Creation Myths LINK
A creation myth (or creation story) is a cultural, religious or traditional myth which describes the earliest beginnings of the present world. Creation myths are the most common form of myth, usually developing first in oral traditions, and are found throughout human culture. A creation myth is usually regarded by those who subscribe to it as conveying profound truths, though not necessarily in a historical or literal sense. They are commonly, though not always, considered cosmogonical myths, that is, they describe the ordering of the cosmos from a state of chaos or amorphousness.
In mythopoeia, an artificial mythology created by writers of prose or other fiction, traditional mythological themes and archetypes are integrated into fiction. Some works of mythopoeia also feature creation myths:
Creation myths often share several features. They often are considered sacred accounts and can be found in nearly all known religious traditions. They are all stories with a plot and characters who are either deities, human-like figures, or animals, who often speak and transform easily. They are often set in a dim and nonspecific past that historian of religion Mircea Eliade termed in illo tempore ('at that time'). Creation myths address questions deeply meaningful to the society that shares them, revealing their central worldview and the framework for the self-identity of the culture and individual in a universal context.
Creation myths have been around since ancient history and have served important societal roles. Over 100 "distinct" ones have been discovered, although this is a fraction of the amount that have been told.
All creation myths are in one sense etiological because they attempt to explain how the world formed and where humanity came from. Myths attempt to explain the unknown and sometimes teach a lesson.
Mythologists have applied various schemes to classify creation myths found throughout human cultures. Eliade and his colleague Charles Long developed a classification based on some common motifs that reappear in stories the world over. The classification identifies five basic types:
Marta Weigle further developed and refined this typology to highlight nine themes, adding elements such as deus faber, a creation crafted by a deity, creation from the work of two creators working together or against each other, creation from sacrifice and creation from division/conjugation, accretion/conjunction, or secretion.
Ex nihilo creation is found in creation stories from ancient Egypt, the Rig Veda, and many animistic cultures in Africa, Asia, Oceania and North America. In most of these stories, the world is brought into being by the speech, dream, breath, or pure thought of a creator but creation ex nihilo may also take place through a creator's bodily secretions.
The literal translation of the phrase ex nihilo is "from nothing" but in many creation myths the line is blurred whether the creative act would be better classified as a creation ex nihilo or creation from chaos. In ex nihilo creation myths, the potential and the substance of creation springs from within the creator. Such a creator may or may not be existing in physical surroundings such as darkness or water, but does not create the world from them, whereas in creation from chaos the substance used for creation is pre-existing within the unformed void.
In creation from chaos myths, initially there is nothing but a formless, shapeless expanse. In these stories the word "chaos" means "disorder", and this formless expanse, which is also sometimes called a void or an abyss, contains the material with which the created world will be made. Chaos may be described as having the consistency of vapor or water, dimensionless, and sometimes salty or muddy. These myths associate chaos with evil and oblivion, in contrast to "order" (cosmos) which is the good. The act of creation is the bringing of order from disorder, and in many of these cultures it is believed that at some point the forces preserving order and form will weaken and the world will once again be engulfed into the abyss. One example is the Genesis creation narrative from the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.
There are two types of world parent myths, both describing a separation or splitting of a primeval entity, the world parent or parents. One form describes the primeval state as an eternal union of two parents, and the creation takes place when the two are pulled apart. The two parents are commonly identified as Sky (usually male) and Earth (usually female), who were so tightly bound to each other in the primeval state that no offspring could emerge. These myths often depict creation as the result of a sexual union and serve as genealogical record of the deities born from it.
In the second form of world parent myths, creation itself springs from dismembered parts of the body of the primeval being. Often, in these stories, the limbs, hair, blood, bones, or organs of the primeval being are somehow severed or sacrificed to transform into sky, earth, animal or plant life, and other worldly features. These myths tend to emphasize creative forces as animistic in nature rather than sexual, and depict the sacred as the elemental and integral component of the natural world. One example of this is the Norse creation myth described in Völuspá, the first poem of Gylfaginning.
In emergence myths, humanity emerges from another world into the one they currently inhabit. The previous world is often considered the womb of the earth mother, and the process of emergence is likened to the act of giving birth. The role of midwife is usually played by a female deity, like the spider woman of several mythologies of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. Male characters rarely figure into these stories, and scholars often consider them in counterpoint to male-oriented creation myths, like those of the ex nihilo variety.
Emergence myths commonly describe the creation of people and/or supernatural beings as a staged ascent or metamorphosis from nascent forms through a series of subterranean worlds to arrive at their current place and form. Often the passage from one world or stage to the next is impelled by inner forces, a process of germination or gestation from earlier, embryonic forms. The genre is most commonly found in Native American cultures where the myths frequently link the final emergence of people from a hole opening to the underworld to stories about their subsequent migrations and eventual settlement in their current homelands.
The earth-diver is a common character in various traditional creation myths. In these stories a supreme being usually sends an animal (most often, a type of bird, but also crustaceans, insects and fishes in some narratives) into the primal waters to find bits of sand or mud with which to build habitable land. Some scholars interpret these myths psychologically while others interpret them cosmogonically. In both cases emphasis is placed on beginnings emanating from the depths.
According to Gudmund Hatt and Tristram P. Coffin, Earth-diver myths are common in Native American folklore, among the following populations: Shoshone, Fox people, Blackfoot, Chipewyan, Newettee, Yokuts of California, Mandan, Hidatsa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ojibwe, Yuchi and Cherokee.
The pattern of distribution of these stories suggest they have a common origin in the eastern Asiatic coastal region, spreading as peoples migrated west into Siberia and east to the North American continent. However, there are examples of this mytheme found well outside of this boreal distribution pattern, for example the West African Yoruba creation myth of Obatala and Oduduwa.
Characteristic of many Native American myths, earth-diver creation stories begin as beings and potential forms linger asleep or suspended in the primordial realm. The earth-diver is among the first of them to awaken and lay the necessary groundwork by building suitable lands where the coming creation will be able to live. In many cases, these stories will describe a series of failed attempts to make land before the solution is found.
Several parents won a lawsuit against a Pennsylvania school district in 2005 that had added the controversial theory of "intelligent design" to its curriculum. Unlike the theory of evolution which is taught at most schools as a fact-based science, "intelligent design" -- as argued by the plaintiffs -- was nothing more than a philosophy predicated on the Judeo-Christian belief that the logical sequences found in nature are not random happenings or surprising mutations, but deftly managed events created by a greater omniscient and omnipresent intelligence with a specific plan. In short, the work of God. A federal judge thought otherwise. But therein lies the rub: Which god? When the founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States, they chose to include the separation of church and state. This was to ensure that the state-sanctioned religious persecutions that plagued much of Europe during the 16th century would not despoil the young, yet grand experiment in democracy that was to become this Republic. Scientific research has come a long way since Charles Darwin first posited the concept of "natural selection." In the intervening years, humanity has learned much about how we became the dominant species on the planet, how the Earth and the solar system were formed and the ever-changing development of the Universe. Over that time, how we understand the theory of evolution has also changed. Scientists now think that there is an intrinsic logic to our reality, that there are absolutes, laws of nature. Much remains a mystery, and as one question is answered, many others arise. The question that faced Pennsylvania's Dover School District was whether or not the imposition of one creation belief on a multi-ethnic, secular student body is in keeping with the law that prohibits the creation of a state religion. If they allow one belief system to be taught, surely they must also teach others? To help out with this dilemma, LiveScience presents a list of those Creation Myths that helped define civilizations both past and present... 041b061a72