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Science - Nature
By: - at January 14, 2013

Creation Narratives and the Evolution Creationist Debate

human evolutionCreation narratives, or creation myths, are collections of stories that attempt to answer truly fundamental questions like where do we come from.  Long before scientific discovery, human beings set out to answer questions about the sun and the moon with elaborate stories.  These stories were passed down usually by a shaman or holy man and each generation passed the story on to the next generation orally because language in most early civilizations was spoken.  The written word didn't surface until the ancient Egyptian civilization and the use of hieroglyphic writing.  Division among religious people has occurred where one group believes that the Book of Genesis is historical fact where others see it as a metaphorical depiction.  From a historical perspective, the Book of Genesis is a creation myth and not an actual depiction of the beginning of the universe.

What is a Creation Narrative?

tree of creationA creation narrative is a story that explains how the earth and mankind came to be long before the scientific revolution offered scientific explanations.  Explanations for lunar eclipses, seasonal changes, storms, and even life and death in ancient times were often left up to these stories instead of science.  Their purpose was to give early humans a sense of identity as well as direction.  Arguing the bible from a anthropological aspect the Book of Genesis is nothing more than a creation narrative.  It provides an explanation for the creation of the earth, man, the universe, and even the internal struggle of good and evil inherent in every man and woman that wishes to follow a Christian path.  Creation narratives also provide for cultural continuity where cultures with similar belief structures will be more likely to trade and integrate their cultures if they have similar beliefs.  An important notion is that although we may have our own unique belief of how things came to be, we all share one fundamental similarity: the need to have these foundational questions answered.  As various creation myths are depicted you will see how different they are, but they have similarities when it comes to what questions they attempt to answer. 

Hindu Creation Narrative

hindu creation narrativeThe religion of Hindu is one of the world's oldest religions with over four thousand years of tradition and practice.  The belief that the world we exist in today is not the first universe nor will it be the last is a central theme to the Hindu creation narrative.  According to Hindus there will be many earths as well as many different universes.  A sense of a dynamic and ever changing conception of what is and what will be is fundamental to the Hindu religion. There is no real supreme creator, but supreme power is comprised of three deities working together.  Lord Brahma the creator, Lord Shiva the destroyer, and Lord Vishnu the preserver work together to bring about the end of an existing universe followed by the birth of a new one.  In Hinduism it is believed that in order to create something, something else must be destroyed.  All three supreme powers share the power to create in the sense that they work together during the entire process of creation.  With the destruction of an old universe there is nothing but an empty ocean left.  On top of this great lifeless ocean is a great serpent called Ananta where scholars claim Lord Vishnu rides floating on the ocean.  A sprouting lotus flower rooted in Vishnu's naval blossoms into what is believed to be Lord Brahma the creator.  Doctrine suggests that Brahma, alone in this new universe, becomes bored and lonely and divides it into two creating man and woman.  There is some debate as to whether it is from his body parts or his entire being splitting, but the common belief is that all that is to be in the new universe comes from Lord Brahma.  This cycle will continue forever with Lord Shiva destroying the current universe, Lord Vishnu again floating atop a lifeless ocean, and Lord Brahma creating all that is to be in the new universe.

Australian Aboriginal Creation Narrative

Australian Aboriginal rock artOne of the oldest surviving cultures on earth are those comprised of the native peoples of Australia.  Known as dreamtime stories and acted out in ceremonies, they are focused around a similar concept central to the Hindu narrative.  There was nothingness, just land no animals no people, no plants or trees.  Then a supreme maker known as Baiame who was commonly known as the creator of many things, brought many different things together in one place.  Some things looked like men and woman, some like nothing they had ever seen before.  With the growing diversity there was growing hostility and tension.  Wars, battles, and arguments soon plagued the once peaceful land.  These hostile interactions were so dynamic that the very shape and makeup of the land was forever changed.  Whenever animals or people did something wrong they were punished by a great rainbow snake that would make rivers, swallow the wrongdoers whole, and spit their remains out making hills and stones.  The way the sun came to be is described by a fight between the emu's ancestor and the eagle.  The story says that the eagle stole an emu's egg and threw it into the sky.  As it flew up into the air it burst into flames, and the fire was forever soaked by Baiame creating the sun.  Due to the secretive nature of the Australian aborigine culture it is hard to get a consistent creation narrative, but this serves as a more popular rendition of a creation myth from Australian aborigines.

Christian Creation Narratives

blue and purple nebulaThe fundamental creation narrative for Christianity is found in the book of Genesis.  The themes are similar when it comes to how there was nothingness and then a supreme creator made all things in the universe.  In Christianity the supreme creator is known as an almighty God who according to the Book of Genesis, created man, woman, and everything in the universe.  Believing this story as actual fact is the root of all controversy between religious people.  On one side of the argument the story serves as a metaphorical account of God's power and not a actual record of events.  There are religious people who strongly believe that the bible is in fact The Word, the actual word, of God.  Christians see this account as either a literal or a metaphorical account of events finding themselves on different sides of the evolutionary debate based on how they interpret this creation myth.  Found in Genesis I and II of the old testament, creation is described as a seven day process.  The famous statement, "Let there be light" can be found in the Book of Genesis.  The earth according to biblical accounts was shrouded in darkness and nothingness.  Without God there would be no day, no night, human beings or any living things.  God creates everything that makes up the universe and lastly creates man in his own likeness.  This account of how the world came to be is drastically different than the story science tells us. 

Scientific Accounts and Creation Narratives

fossil recordAccording to most scientists the earth is over four billion years old and is the result of the iron catastrophe theorem as well as the nebular hypotheses.  The earth's dynamic changes are explained scientifically by the iron catastrophe theorem, and the solar system along with the universe explained by the nebular hypotheses.  The earth is the outcome of billions of years of dynamic change and for most of its early existence was completely inhabitable to living things.  The seas were comprised of methane, the atmosphere toxic, and the weather was extremely violent with constant storms.  Only through plate tectonic shifts, volcanic activity, and the eventual cooling of the earth was life even possible on our planet.  Through evolution and adaptation over hundreds of millions of years, the world was shaped and even today it is constantly changing.  Science teaches us that the mountains are a product of plate tectonic activity and not the creation of some divine being, which is demonstrated by examining the Earth's vast fossil record.  This account of how the world has become the way it is today is from a planetary geological perspective and is shared by members of the scientific community.  This account is drastically different than how a Christian creationist believes. 

chimpanzee posingSuch debate has caused division among Americans where parents do not want their children taught evolution, and others do not want them taught creationism. Currently in the charter school program, deciding whether creationism or evolution is to be taught is the source of controversy.  Others argue maybe both should to be taught, and the question of who should teach creationism has led many parents to put their children in private Christian schools or charter schools.  Charter schools as well as private Christian schools have seen a huge increase of new students due to the growth of the neo-Christian movement.  Some Christians believe that the account depicted in Genesis is an actual account of events and not a creation narrative as it should.  This is believed to be the source of the lack of continuity in the scientific curriculum in schools across the country.

The evidentiary sources of evolution are found in the fossil record and by using the scientific method that relies on facts instead of stories.  The sources of all creation narratives are religious doctrine that were orally passed down through story telling.  Even the bible, before it was recorded using the written word, was nothing more than oral tradition passed from one generation to another.  Where do you weigh in on the extremely important national debate regarding creationism and evolutionism?  Do your beliefs stem from science and experience, or from religious dogma?

If you had to pick a side, which side would you pick and why?


 

 

 

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