Comparative Creation Stories- Genesis: Answers to Life’s Crucial Questions

Posted on March 15, 2008. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Saturday, March 15, 2008- Due to my increasingly heavy work load I have not been able to blog for a while. My Sunday School lessons from Genesis in recent weeks have been very dependent upon Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology chapter 15 “Creation” so I have not had much to put in my blog. Last week we compared Genesis with some other creation accounts so I have a little bit to add to the blog, but even most of this stuff is from some other web sites (I have included the web ste addresses). So here is last Sunday’s lesson, such as it is, but we did seem to have a good time of it.

Genesis: Finding Answers to Life’s Crucial QuestionsSemester One: Genesis 1-11 “Beginnings”

March 8, 2008Genesis 1-2 “Comparative Creation Stories”

Read- Joshua 24:1-5; Pray

Introduction: In the last few weeks we have been looking at the various ways of interpreting Genesis. We have examined the literal method that says the earth was created about 10,000 years ago in 6 literal days, we have looked at the day-age theory that says the days represent long periods of time, the literary framework view that shows another kind of logic entirely so that the evening to morning cycle is merely a way of telling the story, and we looked at the gap theory and finally the historical creation view of Dr. John Sailhamer that says verse 1 is the initial creation of the world and all after verse 1 is dealing with the preparation of the promised land for Adam and Eve.

My purpose in exposing you to the various theories of interpretations (and there were others I did not get into very deeply at all, such as theistic evolution) is to give you some more options that will allow you to not only become quite confused, and not only to spur you on to more study, but primarily to help you in witnessing encounters with atheists and evolutionists (pardon the redundancy). My whole journey into these kinds of questions came about because of witnessing to atheists who used the literal 6 day, recent creation view as an obstacle to the gospel. I believe that we should make the cross and resurrection the focus and if that is an obstacle, so be it. All these other issues are stumbling blocks that we should be able to answer so that the atheist is without excuse before the cross and the empty tomb.

I promise you that we will get back to a verse by verse exposition of Genesis soon, hopefully by next week, but today I wanted to look at the big picture some more, but from a totally different viewpoint. Any time that you want to study and interpret the Scriptures, it is a part of sound exegesis to examine the author’s background and situation, to whom was he writing, when, and what was their situation. Today I want us to take the same apologetic purpose that I had when I started studying these things and go back in time to Moses’ day and even before his day, to the time of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. We will ask: what were the creation stories of their day? Abraham was from Ur, ancient Babylonia and home of Sumer, where Western Civilization began. What was the Sumerian view of the beginnings of the world? Moses grew up in ancient Egypt as a prince in Pharaoh’s household receiving an Egyptian education in every way, besides being raised by his own mother and hearing the biblical view of creation and God. The Israelites came from Egypt where they had sojourned for about 400 years, they were immersed in a pagan culture. They were traveling to a new land where they would encounter other pagan peoples including the Philistines, descendents of the Sea Peoples, founders of Troy, Tyre, Sidon, and Carthage, cousins to the ancient Greeks. Through the centuries the Jews would come into contact with the Hittites, Assyrians, neo-Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Greeks and Romans. How would the Genesis account of creation stand up against all these pagan views?

After Christ came and the Church was founded, we were called to carry out the Great Commission, so Christians have spread all over the world, sharing the Gospel and encountering different cultures with different creation accounts. Today in America all of the world’s religions are represented and you are likely to encounter, as I have already, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Latter Day Saints, and atheists in the workplace, at school, and in the neighborhood. Therefore, this morning we will attempt to briefly look at some of the other cosmogonies that Abraham, Moses, Paul and you and I are likely to have encountered. Hopefully we will see how unique the biblical account of creation is, but we shall also see some similarities with some of the other ancient accounts.

 I. Historical Problems or Historical Accuracies?

When a person who is educated in ancient near-east studies reads the Bible, they will immediately see many historical references, customs, and names of places and people, which are also mentioned in other ancient literature and in archeological finds. Indeed many of the earliest archeologists were motivated by the Bible to study the ancient world. Archeology has proven many points of the Bible that were questioned by critical scholars and has generally supported the biblical account. Archeology has never proven the Bible wrong in any particular point. But, just like when we were discussing all the various ways of interpreting the creation account and we saw that for just about every point there was a counter point or problem, so too, there is a down side to all the archeological evidence that supports the Bible.

The evidence of archeology clearly shows that there were other, very similar creation and flood narratives prior to the writing of the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Bible. So the problem becomes this: is the biblical account of creation and the flood based upon the much earlier Babylonian and Sumerian accounts? Is the biblical account just another creation myth as was common with all ancient cultures? The more liberal academics will tell you that the biblical creation account is just myth, just like in the Enuma Elish, the Atrahasis Epic and the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Here is where I am coming from on this issue: I believe that archeology is of great benefit and always helps, never hurts the study of the Bible. The similarities of the biblical accounts with other ancient accounts don’t faze me in the least. To me, the similarities simply confirm my theory that ancient myth is rooted in something that really happened and the biblical account is what really happened. The fact that Moses wrote it all down a couple of thousand years after some of the others had been written down does not bother me at all because I am convinced that the oral traditions of the Jews were very accurate and I believe in the doctrine of inspiration and Moses and the Lord spent a lot of time together in that tent in the wilderness. I think what would be hurtful to our faith is if there were no similarities between what Moses wrote and what was in other pieces of ancient near-east literature. That is the problem the Mormons have with their faith. The book of Mormon, which they claim to be historical, has zero archeological or historical evidence supporting it. It is such an obvious pack of lies or pure fiction, that to believe in it stretches ones credulity. “The Bible’s own witness to Moses’ authorship is supported by extrabiblical data. The first 11 chapters of Genesis share many parallels and conscious dissimilarities with ancient Near Eastern myths that preceded the time of Moses and were known to him (Mesopotamian creation accounts such as the Enuma Elish and flood accounts such as those included in the Atrahasis Epic and the 11th tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic.). Names and customs in the narratives about the patriarchs (chs.12-50) accurately reflect their era, suggesting an early author with reliable documents….” (see The Reformation Study Bible, edited by R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Ministries, Lake Mary Florida, p.3).

So, let us look at some of the similarities between what Moses wrote and what we find in other ancient literature.

 II. Mesopotamian Creation and Flood Accounts

  1. Sumerian Creation Myths-

The Sumerians developed one of the earliest civilizations on earth (3500-1750 B.C.), but the existence of such a people and civilization was not even suspected until the middle of the 19th century.  People had long known about the Babylonians, since the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, and Greeks had all come into contact with them and written about them. But no one knew that the Sumerians  had preceded the Babylonians and had developed the writing, religious, and agricultural systems which the Babylonians adapted and modified later.  In the early 19th century, British, German and French archeologists began to dig out the earthen mounds that are the remains of cities that once flourished thousands of years ago in the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, a region called Mesopotamia [“between the rivers”] in the history books and called Iraq today. In the process of deciphering tablets written in the Babylonian language (called “Akkadian”), they came to suspect that the writing system was ill-suited for that language and thus must have been invented for an earlier, unknown tongue. Eventually, after a half-century of decipherment and excavation, the existence of the Sumerian language, people, and civilization was confirmed.

The Sumerian Creation
Only one account of the Sumerian creation has survived, but it is a suggestive one.  This account functions as an introduction to the story of “The Huluppu-Tree” (Wolkstein 4).
 In the first days when everything needed was brought into being,
 In the first days when everything needed was properly nourished,
 When bread was baked in the shrines of the land,
 And bread was tasted in the homes of the land,
 When heaven had moved away from the earth,
 And earth had separated from heaven,
 And the name of man was fixed;
 When the Sky God, An, had carried off the heavens,
 And the Air God, Enlil, had carried off the earth . . .    (Wolkstein 4)
“An” the male sky god and “Ki” the female earth were separated by Enlil, their son and later the chief god of the pantheon.  Enlil thus carries off his mother the earth, taking his father’s place in a manner somewhat similar to the way Kronos, in a much later story, usurped his father’s (Ouranos’) power.  But where did heaven (An) and earth (Ki) come from, you may ask?  According to another text, it was Nammu, the sea, “the mother, who gave birth to heaven and earth” (Kramer, Sumerian Mythology 39).  In a dry climate, water is the ultimate source of life–Diane Wolkstein points out that the word for “water also means ‘semen’ in Sumerian” (139). This text continues with a few more tantalizing, but puzzling details about Sumerian beginnings.  Ereshkigal, the queen of the underworld, is said to have been “carried off into the nether world.”  Afterwards, the water-god Enki “set sail for the nether world,” whereupon his boat was attacked by stones and swamped (Kramer, Sumerians 200).  It is possible that Ereshkigal was originally a sky-goddess who was carried off to the underworld somewhat in the manner of Persephone.  Whether Enki was attempting to rescue Ereshkigal is unclear, but it may be that his trip to the underworld ended as soon as it began.  Enki’s trip prefigures Inanna’s later, more successful, journey to the underworld. A different text recounts the strange way in which the moon was created.  When this story begins, the gods have apparently already established cities, for Enlil, the goddess Ninlil (“lady wind” or “lady air”) and her mother Ninshebargunu are dwelling in their temples in the city of Nippur.  Ninlil’s mother warns her that if she bathes in the canal called Nunbirdu, Enlil will see her and want to make love to her.  Naturally, Ninlil goes down to the canal the next day to take a dip.  Enlil sees her and asks for a kiss.  Ninlil refuses, saying she is too young to make love, so Enlil devises a plan.  He obtains a boat, floats over to where Ninlil is bathing, and rapes her, impregnating her with the future moon god Nanna (or Sin).  The other gods, dismayed by Enlil’s outrageous conduct, demand that the “sex offender . . . leave the town!” (Jacobsen, Harps 174).  Enlil walks out of town in the direction of the underworld, and the pregnant Ninlil follows him.  Since Enlil does not want his son the moon to reside in the underworld, he concocts a rather bizarre plan.  Enlil impersonates a gatekeeper, a man in charge of the underworld river, and the ferryman to the underworld, and as each of these personages, he has sex with Ninlil, impregnating her with three deities who will reside in the underworld as substitutes for Nanna the moon, who will thus be free to rise to heavens where he belongs.  Apparently, Ninlil consents to go to bed with what she thinks are three minor underworld officials because she, too, sees this as a way for Enlil’s child Nanna to “go heavenward.” Now, what are the similarities between the Sumerian account and the biblical account of creation? At first glance you may not find anything, the differences are very pronounced, but there are some similarities, what are they?          1. It is not assumed that there was ever a time when there was absolutely nothing. While gods certainly have their beginning, there always seems to be something in the background that just existed, whether it was another god, or the sea, or whatever. Only modern man in all his glorious scientific wisdom assumes there was a time when there was nothing, absolutely nothing, and the universe just popped into existence.           2. It is assumed that the gods created the world as we see it. There may have been pre-existent matter, but the gods did it all.          3. Notice that there is a separation of heaven and earth, a very similar thing to what we see in Gen. 1:6-8 in day 2.          4. Notice the importance of the waters or the sea and compare with Gen. 1:2.          5. Notice that there is a creation of the underworld, a place like hades, the realm of the dead. Did God create heaven and hell as well as the earth? Yes, but the creation account does not bring that out.          6. There is a creation of the moon that involves a lot of sex amongst the gods and goddesses. In Gen. God simply creates the “lesser light”.           But now what are the differences?           1. The overall tone is hugely different. Gen. is a very sober, beautiful account that is quite simple compared to the Sumerian account.          2. God is alone, there are no others. Huge difference.          3. God speaks and the power of his words brings forth all of creation.The Creation of Humans This poem begins with a description of how the gods had to work for their bread by digging out irrigation canals:  The gods were dredging the rivers,
   were piling up their silt
   on projecting bends–
 and the gods lugging the clay
   began complaining  (Jacobsen, Harps 154)
Nammu, who is either the sea or the goddess of the riverbed, goes to her son Enki, who is asleep in the deep (the Apsu) and entreats him to rise from his bed and “fashion servants of the gods” (Kramer, History Begins 109).  Enki, who after all is the god of wisdom, thinks of the germinating powers of the clay and water of the abyss, and he tells Nammu to have some womb-goddesses pinch off this clay and have some “princely fashioners” thicken it, so she can mold it or give birth to it:  Mix the heart of the clay that is over the abyss,
 The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay,
 You, [Nammu] do you bring the limbs into existence;
 Ninmah [earth-mother or birth goddess] will work above you,
 The goddesses [of birth] .  . . will stand by you at your fashioning;
 O my mother, decree its [the newborn’s] fate,
Ninmah will bind upon it the image (?) of the gods,
 It is man . . . .    (Kramer, History Begins 109)
Jacobsen translates these apparently difficult to decipher lines somewhat differently, seeing a “birth chair” where Kramer sees the “image” of the gods.  Jacobsen’s translation also stresses that the fashioning of the newborn imitates in some way the growth of a fetus in the womb.  Jacobsen translates the moment of birth like this (words and letters in brackets represent gaps in the original text):  [Without] the sperm
   of a ma[le]
   she gave [birth]
   to offspri[ng.,]
   to the [em]bryo
   of mankind.   (Harps 157)
Thus man was created to relieve the gods of their work.Similarities:          1. In Gen. 2:7 we see that man was created from the dust of the ground while in the Sumerian view man was made from clay.          2. May be a hint that man is created with the image of the gods.          3. Purpose- to relieve gods of work vs. to glorify God and to conduct work in the image of God; work was dreary and drudgery vs. work being very good.The Sumerian Flood Story The Sumerian flood story comes down to us in a single fragmentary tablet, which was not published until 1914.  The poem begins with the mother goddess Nintur (“Lady birth-house” or “Lady womb”) recalling that her creatures, mankind, have no place in the world and are apparently wandering around:     let me bring them back,
 let me lead my people back from their trails    (Jacobsen, Harps 145)
She decides that her people should “come and build cities and cult places, / that I may cool myself in their shade” (Harps 145).  She shows them how to purify the land, to perform divine services, and to utter “cries for clemency”  (Harps 146).  There is also some indication that this civilizing and city-building will establish peace in the surrounding regions.
 After a long gap in the tablet, which perhaps told of a failure to build a city because of anarchy among the people, Nintur installs a priest-king to lead the people:  “let me have him oversee their labor, / and let him teach the nation to follow along / unerringly like cattle!” (Harps 146).  The first five cities are built and given to their respective deities:  Eridu to Enki, the clever fresh water-god, Badtibira to Dumuzi and Inanna,
Sippar to Utu the sun god, and so on.  The people dredged the canals, “which were blocked with purplish / clay,” and carried water, which “established abundant growth” (Harps 147).
The next section of the story is lost, but it probably contained a list of pre-flood rulers of the first five cities.  These priest-kings were credited with extraordinarily long reigns; other sources say that one king, for example, reigned 36,000 years.  (Compare the genealogies in Genesis and the long childhoods of people in Hesiod’s silver age.)  As in the later Story of Artrahasis, the flood probably comes about because mankind makes too much noise, angering the chief god Enlil (“Lord of wind”), who can’t sleep because of the noise.  When the gap in the text ends, the goddesses Nintur and Inanna are weeping for their doomed people, but the clever Enki “took counsel in his own heart” (Harps 147).  Enki contacts the pious priest-king of Nippur, Ziusudra (“He saw life”), who already has had a vision of the gods meeting and swearing an oath.  Enki speaks to the flood-hero Ziusudra through a wall, perhaps to avoid breaking an oath not to tell the people what the gods planned.  He tells Ziusudra that the gods have commanded that “a flood will sweep over the cult centers; / To destroy the seed of mankind” (Kramer, History Begins 153).  No doubt the text continues with Enki’s advice on how to build a boat and fill it with living creatures, but here another gap ensues.  After the gap comes a description of the flood itself:  All the windstorms, exceedingly powerful, attacked as one,
 At the same time, the flood sweeps over the cult centers.  (History Begins 153)
After seven days and nights, the sun god Utu comes out and shines his light on the heaven and earth.   Ziusudra either drills a hole in the boat or opens a window to let the sun’s rays in.  Then he kisses the ground before Utu (prostrating himself) and sacrifices sheep and oxen in thanksgiving for his deliverance.  After another gap in the text, we find Enki (?) noting that the gods have sworn “by the life’s breath of heaven / the life’s breath of earth” that Ziusudra is “allied with all of you” (Harps 149).  Ziusudra kisses the ground again, this time before An and Enlil, who reward him with “life like a god’s . . . lasting breath of life, like a god’s” (Harps 150).  Then the gods transport Ziusudra, now called preserver of “the seed of mankind,” to the land of Dilmun, in the east. Dilmun may refer to the island of Bahrain, but at this early time, it was seen as an Eden-like land of peace and purity.  Another text about Dilmun describes it as “a pure place . . . a clean place” where “the raven uttered no cries . . . the lion killed not, / The wolf snatched not the lamb” (Kramer, Sumerian Mythology 55).  There is also some archeological record of a great flood in this area.  When excavating the site of Ur in 1926-29, Sir Leonard Woolley found an eight-foot band of  “perfectly clean clay” (21) probably laid down by a massive flood around 3500 BC.  Woolley estimated that the flood may have affected an area of the lower Tigris and Euphrates river valleys “perhaps 400 miles long and 100 miles across” (24).  The flood was by no means universal, but such a deluge could have given rise to the tradition of a flood which happened in the dim beginnings of time.             2. Babylonian Creation/Flood Myths-

In 1845, A.H. Layard, an English archaeologist, discovered the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal among the ruins of ancient Nineveh. Some 26,000 clay-tablet fragments, representing about 10,000 different texts, were found.

Among these tablets was a Babylonian “Creation” account, written in Akkadian cuneiform script. Published in 1876 by George Adam Smith of the British Museum, the narrative is known as Enuma Elish (from the first two words, which mean “when above” or “when on high.” The account dates from about 1800 B.C.

One of the most striking things about the Babylonian record is the fact that it was inscribed on seven tablets. Many scholars believe this reflects a primitive belief that the creation activity occurred during the initial week of seven days. Additionally, there are some astounding similarities between the Mosaic record and Enuma Elish.

For example, both accounts describe a time when the earth was without form and empty. Both suggest that order came out of this formless state. Both records tell of the creation of the moon, stars, plant life, animals, and man. In Genesis, man was created on the sixth day; in Enuma Elish, man’s origin is recorded on the sixth tablet.

Additionally, there is a chronological order common to both accounts. Both narratives have the following order (cf. Pfeiffer, 1966, 224):

  1. Primeval unorganized matter
  2. Coming of light
  3. Creation of the firmament
  4. Appearance of dry land
  5. Creation of luminaries
  6. Creation of man
  7. Deity rests

In characteristic fashion, religious modernists allege that the biblical writer/writers borrowed from the Babylonian record. But sound scholarship has demonstrated that such a view is fallacious. Simpler accounts (e.g., the Genesis record) may give rise to more embellished versions, but the reverse is not the case (Kitchen, 1966, 89).

D.J. Wiseman, Professor of Assyriology at the University of London, suggests that the parallelisms between the narratives can best be explained on the basis that both suggest primary creation facts, while the Bible record reflects a “dignity unparalleled in any other account” (1958, 8).

3. Islam

Six “Days” or Long Periods of TimeThe descriptions of creation in the Qur’an are not intended as dry historical accounts, but rather to engage the reader in contemplating the lessons to be learned from it. The act of creation, therefore, is frequently spoken of as a way of drawing the reader into thinking about the order in all things, and the All-Knowing Creator Who is behind it all. For example: “Verily in the heavens and the earth are signs for those who believe. And in the creation of yourselves, and the fact that animals are scattered (through the earth), are signs for those of assured faith. And in the alternation of night and day, and that fact that Allah sends down sustenance from the sky, and revives therewith the earth after its death, and in the change of the winds, are signs for those who are wise” (45:3-5). Big Bang?When describing the creation of the “heavens and the earth,” the Qur’an does not discount the theory of a “Big Bang” explosion at the start of it all. In fact, the Qur’an says that “the heavens and the earth were joined together as one unit, before We clove them asunder” (21:30). Following this big explosion, Allah “turned to the sky, and it had been (as) smoke. He said to it and to the earth: ‘Come together, willingly or unwillingly.’ They said: ‘We come (together) in willing obedience'” (41:11). Thus the elements and what was to become the planets and stars began to cool, come together, and form into shape, following the natural laws that Allah established in the universe. The Qur’an further states that Allah created the sun, the moon, and the planets, each with their own individual courses or orbits. “It is He Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon; all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course” (21:33). Expansion of UniverseThe Qur’an also does not rule out the idea that the universe is continuing to expand. “The heavens, We have built them with power. And verily, We are expanding it” (51:47). There has been some historical debate among Muslim scholars about the precise meaning of this verse, since knowledge of the universe’s expansion was only recently discovered. Six Days?The Qur’an states that “Allah created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in six days” (7:54). While on the surface this might seem similar to the account related in the Bible, there are some important distinctions. The verses that mention “six days” use the Arabic word “youm” (day). This word appears several other times in the Qur’an, each denoting a different measurement of time. In one case, the measure of a day is equated with 50,000 years (70:4), whereas another verse states that “a day in the sight of your Lord is like 1,000 years of your reckoning” (22:47). The word “youm” is thus understood, within the Qur’an, to be a long period of time — an era or eon. Therefore, Muslims interpret the description of a “six day” creation as six distinct periods or eons. The length of these periods is not precisely defined, nor are the specific developments that took place during each period. After completing the Creation, the Qur’an describes that Allah “settled Himself upon the Throne” (57:4) to oversee His work. A distinct point is made to counter the Biblical idea of a day of rest: “We created the heavens and the earth adn all that is between them in six days, nor did any sense of weariness touch Us” (50:38). Allah is never “done” with His work, because the process of creation is ongoing. Each new child who is born, every seed that sprouts into a sapling, every new species that appears on earth, is part of the ongoing process of Allah’s creation. “He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then established Himself on the Throne. He knows what enters within the heart of the earth, and what comes forth out of it, what comes down from heaven, and what mounts up to it. And He is with you wherever you may be. And Allah sees well all that you do” (57:4).Human Beings Not “Descended” From ApesThe Qur’anic account of creation is in line with modern scientific thought about the development of the universe and life on earth. Muslims acknowledge that life developed over a long period of time, but see Allah’s power behind it all. Descriptions of creation in the Qur’an are set in context to remind the readers of Allah’s majesty and wisdom. “What is the matter with you, that you are not conscious of Allah’s majesty, seeing that it is He Who has created you in diverse stages? See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another, and made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun as a (glorious) lamp? And Allah has produced you from the earth, growing (gradually)” (71:13-17). Life Came From WaterThe Qur’an describes that Allah “made from water every living thing” (21:30). Another verse describes how “Allah has created every animal from water. Of them are some that creep on their bellies, some that walk on two legs, and some that walk on four. Allah creates what He wills, for truly Allah has power over all things” (24:45). These verses support the scientific theory that life began in the Earth’s oceans. Creation of Adam & EveWhile Islam recognizes the general idea of the development of life in stages, over a period of time, human beings are considered as a special act of creation. Islam teaches that human beings are a unique life form that was created by Allah in a special way, with unique gifts and abilities unlike any other: a soul and conscience, knowledge, and free will. In short, Muslims do not believe that human beings randomly evolved from apes. The life of human beings began with the creation of two people, a male and a female named Adam and Hawwa (Eve). The Qur’an describes how Allah created Adam: “We created man from sounding clay, from mud moulded into shape…” (15:26). And, “He began the creation of man from clay, and made his progeny from a quintessence of fluid” (32:7-8). Thus, human beings have a fundamental attachment to the earth. While the creation of Eve is not described in detail, the Qur’an does make it clear that a “mate” was created with Adam, from the same nature and soul. “It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her in love” (7:189). She is not mentioned by name in the Qur’an, but in Islamic tradition she is known as “Hawwa” (Eve). From these two individuals, generations of human beings have inhabited the earth. “Oh humankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured among you in the sight of Allah is the who is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)” (49:13). 4. Mormon View of Creation- Mormon doctrine of creation describes how God created the world and everything in it. At first glance it is at odds with the Christian and biblical view of creation, understanding the world to have been organized by God. Mormons agree that “God created the world and everything in it”, however they define this differently. The difference hangs on the term “created”. Did God create everything from nothing (creation ex nihilo), or did he create everything from pre-existing matter (the LDS view)? The LDS view of creation has many implications in other doctrinal areas, especially those of humanity, God, and Jesus.

Matter is eternal

Foundational to the doctrine of creation is that matter is eternal. Joseph Smith taught this from the very outset and it has continued to be a widely held belief in the Mormon religion today. Everything is composed of this ‘eternal matter’ and thus, this world is eternal, God is eternal, and even humanity is eternal (i.e. having existed forever). Digging deeper, these things are not eternal in that they have always been what they are for all of eternity (e.g. God has always been God, or a tree has always been a tree), instead, Mormonism teaches that they are composed of this eternal matter and were later formed into what they are today. Thus, God is “eternal” because he is composed of eternal matter. This does not mean that he has always been God. Furthemore, humanity is eternal because they are composed of this matter as well, yet, they have not always existed as humans.

[edit] Creation of the universe

Mormon teachings clearly deny the doctrine of creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing). They claim this is a late development in the theology of the Christian church, believing that Joseph Smith’s understanding of eternal matter has more in common with restored Christianity. What is found is a God who did not necessarily create the world and everything in it, but instead organized the world. God found himself in an arena of chaotic matter that had always existed. Realizing this, he chose to organize and order this matter into the world we have today.

[edit] Creation of humanity

The beginning of the creation of humanity does not actually take place on earth. The location is found in the pre-existent life, where heavenly mother and heavenly father procreated and produced spirit children. It is said that we all existed together, making good and bad choices, all of which would have an effect on where we ended up in our lives here on earth (i.e. the second estate). When God decided to create Adam and Eve, he took his already pre-existent spirit and created his body, thus joining the two together. This is at odds with the Christian and biblical view of humanitites creation which sees God as not only forming the body but also creating the spirit at the very same time.  


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The Six Days of Creation
As Christians, we should appreciate the magnificence of nature, as God’s gift to mankind, testimony to His awesome power and undying love. The evolutionists, on the other hand remain calloused and oblivious to the natural splendor that surrounds them. Why should it be enthralling to be a part of something accidental? The origin of life should be of significant interest and we all should have absolute conviction that God is indeed the Creator!.

There may be nothing more contentious in the controversy over Creationism/evolution than the six days of Creation as in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, the foundational truth for our Christian beliefs. Yet, all evolutionists reject this historical fact. Many Christians also question the veracity of this scripture, mistrusting Genesis and succumbing to the speculations that evolution is scientific fact or that somehow they are compatible.
The implications are profound. Creation gives credibility to a created world that is between 6,000- 10,000 years old versus an evolved world 4,600,000,000 years old, a huge departure. The real importance is that evolution not only refutes Creation, it castigates Genesis 6 and 7, the Noahic flood. This denial opens up a Pandora’s box of doubt for other portions of the Bible. If some parts are not true, how can Christians have certainty of what, if any, is true? The Bible is not a true/false quiz with a passing score.
Christians might question whether God created in six 24 hour days. Some believe that each day mentioned in Genesis could have been thousands, if not millions of years. These are erroneous and feeble attempts to reconcile and compromise Creation with Evolution. Some use 2 Peter 3:8 as justification – “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”. This is a different context and it does not relate in any way to days being anything but literal!
Christians need to stand firm. There is no compromise. Our God is omniscient and omnipotent enough to have done what He said He did when He said He did it. He did not need evolution as a crutch or as an aid. If He needed evolution, this also means that He was, in His humanity, a product of it. He, too, would have progenitors and ancestors who emanated from some primordial slime with apes in His lineage. This is not the God I worship!
Genesis explains what God did on each day, it is perfectly clear. Each day’s events are mentioned as “the evening and the morning” were the time interval taken. One evening plus one morning will always equal one 24 hour day.
With God who needed only to “breathe” to bring life into existence, He was establishing the 24 hour day and the seven day week, observed since the Creation.
Genesis also gives us proof that no long periods of time could have elapsed and still have nurtured life. One only needs to consider the sequence of events and the logical and methodical process to “put all the pieces together”.
Initially, He created the heavens and earth without form and void of life. Without form and void, means that no life existed prior to His Creation. No dinosaurs or any other life on a planet could exist on one that was void and without form. One can only speculate how long God allowed this condition to exist. It is possible that He allowed a formless, void mass to remain suspended for an interminable period of time. But for whatever period of time was involved, nothing matters because a formless, void mass could not support life no matter how long it lasted. It would not seem feasible that an omnipotent God would create a formless, lifeless mass unless He planned to develop it further and sooner. This dispels the erroneous concept of “theistic evolution” It is also strongly implied that, once given form, the earth was covered with water for “ He moved the Spirit of God upon the waters and gave it light, dividing light from the darkness and on the second day He divided the waters, those above and below the firmament”. These waters contained no life because marine life was not created until the fifth day. This substantiates that no life and therefore no fossils could have existed before the first day of creation.
On day three, trees and vegetation were created. Vegetation needs sunlight but the sun was not created until day four. The sun, the greater light, was created to give light and warmth and to provide its life sustaining powers. If the “days” were not literal but .thousands or millions of years, all vegetation would have perished from a lack of the life giving power of the sun, photosynthesis. Had He reversed the two days, with the sun being created before the vegetation, then a long period of time between the days of Genesis could have been possible where the sun would have been available for whenever plants appeared. This proper sequencing of events was His way for us to know that the six days were literal.
On days five and six God created, among other things, the birds, creeping things and insects that play roles in the pollination of many plants. If these were not on the scene for thousands of years after the creation of plants, the pollination of many species of food producing plants, would not be possible. Without pollination, plants and the herbivores that were sustained from them, would perish.
Questions are also raised concerning the possibility or probability of life having been in existence before Adam and Eve (pre Adamic). It would substantiate the evolutionist contention that such things as fossils, coal, rock and diamond formation required many millions of years. This results in a compromised view that creation and evolution are compatible, called ‘theistic evolution”. Go back to Genesis. When God completed his six days of creation, He declared that it was “very good”. Death was not a part of the creation scenario, but only imparted when Adam and Eve sinned against God despite His warning that “surely you will die”. There was no death until they sinned and fossils resulting from the death of animals and coal and oil formed from the death of plants and animals could not have happened in a pre Adamic world. The first recorded death was when God provided Adam and Eve the skins of animals to “cover their nakedness”.
The Creation account is logical, sequential and planned for the plant and animal life with which the Lord was to bless us.
Summarily, the Lord formed the earth and cosmos and gave it light. He separated the waters, waters under the firmament to provide habitat for marine life and that above the firmament to disperse and dispense its life giving fluid. Then land was separated from the water to give a stratum upon which man and animals could venture and vegetation could now take root. With the essential water and productive land in place, He provided the sun to perform its essential function of photosynthesis. Now, all of the elements were in place for His great achievement, the formation of animal life and the emergence of humans, made in His image and likeness.The magnificence of Creation was now complete, “and it was good”, the Lord could now rest. The masterpiece was finished.
There was a logical sequence that the Lord followed leading up to His ultimate Creation, man. With all of the pieces in place, and lacking nothing, the Lord blessed them, gave them dominion over the Creation and encouraged them to be fruitful and multiply and replenish and subdue the earth.
He needed no evolution. He was quite capable of doing what he said He did. This included the establishment of laws governing the maintenance and sustenance of what He gave us. We sometimes hear of “natural laws” as if there exists some inherent ability in nature to systematize order. It is God that has established natural laws. Nature obeys them.
Like salvation, what a gift- a complex world of awesome majestic beauty is a testimony to His greatness for us to enjoy.
To fully appreciate His handiwork, we need reminding that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork”. As we partake of His gifts, remember to declare His glory and continue to “stand in awe of Him”.

The Earth’s Formation-Creation Evolution-and the contradictions

The earth’s formation has two hypotheses, one by Creationists, the other by evolutionists. Each contradicts the other. Each is far removed from the other and no plausible means has been found to reconcile the two. One must assume that one has to be totally false.
Taken from the popular textbook used extensively in high schools across the nation, Biology, co-authored by Miller/Levine offers the following:
The formation of the earth is attributed to a collision with a large planet that “produced enough heat to melt the entire globe” and “radioactive decay generated enough heat to convert Earth’s interior into molten rock”.. In addition, “Earth’s early atmosphere probably contained hydrogen cyanide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide and water”. It further states,” Had you been there, a few deep breaths would have killed you!” (p 423)
According to this text, early earth had an atmosphere that was so hot that everything was melted. Gases were so toxic that life was impossible. But, despite these deadly impediments and through the magic of evolution, life began to emerge anyway as the earth cooled into a solid crust. In the same text, it describes how Pasteur’s experiments proved that the hypothesis of spontaneous generation, also called abiogenesis, life arising from non life, was not possible (p 13). The text goes on to say that ”A stew of organic molecules is a long way from a living cell, and the leap from non life to life is the greatest gap in scientific theories of earth’s early history”. (p 425) Although stated in a matter of fact fashion, the implications are profound. Having no explanation for the impossible gap from life to nonlife, not even speculation, is crucial and foundational to how life could have even begun under an evolutionary scenario that begins with an impossibility. But these factors are ignored, seemingly inconsequential and no hypothesis is offered for how evolution was able to overcome these insurmountable barriers to life’s formation.
The text adds “About 3.8 billion years ago, Earth’s surface cooled enough for water to remain a liquid” (p 424).
In summary, evolutionists state that the earth was so hot that everything was molten. Toxic gases were prevalent, there was no water until 3.8 billion years of cooling and life without life was impossible. Somehow, without explanation or any scientific data, evolution was able to overcome these devastating obstructions to the formation of life. It is amazing that somehow people continue to believe an impossible scenario that defies explanation, logic and science and freely admits in print the impossibility of life’s formation. The real tragedy is that it is taught in our public schools.

The book of Genesis explains as follows:
Genesis details what God did on each day, it is perfectly clear. Each day’s events are mentioned as “the evening and the morning”. One evening plus one morning will always equal one 24 hour day.
With God who needed only to “breathe” to bring life into existence, He was establishing the 24 hour day and the seven day week, observed ever since.
Genesis also gives us proof that no long periods of time could have elapsed and still have nurtured life. Consider the sequence of events and the logical and methodical process that “puts all the pieces together”.
Initially, He created the heavens and earth without form and void of life. Without form and void, means that no life existed prior to His Creation. No dinosaurs or any other life on a planet could exist on one that was without form and totally barren of any kind of life. One can only speculate how long God allowed this condition to exist. It is possible that He allowed a formless, void mass to remain suspended for an interminable period of time. But for whatever period of time He chose, nothing matters because a formless, void mass could not support life no matter how long it lasted. It would not seem feasible that an omnipotent God would create a formless, lifeless mass unless He planned to develop it further and sooner rather than later. This dispels the erroneous concept of “theistic evolution” It is also strongly implies that, once given form, the earth was covered with water for “ He moved the Spirit of God upon the waters and gave it light, dividing light from the darkness and on the second day He divided the waters, those above and below the firmament”. These waters contained no life because marine life was not created until the fifth day. This substantiates that no life and therefore no fossils could have existed before the first day of creation.
These two scenarios give the same message. According to the evolutionary postulate, it was a toxic, molten earth with no way to bridge the gap from life to non life and environmentally incapable of supporting life of any kind, plant or animal. Reinforced with the admission that life is not possible from non life, there is an outright admission by evolutionists that their scenario is thoroughly impossible. We can only conclude that the evolutionary scenario has to be false. Without the possibility of life, there could be no fossils. Because of the hostile and deadly environment as described and taught by the evolutionists, they, themselves, substantiate reasons for the impossibility of their beliefs.
Creationism’s message is that no life could have existed until the creation. “ In the beginning…” a formless and void earth also could not support life until He formed it, separated the land from the waters, provided a sun and moon, vegetation and then animal and human occupation.
There are no other postulates!

While the comments from Brother Cote are quite extensive, they are well written, fervent and seem to represent a strong faith, therefore i have published them. Even though I disagree with his strict, literal interpretation of the age of the earth, and his vehemence against my views, his point of view deserves respect and full consideration.
Thanks for the input!

Everyone decide if believe or not believe…Is mysterious….

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