Creation Stories: Common Elements from Around the World
Creation Myths Innate in human nature is the drive to explore. Chief among these explorations is the desire to explain the origin of man, earth, animals, plants, and other elements of nature. In an effort to explain these origins, early man invented stories which made sense in regard to his specific time period and culture.
These stories are known today as Creation Myths. Common Themes Interestingly, Creation Myths from around the world often share many similar themes. It is important to remember, however, that these similarities have been attributed by modern scholars, not the inventors of the stories. Therefore, individual myths cannot be expected to conform exactly to modern stereotypes. Rather, each creation myth will likely contain several common thematic features.
We will attempt to explore these interesting similarities, while also observing any obvious differences. Common Elements: Birth Egg Often a jumbled mass of components which serve as the first elements of life
Childbirth Male or Female gods give birth to children Natural Unusual Common Elements: Mother and Father Very common in many world cultures Mother usually earth
Life emerges from earth/womb Father usually sky Sense of unity created (marriage) Common Elements: Genealogy
The first god born did not always create the world. Often, his or her children decided to fill the world with life. The parents work was finished by the child. Common Elements: Supreme Beings
Most cultures revered a pantheon of supreme beings (polytheistic) Some cultures revered a single creator (monotheistic) Common Elements: Earth-Diver Myths Many stories allude to a time when the earth was covered
by water many myths feature a creature diving into the water to retrieve some earth to grow and form the Earth Common Elements: Animal/Human Relationships Animals played key roles in many Creation Myths often viewed as equal to humans
often reflect feelings of culture for animals Common Elements: Night, Fear, Fire, and Sin In the creation myths of many cultures, darkness represents fear the setting of the sun brought on fear and chaos this fear and chaos was sometimes
represented as fire Common Elements: An Instruction, a Sin, and the Consequence Many creation myths consist of at least one of these elements The consequence is often what causes pain, hunger, disease, and all other
evils which plague the earth Common Elements: Creation of Man Created by a god or supernatural being Establishes: a connection between human beings and the supernatural world the place of humans in the hierarchy of life in
the universe (below gods, above animals) Common Elements: Creation of Geographical Features Many legends offer explanations for the formation of mountains, valleys, oceans, rivers, etc. Common Elements: Creation of Lesser Creatures (animals, plants insects, etc.)
Almost all creation stories account for the existence of the forms of life that inhabit the planet. May also explain the physical characteristics of the animals. Creation Myths Much like our distant ancestors, we strive to uncover our origins and determine our place in the universe.
Scientists advance new theories each year on the origin of the universe For some, scientific evidence serves as a basis for creation stories For others, deeply rooted ancient beliefs remain the cornerstone in their own theories
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