Myths of the origin of the universe refer to the imaginative expression in the narrative form of what is thought as the basic reality of how the universe came into being. The myth of creation, also known as cosmogonic myth, seeks to describe the creation of the universe and also how the myth has played a role in defining the rituals, beliefs, and values of religions. Cosmogonic myths have influenced the human culture thought over the ages. The creation myths often point to characters that are deities and who hold the power of the universe. The myths try to explain where the universe and human beings came from and also the ensuing human culture thereafter.
Christian Religion versus Islamic Religion Creation Myths
The Christian creation myth is found in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Christian Bible. In Christianity, the world was void, and a deity created the universe from this void. The myth states that the universe was made in seven days by a supernatural being. The Islamic religion creation myth is found in the Quran, states that heaven and earth were joined together and that they both went through a phase of transformation to their present forms. The myth states that the process of creation took six days to complete. The supernatural being in both of the myths created everything that exists today from land to all living creatures, both land and sea.
The creation of humanity is, however, different in both aspects of the religion. In the Christian religion, God created the first man, Adam, and thereafter created Eve from one of the ribs of Adam for her to be a companion. Adam was created on the seventh day of creation. There are two different versions of the creation of humanity according to the Islamic faith. One is that God created Adam and his followers to replace another species that inhabited the earth, the Jinn. God sent an army of Angels to destroy the preceding humanity as they had performed heinous acts in the eyes of the deity. The second one is that Adam and his wife were created as the first humans similar to that of the Christian faith.
The creation myth in Christian faith shows that Adam was deceived by his wife in the garden of Eden while this claim is unfounded in the Islamic religion myth, although the first humans resided in the same garden of Eden. It further points out that Adams’s wife, name Eve, is not mentioned in the Quran. The Islamic creation myth suggests that Adam and his wife ate from the tree of eternity and hence did not seduce him to eat the forbidden fruit. The Christian faith shows that Adam was deceived by Eve to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This shows that the creation story in the Quran does not have reference to the original sin committed by Adam and Eve as conceptualized in the bible.
The creation myth also offers an insight into the creation of the devil. Both religions portray the devil as the main antagonist fighting the good in the world. The devil is partly responsible for the original sin in the bible as he tempted Eve to first eat the forbidden fruit. The devil is also seen as once an obedient angel of God before they fell out and become the epitome of evil in the world. In the Islamic religion, the devil is shown as being disobedient to God and was hence chased out by the other angels. The creation of evil in the world is attributed to the devil and his falling out with God.
In Christian faith, after the fallout between humankind and God because of their sins, Adam and Eve were ordered to vacate the garden of Eden into the world. The garden of Eden is described as a paradise on earth, and after they committed the original sin, they had to toil to survive. Unlike Christian mythology, in the Islamic religion, the myth is that after their fallout with God, God punished Adam and Hawa, the wife of Adam and the serpent. Adam’s hair fell off and became bald while Hawa was punished with the pain of childbirth, menstruation, and stupidity. The serpent, on the other hand, lost its limbs and would forever crawl on the ground.
Comparison of the Myths
The creation myths in the two religions are both similar in that they recognize the presence of a deity but also differ in some aspects. The myths of creation in the two religions describe the supernatural being as being the sole creator of the universe. The common characteristic of the deity is that he is wise and all-powerful. The world comes to exist because of his wisdom as he is able to conceptualize the world in his own making. The two religions define that the deity lived alone prior to the existence of the universe. This is called the ex-nihillo time. The world was void and desolate, and the supernatural being commanded the world to be simply by word of mouth as he was not bound by laws of nature. The world was created out of primordial matter as there was nothing to create the world from at the time. It was the sheer command of the deity that made the making of the universe possible.
The creation myth points to the fact that the world was created in an orderly manner according to a definite plan and not on a trial and error basis. The world was created in seven days according to the Christian myth and six days according to the Islamic myth, where each day a new creation would come forth. The creations are systematic, with the last day being the day humanity was created. In both religion’s creation myths, the deity removes himself from the universe and is only set to appear when a catastrophe threatens the fabric of order in the universe. The departure from the universe is because of the disruption of the order created by the deity by his creations, that is, humanity.
Connection Between Creation Myths and Religious Practices
The myths provide the model for expression of culture in the society in regard to the religious practices they are accustomed to following. Ninian Smart’s dimensions on religions give an insight into understanding the connection between the myths and religious practices. The narrative dimension of religions shows that myths are an important part of religion in that they can be shared and changed to suit different needs of the present. According to the Islamic creation myth, Ibrahim and Ismail were instructed by God to construct a building called Kaaba that would be the equivalent to the house in heaven.
The myth states that the Kaaba was meant to be a symbolic house for one deity, but the people filled the Kaaba with pagan idols. When Muhammad conquered Mecca, he removed all the idols from the Kaaba and left it empty. Today, Mecca stands as a pilgrimage site for Muslims and are supposed to pray facing the Kaaba five times a day. The narrative dimension of the myth shows that creation myths can be used to determine the culture in the present day. Another instance in regard to the Kaaba is that Muslims do not worship the black stone in Mecca as a result of the creation myth suggesting that the stone descended from heaven while it was pure and dazzling white but turned black as a result of the sins of the universe hence is unholy.
The Christian creation myth suggests that the most heinous act that humanity did was to eat the forbidden fruit and hence commit the original sin. God was not amused by humanity for disobeying his decrees and hence set out to punish them when they sinned against him. This creation myth of what is good or bad in the universe is supported by the Smart’s ethical and legal dimension to the creation stories. Ethics concerns what is good or bad in the universe. The creation myth suggests that humanity should strive to appease God and not to fall into temptations of the universe as they are what drives humanity to do evil and should be avoided. The legal dimension of the myth shows that there are consequences of failure to uphold good in society. Adam and Eve were chased out of the garden of Eden as punishment for their sins; hence the same fate awaits those that continue to do evil in the world.
In both creation stories, there is the existence of evil forces that seek to destroy the universe. Muslims and Christians believers hence are tasked with the obligation of destroying these evil powers and reclaim the universe as holy. This is made possible by praying against the evils of the world as the belief is that God will protect them in their times of need as the desire to sin is human. The evil forces are regarded as genies. The creation myth suggests that Angels exist in the universe and are also tasked with repelling the evil forces and maintain law and order as God had planned in the beginning.
The creation of myths in both religions points to Adam as having being made out of clay before God gave him life. This is symbolic of the religious practices of each religious practice as the central event in each is death. In both religions, the assumption is that death is inevitable, and that man shall return to clay after his mission on the universe is completed. Death takes away the life from man, and he is reduced to his original form, clay. The myths show that life is given and can be taken away; hence the believers ought to use the time given to do good in the universe. In both religions, the believers are laid to rest in the soil as a symbol that they have returned to clay where they came from.
Importance of Creation Myths to Believers
The creation myths serve as a guide to believers on how to conduct themselves spiritually so as to be examples to the rest of the universe. The guidelines implied in the creation stories tend to be core beliefs to both Christianity and Islam, which is to do good in the world. The falling out of humanity with God by Adam and Eve set an example to the rest of the universe to obey the instructions that God had originally planned, as this will set them on a course to fulfill the promise of a harmonious universe.
The myths act as a point of reference that there exists a supernatural being who watches over the world and has the best interests of his people rather than believing that the universe just came to be on its own as some scientific research claim. The myths are the bases of the foundation of their faith; hence are sacred and are bound to increase the faith of the believers. The myths also specify how believers are to treat other living things in the universe. In the creation myths, humanity was supposed to take care of the other living things created by God, and the believers should take this initiative to protect and care for other God’s creations.
The creation of myths in Christianity and Islam religions seek to show that the world was created by a supernatural being in an orderly manner which was pure. The world was ultimately polluted by humanity and resulted in the suffering of the people thereafter. The religious practices in today’s world can attribute their origins from these myths as they define the core principles of a true relationship between God and the believers. The myths in both religions are similar, indicating that Smart’s dimensions about religion are true that religious origin is the same, but different myths were passed along hence contributing to different religions in the world.