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Erica Ellis HIS 100 Primary Source Essay One REWRITE Prompt #2 Due: October 28, 2010 With

every civilization, there is a beginning. Based upon the values of those people and their environments, they create stories or legends to rationalize their beginnings. In early Neolithic times, the religions were created by people to explain the natural phenomena of the world around them. With most stories of creation there can be seen some visible patterns, similarities and themes. Somehow their world is created and life is placed upon it. Interactions with these creators or gods can shape the way a society acts and values their own lives. Gods can be just or terrorizing. There can be one god or many. All of these religions affect the gender roles of the societies and how they are viewed by each other. There is a strict set or moral guidelines a person must follow, as laid out by the god(s) of each group to gain admittance into an afterlife. Above all authority is important and demanded from the god(s) of each civilization. Although there are some things that can be drawn from most stories in one way or another, some have dramatic differences from one group of people to the next. Where these differences are we can see the cultures take different directions religiously and socially. They can be affected by things such as geography and age of the civilization. Take for example the Hopi, the Babylonians and the Hebrews. All of these peoples believe in a higher power. The god(s) that rule these groups use a system of punishment or consequence for disobedience. The god(s) inflict fear on the people as a means of gaining respect and obedience.

The Hopi believe their world was nothing until a man by the name of Taiowa created a nephew and had him create the nine universes. He created the world to be the earth and then created Spider Woman to fill it with life. She introduced people, plants and animals to the world. As the worlds continued to be created, they were not as good as the one before it. The Hopi believed in a cyclical world where destruction would incite more creation, less perfect every time. The world would eventually disintegrate. However, the Hopi believed in continuing their faith in their creators. It is important to see from this story that it took both the man and the woman to create the world and the life in it. As with true biology the woman is responsible for creating life and the mans duty to build a shelter to protect. In a story similar to the Hopi, the Hebrews have a creation based in that of Judaism. They have one God. An emphasis on the idea of singularity transcends this creation in that God is one but acts as many.1 He controls everything that happens himself, as opposed to other stories where there are gods for the sun, the moon, fire and water separately. The heavens and the earth are separate in the Hebrew story and a person must follow Gods rules to gain access to heaven in the afterlife. God created this world in six days, taking the seventh to rest thereby creating the idea of the Sabbath. It can be viewed as a sign of weakness however, that this God needed to rest. He spoke the earth into being over the course of these six days. He created the humans to rule over all the creatures he had placed on Earth before them. There is no mention of gender in the story of the Elohim. Unlike the Hopi and Hebrew stories, the Babylonian story is one that is truly unique. Some of the gods are even willing to kill each other simply because they are loud. This is true in
1

"The Elohim." July 2000. Creation Stories from around the World. September 2010 <http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSIndex.html>.

the case of the primary Babylonian god wanted to kill his children for their noise. Because the gods began as a whole family this meant they would engage in the slaying of ones own family for gain. Death, destruction and betrayal are rampant in the Babylonian tales of the gods. The body of the slain original mother was split to create the heavens and the land. The blood of a general was used to create humans. Out of blood comes a human, made to be vengeful and violent. Neither gender is favored in Babylonia. Men are violent and vengeful while women are treacherous and deceitful. There are a few ways to examine the apparent differences between the Babylonian creation story and those of other regions. The Babylonians make their gods to be almost humans with powers. They are plagued with human emotions such as greed, anger and wrath. However, it could be that the gods were the originators of these emotions and through the creation of humans by blood those emotions became to humans. Although other stories show respect for humanity, humanity seems to be in the way for the Babylonians and their ability to get what they want. Emotions and concepts like compassion and justice seem out of their capacity to know and express. Chronologically, Babylon is a much older civilization than the other two being examined and the times could be the reason for the harshness of the gods. Creation stories are the basis of religious beliefs for these peoples. The ways their gods act amongst themselves and treat their people and subjects set a precedent for how the people acted around each other and toward their gods. Geography helped these stories develop differently which is a mirror of the cultures developing differently due to their respective regions, climate and ancestry. Unpredictability on their environment makes for apprehensive and fearful people. Societies with a pattern, predictability and certainty usually make for people with more benevolent beliefs. Whether the world was created by vengeance or love, blood or work,

man or women, by one god or many each of these creation stories provides a way for a group of people to identify themselves as one. It gives them an explanation of where they are from and how to act in accordance with the moral beliefs they think will produce the most luxurious afterlife. The god(s) are the beings that these people mirror themselves and their societies after and base religions on. After all, to know where you are going, you must first know where you came from.

Bibliography
"Marduk Creates the World from the Spoils of Battle." July 2000. Creation Stories from around the World. September 2010 <http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSIndex.html>. "The Elohim." July 2000. Creation Stories from around the World. September 2010 <http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSIndex.html>. "The Four Creations." July 2000. Creation Stories from around the World. September 2010 <http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSIndex.html>.