so distressed that he fled to the steppe, cut off his thumbs in shame, and became the ancestor of the marmot.

Taoism

Tao is the nameless void, the mother of the Ten Thousand Things. Tao is considered by Laozi to be that which eternally gives without being depleted, and eternally receives without being filled. That which does not exist for its own sake is able to endure.<ref>Tao Te Ching Ch 25: 有物混成,先天地生。寂兮寥兮,獨立而不改,周行而不殆,可以為天地母 。吾不知其名,強字之曰道。(rendition: There is something that contains everything. Before heaven and earth it is. Oh, it is still, unbodied, all on its own, unchanging, all-pervading, ever-moving. So it can act as the mother of all things. Not knowing its real name, we only call it the Way)</ref>

This is the only original Taoist idea about the origins of everything. All of the following myths were added at much later dates to the original core Taoist writings and only came into existence as Taoist philosophy became more structured, religious and therefore a need for a more detailed cosmology grew among its adherents. Even today there are two main traditions of Taoism: the religious tradition with its more detailed cosmology and the original philosophical tradition which does not accept any creation myths at all.

Taoist genesis appeared in two versions. The first Division-Genesis in Tao Te Ching and partially in I Ching described out of tao- nothingness or Wuji gave rise to existence Taichi, this existence splitting into the binary yin and yang, yin and yang splitting into the four realms and then the Eight countenance, and from which every beings or non-beings are created.

The myth of Pangu around 200 CE describes a universe which starts as a cosmic egg with Pangu born within. He broke it into two halves, and came out of it. Pangu was a man in a bearskin, and he had two horns. He separated Yin and Yang and turned them into heaven and earth. He himself was the center, standing on earth and supporting heaven. With hammer and chisel he produced sun, moon, and stars. In doing this, he grew a little bit every day. When the work was finished, Pangu died to make the world live. His voice became the thunder, his limbs the four quarters of the earth. His flesh became the earth, his hair the trees, his sweat the rain, his bones the stones. Finally, men were the insects which were crawling over his body<ref>There is an online version at E. Werner, Myths and Legends of China</ref>. This was an allegorical version of the Division-Genesis.

Despite the fact that this tale is accepted as a legacy of ancient China, it is probable that is was imported from South East Asia. However, it is usually ascribed to Ko Hung, Taoist writer of the fourth century CE, who also wrote on the preparation of an elixir of life, and similar subjects. He also wrote Biographies of Spirits and Immortals, which is a prime source of mythological material. This clearly places it at a much later date than the core Taoist writings.

A second version with metaphysical reference was given in a late 20th century book called Tiantang Yiuchi in which genesis was detailed, that out of Tao or Wuji came a non-being called Xuanxuan Shangren (玄玄上人) who hatched into the Three Pure Ones the Daoist Trinity and then the Five Supremes. Three of the Five Supremes incubated the first man and woman as well as all living beings.

Europe

Finnish

Ancient Finns believed that the world was formed from an egg that was broken.

A bird was flying above the sea, seeking a place to make a nest and lay her eggs. She searched everywhere, but found nothing but water. Then she noticed the first dry place. In some stories it was an island, in other stories it was a boat and in other stories it was a body part of a floating being, like the wizard Väinämöinen. The place was too unstable for a nest: a big wave came and broke the eggs, spreading their parts all over. However the eggs were not wasted: the upper part of egg covers formed the sky, yolk became the sun, and lower parts of egg formed the mother earth. The first human was Väinämöinen, he was born from the maiden of air Ilmatar that was made pregnant by the sea. Väinämöinen ordered forests to be planted, and started human culture.

Greek (Classical)

Plato, in his dialogue Timaeus, describes a creation myth involving a being called the demiurge.

Hesiod, in his Theogony, says that Chaos existed in the beginning, and then gave birth to Gaea (the Earth), Tartarus (the Underworld), Eros (desire), Nyx (the darkness of the night) and Erebus (the darkness of the Underworld). Gaea brought forth Ouranos, the starry sky, her equal, to cover her, the hills, and the fruitless deep of the Sea, Pontus, "without sweet union of love," out of her own self. But afterwards, Hesiod tells, she lay with Heaven and bore the World-Ocean Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and the Titans Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and Phoebe of the golden crown and lovely Tethys. "After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire." Cronos, at Gaia's urging, castrates Uranus. He marries Rhea who bears him Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. Zeus and his brothers overthrow Cronos and the other Titans, then draw lots to determine what each of them will rule. Zeus draws the sky, Poseidon draws the sea, and Hades draws the underworld.

Norse & Germanic

The Voluspa opens with the Norse account of the creation of the present universe :

Old tales I remember | of men long ago. I remember yet | the giants of lore [...] Of old was the age | when Ymir lived; No Sea nor cool waves | nor sand there were; Earth had not been, | nor heaven above, Only a yawning gap, | and grass nowhere.

In the beginning there was nothing except for the ice of Niflheim, to the north, and the fire of Muspelheim, to the south. Between them was a yawning gap (the phrase is sometimes left untranslated as a proper name: Ginnungagap), and in this gap a few pieces of ice met a few sparks of fire. The ice melted to form Eiter, which formed the bodies of the hermaphrodite giant Ymir and the cow Auðumbla, whose milk fed Ymir. Auðumbla fed by licking the rime ice, and slowly she uncovered a man's hair. After a day, she had uncovered his face. After another day, she had uncovered him completely: Búri.

Ymir fathered Thrudgelmir, as well as two humans, one man and one woman. Búri fathered Borr. Borr had three sons, Vili, Ve, and Odin, who killed the giant Ymir. In the vast flood of Ymir's blood, Þrúðgelmir was also drowned, although not before he had fathered Bergelmir. Bergelmir and his wife hid in a hollow tree trunk and survived. Odin and his brothers used Ymir's body to create the universe : they ground his flesh into dirt, and the maggots that appeared in his flesh became the dwarves that live under the earth. His bones became the mountains, and Odin strew his brains into the sky to create the clouds. The universe comprises nine worlds, of which this earth (Midgard) is central.

They placed four dwarves: Norðri (North), Suðri (South), Austri (East), and Vestri (West) to hold up Ymir's skull and create the heavens. Then using sparks from Muspelheim, the gods created the sun, moon and stars. As Odin and two others (differing between the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda) walked along the beach, they found two pieces of driftwood. From these, they created the first human beings: Ask and Embla. Ymir's eyebrows were used to create a place where the human race could live in; a place called Midgard.

The gods regulated the passage of the days and nights, as well as the seasons. Sól is the personified sun, a daughter of Mundilfari, and wife of Glen. Every day, she rides through the sky on her chariot, pulled by two horses named Árvakr and Alsviðr. Sól is chased during the day by Sköll, a wolf that wants to devour her. It is foretold that Sköll will eventually catch Sol and eat her during Ragnarök; however, she will first give birth to a daughter as fair as she. Sól's brother Máni, the personified moon, is chased by Hati Hróðvitnisson, another wolf. The earth is protected from the full heat of the sun by the shield Svalinn, which is placed before Sól.

Middle East

Sumerian

The Sumerian creation myth, the oldest known, was found on a fragmentary clay tablet known as the "Eridu Genesis", datable to ca. the 18th century BC. It also includes a flood myth.

Where the tablet picks up, the gods An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursanga create the Sumerians (the "black-headed people") and the animals. Then kings descend from the sky and the first cities are founded - Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, and Shuruppak.

After a missing section in the tablet, we learn that the gods have decided to send a flood to destroy humankind. Zi-ud-sura, the king and gudug priest, learns of this. (In the later Akkadian version, Ea, or Enki in Sumerian, the god of the waters, warns the hero (Atra-hasis in this case) and gives him instructions for the ark. This is missing in the Sumerian fragment, but a mention of Enki taking counsel with himself suggests that this is Enki's role in the Sumerian version as well.)

When the tablet resumes it is describing the flood. A terrible storm rocks the huge boat for seven days and seven nights, then Utu (the Sun god) appears and Zi-ud-sura creates an opening in the boat, prostrates himself, and sacrifices oxen and sheep.

After another break the text resumes, the flood is apparently over, the animals disembark and Zi-ud-sura prostrates himself before An (sky-god) and Enlil (chief of the gods), who give him eternal life and take him to dwell in Dilmun for "preserving the animals and the seed of mankind". The remainder of the poem is lost. (translation of the text)<ref>Black, J.A., Cunningham, G., Fluckiger-Hawker, E, Robson, E., and Zólyomi, G. (1998) The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. Oxford.</ref>

Babylonian

The Babylonian creation myth is recounted in the "Epic of Creation" also known as the Enûma Elish. The Mesopotamian "Epic of Creation" dates to the late second millennium B.C.E.

In the poem, the god Marduk (or Assur in the Assyrian versions of the poem) is created to defend the divine beings from an attack plotted by the ocean goddess Tiamat. The hero Marduk offers to save the gods only if he is appointed their supreme unquestioned leader and is allowed to remain so even after the threat passes. The gods agree to Marduk's terms. Marduk challenges Tiamat to combat and destroys her. He then rips her corpse into two halves with which he fashions the earth and the skies. Marduk then creates the calendar, organizes the planets, stars and regulates the moon, sun, and weather. The gods pledge their allegiance to Marduk and he creates Babylon as the terrestrial counterpart to the realm of the gods. Marduk then destroys Tiamat's husband, Kingu using his blood to create humankind so that they can do the work of the gods. (Sources, Foster, B.R., From Distant Days : Myths, Tales, and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. 1995, Bethesda, Md.: CDL Press. vi, 438 p., Bottéro, J., Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia. 2004, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. x, 246 p., Jacobsen, T., The Treasures of Darkness : A History of Mesopotamian Religion. 1976, New Haven: Yale University Press. 273.)

Bahá'í

Bahá'ís believe that humanity,<ref> Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Arabic #3 [5] </ref> the universe and everything therein are creations of God and were both formed and developed by him.<ref> Bahá'u'lláh, Lawh-i-Hikmat p140-142 [6], `Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace p47 [7] </ref> However, creation is not seen to be confined to the material universe, and individual material objects, such as the Earth, are seen to come into being at particular moment and then subsequently break down into their constituent parts. (A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith, ISBN 1-85168-184-1</ref> Thus the current universe is seen as a result of a long-lasting process (cosmological time scales), evolving to its current state. (Originality of Species [8] Bahá'ís believe that humanity was created to know God and to serve his purpose.[9] Regarding the mechanisms or time frame of creation acts or processes, Bahá'ís refer to the religion's teachings on the harmony of science and religion.

Egyptian

There were at least three separate cosmogenies in Egyptian mythology, corresponding to at least three separate groups of worshippers.

Over time, the rival groups gradually merged, Ra and Atum were identified as the same god, making Atum's mysterious creation actually due to the Ogdoad, and Ra having the children Shu and Tefnut, etc. In consequence, Anubis was identified as a son of Osiris, as was Horus. Amun's role was later thought much greater, and for a time, he became chief god, although he eventually became considered a manifestation of Ra.

For a time, Ra and Horus were identified as one another, and when the Aten monotheism was unsuccessfully introduced, it was Ra-Horus who was thought of as the Aten, and the consequent cosmogony this inspired. Later, Osiris' cult became more popular, and he became the main god, being identified as a form of Ptah. Eventually, all the gods were thought of as aspects of Osiris, Isis, Horus, or Set (who was by now a villain), indeed, Horus and Osiris had started to become thought of as the same god. Ptah eventually was identified as Osiris.

A late version of the narrative has it that the Supreme Being (God) was Atum-Raa and he uttered the words of creation to create the Primordial water of Nu (The celestial Ocean) Naunet. Naunet contained everything in embrionic form. From this, Atum-Raa uttered the words of creation to bring life into the world. This life took the form of an egg. From this egg came Raa, the light of God who caused all life to come into existence. Raa was represented by the Egyptian solar disk (also symbolised in Nordic, Germanic, Greek & Vedic tradition by a Sun chariot as well as referenced by biblical texts Elijah (prophet)). Raa, the light of God in nature, later became manifest on earth through the disc of the sun (eten) & appeared in the form of Dosher - the sunrise at the beginning of life on earth.

Hermeticism

In Hermeticism, the origin belief is not taken literally, but an attempt is made to understand it metaphorically. Not all Hermeticists understand it in the same way, and it is mainly up to personal understanding. The tale is given in the first book of the Corpus Hermeticum by God's Nous to Hermes Trismegistus after much meditation. Also, not all Hermeticists put much weight on the symbolic texts, and may be unaware of the story.

It begins as God creates the elements after seeing the Cosmos and creating one just like it (our Cosmos) from its own constituent elements and souls. From there, God, being both male and female, holding the Word, gave birth to a second Nous, creator of the world. This second Nous created seven powers (often seen as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and the Moon) to travel in circles and govern destiny.

The Word then leaps forth from the materializing elements, which made them unintelligent. Nous then made the governors spin, and from their matter sprang forth creatures without speech. Earth then was separated from Water and the animals (other than Man) were brought forth from the Earth.

The Supreme Nous then created Man, hermaphroditic, in his own image and handed over his creation. Man carefully observed the creation of his brother, the lesser Nous, and received his and his Father's authority over it all. Man then rose up above the spheres' paths to better view the creation, and then showed the form of God to Nature. Nature fell in love with it, and Man, seeing a similar form to his own reflecting in the water fell in love with Nature and wished to dwell in it. Immediately Man became one with Nature and became a slave to its limitations such as gender and sleep. Man thus became speechless (for it lost the Word) and became double, being mortal in body but immortal in spirit, having authority of all but subject to destiny.

The tale does not specifically contradict the theory of evolution, other than for Man, but most Hermeticists fully accept evolutionary theory as a solid grounding for the creation of everything from base matter to Man.

Islam

The creation narrative of Islam is split among many verses in the Qur'an. This narrative is similar to the Judeo-Christian accounts of creation. According to the Qur'an, the skies and the earth were joined together as one "unit of creation", after which they were "cloved asunder".

There are 2 words: RATQ and FATQ. "Ratq" does not mean joined together. As per Imam Sadiq (as), "Ratq" means no rain came down nor any vegetation was there. Then it was period of "Fatq" when the rain started and vegetation.- refer "Tafseer Al Safi Vol 3 Page 337/8.

After the parting of both, they simultaneously came into their present shape after going through a phase when they were smoke-like. The Qur'an states that the process of creation took 6 days or epochs (depending on the interpretation).

Imam Ali (as) - son in law and cousin of Holy Prophet Mohamed (saw) says in Nahjul Balagha (http://www.al-islam.org/nahjul/90.htm]: Allah spread the earth on stormy and tumultuous waves and the depths of swollen seas, where waves clashed with each other and high surges leapt over one another. So the tumult of the stormy water was subdued by the weight of the earth, when the earth pressed it with its chest its shooting agitation eased, and when the earth rolled on it with its shoulder bones the water meekly submitted. Thus after the tumult of its surges it became tame and overpowered, and an obedient prisoner of the shackles of disgrace, while the earth spread itself and became solid in the stormy depth of this water. (In this way) the earth put an end to the pride, self conceit, high position and superiority of the water, and muzzled the intrepidity of its flow. Consequently it stopped after its stormy flow and settled down after its tumult.

When the excitement of water subsided under the earth's sides and under the weight of the high and lofty mountains placed on its shoulders, Allah flowed springs of water from its high tops and distributed them through plains and low places and moderated their movement by fixed rocks and high mountain tops. Then its trembling came to a standstill because of the penetration of mountains in (various) parts of its surface and their being fixed in its deep areas, and their standing on its plains. Then Allah created vastness between the earth and firmament, and provided blowing wind for its inhabitants. Then He directed its inhabitants to spread all over its convenient places. Thereafter He did not leave alone the barren tracts of the earth where high portions lacked in water-springs and where rivers could not find their way, but created floating clouds which enliven the unproductive areas and grow vegetation.

He made a big cloud by collecting together small clouds and when water collected in it and lightning began to flash on its sides and the flash continued under the white clouds as well as the heavy ones He sent it raining heavily. The cloud was hanging towards the earth and southerly winds were squeezing it into shedding its water like a she-camel bending down for milking. When the cloud prostrated itself on the ground and delivered all the water it carried on itself Allah grew vegetation on the plain earth and herbage on dry mountains. As a result, the earth felt pleased at being decorated with its gardens and wondered at her dress of soft vegetation and the ornaments of its blossoms. Allah made all this the means of sustenance for the people and feed for the beasts"

The Qur'an states that God created the world and the cosmos, made all the creatures that walk, swim, crawl, and fly on the face of the earth from water <ref name = "atarmw"/>. He made the angels, and the sun, moon and the stars to dwell in the universe. He poured down the rain in torrents, and broke up the soil to bring forth the corn, the grapes and other vegetation; the olive and the palm, the fruit trees and the grass.

God molded clay, earth, sand and water into a model of a man. He breathed life and power into it, and it immediately sprang to life. And this first man was called Adam. God took Adam to live in Paradise. In Paradise, God created Eve (or Hawa), the first woman, from out of Adam's side. God taught Adam the names of all the creatures, and then commanded all the angels to bow down before Adam. But Iblis (a jinn in the Qur'an - who is also considered to be Satan) refused to do this, and thus began to disobey God's will.

God placed the couple in a beautiful garden in Paradise, telling them that they could eat whatever they wanted except the fruit of a forbidden tree. But Iblis (Satan) tempted them to disobey God, and eat the fruit. When God knew that Adam and Eve had disobeyed him, he cast them out of Paradise.

Judaism and Christianity

Beliefs regarding creation differ among Judeo-Christian groups, both today and in the past. The grammar of the opening verse of Genesis is ambiguous, and can be read as either "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form, and void..." (King James Version), or, equally valid, as "At the beginning of the making of heaven and earth, when the earth was unformed and void..."(Rashi, and with variations Ibn Ezra and Bereshith Rabba). The second reading, which supposes a pre-existing cosmos which God uses as the raw material for his work, is preferred by most scholars on a number of grounds: the phrase "heaven and earth", for example, is a set phrase in Hebrew denoting "everything," and the word commonly translated as "created" (in "God created the Heavens and the earth") is commonly associated with molding something from already-existing raw material.

Genesis has two creation narratives. In the first (Genesis 1:1-2:3), God progressively creates facets of the world during each day of a 7-day week. Creation is by divine command: God says "Let there be light!" and light is created. Mankind (the Hebrew implies the simultaneous creation of male and female, and leaves open the possibility of more than a single pair) is created after the entire world is prepared for them; they are created in the "image" of God, which probably carried the meaning that mankind was to be God's representative on earth, with dominion and care over all other created things. The final day marks the sanctification of the Sabbath as a day sacred to God. The second story (Genesis 2:4-25) is in one sense an aetiology of the origins of morality: it begins with the creation of man and woman (separately - unlike the first story, one of the themes of the second is the origin of marriage and of male dominion over the female) in God's garden of Eden; Adam and Eve live in harmony with God until they gain "knowledge of good and evil" (the Hebrew is another set phrase, meaning "knowledge of everything" rather than strictly moral knowledge) and are expelled from God's presence into the fallen world.

There is no single or comprehensive cosmology in the Hebrew bible, so that it is difficult to state with any degree of confidence just what the world created by the Hebrew God looked like. The Book of Job mentions the pillars that support the earth, the foundations for the world, the "gate" which closes the sea and marks its boundary, the celestial storerooms of the snow and hail, and the channels through which the rain to pours out of the heavens (which are plural - other Biblical verses make clear that there are three heavens, with the stars being set in one and Yahweh having His throne above the highest).

2 Peter implies belief in a Hebraic word-created, geocentric cosmos: "by the word of God the heavens were of old, the earth standing out of the water and in the water," this being the waters of chaos which filled the entire cosmos. Christianity's major innovation was the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, creation "out of nothing". The Church of the first few centuries AD, writing and thinking in Greek rather than Hebrew, and drawing heavily on Greek philosophical ideas as transmitted by the Philo of Alexandria (a 1st century BC Jewish thinker who tried to reconcile Judaism with Platonism), the Church lost the ambiguity of the Hebrew text and replaced it with Greek clarity and "In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth" became the accepted reading of Genesis 1 for both Christians and Jews.

The Church was not, however, literalist, and Biblical commentators throughout the ages discussed the degree to which the accounts of Creation were to be taken literally or allegorically. Maimonides<ref>Guide to the Perplexed 2:17</ref> and Gersonides,<ref>Milchamot Hashem 6:8</ref> in particular, commented that the account of Creation should not be taken literally. More recently, such Torah scholars as Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler also supported a non-literal approach to the opening chapters of Genesis.<ref>Strive for Truth, V.II p 151</ref>

Mandaeism

According to the traditions of Mandaeism creation proceeds from a supreme formless Entity, the expression of which in time and space is creation of spiritual, etheric, and material worlds and beings. Production of these is delegated by It to a creator or creators who originated in It. The cosmos is created by Archetypal Man, who produces it in similitude to his own shape. Inherent to this creation is Dualism, taking the forms of a cosmic Father and Mother, Light and Darkness, Right and Left, syzygy in cosmic and microcosmic form. Instead of a large pleroma, the Mandaeans believe in a discrete division between light and darkness. The ruler of darkness is called Ptahil (similar to the Gnostic Demiurge), and the originator of the light (i.e. God) is only known as "the great first Life from the worlds of light, the sublime one that stands above all works". When this being emanated, other spiritual beings became increasingly corrupted, and they and their ruler Ptahil created our world.

Zoroastrianism

The Zoroastrian story of creation has Ahura Mazda creating 16 lands, one by one, such that each would be delightful to its people. As he finished each one, Angra Mainyu applied a counter-creation, introducing plague and sin of various kinds. The dualistic idea of two primordial spirits, called twins by Zoroaster, goes back to an Indo-European prototype. Although the idea of dualism came from the idea that "god" could not create evil so both evil and good pre-existed before time.

Next page (Americas & Pacifica)