2. Creation and Its Stories

Ain Sakhri Lovers at the British Museum

Ain Lovers at the British Museum

Links to assigned texts:

Enuma_Elish_text

*Theogony,

*Descent of Inanna,

* A Zoroastrian Catechism,

*Genesis

* zarathustrian-creation-story-from-avesta-chapter-1

Please post your responses and thoughts on “Creation and Its Stories”  in “Comments”  section below.   You may want to further reflect on any of the subjects we discussed in class:

  1. Order of creation.
  2. Relation of destruction to creation.
  3.  Emergence  of time and space.
  4.  Nature and transcendence.
  5.  Sex, gender and creation.
  6.  “Stages” or “process” of creativity.
  7.  Or you may introduce a new topic we did not get a chance to discuss.    You may  bring in your own views on creation and creativity, but try to relate to at least of the the texts we studied this week:  Enuma Elish, Theogony, Genesis, either of the Zoroastrian texts, and the Descent of Innana.
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32 thoughts on “2. Creation and Its Stories

  1. In Genesis, the tone of creation is dictatory; “And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” Compared to the other text, this gives far less insight into the process of creation. However, Genesis does frequently mention separations. “God separated the light from the darkness,” “God made the firmament and separated the waters.” This pattern of separation ends in the departure of Adam and Eve from the garden. This repeated separation implies that creation needs distinction, that when something is created it needs to be differentiated from what it is not. Light is not dark, land is not sea, Adam and Eve are not members of the garden. Separation or distinction in creativity has promoted the creative landmine that is the counterculture phenomenon. When a creator disengages with the popular ideal their creativity is more easily noticed and noted upon.

    In contrast to Genesis’s separation, creation in Theogony stems from planned conflict, and an intermingling, philotes. Obviously collaboration fuels creativity, and philotes can be interpreted as the combining of ideas and discourse until something is born from that. However philotes can also be interpreted in its more traditional sense, that actual intercourse promotes creativity. Regardless, the byproduct of destruction also sparks creation. When Ouranos’ genitals were cut, “many drops of blood spurted forth, all of them Gaia received.” In the next years, Gaia bore more children. Also the castrated genitals themselves, another byproduct, formed the most beautiful creation, Aphrodites. Both intermingling and the conflict from that results in a different process of creation than the one spoke about in Genesis: intermingling instead of separation promotes creation.

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  2. In Enuma Elish and Theogony, we are presented with life (or beings) before the beginning of the universe we know. In these stories our world is created through the destruction of the previous one and a separation of the preexisting elements. In Enuma Elish it is utter devastation of Tiamat’s body that becomes our universe, because as her limbs are torn apart each piece transforms into a different element/celestial body. This is similar the to destruction of Ouranos in Theogony, who, once castrated, fiercely withdraws from Gaia, creating the separation between the earth and the sky. Unlike these two creation myths, Genesis doesn’t present a world before ours, there is only God. Our universe is created by command, God saying, “Let there be light” and by commanding it it comes to be. There is no destruction here, only pure creation and separation of good from bad. But can something be created from nothing or must there always be and always have been a source that, once destroyed, transforms into something entirely new.

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  3. The creation stories portray female and male in different ways. There are always female and male characters, and the characters are referred as “she” or “he”. None of the stories refers the creation god as “it”. In Theogony, Gaia is the mother of many gods and goddesses, but she is described as “monstrous”; in Enuma Elish, Tiamat is the mother of the gods, but at the ends she becomes a destroyer, raising demons to destroy the gods. In Genesis, Adam calls Eve “the mother of all beings”, yet she comes from a man. So in those creation stories, the female is always the mother, but has either sinful or evil side; the male is always more powerful than the female .
    In Enuma Elish, the creation brings the destruction, and vice versa. Apsu and Tiamat created the gods, but they were killed by them, then dead body of Tiamat was used to create the earth. In Genesis, Adam and Eve ate the fruit, and received punishment from God. This can be viewed as “destruction”. The “destruction” led to the “creation” of the human beings because Adam and Eve got the intelligence, which is the distinction between human beings and other animals.

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  4. The general order of creation is constant throughout the majority of the creation stories we read. As stated in Enuma Elish and Hesiod it all began with a void or gap that held substances which would lead to the beginning of space, time etc. The difference can be recognized in the way or process that lead to space and time emerging. For example: in Enuma Elish space was formed through the destruction of the Mother of gods, Tiamat, who was torn apart by her own grandson Marduk, and in Hesiod space is made through the castration of Ouranos’s genitals. However, no matter the difference in what caused SPACE to form, time always quickly follows behind it.

    Hinted from the emergence of space through killing Ouranos and Tiamat I found it quite interesting in seeing that in order for the things to cultivate, spread and create there had to be some form of destruction before hand. Even in this time and day we use the philosophy that in order to produce or create something new we must achieve it through destruction. This could include how wars, which sadly kill millions of individuals, lead to a stronger nation and alliances with other countries. While the philosophy isn’t pleasing it defines the saying, “You can’t create something out of nothing.”

    While in class we discussed the differences between Monotheistic and Polytheistic religion, but we didn’t highlight the similarities they share in rare occasions. I was mind struck when I realised how similar Greek Mythology and the Bible were when it came to the concept that evil, sin and death were all released upon the world by the act of the 1st woman. In biblical terms I am referring to when Eve, the first woman, was deceived by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit. When she eats the fruit she leads Adam to eat it as well. This was recognized as a rebellion against the Lord, which led him to curse the serpent and the ground, a.k.a. creating sin, death, etc. Moreover, in Greek mythology Pandora, the first woman, was blessed with countless gifts including a jar that held the world’s evils. Of course she too was instructed not to open it, but disobeyed this rule and led to evil engulfing the world. Both first women play a role in unleashing evil upon the world due to curiosity. There are numerous differences and similarities between the two religions that I personally find interesting.

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  5. The division of roles between sex is clearly stated by multiple religious texts. In the Zoroastrian text, it states that, second to the practice of religion and worshiping God, it is the primary duty of men to take a wife, whose role is to aid him in the production of an “earthly offspring”. Similarly, in Genesis, Lord God condemns Adam, men, to a life of soil toiling and Eve, women, to an eternal existence of painful childbearing. While it appears that the role women is inferior to men because the distribution of these roles designates men as the primary bread winners of family and forces women to unwillingly depend on men for survival, I find that the role of women in these religious texts have more significance and extends further than just as supplement counter parts in the production of an “earthly offspring”.

    In the Genesis, Eve serves as a medium that brings about destruction and the end of peace in the Garden of Eden, but she also serves to bring about the end of ignorance and the beginning of knowledge, wisdom and creativity among mankind. Similarly, in Hesoid, Theogony, Gaia’s drive to end Ouranos’ evil and lusty rule brings bought about an era of peace and the creation of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. While the beginning of creation always begin in violence and destruction, under these women’s influence better elements are introduced such as love, knowledge and creation. Furthermore, women’s nurturing and reproductive ability greatly aid in development of creation. Despite all these contributions that women makes, the dominating patriarchal society of the past is visibly present in all of the religious texts where the ultimate supreme being is identified as male and women are often characterized as sinful and monstrous.

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  6. While the monotheistic Zoroastrian and Hebrew texts have all of creation done by one omniscient and eternal being, the order of creation in the Greek and Babylonian texts is divided between several powerful beings that are not all knowing or all powerful. The first chapter of Genesis is about god’s process of creating everything in existence. In the Hebrew text, Genesis, god creates something from nothing. In the Babylonian myth, the universe as we know it now came from something else. It came from a formless primordial ooze that was itself a being. This ocean of all things, Tiamat, was destroyed by a god that emerged from it and from this great destruction arose all things in the universe. This greatly differs from the monotheistic texts where the supreme being is more of a spirit outside of time and space. This Greek and Babylonian gods are much more human like than the all knowing and all powerful monotheistic god.

    The all knowing and all powerful god also tends to be far less sexual than the Greek gods and goddesses. The more emotional and imperfect gods of the Greek pantheon tend to be quite sexual. The most powerful god, Zeus, is famous for sleeping around and raping nymphs. The Greek gods practiced sex for pleasure and power. In Theogony, time and space emerged because Gaia tired of engaging in intercourse with Ouranos. Sexuality is far less present in the Genesis creation story. None of creation actually directly came from sexuality. The all powerful lord just created things, named things, and acknowledged that they were good.

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  7. I found in interesting how human beings were always created last in each creation story. In the Greek text, elite beings such as Chawos, Gaia, and Tartaros created Titans and gods before humans came to be. In Genesis, God created different forms of nature such as the earth, water, and vegetation. In Babylonian culture, Apsu (the abyss) and Tiamat (the ocean) give birth to gods inside of the nothingness. Ohrmazd created different forms of nature before mankind in Bundahishn. However, even though they were created last, they had the most important roles to play in the stories. They were considered the champion of the Gods, such as in the Babylonian Creation myth; the helper of God in Gensis. In Innana’s Descent into the Netherworld, mankind tells the story of Innana’s travel to the underworld in order to see if she could become immortal. In this story, Innana was a goddess but her husband and servants were mortals. When Innana doesn’t return from the underworld, it is the servant who remains loyal to her that seeks out three powerful gods to help Innana return to the heavens.

    I also want to note how most of the myths included something being destroyed in order to make way for something ‘new’. For example, Kronos had to kill Tataros in order for Aphrodite to start the reign of the Titans. Marduk killed Tiamat in order to create the universe. Even in Genesis, God had to split apart the light from the darkness and separate the waters which were under the firmament. By splitting something, one side is losing a part of itself to something else.

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  8. The Book of Genesis and Enuma Elish have many similarities. They share the same sequence of creation; starting off with the fabrication of light, then firmament, land, then man. Before the creation of the earth, the primeval world had no form and no substance (in Genesis, the ‘tohu wa bohu’, and in Enuma Elish, the ‘deep’ of Tiamat [perhaps referring to her stomach?]). In both, there was a separation of waters to create the sky and the sea, with each story referring to the heaven and earth as a dome.

    It was interesting to see that both Enuma Elish and Theogony told the story of a primordial god (Tiamat and Gaia, both female) giving birth to the universe. Genesis portrays man and woman as equals in the sense that they are both superior to the other creatures God created, but later, the woman (Eve) is blamed for convincing the man (Adam) to eat the poisoned fruit. God curses her with painful childbearing, and makes her inferior to man by saying, “…your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis, 3). The status of women and their subservience to men is highlighted in the later chapters of Genesis. Even though Enuma Elish and Theogony have female beings who create life, both females are described as “monstrous” (Theogony) or “creator of demons” (Enuma Elish).

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  9. Embedded within each creationism text is the relationship between destruction and creation, and the unique processes of creativity. In Theogony, the universe emerges from destruction and separation. The unification of Ouranos and Gaia through philotes suggests that creativity is sparked through desire and passion. However, only after the violent castration of Ouranos and his separation from Gaia could space form, implying that complete attachment is impossible in order to survive and create. Similarly, in Enuma Elish, the world is created following the brutal destruction of the body of Tiamat, which ultimately separates and forms the foundation of the universe. Both creation myths depict the world as a natural and random result of destruction. The underlying philosophy in both Theogony and Enuma Elish is that some sort of conflict is necessary for creation and that some initial component is required to form something else.

    Conversely, in Genesis, the world is created simply through the declaration of the omnipotent God and involves no conflict. Initially, the spirit of God was the only entity in existence, until he commands the creation of heaven and earth. Creation is portrayed as a good and valuable process, one that requires constant recognition, observation and reflection by the creator. This is made evident when God repeatedly distinguishes between good and bad and separates the two from each other.

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  10. Throughout creation and it’s stories, time and progress are relative concepts. Yes, in all stories we see time passing and the evolution of the world into something we know it to be today, but what is time according to these writers? Particularly in Genesis, God creates the world in seven days. In a week he is able to create night and day, sky and sea, land and vegetation, the atmosphere, fish, birds, animals, and mankind. Factually, we know that it is impossible for a world this complex to be made in only 7 days; completely disregarding the religious explanation that God is all powerful. Still, not having a definition of time in which God created humanity allows for religion and the theory of evolution to coexist in a sense. In Genesis, time is not specified. Granted, a day, currently, is 24 hours, but how long is a day for something that is considered omnipotent, transcendent, and imminent?

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  11. In several of the creation tales, the distinction between good and evil plays a vital role in the stages or process of creativity. In The Bundahishn, Zoroastrian Catechism and Babylonian Creation Myth, good and evil are portrayed by the gods. In Genesis, good and evil are portrayed by the creativity of God. In Genesis, the monotheistic creation tale, there is clearly only one God and that one God is supposedly omniscient and “good.” Therefore, when evil is introduced to the process of creation as the serpent, the origination of evil is unclear. If God created the serpent, then God created evil. However, God is “good.” This begs the question, did God intentionally or unintentionally create the serpent? It is not a coincidence that evil appears in each creation tale. Evil is embedded in humanity. Perhaps God intentionally created evil because he knew that without evil there is no goodness. In The Bundahishn, evil plays an even more vital role in the process of creation. Evil takes the form of a god in this tale, called Abrihim. Abrihim is one of the only two gods in the beginning of this tale, putting him at the very beginning of the process of creativity. And, in order to maintain the right balance of good and evil, there is a period of “intermingling” of good and evil. So, according to this tale, evil is rooted in the very beginning of time and space. The other polytheistic creation tales portray good and evil in a more subtle way, they are portrayed through the actions of the gods. But evil is still inherent in each of the tales, because the process of creation would have been much different had there been only goodness and good actions. When I relate these tales to Genesis, it makes me believe that the God of the Bible purposefully created evil in order to control the coexistence of good and evil.

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  12. The contrasting portrayals of the female figure in the ancient creation myths Enuma Elish and Theogony versus Genesis are indicative of a strong discrepancy between the treatment of women in Babylonian and Greek times and during the Pre-Christian era. In the Babylonian Enuma Elish, one predominant female figure is the Goddess Tiamat. The power she has is evident in the beginning of the first tablet, where she is referred to as “she who gave birth to them all”. Additionally, the idea that Tiamat and Apsu (male figure) unite to create the earth is indicative of a sentiment of equality between men and women. Theogony, the Greek creation myth, was published later, but the idea that women were important contributing members of society is still suggested. Gaia, the first female figure, is also the mother of all things, and unites with Ouranos to create the rest of the Gods, who in turn create the world.
    In the creation story of Genesis, we see less balance in gender roles, suggesting a decline in respect for the gender with the procession of time. God, the creator of them all, is quickly distinguished as a male: “God made two great lights […] he made the stars also.” (16). The rest of the plot line of Genesis further suggests that women were degraded in this era; God creates Adam, the first man. Only then does Adam himself create Eve. Already established as a subordinate figure by means of her late appearance in the story and her lesser connection to God, Eve is made to look further like the lesser being when she is tempted by the snake and eats the apple. Moreover, she is also demonized when she in turn “tempts” Adam.

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  13. The order of creation between all of these tales is rather similar, yet the manner that creation comes to be varies. In some cases, they are complete opposites such as the story of Genesis and Enuma Elish. In Genesis, the creation of the world is orderly and serene. For example: “Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light”. Additionally, the style Genesis is written in is smooth and every phrase is purposeful, which only adds to the peaceful vibe of the story. In contrast, the story Enuma Elish is a chaotic and violent story between a family of god-like ooze creatures. Whereas Genesis was calm and orderly, this Babylonian myth was everything but calm; The story entailed betrayal, sex, and patricide! Although the difference in content between Genesis and Enuma Elish is vast, the end result is the same: The world is created. (by god’s hands or the limbs of Tiamat depending on what you prefer.)

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  14. Whether monotheistic or polytheistic, humans construct the story of creation with the concept of multiple forces. Of course in the polytheistic texts, there is a dynamic between the multiple gods of the relatively same power. Over time, the winner, and therefore the person the reader regards as the “good guy” eventually prevails. This is seen in the Babylonian tale, where Marduk kills Tiamat, and is the hero for creating space. Kronus is also seen in a similar light, as he is creator of both time and space, and is considered a good for the time being. In the polytheistic religions, there are numerous forces, and it is revealed over time who is good and who is evil.

    In the monotheistic religions, it is very clear that there is one major force that should be worshiped. However, the lone god is not the only force that impacts creation. In the Zoroastrian text, Ohrmazd must interact and reason with the evil spirit because he realizes that the evil spirit has the power to seduce his creatures to be sinful. There were multiple god-like forces even in this monotheistic religion. A similar dynamic is seen in Genesis. While at first glance, it might seem that this one god is the only force in the world and will get whatever he wants because he is omnipotent, that is not the case. The serpent, a symbol for evil, was able to convince the woman to eat the fruit. Therefore in Genesis, there are three forces; God (good), serpent (evil), and humanity (impressionable).

    No matter what religion, there is always a struggle for power and multiple players in the story of creation.

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  15. The text I personally found the most interesting was the Enuma Elish, especially after our class discussion last week. Not only did it describe more than simply creation itself, such as the introduction of skills to humanity and the basic structure of the relationship between family members, but also illustrates a version of the Big Bang. It’s incredible that a text as old as this, dating back to a time so much earlier than the development of the modern natural sciences, could be so accurate in devising a metaphor for the creation of the universe.

    In relation to other texts later in history, however, it is considerably more violent. For example, in Genesis, God takes a single day to create an aspect of the natural world, bringing it peacefully into existence, without blood or gore. It’s possible that this creation myth is indicative of how humanity has grown less barbaric over time, doing away with ritualistic sacrifice and creating more social codes or laws to follow. In comparing the two texts, the writing itself is more advanced (though repetitive) in the excerpt from the Bible than in the Enuma Elish. There is also the idea that God is an entity above nature, instead of nature’s equal or subordinate. And when God gives rise to man, he gives dominion over all other creations to them, allowing humanity to shape the world around it to its liking, instead of being subject to the will of the various gods of nature.

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  16. Something that had been mentioned in a previous class and that I observed in a few of the texts was the idea or image of a male figure bringing forth female life. This is an inversion of what is typical of nature. In Genesis Adam is created by God and then from the rib of Adam, Eve is created. However, from that point on Eve is the one who births children. The idea of a male bringing forth life without a clear female figure is also present in Theogeny, Ouranos was castrated and his genitals were thrown into the sea. Then Aphrodite was born from the foam. The societies that believed in these creation stories were largely patriarchal, so by portraying men as the main progenitor of life, the role of men could have been artificially elevated and emphasized. This idea can be further supported by response God had toward Eve after she had tempted him with the fruit from the tree of knowledge: God said “He [man] shall rule over you.” These creation stories explained existence to the societies that believe in them but they also established or justified inequality between genders.

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  17. During our last class, our discussion regarding the relation of destruction to creation intrigued me significantly, especially in regards to Enuma Elish and Theogony. Both of these stories begin in a state of “nothingness” and remain there until destruction occurs. In Theogony, time and space are unable to exist before the violent castration of the greedy Ouranos. In addition to time and space, this destructive act also results in the creation of desire. This addresses the idea that in order for desire to immerge, separation must exist. Separation and destruction are also found in Enuma Elish, where heaven and earth is literally formed out of Tiamat’s exploded corpse.

    After reading all of these creation stories and discussing the relation of destruction to creation, a common theme resonated with me: good vs. evil. In each story, every creation has some sort of conflict. In A Zoroastrian Catechism, believers are taught to worship Ohrmazd but never Ahriman. In the Genesis, evil comes to be after Eve consumes the apple. In Enuma Elish, family conflict emerges and killing ensues. In these specific situations and many more, worldly creations occur on the foundations of good vs. evil and therefor creation cannot occur without destruction.

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  18. In contrast to Enuma Elish and Theogony where creation derives from the destruction of the original maternal and paternal forces in the universe, the book of Genesis develops the story of creation from the single and all powerful father that brings light and the oceans into existence by simply speaking through the darkness The difference in the development of these theologies, aside from monotheism and polytheism is the dynamic that these gods play in the process of creating mankind. Whereas Genesis states that only God is the ultimate creator and owner of all that is and ever will be, Greek mythology creates a hierarchy that can be reorganized or even destroyed completely. By developing a humanization in the gods through tales of conflict from the origins of mankind, the societies that follow these theologies form a connection with their creators completely different from that of the believers in the Genesis.
    Because the bible depicts God as perfect and pure in every fathomable way, humans who follow this theology relate in a differently to their surroundings and beliefs because there is one universal law that will never change until the end of the world. In contrast, the societies who follow the stories of creation from a perspective of historical layers i.e. the generations of gods that are created by those before etc. follow an understanding that the will of the gods is fickle and subjective and that no one generation of gods is ultimately incapable of overcoming its creators. This I find especially interesting because though it is the norm to expect gods to be perfect and all knowing in every way, reading these selections brought the idea that the gods are more childish and, in some sorts, more imperfect than their creations.

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  19. Almost all the creation stories we read for class imply a direct connection between the creation of the world and violent conflict. The Enuma Elish ends with the vivid death of Tiamat at the hands of the hero Marduk. Theogony similarly finishes with a grotesque castration, and the Zoroastrian Catechism involves the conflict between Ohrmazd and Ahriman. All just before the world as we know it comes to form. These violent acts do not simply run parallel to the world’s creation but are implicit in it. The four stories suggest that creation is impossible without destruction, that the body of Tiamat or the testicles of Uranus are needed as a base for the rest of the world to build off of. For the present to be born the primordial gods needed to be dealt with like in The Enuma Elish or Theogony or in the case of the Catechism kept at bay.

    All of which makes Genesis more fascinating because it is the exception to this rule. The God of Genesis creates the world ex nihilo without the over the top violence of the other four. It insinuates that the Genesis God is so powerful She does not have an equal with whom to fight. And because of this She is able to create to create the world peacefully. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the story is popular, because the writers subtly imply a hierarchy between the gods of the different stories. And the Genesis God, in a class of Her own, rests on the top.

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  20. Genesis, compare with other creation stories, is written more in the style of a history textbook. The tone of Genesis is assertive. Genesis does not explain any emotions or intentions of God. The actions and the command of God is simply and firm. Creation story other than Genesis, the Babylonian Creation Myth has more vivid characteristic in their gods. Instead of the title God, the Gods in the Babylonan Creation Myth have different names. “they had not been called by name destines had not been fixed.” In the text, no one mentioned how the God is named. And the Gods do not directyl name anything they create. There are many Gods in the Babylonian Creation Myth. Because there is more than one God, Gods are compared and differentiated. Some are wise. Some are mighty in strength. And the Gods have emotions. Tiamat was disturbed by the clamor of the other Gods. And the Gods have actions like human. Not like the simply command God gives in Genesis, Tiamat devoured Marduk and Marduk shot off his arrow. The fact that the Gods in the Babylonian Creation Myth have to kill the other God in order to attain his or her power to create makes them less powerful. “The lord rested, examining her dead body,/To divide the monster Tiamat to create ingenious things. ” The logic in the Baylonian Creation Myth is that the winner makes the order. But God in Genesis is the only one who has the power to create, to name, and to judge. God in Genesis feels more powerful than the other Gods in the other creation stories.

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  21. In the beginning, there was chaos, darkness, the void—that much, at least, is a commonality between the five creation stories in the reading. What happens afterward seems to depend very much on whether the creation story in question is that of a monotheistic or polytheistic religion. The universes of polytheistic religions seem to be created through some sort of violent action and reaction amongst multiple entities. As when Marduk splits Tiamat into two with an arrow, thus creating heaven and earth; as when Gaia and Ouranos’ act of philotês is violently broken up by Kronos’ castration of his father, splitting the pair and allowing life to flourish in between; as when any action between gods occurs, a myth is born, and in these cases that myth is Creation. Monotheistic religions, on the other hand, are unable to base their creation myths on warring entities. There is no interplay between form and void, no conflict (at least at first) amongst primordial beings, warring over the heavens and earth. There is simply a He or She, one omniscient, omnipotent being who can simply will light, form, and life into being. There is no disagreement or criticism of what has been created; it simply is, and its Creator recognizes its existence and approves.

    It seems as though these two conflicting stories of creation, one conflicted and messy, the other perfect and ordained, respectively inform the philosophies of existentialism and predestination. Polytheism, with its multiple divine forces of nature quarreling, competing, and ultimately changing the world because of their actions, follow the existentialist philosophy of transcending oneself through action. Monotheism follows a much more fate-driven path; through prophecy and creed, the Christian God seems to have predestined the life of the world all the way to its Final Judgment. The two philosophies are also reflected in the way that we, as humans, interact with our divine counterparts. Polytheists are always able to find themselves in some sort of ill favor with one god or another. To appease the god, they offer him or her some sort of tribute—a sacrifice, some burnt herbs—and consider the debt repaid—in part. In this way, they change their destiny with regards to their relationship with the gods. Monotheists are unable to do this; there is one god, who is always right, and is the ultimate judge of good and evil. If a mortal commits a sin, it will always be considered a sin. Good deeds may be enough to counteract it, but only God knows, in his omniscience, how the final judgment will go.

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  22. Something I found particularly interesting about our discussions on the various creation stories is the different approaches taken to explaining the creation of time and space. The approaches taken in the Enuma Elish and Theogony are particularly interesting. They seem to contrast each other in their different forms of explaining which came first, time or space. In the case of Theogony, Kronos, the Titan of Time whose very name is translated into English as time, causes space to come into existence when he castrates Ouranos who then retreats away from Gaia, leaving space in between. In this case, the Greeks explain Space as being a result of the induction of time into the world. This is contrasted by the approach taken in Enuma Elish. The first distinction of space given in this story is the description of a victorious Marduk standing astride the corpse of Tiamat. As discussed in class, the destruction and explosion of Tiamat’s body provides an explanation and parallel to the idea of the Big Bang.

    Another interesting aspect of the creation stories is the various stages in which the world comes into existence. The Bible provides an interesting take on this by making recognition of what is integral to its very existence. In the steps of creation, God creates, and then recognizes what he has made. This is in every step that God takes, demonstrating it as one of the prerequisites for proper creation. The other stories take a different path on how the world comes to be. In both Theogony and Enuma Elish, the first entity in existence is ultimately the one whose corpus will ultimately make up the world, Gaia and Tiamat respectively. Both the Enuma Elish and Theogony are strikingly similar in this respect despite coming from very different traditions. This demonstrates a relatively linear idea of how the world comes to be, with various peoples starting from the same place.

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  23. A common theme throughout the stories of creation is the creation of land, space and time. In every story, there is an entity or entities that exist when existence has not been created yet. These beings are primal in some cases, representative of chaos and power, while monotheistic religions (such as Genesis) have an all powerful being that represents order and creation. In every story, there is always something that sparks creation. For many it is caused by violence, from exploding goddesses to castration. In others it is the simple act of a God creating out of nothing.

    This idea of whether things can be created from nothing is very intriguing to me. I found the stories that needed to destroy to create to be the more appealing tales. It is true to life that nothing can be created baselessly. Even this ideology was formed by the breaking down and consuming of knowledge, only to be reconstructed into an idea. Though the foundation may sometimes be obscure when something is created (like an idea, story, or thought), everything created derives from something else. The world is a cycle of creation and destruction, just as the Enuma Elish and Theogony texts suggest.

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  24. A theme discussed in class was the statement that creation arose from the shattered remains of conflict. Personally this seems a bit more realistic, without adversity there is no need for progression, in this case the progression of the world in relation to the universe. Another aspect of the Greek and Babylonian texts that struck me was the creation by various entities. These creation stories come from polytheistic religions, where there are multiple Gods, not a single omnipresent force. In terms of the creation of such a spacial power such as the earth, one would assume it to be a joint form of creation. While these creation stories certainly don’t carry an essence of democracy, one could draw a unique parallel between the checks and balance system to the creation of a world under joint leadership. No one God can become too powerful, and all seem to rule over a certain natural or emotional feature, ie. Sun God, God of the Underworld etc. The constant struggle for power in these stories keeps each God in check, and allows for a more fluid and monitored form of creation. Also taken into consideration is the ever so slight correlation between humanity and the polytheistic Gods, as they carry more human qualities than a single powerful creator. Simply put, the Polytheistic religions are created from a catastrophic catalyst (conflict), and then this raw malleable spacial entity is formed under a council of Gods who carry human qualities, however minute they may seem.

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  25. I found the similarities between gender roles in Genesis and the Book of Counsel of Zartosht to be fascinating. Both texts take similarly patriarchal approaches to what the role of a woman is, and what her ultimate purpose is on this planet. After Eve eats the fruit in Genesis, God says to her “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you”, an implication of total sexual ownership and dominance. In the Book of Counsel it is stated that “My second (duty) is to take a wife and to procreate earthly offspring, and to be strenuous and steadfast in this,” again implying a sexual domination of the woman by the man. Reading these two passages today, in 2015, is a bit shocking. I never thought of child birth as a God inflicted punishment on woman for eating a fig, but instead a miracle of life. It seems spiteful of God that he would punish every woman in history with immense pain because one of them was tempted by a snake to eat a fig. The Zoroastrian passage also rubbed me the wrong way. It is told from the perspective of a man first of all. The whole book never once discusses the duty of a woman, just a man. Next, the verb “take” implies a force that I am not at all comfortable. One “finds” a wife, one shouldn’t “take” a wife.

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  26. Though some texts gave women a greater role in creation than others, no text gave her any power equal to or exceeding that of man. In “Enuma Elish” and “Theogony”, sex and gender play an important role in determining who has the power to create and destroy. In both creation stories, women ‘give birth’ to the gods, but only act as vessels for creation.

    In “Enuma Elish”, Tiamat [the ocean] “gave birth to them all”, but the credit for creation is giving to Apsu [the abyss] who is the gods’ “begetter”. Although neither Enuma nor Apsu can create independently, Apsu has more authority out of the two, as seen when Mummu, Apsu’s vizier, takes Apsu’s side and ignores Tiamat’s cries to save their children. Tiamat only laments what she believes to be inevitable, and it falls upon the gods, namely Ea, to destroy Apsu and save their own lives. After Ea destroys his father, Tiamat attempts to avenge Apsu’s death, but ultimately dies at the hands of Marduk. This shows a female entity’s subservient role to a male entity which is further exemplified by Tiamat’s revenge, which is contradictory to her original role as mother. Though Tiamat’s death results in the creation of time and space, she is once again only a vessel for change, but never the agent. The agency always lies in the male figures (Apsu, Ea, Marduk).

    Similarly, “Theogony” tells a creation story in which Gaia “first bore equal to herself starry Ouranos/ so that he may cover her all over like a veil”. Though Gaia and Ouranos are created equal, their roles are not. This is seen through Ouranos obsessive copulation with Gaia, and through his evil deed of concealing all their children in Gaia. Although Gaia created Ouranos, her power does not lie in creation or destruction, like Ouranos. Rather, her power is in her words, as seen when she persuades Kronos to kill his father. Like “Enuma Elish”, the agency remains with the man, as Kronos castrates his father and through Ouranos’ blood, Aphrodite is born and life is created.

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  27. I noticed some similarities in theogony and genesis in the processes of creation. In Genesis, the earth before creation was “without form and void, and darkness”. Similarly in theogony what came into being in the beginning was an infinite expanse of nothing, called chawos. Then, there will be creation of light and darkness. However, it should be noted that the more crucial role in this stage lies on the separation of light and darkness, not their creation. In genesis, “God separated the light from darkness”, calling them day and night, and it allowed the concept of time to come along. In theogony, as well, Erebos, black night, Aether, and day were the first ones to be born from Chawos. However, in contrast to genesis, the separation does not occur immediately due to Ouranos remaining attached to Gaia caused by an overwhelming force of Eros that pushes him to her. The oppression of Ouranos disrupted night and day to serve their roles. Finally after Ouranos was castrated and detached from Gaia, the sky and the earth were released from restriction of Ouranos, hence light and darkness were separated. This enabled the rotation of night and day, leading to emergence of time. Here, we can remark that time cannot be created without the separation of space. Both creations eventually end open to development in future. In genesis, because Adam and Eve learned evil, shame and guilt after eating the fruit of the trees, now they are able to discover and invent on their own to protect themselves and their offsprings. Likewise, in theogony, the creation story ends with the birth of Erinyes, the great giants, and nymphs who represent power and army, along with Aphrodite symbolizing love and beauty, accompanied by Eros. These opposite forces of violence and love foretells the evolution of world.

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  28. It’s interesting to consider how differently monotheistic and polytheistic peoples viewed existence and creativity. Monotheism looks at life, the universe, and everything like it’s one enormous oil painting: it’s the product of one sweeping, complex vision that remains constant from the outset. Everything is a part of a plan, a piece of God’s grand masterpiece, and while it might develop and reveal its meaning over time, everything is the subject of whims millennia past. Tension very well might exist, but it was placed there intentionally, all part of this grand epic of existence. The way this shapes its followers’ view of the world and their place in it is equally interesting; maybe it makes it easier to accept the uncontrollable whims of reality with the understanding that everything will have some “just” end.
    Polytheism, on the other hand, views reality like a sprawling, seedy, dystopian back-alleyway covered top-to-bottom, left-to-right in graffiti. It views creation as a collaborative, iterative effort. Nothing is united by one vision and nobody has any goddam clue how the hell this is gonna look in the end. Or if there is an end, for that matter. Cohesion was never even a factor in the process of creation, little pieces were added here and there as time went on, thrown up as the creator willed it. There are as many creators as there are people, as well, and there’s no one to say one couldn’t create their piece as a reaction to other bits of creation on the wall, that things couldn’t be painted over, that pieces that weren’t cared for couldn’t slowly decay and chip off the wall as time progressed. Its followers then, view creation as an ongoing process, one in which they can be active participants.
    One of the most fascinating bits about that view of creation is its recent, unbridled resurgence in popular culture; the open source movement has enabled software creators to take this principle perhaps not to its logical endpoint, but maybe not that far off; social media platforms like twitter have given platforms for many, perhaps most notably comedians, to produce continuous streams of disposable content; E.P.s and mixtapes and free albums and singles have very much become the new vogue for delivering music, rather than the more traditional full-length, paid album. And we’re not even stepping backwards.

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  29. In the beginning, there was nothing. “The earth was without form and void,” a quote from Genesis. In order to create something, to fill the void, the void itself must be destroyed. Destruction is simply the change of one thing to another. “Destruction is a form of creation,” a quote from the movie Donnie Darko, to me, embodies the relation of destruction to creation. In Theogony, the castration of Ouranos leads to his withdrawal from Gaia, creating space and time. In Enuma Elish, Tiamats destruction created the ground on which Marduk could stand on. I find the change, or the creation, of one thing from another interesting. It suggests that what is, always was in some way, shape, or form.

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  30. Obviously, genitals are essential to the creation of human life. The writers of these creation stories knew that and capitalized on the eroticism/sexuality, ultimately making their creation stories more interesting in a pre-sexual revolution society. It is interesting to note that in the Enuma Eilish creation story, the genitals are lopped off. From a biological standpoint, the genitals can no longer produce any life and are devoid of use. However, in lopping off his genitals and then recoiling, an entire world was created. The world, quite literally, “sprung from his loins.”

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  31. A lot of these stories were centered on the dichotomies of destruction and creation; that in order for the world to be created, someone or something needed to be destroyed. In quite a few, murder was involved to gain the power needed to create. It seems to go along with the idea of good and evil, light and dark, whereas light must overpower the darkness in order to achieve creation. In the Enuma Elish text, Marduk kills Tiamat, mother of the gods, to save his siblings. When Tiamat is killed, space is created and the universe begins to take form within its preexisting chaos. In Theogony, Gaia is emotionally and physically suffocated by Ouranos who is obsessed with creating gods. Her son, Kronos, cuts off Ouranos’s genitals, further preventing him from impregnating his mother, and in turn separates Ouranos and creates the edges of the world we live in. Considering destruction and creation as dichotomies is the traditional way of acknowledging the two; however, these stories bend this way of thinking. After these stories we are prompted to believe that destruction and creation exist within one another. Creation needs destruction to flourish, while destruction makes way for the new forms created.

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  32. In both Enuma Elish and Theogony the two main women are attributed with both creation and destruction.Tiamat is “she who gave birth to them all” and Gaia and her husband bore all the creatures of the earth: from the large mountains to the gods and goddesses to kyklopeses. All of the women’s children inhabit their bodies until destruction occurs. The babylonian gods are able to leave the oozy substance that is their parents once Tiamat’s body was divided, half her body became a roof, and her waters escaped. Gaia’s children are able to leave their hiding places within their mother after the castration of their father. While Tiamat’s destruction represents the big bang and becomes the earth, Gaia’s body has been and continues to be the earth while temporarily veiled by the dark Ouranos. Both women outlive their husbands and plot to kill men around them. When Tiamat’s husband dies “she became like one in a frenzy (and) lost her reason”, she plans to kill Marduk, the god who killed her husband. Gaia instead is the one to plot the murder of her husband and uses her son Kronos to do so. However out of all the destruction in both creation myths comes beauty. From Tiamat’s destruction not only comes the earth, but heaven, the signs of the zodiac, and the constellations. From Ouranos’ destruction came the sky and the beautiful goddess Aphrodite. Both Gaia and Tiamat are the only women in their stories to receive more than a few lines of mention. The only other relevant woman in Theogony was Aphrodite and there were only five lines written about her different names. In Enuma Eilish the only other woman mentioned with a larger identity than just her name was Damkina, Marduk’s mother who was mentioned in a single line.

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