One commonality nearly all past human cultures possess is that they attempted to explain the unknown through fanciful tales of Gods, Goddesses, Spirits or other magical beings that through some manner were able to control the weather and shape the world around them. Amongst these varied tales one particular set of myths stands out as being a common creation in past societies namely that of the birth of the World.
It must be noted that nearly every single civilization that has come into being has had a creation myth as the foundation of their culture from which all other preceding myths are based upon. The reason for this is that it is basic human nature to try to question all that is around them and to attempt to answer these questions in whatever way is available. Since at the time of their creation most early civilizations did not quite grasp the scientific truths that we know of today as such they used myths to fill in the gaps so to speak.
One problem with this method is that while they at times came close to the answer as to how the world was actually formed most of the time due to the exaggerated nature of some of the myths they were wrong more than they were right. What this paper will seek to do is show how the different creation myths of various cultures simultaneously got the facts wrong and right at the same time. Greek Myth of Creation
The more popular aspects of Greek mythology are usually focused on the Olympic Gods and Goddesses and their various in fighting, squabbles and methods of interference with the people of Greek world one aspect that is rarely mentioned is the concept of how the Greeks viewed the creation of the world. Greek mythology states that initially the entire universe was composed of a great black void called chaos that was surrounded by a massive unending stream of water that was supposedly ruled by the ancient god Oceanus.
This landscape of an endless stream of water and a great gaping void was said to tbe the domain of the Goddess Eurynome (Hamilton 1969). That in a desire to make order from the chaos she danced on the waves of Oceanus which helped to separate the sky from the sea and she also created the land from which she placed a plethora of creatures to populate it (Hamilton 1969). In some aspects the Greek story of creation did get some parts right when it came to describing the creation of the world.
It is true that initially the early Earth was covered by a vast ocean with no landmass present at all and that there was also persistent storms that occurred as a result of erratic weather patterns at the time. It is also true that land masses were formed after the oceans receded and from this came the eventual rise of plant and animal life on the planet. In several aspects the Greek myth of creation was actually right however it is highly doubtful that a Goddess danced on the waves of the early Earth and created the landmasses we have today since there is no evidence to prove such a Goddess existed.
Egyptian Myth of Creation Ancient Egyptian mythology states in the beginning there was nothing, that everything was darkness and all that existed was a great body of water named Nun. It was through the power of Nun that a great shinning egg came out of the darkness and this was the great God Re who could take many forms and was powerful enough that if he spoke of name that being or object came into being (El Aswad 2005). It was through Re speaking the names of the Egyptian gods that they came into being and the land, sun, stars and sky came into being.
The one aspect that the ancient Egyptians got right was it is true that originally the was nothingness in the world and yes there was a great body of water on Earth during it’s early years however there has been no evidence to prove that a great shinning sentient egg caused the creation of the sun, sky and land merely by stating their names. Norse Myth of Creation Ancient Norse mythology states that initially there was a great void names Ginnungagap from which came a region of ice named Niflheim in the the North and Muspellsheim a region composed of fire in the south.
It was the meeting of these two regions that melted the ice of Niflheim and created the frost giant Ymir who was eventually killed by Odin, Vili and Ve who formed the Earth from his flesh and the heavens from his skull (Columbia 2009). It must be noted that Norse mythology is incredibly fatalistic and is among the most depressing types of mythology to be read. It comes at no surprise that their concept of the creation of the Earth came out of death.
All in all similar to ancient Egyptian mythology Nose mythology only got the notion of a formless void correct the parts regarding the formation of the Earth through the dead carcass of a giant is definitely wrong. Judeo- Christian Myth of Creation One of the most well known myths in the world today is the Judeo – Christian myth of how the world was created by God in seven days. It must be noted that while it is true that this particular myth was the result of the early Judaic religion of attempting to interpret the creation of the world through God it is the time frame itself that is wrong (Mclaren 2006).
While it may be true that there is a one true God the creation of world has been proven to have been the result of a process billions of years in the making. The myth did get several parts right though. The initial events of the creation of light could be stated as the start of the big bang, after which the creation of the starts, seas and landmass on Earth all follow a prescribed and accurate order as to how things were created in a step by step process. The creation of man though is something to be contended with since according to fossil records and Darwin’s theory of evolution man originated from apes and not from the ground.
Aztec Myth of Creation The Aztec myth of creation is based upon the actions of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca who looked down from their place in the sky and saw only water below. They attempted to create a mass of land on the water however a gigantic goddess that was floating on the water ate everything they made with her many mouths (Hofstadter 2005). As a result the two gods transformed themselves into giant snakes and tore her in two with her head and shoulders becoming the Earth and the lower part of her body the sky.
From the hair of the goddess came the plants of the Earth, from her eyes and mouth the waters of the Earth and from her nose and shoulders the mountains, hills and valleys (Hofstadter 2005). The Aztec myth of creation is similar to that of the Norse myth of creation which states that the Earth was born from the decapitated body of a giant being. One problem with the Aztec myth of creation is that besides the point indicating that there was a giant body of water in the beginning of the Earth’s creation which is true the rest of the myth is highly inaccurate when considering the facts that are known today.
For one thing, similar to this paper’s reaction to Norse mythology, the Earth was most certainly not created from the decapitated body of a giant goddess rather it was formed through the interaction of volcanic activity and receding oceans. Incan Myth of Creation The Incan myth of creation states that the Earth was originally covered in darkness and that from the lake Collasuyu emerged the Incan god Con Tiqui Viracocha who brought humans with him. When he emerged Con Tiqui brought forth the sun and stars and fashioned more humans from giant rocks that he found nearby (Feld 2000).
When interpreting the Incan myth of creation it become obvious that while the Incans were aware of the concept of darkness covering the Earth it becomes clear that that myth assumes that when humans arrived on Earth everything was already formed and that all it needed was light in the form of the sun and stars. The Incan myth of creation is different from the other myths presented in this paper due to the fact that it states that there was no need for land and water to separate because everything was already arranged in the beginning.
Besides the account of darkness covering the Earth most of the Incan myth of creation is highly inaccurate and is not an accurate account of what creation of the Earth was like. List of References Hamilton, Edith. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. Pg. 66 – 68. 1969. Warner Books: New York “Ymir. ” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2009): 1. Maclaren, Alexander. “THE VISION OF CREATION. ” 3-5. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 2006. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web.
7 June 2010. Hofstadter, Dan. “THE AZTECS: BLOOD AND GLORY. ” Smithsonian 35. 10 (2005): 76. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 7 June 2010. Feld, Evelyn Dana. “The Inca creation myth. ” Calliope 10, no. 7 (March 2000): 36. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 7, 2010). El-Aswad, el-Sayed, Jane Garry, and Hasan El-Shamy. “Creation Myth: Cosmogony and Cosmology, Motifs A600-A899. ” Archetypes & Motifs in Folklore & Literature: A Handbook (2005): 24-31. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 7 June 2010.