Part One: A look at Biblical, Babylonian, African, Mayan, and Hindu Creation Stories.
Nearly every culture, philosophy, spirituality, and civilization around the world has it’s own views on the beginning (and end) of time. Most of them are symbolic metaphors thought up to ‘explain’ natural phenomenon in the absence of scientific knowledge. Many of these tall tales have recurring themes and inherit psychological implications of the cultures they originate from. And all of them are completely and hilariously absurd in the best possible sense of the term…
Unfortunately we can’t verify if there’s any truth to any of these stories at all due to the blatant lack of a time-traveling vehicle, so I’ll leave it up to you and your common sense (or lack thereof).
—Adam and Eve: Original
Sin FAIL – The Judeo-Christian Story of Creation
“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’: and there was light.”
The story of Adam and Eve is one shared by the Abrahamic religions with slight variations. Some believe the entire parable is a simple myth to explain the un-explainable prior to the notion of scientific theory, some see it as a metaphor for sentience and the pitfalls of free will, while others take the story as a literal factual account of the origin of our species (and everything else in existence).
According to the first book of the Bible (Old Testament), Genesis, God created the Earth (and allegedly the Universe itself) in about a week, after which he passed out from exhaustion on the Seventh Day. It was during this busy week, between rearranging planets and star systems, that God created Man, in his own image, out of clay. This man was named Adam. One day Adam complained about being lonely, so God cloned him from a DNA sample from his ribs, except added an X chromosome (in addition to Sugar, Spice, and everything nice), along with some estrogen, and boobs (minus a penis). And so Eve, the first woman, was born. These two (immortal) humans hung out in the eco-friendly palatial estate known as the Garden of Eden, a trendy paradise with everything a newly wed couple could ever want, on one condition, that the two lovers avoid the ‘Tree of Life’ at all costs. If one ate from said tree they would surely die.
Then one day a snake infiltrated the perimeter to fuck everything up. This sinister serpent whispered to Eve that the secret to the sacred Tree was that if one ate of its fruit they would gain wisdom: the knowledge of Good and Evil. Seeing as Eve didn’t exactly know the difference between right and wrong she unknowingly disobeyed God and took a bite of the fruit (of Good and Evil). Apparently wisdom tastes delicious, so she insisted that her hubby, Adam, have a bite. Having done so, when God swung on by to check in on them he instantly noticed the guilty look on their faces.
‘Did you eat the fruit?’ God asked. ‘No’, Adam lied. ‘Are you sure?’ ‘No…?’ After a bit of back and forth, Adam finally confessed, but promptly blamed Eve for making him eat it. Eve differed responsibility to the bastard snake who’d tricked them both. Adam and Eve had the first marital dispute, which God quickly separated before evicting them from his Green House. After banishing ‘Man’, He posted an Angel at the entrance to Eden, with a kick-ass flaming sword.
Adam and Eve were forced to wander the wilderness and fend for themselves as mortals. They gave birth to numerous kids and they all had an average lifespan of a few hundred years. Their first born sons: Cain and Abel, tragically became the first murderer and homicide victim…. they also had other sons and daughters who somehow populated the world. The book of Genesis goes on to talk about Noah, a world-wide-flood and the tribe of Israel’s zany adventures. One story takes place in the city of Babylon where a King has decided he wants a skyscraper built so he can have a chat with God mono y mono. The Tower of Babel probably looked something like that one imposingly huge building in Dubai. Apparently God didn’t so much want to talk to this guy, because he decided to muck up their plans by inventing language barriers, which automatically had the effect of everyone living in a foreign film, without subtitles. Due to the building’s blue prints being lost in translation, construction ceased in the indecipherable commotion among the workers whom all eventually threw down their hard hats, clocked out, and never returned. FAIL
There are a few variations of this basic moralistic story in different monotheistic religions; for instance, according to the Hebrew Scriptures in the Torah, God (Yahweh) created Man AND Woman at the same time, the first woman actually being Lilith whom has often been considered to be the original lesbian. According to Catholicism and by extension most of Christianity, Eve was responsible for bringing Sin into the world (the concept of Original Sin was established by The Council of Nicaea in 325 CE). Christians also claim that Satan, the fallen angel from the Gnostic Book of Enoch, was in fact the mischievous snake.
According to Islamic tradition, Muslims believe that Adam (Adem) and Eve (Hawwa) were the father and mother of all mankind. The Quran states that after being banished from Heaven to Earth, Allah (God) forgave them for their trespasses. When God ordered the angels and jinn to bow before them, a genie by the name of Iblis refused to do so questioning, “Why should I bow to man, I am made of pure fire and he is made of soil?!” Iblis was then banished from Heaven for his hubris and became the Devil, Shayṭān.
—The Babylonian Creation Myth
The ancient Babylonians of Mesopotamia (mordern-day Iraq) believed in many gods, inheriting the beliefs of the Ancient Sumerians, Akkadians, and Assyrians. (They also believed the gods were out to kill them.) According to their mythology the beginning of time took place before heaven itself when there was only water and darkness.
The ‘Enuma Elish’ is a poem which speaks of this formless state in which all things emerged (written during the reign of Nebuchadrezzar in the 12th Century BCE). Sweet and bitter waters (Apsu and Tiamat) combined to create the primordial beings of the universe: Anshar (the sky, male) and Kishar (the earth, female) who gave birth to Anu, the God of Heaven, who begot Ea, the creator of man. Then the gods promptly bean to fight amongst each other inadvertently creating the chaotic climates, weather, and topographical regions of Earth.
(See: The Epic of Gilgamesh! for more)
—An African Creation Tale: The Amazulu Tribe
A diety called Unkulunkulu, whom was born from a bed of reeds, created all men. ‘He looked on all things and said: “So and so is the name of everything.” He gave man fire to light his way, and taught man how to cook meat by dressing it in fire and commanded that they marry and have children so that they may inherit the earth and its creatures.
—The Mayan Creation Myth
The Mayans of Central America, predecessors of the Aztecs and Incas, believed that the sky came before the world below it. There were two great sages, the Forefathers: Tepeu and Gucumatz. These two bird-gods (of green and blue feathers) met in the darkness and had brunch while they discussed their plans for the tangible world which would appear with the light of dawn.
The ‘Popol Vuh’ accounts, “Thus let it be done! Let the emptiness be filled! Let the water recede and make a void, let the earth appear and become solid; let it be done. Thus they spoke. Let there be light, let there be dawn in the sky and on the earth! There shall be neither glory no grandeur in our creation and formation until the human being is made, man is formed. So they spoke. Then the earth was created by them. So it was, in truth, that they created the earth. Earth! … they said, and instantly it was made……”
The Mayan people believe themselves to be descended from the God of Maize (corn), and that the sun and moon are the embodiment of the Hero Twins of Legend who challenged the Gods of the Underworld in the cave of Xibalba on behalf of their father, Ahuapu, the father of the Mayan people… the God of Corn?! (for more Meso-American history click here!)
—India’s Creation Myth
According to the “Song of Creation” from the ‘Rig Veda’ (1300-1000 BCE), there was nothing before existence, but unanswerable questions. That is until THE ONE came into being, born of heat itself in a time where darkness was wrapped in darkness. From this One came wisdom, desire, strength, impulse, and other completely intangible concepts which somehow led to the world we know today. In the Hindu religion, the pantheon of gods (Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, Rama, Devi, Shakra, Durga, etc) are sometimes referred to as different incarnations of this same being.
Hindus believe in reincarnation, a cycle of life, death, and rebirth, which apparently extends beyond mere mortals. According to the Hindu tradition, there are endless worlds, a multiverse of creation and destruction. These universes are first made by the Creator: Lord Brahma. Then Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, maintains the Universe until it is inevitably destroyed by Lord Shiva…
As for the origins of creation, according to Indian culture, it’s best summed up by the Rig Veda itself:
“But, after all, who knows, and who can say whence it all came, and how creation happened? The gods themselves are later than creation, so who knows truly whence it has arisen? Whence all creation had its origin, he whether he fashioned it, or whether he did not, he, who surveys it all from highest heaven, he knows – or maybe even he does not know….”
So yeah, more questions than answers… Thanks.
To be continued…
(Creation Tales still to come: Egyptian, Chinese, Norse, Greek, and Native American!)
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“The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology” by Arthur Cotterell and Rachel Storm
“The Humanistic Tradition” Vol. 1 (Third Edition) by: Gloria K. Fiero
“Chinese Mythology: Stories of Creation and Invention” by: Claude Helft
“The Timeline History of Ancient Egypt” by: Shereen Rathnagar