I was reading about yet another creation myth. This one involved a water bug swimming to the bottom of the ocean and bringing up mud to form the land masses. It gets much less plausible from there.
The thing that stands out to me in most creation myths is just how incredibly unbelievable they are. It would seem to me if you were trying to win over converts you would make up something that wasn’t so wacky.
So, not counting the Big Bang are there any traditional CMs that don’t involve supernatural, credibility straining aspects?
I am not very religious myself but I can’t help but notice that the beginning of the Biblical creation story in Genesis matches up with the Big Bang theory oddly well as long as you take the “days” to be metaphorical. I am certainly not a creationist but the basic ideas of the Big Bang theory and later planetary formation are there. It isn’t a perfect match but it talks about a sudden creation that created light not unlike the Big Bang and fairly hard to guess given the state of knowledge when it was written.
I was the science geek in my Sunday school classes when I realized that but I later learned I am certainly not the only one.
Here is the part of the article above that summarizes my point. I don’t want to make too much out of it because again, I am not a creationist but it is an odd coincidence and a good example of a creation myth (the most widespread one in fact) that isn’t completely off the wall depending on how you read it.
*"When Genesis was written about 4000 years ago, humans were almost universally illiterate. The alphabet was being perfected, writing (not hieroglyphics) was still new, calendars were still not perfected, and books and paper didn’t even exist.
But nevertheless, the writers of the Bible somehow figured out that creation occurred first with the universe, then the Earth, then light, then water, then land rising out of the water to separate land and sea, all in the proper order according to contemporary science."*
So, to summarize:
Earth came before light, albeit formless; but water was explicitly there.
The creation of light is explicitly stated to be the creation of a day/night cycle.
If you read on, the Sun, Moon and stars are created long after light is created, and also after plants.
If you see the Big Bang Theory there… well, you really have to want to see it very badly.
You are right about that. I tried to add that disclaimer but the edit window timed out. I don’t want to overstate the case but I think it is still remarkable that they even identified many of the important steps. The authors of Genesis could have made up anything and yet they described an orderly formation not that different from current scientific theories as long as you are generous in the reading. The references to the Big Bang itself are just the very first part of Genesis and not the later verses that lists the steps in a certain order.
It doesn’t really matter exactly how correct in today’s scientific terms Genesis is to me at least. The interesting thing is that they didn’t get it completely wrong unlike many respected people that came much later. We know that many ancient cultures were fairly accomplished astronomers given what they had to work with and many of them were probably quite bright even by modern standards. They may have pieced together a scientifically primitive and not entirely inaccurate creation theory on their own just based on their own intuition that was as informed as it possibly could have been at the time.
The “first creation story” is in Genesis 1:1-2:3 (the Bible wasn’t divided into the current chapters and verses until centuries after its various parts were actually written, so the chapter divisions don’t quite line up with the obvious transition from the “six days of creation” story and the second “Garden of Eden” story).
Day 1: The heavens and the earth; then light.
Day 2: The sky (the “vault” separating “the water under the vault from the water above it”).
Day 3: The land and the seas separated from one another, then plants.
Day 4: The Sun, Moon, and stars.
Day 5: Sea creatures and birds.
Day 6: Land animals, then finally people.
Day 7: God rests.
Not really surprisingly, this version of a very ancient Mesopotamian creation story doesn’t actually match up particularly well with what we’ve learned about the actual history of the Universe, the Solar System, and life on Earth over the course of the last few thousand years (and especially over the course of the last few centuries).
In the first creation story in Genesis, “the earth” is as old as the Universe (“the heavens”), and is actually older than the Sun, Moon, and stars (by a few days, or “day-ages” if you go for that interpretation). The “sky”–some kind of “vault of heaven” separating the waters above the sky from the waters below the sky–is older than the Sun, Moon, and stars. Also, plants are older than the Sun, Moon, and stars. And in the Biblical account, birds come before land animals; we know that birds are actually descendants of land animals (dinosaurs).
You cannot even plausibly claim that “Let there be light” corresponds to the Big Bang, because if you read on, this light is explicitly stated to be the creation of the day/night cycle on earth.
Apparently, they did not even grasp that the principal source of terrestrial light is the Sun and Moon. You really have to be incredibly dumb and unobservant not to get that. Did they not notice shadows?
I reject your premise completely, there is not even a hint of correspondence between the Genesis myth and reality. If it were turtles all the way down rather than the Big Bang you could find no worse a correspondence to Genesis.
Another zodiacal interpretation of the Bible was written under the pseudonym Lloyd Graham (Deceptions and Myths of the Bible). This theory is really out there, but I find it interesting how myth could be based on the zodiac.
Considering the topic is not “Which creation myth are you most fond of”, I’m afraid it doesn’t address the issue at all. More directly, does Genesis 1 make more sense to you than any of the other creation myths?
I was attempting to respond to the last phrase. The ‘FWIW’ was simply a parenthetical.
As for your question: yes, it absolutely makes more sense to me than the other creation myths of which I am aware, which in no way should be taken to suggest that I believe it to be scientifically accurate. It does, however, come remarkable close while (a) demythologizing the extant mythos, and (b) asserting a valuable socio-religious principle that we are all created “b’tzelem 'elohim” - in the image of God.
Since I’m new here, let me add another parenthetical in the hopes of avoiding confusion: I am a Jew who greatly appreciates Torah but who also views it as human-authored text; I also greatly appreciate science and scientific scholarship and look to it for scientific answers.
Yes, tribal creation myths mainly serve the purpose of solidifying tribal identity. At the time most of them were formulated, there was no concept of converting anyone to your beliefs. You would either conquer or kill the neighboring tribes, not convert them by convincing them.
Other myths of cultural groups are often no more plausible than creation myths. They involve god or heroes going up to heaven, or descending into the underworld, or changing into animals, or whatever.