Creation Mythology a Culture's Belief About the Term Paper

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Creation Mythology

A culture's belief about the beginning of the world is called a creation myth, story or tale. An explanation of the origin of the universe is known as a cosmogony. It is difficult to find any people throughout the world who do not have some explanation for the source of life. One of the most interesting aspects of creation mythology is the similarities that exist among descriptions, whether they are from the Judeo/Christian Bible or from African, Native American, South American, Greek, Japanese or Australian cultures. Common themes are present in both the West and East. From the earliest humans, who painted on the walls of their cave, there has been a need to search for answers and explain the unknown. A number of researchers have concluded that the source of all creation myths stems back to a common point, probably actual historical events in history (Van Over 1980; Roth, 1981). They all come from one early source and are different only because time and local cultural circumstances have embellished or altered them. This is the reason why the details in the creation myths vary, but either the basic outline is similar, or at least they share common elements. Despite today's level of science and technology, the answers about nature and humankind's place in the universe are still be sought.

One of the most widespread creation stories is that of Genesis from the Bible. In Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, or as the first Hebrew word states: "Bereshith (or Bereshit), "In the beginning"

Genesis relates the happenings at the beginning of the world from the time when "God created the heaven and the earth" (1:1) until the death of Joseph, the 11th son of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob. The book falls into two unequal parts. The first part (chap. 1-11) covers the rise of humankind and contains narrations about Adam and Eve, the first man and first woman and their original sin; the relationship of their sons Cain and Abel; the flood that God sent to destroy everything living being except for the immediate family of Noah, the one "just man" (6:9) and the creatures saved by him for the future; and the confusion of speech and scattering abroad of people. The first part of Genesis also contains the first covenant made by God with humanity through Noah (see 9:9-17). The second section (chap. 12-50) mostly offers an account of the lives of the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or the history of the beginnings of the Hebrew nation.

Genesis relates all of creation and history to God, provides an explanation of the genealogies of Adam to Abraham and the sacred agreements made by God with Noah and with Abraham (see 17:2-21); and overviews the new and binding relationships between God and humankind and God and the Hebrew nation. Regardless of whether a person is a literalist and believes the Bible completely as written or sees it as mostly mythological, scholarship and related scientific investigation have revealed that numerous events, places, and people described and named in Genesis most probably did occur and exist (MSN Encarta).

One of the oldest Japanese myths is about creation From Genji Shibukawa: Tales from the Kojiki compiled in 712 CE by O. No Yasumaro in 712 (CE). The myth begins that before the heavens and earth came about there was all chaos. The plain of high heaven created a deity called Ame-no-Minaka-Nushi-no-Mikoto (the Deity-of-the-August-Center-of-Heaven). Next the heavens gave birth to a deity named Takami-Musubi-no-Mikoto (the High-August-Producing-Wondrous-Deity), followed by a third called Kammi-Musubi-no-Mikoto (the Divine-Producing-Wondrous-Deity). These three divine beings are called the Three Creating Deities.

In the meantime, what was "heavy and opaque" in the world became the earth. After millions and millions of years, a pair of immortals were born. These were the Deity Umashi-Ashi-Kahibi-Hikoji-no-Mikoto (the Pleasant-Reed-Shoot-Prince-Elder-Deity) and the Deity Ame-no-Tokotachi-no-Mikoto (The Heavenly-Eternally-Standing-Deity). Other gods were also created, who became bored and wanted something to do in this chaotic world.

The heavenly beings allowed the lower deities to take a spear and lay it across the waters. The jeweled shaft began to form islands. On one of the islands, they built a pillar and built around it a great palace called the Hall of Eight Fathoms. Thereupon the male deity turning to the left and the female deity to the right, each went round the pillar in opposite directions. When they again met each other on the further side of the pillar, Izanami, the female deity, speaking first, exclaimed: "How delightful it is to meet so handsome a youth!" To which Izanagi, the male deity, replied: "How delightful I am to have fallen in with such a lovely maiden!"

However, the male deity was concerned because the female deity had said her greeting first -- which is not proper. Regardless, they soon had relations and bore two children who were deformed. Very upset, the two deities asked the heaven gods why this was so. It was because the woman deity had spoken first. Therefore, the two deities recreated their first walk around the pillars. This time, the male said his greeting first. The two then created all the islands. After making a country, they beget deities to preside over the land, sea, mountains, rivers, trees, and herbs and then the wind, sun, trees and mountains.

Everything went well until the birth of the deity of fire, when an unseen misfortune befell the divine mother, Izanami. The goddess was so severely burned by the flaming child that she completely loss her appetitite. Izanagi prepared various tasty dishes, but all to no avail, because she rejected whatever was swallowed. However, then from her mouth sprang Kanayama- biko and Kanayama-hime, respectively the god and goddess of metals. And, from other parts of her body issued forth Haniyasu-hiko and Haniyasu-hime, the god and goddess of earth. Izanami then died, which marked the arrival of death into the world. Similarly, the corruption of her body and the grief caused by her death were each the first of their kind.

From the grieving Izanagi's eyes fell tears that grew into more infants. However, these many offspring did not lessen his pain. He went to a castle in the netherworld to bring back his love Izanami. She said she could not leave, because she had already "eaten the things of this land." He convinced her to go to the gods of the underworld and ask permission to leave. She made him promise not to follow. Yet, after many hours, he could not longer wait. He went into the castle and found Izanami as a rotting corpse.

There are many similarities between this story and both Genesis and other Biblical tales. It goes without saying, that deities are part of Judeo/Christian and Japanese creation myths. However, there is one supreme God in the former, and one heavenly god in the latter and several lesser gods.

Birth is another of the common themes between the two stories. In fact, this topic is seen in many creation myths. Genesis, for example, is just the beginning of the theme of birth that threads throughout the five Books of Moses. "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground." Similarly, Izanami and Izanagi gave birth to children who spread throughout the world. This theme is very closely related to the idea of parents or mother or father, which are major aspects of both Biblical and the Japanese mythology.

Both stories also emphasize the birth of the earth and its many various permutations and lives -- morning and the evening, the water, the vegetation, the animals ... Thus, likewise, did the god and goddess create the islands, the sun, the wind

Another very common theme is the idea of good and evil, right and wrong. Also included with this is the theme of woman being secondary and the one who makes the first mistakes. Genesis definitely records that the serpent lures Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve convinces Adam to do the same. Fundamentalists say this story describes how, through the misuse of free will, pain and death came into the world. They state that everyone is a sinner in exile and that both women and knowledge are dangerous -- some Orthodox Jews even teach men a prayer that thanks God "for not making me a woman."

Many believe that the serpent represents Satan, who has been cast from heaven with the other demons. Satan knew that God had made His human creation from the dust of the ground. The physical body was, in its present state, a temporary dwelling for the spirit in man. That spirit did not give man an immortal soul, for only God is immortal. What the spirit did give mankind was a…

Sources Used in Document:


Drane, John. Introducing the Old Testament. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Publications, 2001.

Farmer, Penelope. Beginnings. New York: Antheneum, 1979.

Japanese Creation Myth. Website retrieved 21 October, 2004.

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