functions of Creation Myths Discussion
in your on words please respond to these three discussion using 75 words or more each response. Please made your response personable.
Myth and religion seem to come from the same well spring. Or maybe it is more right to say that Myth is the well spring of Religion. As myths are unproven stories that cultures share, it is not unusual that the creation of the world/cosmos and the creation of humanity and the Gods themselves would be a subject they would need explanations for. As humans, we need explanations for everything. Small children learn two words very quickly; No and Why! This should tell us that explanations are necessary to our very nature. Myths help our human nature to understand our world.
According to our readings Myths are related in a cyclical fashion and history in a linear one. I had never thought of it like that but it is very true. The creation myths fall into 8 types and then mixtures of those 8 types (Leonard and McClure 33-43). I was not aware of a few of them were considered parts of myths until I started this class. It interested me that other than using primal elements, Gods making us, Gods sacrificing themselves, the miracle of birth, and the complexity of life and God breathing life into the world that life from another planet was included in the list. That was very interesting to me. But after looking at some of the creation & destruction myths, I am no longer suprised. Especially the Hindu ones. With what appear to be flying saucers and atomic weapons. Wow.
Many of the creation and destruction stories in many religions parallel each other. The “flood” is one of them. Told by ancient Sumarians, Jews, Christians, Hindus and others and all basically the same story. Man has become bad and must be cleansed from the earth so that mankind can be “restarted” so a flood is sent. A family of good men is saved and humanity is restarted from them and they have saved a few of the animals of the earth too. So they are given dominion over the earth and the animals and told not to repeat the mistakes of the past. There are variences in the different versions but there is no missing it is the same story told by different story tellers. I would think this myth would have given people hope that even if all around them were “wicked” that if they were good they would be spared as the world was started over in a new cycle of life.
Some cultures have very different creation and destruction stories from the average. I believe from the understanding of my readings, that their cultures may have been started in different circumstances. For example on an a volcanic island in the middle of the ocean. Having a creation story of the Goddess being inside the volcano and sacrifing young people to her to make sure she didn’t take your whole village and your crops and people would be fertile would seen very natural. That same creation story would seem very strange say from an indian tribe whose roots were from northern alaska. Knowing that although your god/goddess has told you they would destroy your world some day under a given circumstance (including your own death as a destruction of your world) would be easier if that knowledge included the fact that it was not the end but another beginning. A new start for your decendents.
The creation stories I have read also seem to follow the underlying feeling of the culture that made them. As an example, the Babylonian creation myth has a lot of war and slavery in it and so did their culture. The Cherokee creation story has the animals in charge and leading and their culture was very nature oriented. They lived with and worshiped the animals and nature. The Eqyptian creation myth is full of order and organization and so was their civilation. Everything had a name and a place and a way of being (Maat). It seems that cultures have used their own “personalities” when the myths were first shared/written. Which does make sense. Even today I have been told to write what I know!
The story told in Genesis of the Earth’s creation and man’s creation is similar to other cultures creation myths in that the world is created from choas and man is created from dust and the breath of God. But as in most stories of a religious nature man makes a mistake and is punished (ending the world as he knew it) and the only way back into the god’s good grace is to follow a set of rituals. Revelations is a story of a great battle between good and evil which will end the world as we know it. And then begin a new (better) world order. Again a cyclical time line. Both stories show that a great and loving god created man and cares for him and if only man will listen and do as he is told, man will be able to have a place at God’s right hand eternally. But like a good parent God must punish man when he makes mistakes. So man may see the “bad” things in their lives as a just punishment for mistakes or purposeful wrongs done. These stories explain why the punishments must happen but that joy will follow them if only man is faithful. (I am aware of the “Jesus” factor in the eternal happiness but chose not to discuss it here.) These myths may give a culture the hope that even if their lives are not wonderful here on the earth that their next life (after death) will be wonderful and full of great things if they are faithful to their god and follow all the rituals of their faith.
Creations Myths come from many origins and are often thought of to be truth mixed with a little bit of false. We can say vice versa though. They depicted how the world began and how you and I came into existence. Creation Myths often left many questions on the table due to the usage of deities and animal like creatures that were said to transform between worlds.
Creating and destruction stories very from culture to culture because the stories are told in a different light. As time has progressed these stories are told in a way to fit the views of today’s people. For instance a story in the 1850’s is told to fit what’s relevant during those times while a story being today would be more fitting for 2014. One would have to take in consideration location as well. Creation in China where children separated their parents would be China specific, while the Story of Atum would bring many questions if told in China versus Egypt. These stories shaped their cultures in early times and still today hold great value in the way the people see religion and the creation and destruction of earth in the future.
In the readings there were several creation myths that stood out such as earth-diver, two creators, sacrifice, division and secretion which all shaped cultures in a different way. For instance in some cultures in Africa they believe in giving a sacrifice to god during the passing of a loved one. This also separated some cultures that once were close which could have given them the sight of division of their culture at one point in time.
Christianity and Judaism are allied with the creation myth from Genesis which was the first book of Hebrew (We know it as the bible). In the Book of Hebrew (Tanakh) god created everything with his most remembered words “Let There Be”. Revelations is in the New Testament and puts an emphasis on the end of the world and the recreation of the world which came from a Jewish prophet and was disseminated to 7 churches in the provinces of Asia. Genesis and Revelation both could be thought of as myths passed down from culture to culture.
Flood stories seem to vary from region to region but the end results were very similar although most focus on the punishment of mankind for their wrong doings. Most floods were formed by deity or deities in an act of punishment mankind. The Greeks believed Zeus flood was because of his anger at man for raging war amongst each other. So he brought on a great flood only sparing a few who would make a great sacrifice after the floods. In the book of Hebrew (Bible) Noah was informed to build and ark and take two of everything to start life over after the floods and there was no sacrifice made which is much different that the rebirth in Greek writings.
My views of relationships and myths are that myth shaped cultures into the religions they follow today. The stories that were passed down as myths made ancestors believe in a certain set of laws of god which they passed on throughout their lives. They hand these stories down to the next generation who in turn tells the tale to their young followers. Without myths I do not believe religion would exist.
Just as there is creation there is destruction. Creation myth involve both mythical and scientific thinking which is used to explain unknown aspects of the world. Destruction discusses the “ultimate” end of time. Some cultures there is only one beginning and one end, while in other cultures the universe can be created over and over.
There are several types of creation myth: “accretion or conjuction-potency of primal matter; secretion- usually focuses on creation of humans; humans coming from gods; sacrifice- creation has a cost; division or consummation- making room for life; earth diver- miracle of birth, life emerging from the smallest particle; emergence- evolution of humanity, humans as participants in creation; two creator- hierarchies of life; higher and lower classes; deus faber- wonder of nature; intricacy and complexity of life; ex nihilo- life as breath of god; word creating order out of chaos” (Leonard and McClure)
“Myths are narratives that usually focus on gods, supernatural creatures with extraordinary powers with the distinctive trait of immortality.” (Commentary)
“Myths relate the origins of the world, its phenomena and institutions. So, too, does historical writing that aims at telling the truth about the past. Thus, it often happens that the history of different nations, kingdoms, and cities gets intertwined with mythology and that historical writing starts from myths” (commentary)
The “flood” story has been told many different ways. One example of this can be found in the Hebrew Bible- God had mercy for Noah who was instructed to build an arc and to save “humankind and humans from extinction”. Another example can be found in ancient Indian myths; in lieu of Noah, there was Manu who saved a little fish who towed Manu’s boat out to the peaks of the Himalayas” (Commentary)
Leonard, Scott and Michael McClure. Myth & Knowing: An Introduction to World Mythology. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2004. Print.