01/20/13

A Stream of Prophets – Muhammad

“As-salamu’alaykum” (May peace be upon you), the greeting of Islam taught by Muhammad.

 

 

 

The prophet Muhammad, whose full name was Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn Abdullah, was born in Mecca, Arabia, in 570 AD, where he would spend the first fifty-two years of his life. He was the son of Abdullah, a poor merchant of the Banu Hashim clan, of the powerful tribe of Quaraysh. His mother was Amina. Muslim tradition adds that Muhammad was also a descendent of Ishmael, the first son of Abraham. Orphaned at six, he was raised by his grandfather and uncle to become a merchant. As a child he was known as al-Amin, “the honest and trustworthy”, though much like Jesus before him, Muhammad’s teen years go unrecorded. At 25 he married Khadijah, a rich widow, fifteen years his senior, who also so happened to be his employer. They would have two sons and four daughters together. During his life Muhammad would have an estimated nine to thirteen wives, but never while married to Khadijah. His other marriages were for either political or humanitarian reasons, such as alliances or compassionate moves regarding the widows of those killed in battle.

As the years slipped by and working as a trader, he started to be drawn more and more towards spiritual contemplation and would often go on long walks alone or sit within a cave and meditate. By 600 AD he began to receive revelations from a god who called himself Allah, claiming to be the one and only God. These initial revelations then stopped and nothing was heard for three years, until a day came when Muhammad received a message from the angel Jibril (Gabriel) insisting he recite (Iqra) everything that would soon to be revealed to him in visions from Allah. Over the next twenty two years he would receive many messages through many visions. Each vision and message became the surahs or chapters which would eventually make up the Qur’an (Koran). Because Muhammad was illiterate, he had to recite each surah often, to commit it to memory, which made him appear to be a very serious, highly moral and aloof character. Muslims commemorate this event, Muhammad’s first experience of divine revelation, as the “Night of Power” (Lailat ul-Qadr). It is said that after these first revelations Muhammad worried that people would think he was either possessed or deeply distressed mentally. Nonetheless he stayed the path exhibiting extreme devotion.

The faith of the Qur’an would become the foundation of Islam; “submission” to God. Islam also means peace. Followers of the faith are Muslims, “ones who submit” and believe the Qur’an to be Allah’s own words and not that of any human being. Muhammad’s achievement of having memorized the words of their one god, in its entirety, is viewed as Muhammad’s greatest miracle. His messages were called the “Seal of the Prophets.” Muslims today still believe that in memorizing the Qur’an as a sign of achievement; In fact the Qur’an is the most memorized book in history.

The first surah of the Qur’an is universally incorporated in the daily prayers of all Muslims; “In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. All praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful, the Only Owner of the Day of Recompense (to reward). You (alone) we worship and You (alone) we ask for help. Guide us to the Straight Way. The way of those whom you have bestowed your Grace and not (the way) of those who have earned your anger, nor those who went astray.”

During Muhammad’s life, each tribe had its own pagan god; each perceived as being protectors and spirits and who were associated with sacred trees, stones, springs and wells. But the recited word of Allah commanded that these idols and shrines be destroyed. This alone made Muhammad a threat to the local tribes and the rulers of Mecca, as they had become wealthy on idol worship. Also disturbing them was that Allah’s message was being delivered to humanity as a whole, not one race or class. Muhammad also began to preach that the rich should give to the poor, which provoked even more hostility, especially in Mecca, which was an important financial center. The first religious duties Muhammad would claim were; belief in only one god, Allah; ask for forgiveness of sins; offer frequent prayers; assist those in need; reject cheating and love of wealth; be chaste; and, as was the common practise at the time, stop killing newborn females. After these declarations, the persecution and abuse upon Muhammad and his followers began in earnest, with most Meccans ignoring and mocking him in equal measure. His earliest converts were mostly brothers and sons of wealthy merchants, people who had fallen out of their tribe’s favour as well as poor and unprotected foreigners.

In 620 AD, Muhammad would take a night journey (Isra and Mi’raj) with the angel Gabriel. Astride the winged horse, Buraq, they flew from Mecca to Jerusalem and back, surveying the land from above. Soon after, both his wife Khadijah and his uncle died and the now fifty year old Muhammad losing his position and income was quickly reduced to poverty. He spent his days making more converts from the pilgrims to Mecca, many of whom were from the agricultural oasis of Yathrib. These people were familiar with monotheism, as there was a large Jewish community.

By 622 AD he and his followers were no longer tolerated in Mecca. And as rumours of assassination plots against him increased, the people of Yathrib offered Muhammad and his followers’ sanctuary in their town and felt Muhammad could assist them in arbitration in the many feuds among the tribes in the area. Muhammad was a well known and respected arbitrator, dealing with many practical disputes about the simple ideology, “My community will never agree in an error”; interpreted to mean that the consensus of the community is a source of moral and legal authority.

Muhammad gathered his people making their way the 338 km (210 miles) trek to the town that would soon be called Medina, “city of the prophet.” This migration would be called the Hijira, and marked the beginning of the Muslim era. It was at this point that Muhammad felt he and his followers had been persecuted enough. From being a poor prophet, despised by his community, moving to Medina was the next step in his becoming the leader of a community governed by Islamic law.

Muhammad would soon form the “Constitution of Medina” (Sahifat al-Madinah), a formal agreement between Muhammad and all of the significant tribes and families of Yathrib, his fellow Muslims who had followed him from Mecca, and Jews, Christians and pagans. This constitution was the first forms of government established in Islam and brought much inter tribal fighting to an end. To this effect it instituted a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and pagan communities of Medina bringing them within the fold of one community, the Ummah, which would be presided over by the Caliph (head of state). Though having a religious outlook, the Constitution also included practical considerations, as well as preserving the legal forms of the old nomadic Arab tribes. The large, wealthy Jewish population did not accept such a constitution since they believed instead in Judaism Mosaic law. They also did not believe Muhammad to be of the race of Adam. They and the Jewish tribes, such as the Banu Nadir and the Banu Qaynuqa, were soon banished to Syria without their property.

Eventually all of Medina was converted to Islam, while Muhammad and the original Muslims from Mecca began acquiring wealth and power by raiding Meccan caravans and fighting skirmishes against them.

In 624 AD, with the revelations from Allah continuing to flow through him, Muhammad, on his knees and facing Jerusalem praying heard Allah whisper to him to turn and face Mecca while in prayer. The same year Muhammad was granted permission from Allah to go to war against the enemies of Islam and the process of conversion or the sword began, and would last eight long years.

The war brought their enemies to their knees and were either immediately converted by reciting the first surah, or were killed right there as they knelt. The Muslims were victorious in their first battle against the Meccans, but at the next at Ohod, Muhammad was severely wounded and his forces retreated.

Two years later in 627 AD Muhammad reversed the situation and seized Medina and took control of Mecca. By their surrender Muhammad was recognized as chief and prophet of Mecca. Islamic myths tell of his bravery in battle and his leadership. He was revered for killing many and converting many more to Allah’s ways. The Muslims then ransacked and destroyed all the idols and images from Mecca’s temples. This anti-idolatry was reflected in the fact that after Islam became established as an organized religion, the representation of Muhammad or Allah in art became strictly forbidden.

In 630 AD, at sixty years of age Muhammad would rule over not only Medina and Mecca, but soon all of Arabia. Though at first many of the Bedouin tribes disagreed with Islam and refused to give up their independence, they eventually established a code of virtue and ancestral traditions. Muhammad allowed them to do this, but only after getting them to sign an agreement, where they would have to pay zakat, the Muslim tax.

Besides guiding all areas of Muslim behaviour, Muhammad’s revelations also brought forth obligations which were essential to the lives of Muslims and to the values of uniting Muslims into a community. The outline of these obligations was called the “Five Pillars.”

The first pillar was Shahadah, the basic creed of Islam which is the confession of one’s faith in God and the prophet Muhammad, “I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God.” Saying this aloud before witnesses was the only requirement to become a Muslim.

The second pillar was Salah, the ritual worship performed five times a day by kneeling while facing towards Mecca. It was the time to focus the mind on God. The breaks were excellent times, over the course of one’s day, to reflect, stretch, with set cycles of bowing, standing and sitting, and relaxing while breathing deeply.

The third was Zakat, the giving and caring for the poor and needy. Assistance to the poor was based on one’s accumulated wealth and mandatory for all Muslims who could afford the tax, which was about two and a half percent of one’s earnings. As well as helping the poor and needy, all Muslims had to help in assisting in the spread of Islam.

The fourth pillar, Sawm, represented the time to atone for past sins and to reflect upon those in need through fasting and prayer during the month of Ramadan (Arabic calendar). From dawn to dusk each day of Ramadan, one did not eat nor drink.

The fifth and final pillar was Hajj (Pilgrimage) and was where every Muslim, at least once in his or her life, had to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. Besides the Five Pillars, Allah also required that each Muslim show moral behaviour and devotion. These five pillars remain as the cornerstones of Islam.

To Muhammad, religion was not a private or individual matter; it was the religious, intellectual, economic, social and political pressures of the day. Islamic philosophy would become the search for wisdom (Hekma) through the views of life, the universe, ethics and society, and over the next few hundred years’ Islamic literary, scholarly and scientific works would have a profound impact on societies everywhere.

The people of Muhammad’s generation knew about Christianity, which had become the Roman Catholic Church, while Judaism they had known about for even longer and viewed it as a religion strictly for the Jews. The idea of God that Muhammad presented to his people was that the Jews misrepresented the Old Testament, turning the universal religion of Abraham into an exclusive, race-based, nationalistic system. He felt Islam to be a revival of the pure religion of Abraham that even Adam followed in the beginning. But this time, the “chosen peoples” lineage was the Arab offspring of Ishmael, first son of Abraham and Hagar, instead of the Jewish offspring of Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah. Many scholars believe Muhammad took Judaism and Christianity and simply created an uncorrupted version.

In 632 AD, ten years after Hijira and the migration from Mecca to Medina, Muhammad finally united all the tribes of Arabia into an Arab Muslim religious entity and undertook his last pilgrimage to Mecca. Eventually making his way to Mount Arafat outside of Mecca, he gave his “Farewell Sermon.” He told the large crowd travelling with him that they were to not follow pre-Islamic customs and that an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab or of a non-Arab over an Arab, nor is there superiority of black over white and vice versa, except by their devoutness to Allah and their individual good actions. He abolished all blood feuds and disputes and for all old pledges to be returned, as solemn promises of the creation of the new Islamic Order.

After Muhammad returned from his pilgrimage to Mount Arafat, his health began to fail him and he soon died, at the age of 62 yrs, in the home of his favourite wife, Aishah. Right up to his death he continued doing his own household chores, as he had always done, including preparing the food for meals, sewing and mending his own shoes. And though a prophet, Muhammad was also very much a man of his time and enjoyed the finer things in life as well, such as the pleasures of the dining table and the division of spoils after his many battles. His wives appreciated the fact he offered them dialogue, he listened to them, took advice, debated and argued. His tomb lies in the mosque at Medina. Within ten years after Muhammad’s death, Muslims would conquer Mesopotamia, Persia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt.

Muslims believe the Arabic of the Qur’an is the finest form of the language and as a document it is indeed the Arabic language’s masterpiece. They also believe the word of Allah can never be effectively translated and is only authoritative in and inspired by the Arabic language. After Muhammad’s death the Qur’an was checked for accuracy by the scribe Zayad Ibn Thabit under the authority of Caliph Uthman with the holy scripture of the Qur’an written in about 651 AD. The Qur’an lies at the heart of Islam; it is the Word of Allah, the fundamental source of guidance for Muslims and is treated with the utmost respect. Muslims believe Muhammad’s message is the true, final and uncorrupted word of Allah and they believe that all other scriptures are fabrications and altered by humans to become simply, described doctrine and formulated statements.

There are 114 surahs (divisions or chapters) of varying lengths contained in the Qur’an; with many similar stories from the Bible, in particular, Noah, Abraham and Moses, with Jesus an especially important figure. In fact, Moses is mentioned more than any other individual, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, is mentioned more in the Qur’an than in the New Testament. Adam and Eve are also in the Qur’an, though Eve is not blamed for their disobedience and Allah forgives the pair. Muslims believe that Noah was the first prophet and Muhammad to be the last. Other surahs in the Qur’an covers all aspects of life, including governance, foreign relations, inheritance, marriage, transactions and civil restitution, among many other aspects of religious worship and social life.

Islamic law was written over the first three centuries of Islam, using both the Qur’an and the Sunnah, the assembly of traditions, acts and sayings of Muhammad, which covered such aspects as personal matters and secular law. Islamic law, from both sources combined, sought an ideal order for society. Islamic social reforms that came into being at the time improved the status quo, especially when it came to social security, family structure, slavery and the rights of women and children. Islam also denounced aristocratic privilege, rejected hierarchy and established that one could seek a career not just by having family contacts, but according to their talents.

Much like Judaism and Christianity, the Qur’an tells of a Day of Judgement, where everyone will be rewarded or punished for their actions in this life, and of a Resurrection of their God, whether it is Yahweh, Jesus Christ or Allah. Within Islam, life is a trial with no reincarnation or Son of God; personal accountability is with Allah alone. On the Day of Judgement, Allah will raise all humanity to life. Each person will be told a chronicle of their life, of the deeds they had performed, whether good or bad. It is believed that this accounting would show what was actually important in one’s life. Those who perform good works, who are generous, pray religiously, seek forgiveness of sins and fear Allah, would go to Paradise, which Muslims believe to be above both language and human comprehension. Those who believed they were the reason for their own good fortune and never sought forgiveness, or ignored others because they felt they were beneath them, would be cast into Hell. The description of Hell, as written in the Qur’an, is known to be among “the most terrifying ever committed to paper.”

Muhammad was blessed with numerous descendants, which as in life would create many squabbles, quarrels and pretenders claiming they were blood linked to their dynastic and hereditary principle. Also, much like other religions, Islam is divided into two main sects; the majority of Muslims are Sunni, the others are Shi’ites, who predominate Iran and Iraq. Their antagonistic behaviour towards each other is rooted in each group having their own theory as to the legitimacy of Muhammad’s spiritual and political heirs, as well as each having their own versions of Islamic law.

The Sunni’s believe the unity of the Muslim community is more important than the pedigree of its leader. They feel Muhammad never appointed a successor and that political leaders (caliphs), who are chosen by religious scholars, represent the legitimate succession. Sunni’s also believe in a very limited scope of human free will.

Shi’ites meanwhile, believe Muhammad did name a successor, his cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib, and that his descendents were the rightful leaders (Imams) chosen by Allah to oversee the Muslim community. Believing their leaders are hereditary is the 2nd largest group of Shi’ites, the Ismaili sect, who believe the Qur’an has two meanings, one being the apparent and the other a hidden meaning, known only to them.

Islamic tradition separates the prophets of their people into two groups. The direct messengers of Allah, who received divine revelation, were called the Rasul, “bearers of the word.” This group of prophets included, Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus), and Muhammad. The other group of prophets were non-divine human beings called the Nabi. Their task was to bring forth the word of Allah and preach the avoidance of idolatry and sin. Islam tradition says Allah sent Nabi messengers to every nation and that collectively more than 124,000 have been sent all over the world.

Extreme Islamists today have hijacked the contemporary belief that Islam is, and have made it a “convert thru conquest”, by using terrorism, radical movement of religion and spirituality through their own interpretations, much like the extreme Evangelicals from the West have done with their God. This happens because a problem with Islam, as well as other religions, is often their scriptures lacks context. Thus there is always bound to be many diverse interpretations of the facts or substance of their scripture.

Case in point, one of the surahs deals with Allah’s belief in jihad, which Muhammad recited as meaning the struggle against oneself. To abandon oneself to lust, greed, anger, cynicism or to forget one’s accountability to Allah, is to abandon jihad. To make a conscious effort to develop temperance, generosity and trust in providence, and to remember one’s eventual reckoning, is to wage jihad. Muhammad maintained that jihad is the work of a lifetime, with the enemies being self-centeredness and willingness to build one’s life around material comforts and pleasures. It was also important that while on jihad, a Muslim was to not inflict pain or damage to a fellow human being. It would not be until centuries later that extremist fundamentalists would use military action and terror and associate it with jihad, leaving a fifteen hundred year old message totally misinterpreted. Another case in point is the recent belief that when an extremist suicide attacker dies for his God, he will go to Paradise and into the arms of 72 virgins. This belief is nowhere stated in the Qur’an. What is stated explicitly and without exemption is the forbidding of suicide in all situations.

The parts of the Qur’an known as the “satanic verses” came to be when Muhammad was trying to conciliate some Meccan polytheists who wanted to continue worshipping some of the older deities. He soon had a vision which told him to allow these polytheists to worship other gods. He later admitted that he didn’t agree with such an allowance, but had been fooled and under a spell of the devil at the time. He was known to have many revelations with outcomes such as this that suited short-term needs of his people.

Though Muhammad could not read or write, was human and not without sin, he was however, a living commentary on the Qur’an. He cannot be regarded as the founder of Islam as Muslims believe Islam has always existed, but Muhammad was seen simply as being the final revelation, an instrument which Allah used to spread his Word of God. Even in the Qur’an, Muhammad is only mentioned four times and is not addressed by name, but in the second person.

As determined by the Islamic calendar, which is lunar based, the holiest month for Muslims is Ramadan, in the 9th month. Therefore within the Gregorian calendar Ramadan is honoured in a different month each year. It is a time for purification, to forgo all indulgences and a time for reflection of life and past misdeeds. From sunrise to sunset of each day during Ramadan a Muslim cannot smoke, eat, drink or have sex. One must read the Qur’an start to finish, reinforce their basic personal discipline and show gratitude to Allah.

In summary, the main points of Islam include the sole sovereignty of Allah, the sinfulness of worship of an idol, for fear it could lead to idolatry. That Islam is no one person; it is a belief, a faith, the certainty of resurrection with the rewards of heaven and the punishments of hell, and the divine vocation that Mohammed was the prophet that god has spoken through.

Islam today is pervasively involved in the conduct of its social patterns, military, worship, communities and governments, where Islamic law does not distinguish between matters of church and state. Most Muslims of the world today are not necessarily Arabians, as Islam, much like other belief systems, has become a global faith religion, not a regional or Middle Eastern phenomenon, despite current perception. Allah’s faithful now number over a billion worldwide.

Though Islam states that there is no difference between men and women in their relationship with God, with identical rewards and punishments, traditional Islamic law authorizes severe repression and submissiveness of women. Men are deemed more valuable, with the reason being,  the different religious laws for the sex is biological and sociological in nature. Muslim conservatives say that both genders must have a different role in society with the only criteria being their devotion to God, while Muslim social reformers argue against traditional laws towards women. Whether perceived injustice to women is according to Islam religious doctrines or culture, it is an ongoing dispute within the religion. Many Muslim women of today are attempting to reconcile tradition with modernity by becoming more active in their lives, with outward modesty and demure. Though prejudice is blind, in many Muslim countries women have come a long way on their road to equality. In Iran today 60% of university students are women. The biggest change that has allowed positive change is the simple fact that 70% of all Muslims live in Asia and not Arabia, Iran or Iraq, with the majority of Muslims living in cities of multi-traditional, multi-racial, multi-cultural and mostly secular, modern nations.

Thirteen hundred years after Muhammad, another prophet, Mahatma Ghandi, would read two volumes of Muhammad’s biography, trying to understand how Muhammad could have earned such respect and importance to millions of Muslim lives. “I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.”

 

 

11/13/11

Resource Material – A Stream of Prophets (2009)

Bloom, Harold, Genius – A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds, Warner Books Inc., New York, 2002.

Sunday Telegraph, Jacob Zuma Sworn In, The Province newspaper, May 10 2009, pg A34.

Tolle, Eckhart, A New Earth- Awakening to your Life’s purpose, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, 2005.

Fawcett, Anthony, One Day at a Time, revised Edition, New York, Grove Press Inc, 1980.

Taylor, C.C.W., Hare, RM, and Barnes, J., Greek Philosophers – Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Oxford University Press, New York, 1998.

Perseus Encyclopedia – Wikisource, The Republic, Vol 5-6, Text translated by Paul Shorey, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Ma., 1969.

Armstrong, Karen, Buddha, New York, Penguin Books, 2001.

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Veterans of Civil Rights Movement, crmvet.org

Armstrong, Karen, Muhammad: A Biography of the prophet, New York, Harper-Collins. 1992.

Life Magazine: Remembering Martin Luther King Jr- 40 Years later, New York, Time Inc., 2008.

Stanford University, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Metaphysics Research lab, CSLI, Stanford, 2003.

Weyler, Rex, How to Change the World, The Vancouver Sun newspaper, February 17, 2007.

Todd, Douglas, Stages of Faith: What’s your spiritual Quotient? The Vancouver Sun newspaper, March 7, 2009 Pg C4.

Luce, J.V., An Introduction to Greek Philosophy, Thames & Hudson, New York, 1992.

Rohl, David M., From Eden to Exile, Arrow Books Limited, the Random House Group Limited, London, 2003.

Rohl, David M., A Test of Time: The Bible- From Myth to History, 1991, London.

James, Peter, et al, Centuries of Darkness, 1991, London.

Brandon Toropov and Father Luke Buckles, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to World Religions, Beach Book Productions, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, 2004.

Chambers Biographical Dictionary, Edited by Magnus Magnusson, W & R Chambers Ltd, Edinburgh, 1990.

The Holy Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Bible Publishers, New York International Bible Society, 1978.

Gruen, Dietrich, Who’s Who in the Bible, Illinois, Publications International, Ltd,1997.

Holy Bible, the Gideons International in Canada, Ontario, Canada.

Nemeth, Maria, Getting out of the Fog, Common Ground, Common Ground Publishing Corp., Vancouver, Issue 192, July 2007.

Nemeth, Maria, Mastering Life’s Energies, New World Library, Novato, Ca, 2007.

Randall-Young, Gwen, Soul is Peace, Common Ground, Common Ground Publishing Corp., Vancouver, Issue 192, July 2007.

George Monbiot, From Dust to Dust, the Guardian Weekly, UK, 2009.

Trebilcock, Timothy, Mass production doesn’t serve society well, Times Colonist newspaper, Tuesday September 27, 2011 Pg A11.

Jackson, Tim and Victor, Peter, Prosperity without growth is possible, Vancouver Sun newspaper, Monday September 19, 2011 Pg A11.

Lamb, Jamie, Moment of inexplicable loss, Vancouver Sun newspaper, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1980, Pg B1.

McQuarrie, Fiona and Vaughn Pa;mer, John Lennon, Vancouver Sun newspaper, Dec. 9, 1980, Pg B1.

New World Dictionary of American English, Simon & Schuster, New York NY, 1988.

Great World Atlas, Readers Digest, 5th Edition, Montreal, Quebec, 1983.

http://www.theelders.org

http://www.writespirit.net/ Martin Luther King Jr.

http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page MLK

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08/18/11

Some Creation Stories Part 3

Part 3 of 3

Incan – Judaism/ Christianity – Mandinka – Islam – The Big Bang and Darwin – Summary

 

The Inca

There are many different versions of the Inca’s creation as their empire was ever expanding, with each tribal community having their own idea of how and when they were created. Most all share two basic and similar foundation stories, that the world was created around the Andes mountains and that the source of all life came from the sacred waters of Lake Titicaca.

In the beginning the earth was covered in darkness when the “Creator of All Things,” Wiraqocha ( Viracocha) Pachyachachic, emerged out of a lake called Collasuyu ( Lake Titicaca). Wiraqocha quickly began creating humans, with the first beings made from gigantic solid blocks of stone, Wiraqocha soon realized that these first people were way too large. So he then created a new humanity in the form we are today. He ordered these new people to live together peacefully, but before too long, pride and jealousy appeared and the world became embroiled in greed and conflict. These first peoples lived in darkness, for Wiraqocha had not created light yet, and were very primitive; not really knowing how to do anything, including not knowing about clothing or building shelter. Their behaviour soon enraged Wiraqocha. He turned many of them into stone, then sent down rains for sixty days and sixty nights and a great flood washed away all traces of the beings of his earlier creation. He kept only two people alive, which were to act as his servants.

Wiraqocha felt one of the reasons the first humanity had become so immoral was because they lived in darkness, while the earth consisted of only rocks and mountains. Still determined to create humanity, he felt these other matters should be dealt with first before he would attempt to create people again. So he created light at the lake Collasuyu, calling forth the sun (Inti) and the moon (Mama-Quilla) from the waters. He set them in the sky and told them to take turns decorating the earth with light and darkness. In the beginning the moon was the brighter one, but the sun took offense, throwing ashes into the moon’s face and ever since, the moon is the paler of the two. Wiraqocha then began to create humanity a second time.

With the help of his two servants, he made statues and images of all the people from stone. They were painted distinct colours and had costumes that each community would wear. After this was done Wiraqocha then instructed his servants to memorize each new persons’ name, their countries, and the prominent landmarks of where they were to live. He then brought them all to life by reciting their names. He sent one of his servants to the ocean in the west, the other he sent east into Amazonia, while Wiraqocha himself stayed in the Andes, where he called forth to all his people and told them who they were and named every peak, cave, lake, and stream. Later, Wiraqocha came to a place he named Pacariqtambo, the “Inn of the Dawn,” a cave from which he summoned forth four brothers and four sisters who would be the parents of his new race.

The first to emerge would bear the title, “the first Inca,” his name was Manqo Qhapaqh (Manco Capac), the “first Rich Ancestor.” Next was his sister, Mama Oqllu ( Plump Mother), who Manqo Qhapaqh quickly married. With them came Ayer Awka and his consort Mama Waqo. Then Ayar Kachi and his wife, Mama Kura, arose, with Ayar Uchu and Mama Rawa arriving last. From these eight siblings the entire Inca nation would descend and from their beginning they believed their destinies were to be the conquerors of a great empire. As Mama Waqo soon told her brothers and sisters, “We are born strong and wise and with the people who will here join us, we shall be powerful. We will go forth from this place to seek fertile lands and when we find them we will subjugate the people and take the lands, making war on all those who do not receive us as lords.”

Wiraqocha then made his way to the Pacific Ocean where he addressed his people for the final time. Wiraqocha was content with what he had done, feeling everything was in its rightful place and rightfully named. He told his people he was returning to the celestial realm, but from now on the ruler of the heavens was to be his son Inti, the god of the sun, who lit up the sky, made life possible, warmed the earth, and allowed crops to grow. Inti was to marry Mama-Quilla, goddess of the moon, whose natural rhythms would form the Inca calender. Wiraqocha also told his people that one day he would send them two messengers and that they were to always beware of intruders. When he was finished speaking, Wiraqocha, with a few servants at his side, strode out across the ocean, walking on the crests of the waves until disappearing over the horizon. From then on, though the people never really worshipped Wiraqocha, they forever honoured him.

Another foundation story of creation was that a great being, Con Tiqui (Viracocha) emerged from Lake Titicaca, bringing  human beings with him.  Con Tiqui (Viracocha) quickly created the sun (Inti), the moon, and the stars to light the world. Out of great rocks he created more human beings, many of them women who were already pregnant. He sent these people to the four corners of the world, keeping a male and female with him at Cusco, “the navel of the world,” near the sacred place,  Machu Picchu. The founder of the first dynasty of the kingdom of Cuzco was Manco Capac. In one legend he was brought up from the depths of Lake Titicaca by the sun god, Inti. In another he was the son of Con Tiqui Viracocha. However, commoners were not allowed to speak the name of Viracocha, which is possibly an explanation for the need for two foundation legends that follow.

In one myth, Manco Capac was the brother of Pachacamac, both were sons of the sun god, Inti. Manco Capac himself was worshipped as both a fire and a sun god. He and his siblings were sent to the earth by Inti, by way of the cave, Pacariqtambo. Carrying a golden staff called ‘tapac-yauri’, Manco Capac and his brothers and sisters were instructed to create a “Temple of the Sun” in the spot where the staff sank into the earth at Cusco. They combined their efforts and built such a temple where they could honour their father, the sun god Inti. In another version of this legend, instead of emerging from a cave in Cuzco, the siblings emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca.

In the Tici Virachocha legend, Manco Capac was the son of Tici Viracocha of Pacari-Tampu, just south of Cuzco. He and his brothers – Ayar, Anca, Ayar, Cachi, and Uchu, and sisters – Mama Ocllo, Mama Huaco, Mama Raua and Mama Cura, lived near Cuzco at Paccari-Tampu, and united their people to conquer the tribes of the Cuzco Valley. This legend also incorporates an ornate golden staff, which is thought to have been given to Manco Capac by his father. Accounts vary, but according to some versions of the legend, the young Manco jealously betrayed his older brothers, killed them, and became the sole ruler of Cuzco, the capital of what would become the Inca Empire.

Besides the many differences in their creation stories, the Inca people universally believed the creation of humans and the creation of the earth were two entirely different things. Their early consciousness was developed around their relationship with their environment; the rocks and mountains of the Andes, and believed that no Inca should ever feel the need to subdue or master their environment. They felt they did not just inhabit their environment, but instead the landscape inhabited them. They felt the rocks, nature and the mountains of their world were firmly established and could not be changed, much like the eternal divine presence of life itself and humanity. They believed that the creations of both humans and the earth existed in endless cycles of tragedy, upheaval, and re-creation, with each cycle lasting one thousand years. Though each cycle brings about both hope and fear, each one also brings about an improvement in the human condition.

The first creation was when Wiraqocha created the giant stone people who lived in darkness. The second creation cycle was when the sun appeared and the new people learned to clothe themselves, build shelters, and begin to farm. During the third cycle, systematic agriculture, spinning and weaving, mining, and metal working would evolve, with gold coming from the sweat of the sun and silver from the tears of the moon. But rivalry between communities also came into play. The fourth creation was filled with conflict, suspicion, animosity, and war. Tribal divisions began to form. The fifth creation was the thousand years before the invasion by the Spanish in the 16th century. It was a golden time; a classical age of order and stability. But then Francisco Pizarro and Christianity appeared, and nothing in the Incan world was ever the same.

Judaism and Christianity

The book of Genesis in the Bible tells of two different accounts of creation; each perhaps simply a difference in perspective on creation. The first account being gods’ perspective, when the earth and heavens were created, and the second being, humanity’s perspective.

The first account tells that in the beginning, Elohim (God), created the heavens and the earth, but the earth was nothing more than a formless, dark void. So Elohim created light and the earth appeared. And since this was the first day, from then on, before each new day he would create morning and evening anew. On the second day he created the waters and the skies. Then on the third day he separated the waters from parts of the land and upon this dried earth sprouted vegetation, plants bearing seed of their kind and trees bearing fruit, with seed within the fruit, of their kind.

On the fourth day he began to populate his creations, and created heavenly bodies for the night and day skies. There were two great lights, a greater light to govern the day, and a lesser one that would govern the night. The next day, the fifth day, he created birds to fly above the earth, and told them to be fruitful and to multiply and fill the skies. Then he created all the sea creatures, including the Leviathan and the Rahab, and told them to also go forth and fill the seas.

On the sixth day Elohim created animals, “living creatures and cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth.” Lastly he created man and woman in the image and likeness of himself, the one god, Elohim. And he told these first people they also should go forth and multiply and to be fruitful. They were to fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over all the fish, birds and animals. They were to use the seeds of the plants, and all the vegetation and fruit was to become their food. And Elohim stood back and looked over all that he had created and saw that is was very good, so the next day, the seventh, he rested and blessed and sanctified this day as a day of rest, for in six days he had created the heavens and the earth and all their inhabitants.

The second account of creation begins after the moment that the earth and heaven had been created. In the beginning there were heaven and earth. There were no plants, shrubs or trees yet because Yahweh Elohim (Lord God) had not sent rain upon the earth, nor a man to cultivate its fields; but a mist arose from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Yahweh Elohim then formed man from dust off the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils and man became a living being. Yahweh Elohim then planted a garden in Eden, and out of the ground grew trees which were both, pleasing to the eye, and could be used for food. One great tree grew out of the middle of the garden, the Tree of Life. Another nearby tree was called the Tree of Knowledge, of good and evil. He then created four rivers; the Pishan, that flowed around the land of Havilah, where gold, bdellium and onyx were; Gihon, the river that flowed around the land Cush; the Tigris, that flowed east out of Assyria; and the river Euphrates. All becoming the great rivers of the Middle East. He then set the man upon the earth to cultivate it and care for it, and told the man that he may eat from the garden freely, except for the Tree of Knowledge, where both good and evil lay. From this tree the man should never eat for if he were to, he would die. Yahweh Elohim then thought how lonely it must be for this one man and that he needed a helper, so he created every creature on the land and every bird in the sky. He allowed the man to name each creature and as he did, they became living creatures. But the man still seemed lonely so Yahweh Elohim put the man into a deep sleep. And as the man slept he took out one of the man’s ribs, then healed the flesh there. And when the man awoke, Yahweh Elohim showed him what he had created and told him he had used one of the man’s ribs.

Naming this new human was left up to the man and he decided to call her woman, for she was taken out of himself. “The bone of my bones, and the flesh of my flesh.” This first man and woman coming together, represents that from then onwards when a man takes a woman he shall leave his father and his brother, and take her for a wife, and they become one flesh. Man and woman lived in the garden of Eden. The man toiled in the fields and though they were still naked they were not ashamed.

Of all the creatures created, the serpent was the most crafty and one day he told the woman that if she were to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge she would not die, but instead have her eyes opened and like the, Lord God Yahweh Elohim, she would know good from evil. When she saw that the fruit of this tree would be good food, and that eating the fruit would bring her wisdom, she plucked one of its fruits and ate it, giving a piece to her husband, who ate as well. Suddenly, the man and woman saw that they were naked and they quickly sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. Yahweh Elohim confronted man and woman, asking why did they eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The man admitted that his wife had picked the fruit but that he had also eaten. The woman blamed the deceiving serpent. Yahweh Elohim went to the serpent and vowed that because he had done this, forever shall he be cursed and onto his belly he will go, to eat the dust for the rest of his days. To the woman he said; from now on a woman’s pain in childbirth will greatly multiply and only with this pain will you bring forth children. Woman will also be forever cursed with the blood of menstruation, and her only desire will be for her husband, and that he rule over her.

Yahweh Elohim then turned to man and told him that because he had listened to his wife’s voice and had eaten from the tree, he would forever be a slave to the cultivation of the fields, all the days of his life until he dies and returns to the ground, “For you are dust. And to dust you shall return.” The man would be named Adam, the woman, Eve (mother of all living). Yahweh Elomin made garments of skin and clothed them both. He then sent them out of the garden of Eden and out into the fields to cultivate the ground  from which man was originally taken. By eating from the Tree of Knowledge, man and woman now knew good and evil and to prevent them from eating from the Tree of Life, Yahweh Elohim placed cherubim and a flaming sword to guard it. Adam and Eve headed off into the fields and before long, began to have children, who would eventually populate the earth.

The primitive, innocent world came to an end with Adam and Eve. The temptation of the unknown, the all too human quest for knowledge had become the “mortal sin,” and started mortal man’s struggle and suffering in the descendants of primeval Adam.

Adam and Eve named their firstborn Cain. Their second child, Abel. Cain became a farmer of the fields while Abel became a herdsman over his flock. One day Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil to Yahweh Elomin. Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. It was no contest. Yahweh Elomin preferred the fat over the fruit, which enraged Cain. Later that day he ambushed his brother and killed him. Cain was banished and became a nomad. While wandering Cain found a wife and they had a child, which he named Enoch and soon after settled down to build a city, which he would name after his son.
When Adam and Eve were 130 years old they had another child, Seth, born in the likeness and image of Adam. Adam would live for 930 years and would father many sons and daughters. Seth would also have many children and lived for 912 years. Each generation afterwards would last hundreds of years, with Methuselah the last to live over 900 years. One of his sons, Lamech, would also have many children and when Lamech had lived 182 years he fathered a son, Noah.

It had been thousands of years since the creation and man had multiplied and covered the face of the earth, But Yahweh Elomin saw the wickedness of man and that the intent of their hearts was only evil. He saw how violent and corrupt the world had become and was sorry he had made mankind and was grieved by it. So he found a righteous man, Noah. After Noah was 500 years old, he fathered three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. One hundred years later, Yahweh Elomin instructed Noah and his sons to build an ark and to fill it with all the creatures of the sea, sky and land. At first he told Noah to gather two of every living thing, male and female. He then changed his order to say gather seven of every clean animal, including  a male and female, and Noah was to also include a male and female of every unclean animal. They were all loaded onto the ark, including Noah, his wife, their three sons and their son’s wives.

To destroy the evil in the world, Yahweh Elohim then sent a rain that didn’t stop for forty days and forty nights. All the flesh that moved on the earth perished, whether man or beast, with all living things being blotted from the earth. The water covered the highest mountains and after the forty days and nights of rain, the earth was flooded for a hundred and fifty years. The waters then began to subside, but it would take months before even the mountain tops would become visible. After the ark had come to rest on the side of a mountain, Noah sent out a raven which flew back and forth and dried up much of the earth. Then he sent out a dove, but the dove returned, unable to find anywhere to land. Noah waited seven days then sent out the dove again. This time when the dove returned it held a freshly plucked olive leaf in it’s beak. Waiting another seven days Noah sent out the dove a third time but this time the dove did not return.

After the flood had subsided entirely and the earth was dry once more, Yahweh Elohim made a covenant with Noah and blessed him and his family. He then told them to go forth, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and from then on the fear and terror of man shall forever be on every beast, every bird, everything that would creep on the ground and all the fish in the sea. Every moving thing that is alive and all the green plants were to become man’s food. And that from this day onwards man was to worship Yahweh Elohim, as the one true Lord God.

The descendants of Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth would go forth and populate the earth. One of these groups of people would become the Hebrew and be led by men such as Abraham, Isaac, Moses and Joshua, who would eventually make their way to Palestine and conquer the peoples living there and claim the land as theirs, the land promised to them by God.

The Mandinka

The Mandinka was the largest ancient West African empire and today makes up the majority of the Mande people. They believed their creation began with the god Mangala, a singular, powerful being who was perceived to be a round, energetic presence who resided in a vast expanse of nothingness. Within Mangala existed four divisions, which would become symbolic to many things, including the four days of the week (time), the four elements (matter), and the four directions (space).  Mangala felt bloated all the time and was tired of keeping all of this matter inside. Mangala removed all his insides and compressed it all into a seed. This represented the creation of the world, but the seed was not strong enough and could not hold all of creation within it and eventually exploded. Disappointed, Mangala destroyed the world he had tried to create, but did not give up and decided to give it another shot. This time Mangala used two sets of twin seeds, planting them in an egg-shaped womb. As the original sets began to gestate, Mangala kept adding sets of twin seeds into the womb until he had eight sets of seeds. Over time the gestating seeds transformed into fish, the symbol of fertility in the Mande world. Mangala saw that this time creation was going to be successful and concentrated on maintaining its perfection. But soon enough chaos slowly crept in and caused one of the male twins to become ambitious and he tried to escape from the egg. This chaotic character called, Pemba, was a trickster figure whose first trick was to steal a piece of the womb’s placenta and throw it down into the void where it landed and made the earth. Next, Pemba  tried to re-fertilize what was left of the womb, but he could not find it. Mangala had taken the remaining pieces of the placenta and had used them to form the sun. So Pemba stole male seeds from Mangala’s clavicle, and took them to the barren earth and planted them there. Only one of them could germinate in the dry earth, a male eleusine seed which grew in the blood of the placenta. But because Pemba had stolen the seed and it germinated in Pemba’s own placenta, the earth became impure and the eleusine seed turned red. Darkness and the night would become associated with Pemba.

Mangala was very upset about all this and decided to sacrifice Pemba’s twin brother, Faro to save what was left of his creation and to purify it. Faro was castrated then cut into sixty pieces which fell to the earth where they became trees. Faro was then raised from the dead and transformed into a human being and was sent down to earth in an ark made from his placenta. With him came four pairs of male and four pairs of female twins who became the original ancestors of mankind, all made from Faro’s placenta. The ark also held all the animals and plants, which also carried the male and female life force. Faro was then taught, by Mangala, the language of creation. Faro’s knowledge of words would become very powerful and was the tool he used to defeat Pemba’s mischief. Faro and the rest of the newly created twins then came to earth and soon married other humans, apart from themselves. A being named Sourakata, then arrived from out of the sky with the first sacred drum, made of the sacrificed skull of Faro, and a hammer. Sourakata began to play on the drum and sang for the first rain to come. But the rain would not arrive, so the ancestral smith came to the earth and grabbing the hammer, struck a rock. Only then did it begin to rain. Sourakata was a magical being who could control nature, and he taught Faro and his followers how to achieve this to their benefit.

Faro would go on and create all the world from the descendants of Mangala’s original egg seeds. Then one day he caused the land to flood, to once and for all wash away the impure seed of his brother, Pemba, and to rid the world of everything that had gone bad. Sheltered on Faro’s ark, only the good were saved.

Islam

The creation story of Islam is split among many verses in the Qur’an, which is written in Arabic and is considered authoritative only in that language. So please excuse my ignorance. The myth is similar to the Judaism-Christian accounts of creation, since the Islamic creation myth was recited, then recorded after the Old and New testaments had been written, over five centuries earlier.

In the beginning the sky and the earth were separate and stood apart from each other. After going through a phase where they were covered in smoke, they simultaneously came into their present shape and joined together to become one, the “unit of creation.” The whole process had taken six days or eras. The one all-powerful god, Allah “The God”, spread out, stormy, wind swept waves across the earth and created the depths of swollen seas. Though the waves clashed, surged, and tried to leap over one another, Allah subdued much of the agitation by pressing down the weight of the earth with his chest. When the chaotic seas reached his shoulder blades, they meekly submitted and became tame and obedient, forever becoming the prisoners of disgrace. The earth continued to spread itself out and became solid in the depths of the waters. Continuing to spread, it became solid even in the stormy depths of the water. At which time the earth finally ended the feeling of pride, self-conceit, and superiority the waters had held. The earth then gained control over the strength of the water’s flow and it became less of a disturbance.

The waters subsided around the earth’s sides and beneath the weight of the high mountains that Allah had placed upon it, and then from these mountains Allah flowed springs of cool water and distributed them throughout the plains and low places, and then controlled their movement by placing rocks and mountains along their routes. When all the trembling came to a standstill, high mountains stood on the plains, and deep valleys were formed from the mountains that grew downwards. Then Allah created a vast atmosphere between the earth and heaven that held blowing winds. Thus, the world and the cosmos were created.

Allah then created all the creatures of the earth and the water. Some he made to fly, some swam, some slithered and some crawled, and some walked. He next created the angels, and then the sun, moon, and stars, which would all reside in the heavens. He then made one big cloud, by collecting together a bunch of smaller clouds. When the water was heavy within this one big cloud, lightning began to flash around it and Allah brought forth strong winds to push against the great cloud and it began to rain. By the time the great cloud reached the ground emptied of its water, vegetation began to grow on the plains of the earth and herbage on the slopes of the mountains.

The rain, which had poured down in torrents had broken up the soil and brought forth the corn, the grapes and olive, palm, the fruit trees, the grass and all other vegetation. When this was done, he told the world’s creatures to spread out over its surfaces. Then while looking around, Allah noticed that there were still places, barren tracts of the earth, which did not have water to feed its life, so he created floating clouds which would regularly nourish these unproductive areas with rain. The earth finally felt at peace, being so decorated with gardens covered in soft vegetation and the beauty of its blossoms upon it. Allah had created all these things as the means of sustenance for the people that were to come and feed for all the creatures.

Allah then took clay, earth, sand, and water and mixed them together, which he then used to mould a model of a man. He breathed life and power into it, and it immediately came to life. This first man was to be named Adam. Allah then guided Adam to a beautiful, wondrous garden called paradise, where he created Eve (Hawa), the first woman, from out of Adam’s side. He then taught Adam the names of all the creatures and brought him to the angels, where he had them all bow down before Adam. Allah then told Adam and Eve that they could eat whatever they wanted from the garden, except the fruit of a forbidden tree. But Iblis (Satan) tempted them to disobey Allah and they ended up both eating the fruit. When Allah found out that they had disobeyed him he cast them out of paradise.

In the creation myth of the Old Testament, much of the blame of this “original sin” was placed on Eve, and both she and Adam were kicked out of Eden, forever. Their god also told them that from that time forward, death would be the wage of sin. Allah would treat the situation very differently.

Allah did not blame Eve and eventually forgave the pair, and also stated that death is not the wage of sin, it is a reality. Death does not happen because of misbehaviour, but because all humans are to be tested throughout their lives, by life itself, and then will be brought back to the one god Allah, through death, and only then, will they be judged.

All events in a person’s life would be seen as a trial. All the circumstances of human experience, no matter how one perceives it to be, are preparations for the eventual encounter with Allah. From that moment on life would be proclaimed to be only a test; for Allah’s believers have no reincarnation or son of god. Their reckoning is with Allah alone and each person is held accountable by their choices and actions. That success in life will not be in the accumulation of material goods, or in self-gratification of one’s physical desires, or their seemingly, virtuous actions. Actual success will be defined as being able to turn away from anything that causes one to lose sight of the will of Allah; in other words to ignore and turn away, from the temptations of the world and any self-centered approach to life. This daily struggle with life and one’s own faults and worldly desires would be called jihad, for all that Allah required of humans is both moral behaviour and devotion.

The rest of the Islamic creation myth is intertwined with the Judeo-Christian story. Islam, roughly meaning “submission,” as in to god, but also means “peace,” believes that Abraham, Moses, Noah, and Jesus were all prophets of God, which to them was Allah. But the most important prophet of Islam was Muhammad, who would be the instrument through which Allah would pass on his divine revelations and scripture. This would be achieved through visions that Muhammad would have. Whatever Allah had said to him, had to be memorized and recited out loud by Muhammad and his followers. This would later be written down and become the Qur’an. The people of Islam would become Muslims, “those who submit” to their gods will.

The Big Bang and Darwin

In the beginning there was nothing and then at a finite time in the past, there formed a very small, infinitely hot, and infinitely dense dot, about the size of a period on this page. It held four forces of nature within it. The “weak force,” what keeps the particles of an atomic nucleus together; the “strong force,” which allows particles (quarks), that make up the protons and neutrons in a nucleus to stick together; “electromagnetism,” which keeps solids from falling apart, and “gravity.” All four forces of nature compressed into a single force, the “grand unified force.” There was really no explosion but more of an expansion and as the dot began to expand, it also began to cool. The gravitational force separated from the grand unified force, then the strong force separated and finally the weak force separated from the electromagnetic force. This all happened by the time the universe was only about one-ten-thousandth of a second old. At this point the temperature is calculated to have been more than 100,000 million degrees Centigrade.  At one-one hundredths of a second and with more happening in that time than in the next million years, the universe had expanded to about the size of a pea, and by 60 seconds the temperature had fallen to 10,000 million degrees. Then quarks began to form and combined to form particles. In comparison to today, the universe’s average temperature was -270 degreesC (-454 degrees’ F), just three degrees C (four degrees F) above absolute zero, the lowest possible temperature. By the age of 100 seconds, the first nuclei had formed and the dense expanding mass became matter, with the dominant form being cold dark matter. A few minutes after the beginning, neutrons began to combine with protons to create Helium and Hydrogen nuclei.

This new universe of space, time, matter, and energy continued to expand and cool and it wasn’t until about the 300,000 year old mark that the universe cooled down enough to become transparent. Around this time much of the incredible heat began to cool and a form of radiation called cosmic microwaves, began to expand outwards. This cosmic background radiation, a remnant of this beginning time, still blankets the entire universe to this day. One hundred thousand years or so later, electrons and nuclei combined to create atoms, mostly Hydrogen.

A billion years after the beginning, the denser regions of the ever expanding, unevenly distributed matter, mostly Helium, Hydrogen and a variety of subatomic particles, gravitationally began to attract nearby matter and grew denser, forming gas clouds, quasars, stars and galaxies. Then began to move away and outwards from the starting point at unbelievable speeds. Still, to this day, all the galaxies and stars are heading away from us, with the farther away they are, the higher their velocity, though at the same time there is no geographic center to an expanding universe.

Because of the incredible pressure that formed within these stars, the original two elements of Helium and Hydrogen evolved into the other 88 naturally occurring chemical elements of the universe. These complex chemical elements evolved within the ancient stars and when these stars would end their stellar lives and die, the elements would be released as great clouds of swirling compounds. These clouds of chemical elements formed solar systems, including our own.

About 4.5 billion years ago one of these molten masses of matter became the earth and as it cooled off it became a solid, dry rock. Because of its heat and the cooling of the universe, moisture formed and rained upon the earth with vapour being brought in from impacts of asteroids and meteoroids for millions of years. Eventually this process would form great oceans. The first atmosphere was about 80% water vapour, 10% carbon dioxide, 6% hydrogen-sulfur with traces of many other compounds. With the earth nearly, entirely covered in oceans, the water would enrich carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and various other inert gases. These oceans also contained sorts of ammonia, methane, phosphoric salts, light, heat and electricity. Eventually within this soup of water and dissolving rock, the first self-replicating organic systems spawned and produced simple single-celled organisms, and the very slow process of evolution began.

Before Oxygen (in the form of ozone) the earth had no protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and the primitive compounds were bombarded with huge amounts of radiation from the sun. This form of energy promoted the self organization of simple molecules into organic compounds, which formed themselves into proto-cells, then eventually into true organisms. These micro-organisms gave the earth an oxygen rich atmosphere about five hundred million years ago.

The evolution of the cell, the basic unit of life, began with prokaryotes, single-celled organisms, or bacterium, which had no bound nucleus and their DNA was not organized into chromosomes (the hereditary information necessary for life). They inhabited the Earth approximately 3–4 billion years ago.

Over the next three billion or so years, through variation, reproduction, and selection, the inherited traits of groups of these organisms changed from one generation to the next, with new traits (genes) arising through mutations in the genes or transfer of genes between groups and between species.  Each cell would become a small, miniaturized factory containing thousands of pieces of molecular machinery and made up of thousands of millions of atoms. Nearly all life was now made up of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid), meaning a full set of chromosomes with all the inheritable traits of an organism. The DNA molecule had become an incredible micro, digital, error-correcting, redundant, self duplicating, information storage and retrieval system, with its own inherent language, that had the potential to develop any organism from raw biological material. Basically, the DNA contained all the instructions for making and controlling every living thing and very tiny DNA changes could make profound differences.

Within cells are strands of DNA that associate with proteins to form condensed structures called chromosomes. A specific location within a chromosome is its locus. Genes on the other hand are parts of the DNA molecule that can be deemed the units of evolution. The mechanism of evolution are natural selection, mutation, and the influence of the environment it lives in, which gives such diversity of life on our planet. It is not the number of genes that give all life such diversity, but how they are used. The genetic code for all living things consists of four letters, which in unlimited combinations make up each being’s genetic code. Codes which make all living things grow and survive. Our species have three billion letters in its genetic code, while our human genome has 23,000 genes. Strangely enough, the same number of genes as a chicken, and actually less than an ear of corn.

Inherited traits of an organism are controlled by these genes, and together make up that organism’s genome, with the complete set of genes within an organism’s genome is its genotype. These inheritable traits are then reproduced between generations via the DNA molecule. Each gene specifies a single functional unit.  The complete set of observable traits that make up the structure and behaviour of an organism is called its phenotype.

Multi-cellular organisms first appeared in the oceans, then on the shores, and included sponges, brown algae, Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), slime moulds and myxobacteria (a gliding bacterium). The oldest existing fossils found are from this time.

About 600 million years ago photosynthesis had caused the level of oxygen to rise on the planet and its accumulation was probably somewhat accountable for the single cell evolving into remarkable biological diversity. And from these earliest beginnings nature would prove that nothing happens in isolation, that one event or action affects another and that the activity of one living organism will change the lives of other organisms. The world would now become a very complicated place.

Amid all the complexities of the evolving world, all living things on the planet earth, human or otherwise, would share common processes and traits, such as everything would have to feed, which in most cases causes growth. To assist in converting the food eaten into energy, all living things respire to take in and use the gases found in the air and water, and all living things excrete their waste material. They also reproduce in order to carry on their species, and all are sensitive and react to outside stimuli. And finally all animals, as well as most plants, have the ability to move.

Plants and fungi colonized the land, and were soon followed by arthropods and other animals, with some of the life forms of this time appearing in fossil records. These more complex creatures and plants began to evolve slowly over millions of years, by random genetic mutations that occured within an organism’s genetic code. The beneficial mutations were passed on to the next generations and over time these beneficial mutations accumulated and resulted in an entirely different organism and species, with the record of evolution remaining in an organism’s genome which revealed when species diverged through mutation.

Geographically, the surface of the earth was mostly water, except for the super continent of Pangaea, the Greek word for, “all the earth.” The single great ocean that surrounded it was the Panthalassa, Greek for “all seas.” Much like the fact that all living things contain a large proportion of water, a simple compound of oxygen and hydrogen, the earth also was and is mostly water.

Around 300 million years ago Pangaea began to slowly move and break apart through continental drift. Hundreds of a million years later it would form the current configuration of the continents. And still today, very slowly, its crusts continue to shift upon the earth’s surface creating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The earth also changes through cycles of weather patterns and ice ages, with most all ice ages usually lasting about 100,000 years. There were brief warm periods in between, lasting anywhere from 10,000 -20,000 years. Changes are also brought about by all sorts of other natural occurrences, such as impacts from celestial objects. All these factors combined, have been what dictates the growth and evolvement of every species on the earth.

Amphibians first appeared around 300 million years ago, followed by early amniotes (vertebrates with an embryonic sac), then mammals around 200 million years ago and birds around 100 million years ago (both from “reptile”-like lineages).  The age of the dinosaur began about two hundred and fifty million years ago, and ended in extinction 140 million years later. In their one hundred plus millions of years of evolving, the dinosaurs would go from two legged herbivores, called Prosauropods, who were smaller grazing animals to creatures who would dominate the land. These earliest dinosaurs would eat so much that over time their bellies would grow and eventually they would evolve to where they would drop down on all four legs, to support the weight. These were the Sauropods with huge bodies, four legs, a small head at the end of a very long neck, and who consumed huge amounts of foliage, especially trees. Twenty million years ago the monkey appears and evolves, branching off into different directions until about 14 million years go by, and then a fully walking, upright, bipedal, tool-making humanoid appears on the scene. The humanoid, Ramapithecus, was the first ape-like creature who had fingers and could grasp things; who had a thumb that was able to swing around and “oppose” the other fingers, and also had a more rounded tooth area, allowing for a better diet. American physical anthropologists Richard Wrangham gives the name, Pan Prior, for the species from where we and the chimps descended.

These new creatures would come out of Africa, the birthplace of man, humanity’s garden of Eden, and were dark, hairy, and ape-like. About two million years ago, tools are invented and when the human species, Homo-erectus appeared, about one million years ago the technology of fire was mastered. About 400,000 years ago the first shelters began to be built, with the short-limbed, thick-bodied, and cold-climate, adapted Neanderthal man, showing up about 200,000 years ago. At 100,000 years ago, we began to hold burial ceremonies and before 50,000 years ago art and language would  appear. Outwards from Africa the evolving humans spanned out over the planet. Anatomically modern humans, Homo-sapiens, became the predominate species and began to blanket the globe 100,000 years ago. They migrated to Asia and Australia 65,000 years ago, Europe 32,000 years ago and finally into the Americas about 15,000 years ago. For thousands of years Neanderthal and Homo-sapiens would alternately occupy the Middle East and parts of Europe until about 30,000 years ago, when the Neanderthal became extinct due to either being killed or they died off due to decreasing numbers. More likely they were simply assimilated into the species Homo-sapiens.

Being so spread out humans soon began to develop their own cultures, language and way of life, according to the environment that they lived in. And through human variation through physical adaptation to their climatic conditions, the races of humanity would begin to form and continue to evolve.

In the northern regions, with less and weaker sunlight, the humans there would become more pale. To aid in the proper growth of bones, their body took vitamin D from the sun’s energy. With less sunshine the skin had to lighten to let more of it through. Conversely, humans in equatorial latitudes needed more protection from the sun’s UV rays, so it began to secrete melanin into the skin which is the bodies’ natural sun screen. The effect of the sun on skin affected our DNA and caused the skin to protect itself by becoming thicker and browner. This sun screen reaction is, in reality, an anti aging product of the human body. The whole process of a black human becoming a white human or a white human becoming a black human takes about 25,000 years.

Burial ceremonies would become important and beliefs in an afterlife would evolve. The original gods were the sun, the earth, and all the life that dwelled upon it. Before civilizations and religions, the inhabitants of the earth had what we now call pagan beliefs. Wherever on the planet, modern humans migrated, they worshipped the sun and lived their lives according to the cycles of seasons that the celestial realm provided them. The seasons determined their ability to survive, and represented life, death, and rebirth.

The time when the earth goddess was reborn as an infant, and the darkness of night represented the womb became the winter solstice. This, the shortest day of the year, was worshipped for representing renewal and the rebirth out of the darkness of winter, for after this day, each day’s light would grow.

Then came the spring equinox, where daylight and darkness are in balance. It is the time when plants and animals awaken from the death of winter. It would be then followed by the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and represented the earth goddess at the peak of her fertility, sexuality, and power. It was the time for commitment to one’s beloved and where the hope and promise of a new life were to be found. At the same time the summer solstice would also represent a time of mourning, and worry for the often murderous heat, and killing drought that were to come.

The fall equinox would complete the cycle of life, representing the harvest was complete, and that the earth would no longer bear fruit. The earth goddess was seen as passing into a menopause. It was the time for giving thanks to the harvest and hope that it would be enough to see the people through the coming darkness of winter.

These early modern humans would prosper and would eventually build great cities and develop incredible technologies, invent music, art, and the written word, all by themselves, with no outside assistance from any gods whatsoever. Where once they used sticks, leaves, and mud to build their homes, like the birds and the beaver, they would eventually build majestic skyscrapers, apartment buildings, and sprawling suburbs, like the bees and ants.

However, despite the evolution of all the larger animals, including humans, the smaller organisms, similar to the types that evolved early in this process, continued to be highly successful and dominated the earth. The majority of both biomass and species covering the planet today are single celled organisms and bacteria.

All organisms on the earth are descended from a common ancestor or ancestral gene pool, all related, in the fact all living things share the same set of nucleotides (having the basic components of DNA) and the same amino acids. For instance, all human DNA has forty-six chromosomes, arranged in 23 pairs, and oddly enough, the largest human cell is the female egg cell, which can be seen with the naked eye as a tiny dot, while the smallest human cell is male sperm.

The diversity of the current species that makes up the planet, is firstly because of a long series of speciation, meaning the formation of new species as a result of geographic, physiological, anatomical, or behavioural factors that prevented previously interbreeding populations from breeding with each other. Secondly, the many extinction events that occurred over the millennia. In a nut shell, all things on the planet have adapted to their environment through biological and natural evolution, with the mechanism of evolution being natural selection. If it was able to adapt, it survived. If it was unable to adapt, it either evolved into a new species, moved away, or died.

Today there are about 1.8 million species of living creatures. Nearly 95% of animal species, more than 1.2 million species, are invertebrates, animals without a backbone. All told there are one million species of insects, 59,000 species of vertebrate, 30,000 of fish, 8,240 of reptiles, 10,000 of birds, 5,415 of mammal, and one species of human. Though the largest populations of living organisms on the planet, by far, is the 5 to 10 million species of bacteria and the 74,000 -120,000 species of fungi.

It took Albert Einstein to come up with the theory that time and space do not have an existence independent of human experience. If all material things, like the stars and the planets, including earth, were to disappear out of the universe, it was formerly believed that all that would be left was time and space, but according to his Theory of Relativity, time and space would disappear too, along with everything else. It concludes that there are incredible and vast energies contained within a single atom and that all matter is nothing but another form of this energy.

The energy represented in the atom is the energy of the sun. It provides the synergy of all living things, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Its essence is the value in its differences, which should be respected, for synergy builds on strengths so that they can compensate for weaknesses. Nearly all of our energy comes from the sun. Nothing can live, move, grow, give off light, heat, or make a sound without energy.

It begins when sunlight touches a plant, which converts the sun’s energy into chemical energy and stores it in its leaves through the process of photosynthesis. We humans then eat the plants and/or other animals who have also fed on them, and store that chemical energy within our bodies. The energy is then released through chemical reactions that occur within our bodies. This process is performed by mitochondria, which are parts of the cell, called organelles, that break up food to make energy. These reactions need oxygen, which is why we breathe in air. When we exert ourselves, we get short of breath, because the body is turning chemical energy into kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion. This same chemical energy that reacts in our bodies is also stored in food, fuel, batteries, and many other forms. These chemical reactions are then able to become electrical energy, which can be converted into light, sound, or heat energy.

Though in reality, it seems that human behaviour is often far more complex than events in the natural world or the energies that created the universe, and that the six billion people living on the earth today are members of a single biological species, Homo Sapiens. We all come from the same place and from the very beginning strived to just get along and love each other, which we are still trying desperately to do today. Because of this, it has been said  that compassion will test our ability to survive as a species, not cleverness.

Summary

There are hundreds of creation stories, most all are supernatural, mythic-religious tales, explaining the beginnings of humanity, the earth, life, the universe, and representation of the stars and planet’s movements. Putting the shapes and movements of the sky into rhythms which humans could relate to; stories that try to explain these movements in reflection of own lives.  They share the same themes, such as, the forming of life out of primordial chaos, or the earth emerging from an infinite and timeless ocean, or simply from a  creation out of nothing at all. This is very similar to the fact that, beyond a reasonable doubt, astronomy and physics have also shown that indeed we had a beginning; before which, there was nothing, and then afterwards, there was the universe.

There are even creation myths in existence that include the beliefs that aliens from space, another species, landed here once, and perhaps still do, and over the millennia, have tried many times to create life on earth. The myths insinuate that millions of years have been spent trying to grow different life forms which would survive on a planet of rock. These aliens then gave the earth’s core an energy source that permeates through all things on the surface, while celestial objects do the same from above. And maybe, they began to get it right, after a meteor extinguished the dinosaurs. They then created one species, humanity but had to re-create them a few times to get it right, at least something which they were happy with. That would be modern man. Then about 12,000 years ago they would give us food. We quickly ate up all the big game, so they had to return and bring more food, the four basic food groups we still survive on today and that which we can grow ourselves; wheat, rice, corn, and potatoes. But maybe they were just trying to find out where they themselves, came from.

The most interesting thing about creation myths is that most became prominent about 5,000 years ago, when the first civilizations were arising in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Mediterranean, India, China, Mexico, and Peru. Cities were being born, populations expanding and the written word came into being. Many of these civilizations were geographically separated from one another, yet half of them built themselves up from nothing, with just as many not suspecting there was another civilized race in the world. Though there is still so much we simply don’t know about or have found yet as to ancient history.

What we do know is that just as the earth’s population exploded, with many new technologies and inventions, cities grew ever larger and creation myths appeared. Strangely enough, it is also the time when the ego of humans began to dictate the way things were going to be.

Some creation myths seem quite absurd or extremely fictional, if not illogical. But though they may or may not be factual, in the literal sense, most of them do pass on certain basic truths about the meaning and purpose of life on the planet earth. Most are not, religious in nature, and more often than not, they are related to worldly things that are not even connected to religions or sacred meanings. They are myths created by humans and not supernatural beings and/or mythological figures. But because we are a symbolic species, our reality is not necessarily action or feeling, but meaning. The majority of people perceive the world only in terms of the symbols that represent their language and culture. Any symbol that represents a particular meaning or ideal, recognized by the people who share the culture, becomes a belief.

This belief defines our identity to ourselves and to others by shaping what we believe into something that may be true, and then through the use of ritual practises, the belief then is transcended beyond the limits of our knowledge. The symbol then becomes sacred, thus, it becomes magnificent, high and mighty, and people become filled with awe. This is the main reason why many creation stories are very closely linked with the belief systems and religions that arose from them; for creation myths are the seeds of creation for such beliefs and religions. Though the problem that has forever been is unfortunately an idea which turns from a philosophy into a religion. It becomes extreme in one way or another, and most always brings only conflict.

The idea that all creation myths are somehow interconnected is common, even among most of the largest religions of the world.  Some people interpret creation myths as poetic descriptions of the sun, moon, and stars’ behaviour, which has been distorted over time into tales of gods and heroes. Others are leery toward creation stories because they are suspicious of the broad viewpoints of myths, “particularism.” Then there are others who surmise that perhaps, Enki, Atum, Kinich Ahau, the Grand Unity, Purusha, Brahma, Zeus, Quetzalcoatl, Odin, Hah-gweh-di-yu, Wiraqocha, Elohim, Yahweh, Mangela, Allah, the Great Creator, the Great Ruler, Mother Earth, Father Sky, and a tiny, incredibly hot speck are all different manifestations of one single god and that they are all one in the same.

Many of the creation myths are also very comparable, in that most all have a flood story of their local area, and which is viewed as a punishment on a previous people for their disobedient behaviour. There is most always some sort of creative sacrifice, with a god dying then being reborn. Nearly every creation myth includes a life-death-rebirth god. There also seems to always be a most supreme being, who after he creates the world, and especially if he was also a life-death-rebirth god, cuts off contact with humanity and becomes “deus otiosus,” an idle god. Obviously proving the process of creation is an exhausting enterprise. These supreme beings are then sometimes replaced by a stronger and younger group of gods, called a titanomachy, who most often would gain their powers by either struggling with or conquering an older group of gods who usually represented some sort of chaos. Shamans and priests then created a belief system based on what all creation myths are based on and that is a founding myth.

A myth becomes the origin for the customs, rituals, and identity of people. There were and are many ancient and traditional societies that justified their actions and customs by claiming their gods were the ones who established them in the first place. Ignoring the fact that they were actually created by man. Even today, many cultures are still based on belief systems created  thousands of years ago, with Evangelical Christians and Muslims especially, acknowledging that their core directives are timeless, and to this day, read their respective scriptures the same way, literally. The Bible and the Qur’an, are both deemed to be the direct word of god and the absolute truth handed down for all time.

Most all creation myths also have an “axis mundi.” A place or thing, where north, south, east and west meet, as well as being the point where contact with the other levels of the universe can be made. The “axis mundi” is represented as either, the Sacred or Cosmic Tree of Life, the center of the world or its navel. Each culture has its own impression of where the center is, and it appears in many different forms. Many times it is a place, like a mountain, or a temple, or even a pile of rocks. Most times it appears as a tree, sometimes a vine. The Tree of Life in the book of Genesis, grows in the center of the garden of Eden, from which four rivers flow and nourishs the whole world. The Mayans had their World Tree, even the beginning of the big bang theory has a center.

The “axis mundi” could also be a god or human figure, like the Buddha. It would also be represented in the hearth, and the altar. Our earliest dwellings, besides caves, were circular structures most often with a central pole holding everything together, the hearth at the center dug out of the earth. Then it progressed to square homes with the hearth in the middle and from there to square homes surrounding a fountain and a courtyard. Simple altars became the pyramids and great cathedrals. These are all “axis mundi” centers, and are continuing to be built on an ever more massive scale with today’s “axis mundi”  represented in our landmark skyscrapers, which are even sometimes called centers. Other representations are the remaining ancient stone formations or mounds, in various locations around the world. In many cases, humanity is obsessed with always looking somewhere else for the center of the world, when in reality all they have to do is to look within. This then brings us to mono myths, the hero’s story. Nearly every single creation myth possesses the same or similar structured, classical stories of the hero. It is characterized in many different ways and has been and still is, the basic story line in much of our present day art, music, literature, poetry, religion, and film. It is also a story that is representative of a human’s life, though there never seems to be enough people willing to follow the path that leads to true peace, like heroes do.

Usually, after a miraculous birth, and after maturing into adulthood, the hero ventures out from the ordinary world into a supernatural realm. There they face fantastical forces, but are eventually victorious. The return journey is just as adventurous and filled with toils and troubles, and upon the hero’s return, he shares the knowledge and powers he has attained with his people. The story is of departure, initiation, and return; a very familiar tale of life, death, and rebirth.

They all begin when something or someone causes the hero to become aware of a new situation, an adventure he did not know about. They are told that they are desperately needed, that the life or death of humanity and/or creation is at stake. At first they refuse to help out, using the excuses of a sense of duty, obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy perhaps, and even love. Suddenly the hero becomes a victim to be saved. But once the hero commits to the journey there soon appears, consciously or unconsciously, guides that will assist the hero. It is usually an old woman or an old man. Their knowledge makes them representatives of the protecting power of destiny. Soon the hero realizes that all the forces of conscious, even mother nature, are at his or her side. The hero leaves their known world and departs from their self, and who they thought themselves were. The hero nearly dies, but is healed and/or reborn. They are then put through trials or series of ordeals or tests, usually three of them. Afterwards the hero feels unconditional love for the first time with a fellow human. The experience is overwhelming, and makes them feel very complete. Then comes some sort of physical or material temptation of life, such as morality, lust, cruelty, or greed.

The high point of the story is now reached, with the hero confronting whomever or whatever holds the ultimate power in the hero’s life. Many times, it is the father or a father figure who possesses powers over life and death. The hero is now faced with the hardest part of his journey, forgiveness and redemption, which requires the abandonment of the attachment to the ego. This is what is so very difficult. But when attained, the hero experiences a period of calm fulfilment and peace with their inner spirit. They come to realize that the immortal, indestructible being they just overcame was not what they were after at all. The benefit of achieving the goal of their quest was actually not the being itself, but the power that sustained it, and its grace, conscience and virtue. Much of Eastern philosophy is based on this principle. “We seek not to imitate the masters. Rather, we seek what they sought.

Having realized profound bliss or enlightenment, many a hero refused to return to the ordinary world. Some even stay and become immortal, others stay and die. The ones who decide to return often need help in the journey, for though they are at peace with themselves they are, more often than not, wounded or weakened in some way. Rescuers or guides appear to help them along their mythical flight home. This represents the classic and all too common, chase scene.

When the hero finally makes it back to their normal world, it is usually a very difficult time for them. They ponder how they are to integrate back into a normal life. The wisdom they have gained has changed them. They are masters of comfort and competency in their inner world, as well as the world around them. And because of their atonement, they are able to give up the attachments of their own personal limitations, traits, hopes, fears, and no longer are willing to live their lives by just going through the motions. The hero is now  willing to settle down and relax in the present moment, and whatever they may face – they deal with life as it happens. They contribute to their communities and to everyone they meet. They have come to understand that one earns respect by respecting others, which then gives peace of mind. They neither anticipate the future nor regret the past. They simply make each present moment count. And this is why the true heroes of the world are usually kind, generous, and patient. They understand that no one is perfect and that no one will ever know everything, and that all there is, is how one acts right now in the present moment, and they understand the power and importance of forgiveness. They achieve such awareness through the disciplines of body, mind, and spirit. Their heroism becomes simply, grace under the pressures of life, and their own conduct during times of temptation. They become beings with moral character, who put the interests of others above their own and possess the divine with reserved dignity and patience.

The opposite to the heros’ story is what too many of us have become over the years, and that is, individuals strutting around thinking a spotlight and camera are following us. Indignity is now all the rage. Human nature has now become rarely unbiased or unprejudiced. Instead it is always operating in the extreme, either to the right or the left, and not very often in the middle way with compromise. We’ve become opinionated, rash, angry, and loud. Living lives of illusion.

Besides the themes already mentioned, there is much to be learned from creation myths. The main problem has always been in how they have been interpreted. Like the foolishness of thinking we are here to rule and subdue the planet and all that dwell on it and to strip it of its resources, instead of the ideological viewpoint of favoured living in harmony with nature and our fellow human beings. But then that is the main problem with language and deep human thought, both are limited only by the metaphors available.

Thousands of years ago a simple group of people, after the men had returned from hunting down some game and the women had gathered up roots, berries, and grubs, they would sit around the fire and watch, listen and tell stories about their adventures of that day. They used various tones of grunting, body movement, gestures, and facial expressions, like smiling or titling the chin or rolling one’s eyes to explain their adventures. Or maybe the group would just sit back and with a clear focus, whittle away on a bone and make it into something or chip away at a stone to make an arrowhead. And then perhaps they’d just lay back upon mother earth and stare up into the expanse of space and wonder about all those twinkling lights. Then over time, some of them, at first with just their finger then a stick, would draw in the dirt and sand, and later hand paint the walls of their caves. Eventually scratching and carving the stories in shapes and symbols representing their tribes’ sign, on stone and pieces of bark, would detail the oral traditions and legends that would be passed down over generations. They believed that they were one with nature and that they would progress forever forward by simply continuing to share and compare the knowledge they gained.

Scribes and priests would begin to record these stories, transforming language into the written word, using their own interpretations and then creating world-views. Many of the first civilizations would then use these stories on which to base their beliefs, tenets, rules and hierarchy. Everyone would soon succumb to the fears presented to them, which these institutions would then distort into an unconscious need to conquer, defeat and impose their own way of life onto others by force. For a few thousand years the first civilizations would be only concerned with growth, expansion, war, and mega-projects, while the majority of the ever growing population’s concerns were strife, famine, and drought. Illusions would be created and still are, illusions that enter our minds and become realities, for indeed we are simply myth making mammals.

Creation myths aside, every single life form on the planet behaves in uniform, species-specific ways, most being guided by instincts, such as biological programming. However compared to all other living things, a human’s creative power is vast. But we now rely on culture, rather than instinct to ensure the survival of our kind. At one time, though rare today, we had biological forces within us, called instincts. This is where our soul resides. Where once we listened, we now most often ignore that “gut feeling,” and go in the direction our ego wants to go. Our souls have become cloaked in our egos, capes woven from our reactions to being in the world. This has translated into suffering, struggle, attachments, vulnerability, fear, insecurity, and anguish that comes from our particular society.

Our soul is the core of our being. It is the energy that is held there, a frequency if you will, but which is voiceless. It is where peace, calmness, composure, love, concern, and unlimited understanding reside. Though we have become beings that have gained tremendous mental power, we instead occupy ourselves with fashioning the natural environment into something self-serving, to ourselves and to our culture, according to where one happens to have been born and raised. Today it seems, far too many people have forgotten that they even have a soul and for various reasons, all created by the ego, far too many people are willing to forever be victims. The willingness to no longer be a victim comes from the soul, it allows us to either be free to suffer or free to stop suffering. The ego, creation myths, and many religious doctrines, cloud this truth and want us to be unaware that we have this choice. They try to dictate what our conscience is to be, because the act of thinking is what enslaves the soul and our conscious freedom. If one’s soul is free, they are able to meet suffering, to be aware of it, and then consciously choose to let it go.

When it comes right down to it, most all creation stories are make-believe, but where do they end? Will it be extinction, enlightenment, or evolvement? We are the first species, which we know of, to have the ability to stave off extinction, if we decide to. Enlightenment would lead to a better way of living allowing us to make the proper decisions, based on the realization that to stay alive, we need to keep the planet alive. This would be by creating a world of limited, earth-friendly consumption, with technology working for us, as a friend, and not working against us like the enemy much of it has become. So basically, evolvement can go either way, enlightenment or a world overpopulated with robots, drones, and worker bees. A world where the privileged few defend that privilege with obese establishments of weapons and propaganda, while the majority of the world faces poverty, desperation, and death. A world of  food and water rationing, with the food that is available, genetically altered. A world where many live indoors or underground when the sun is out. A world of acid rain, rivers and oceans. A world where people are wearing paper-masks when meeting other people, with our thoughts and behaviour dictated by big brother and the corporate elite.

Perhaps we should learn to once again, respect the characters of the creation myths that created such myths. The true creators of life are the sun, the moon, earth, water, the sky, and nature, who don’t care what we call them. At this stage of our history the only way to achieve this is through community and to return to family values, a sense of self, and awareness, for this is where love is found, as well as through mutual cooperation and respect, instead of our present values of corporate greed, television, and egotistical materialism.

Some people will hold their belief in their own particular creation story. Each one based on religion or science. Indeed creationism and evolution have become major issues with many people. The war between religion and science has been at the core of many disputes ever since creation stories came to be, with each side proclaiming the truth. While in reality, the truth happens when true science and true religion are in harmony with each other.

Scientific knowledge and modern technologies are racing forward at an ever quickening pace, yet our societies are still based on concepts and principles created centuries ago. In far too many ways humanity and its morality are being left behind in the dust. Present human activity and all its effects on the planet, the atmosphere and ourselves has been shaped by thinking patterns that are based on structures, needs, and values used by our ancestors six thousand years ago. Our present day societies are burdened under the heavy load of  traditional religions, or otherwise considerations of the past. The bulk of scientific knowledge that we have gained has only contributed to environmental degradation and has given us the illusion that our world is better because of it. When instead, science should make our lives better, with the driving force being concern for our welfare and the protection of the environment. The problem with science in the last few centuries is that all its focus has been on the sciences of matter, which do nothing to change the natural conditions and spirituality of life itself.

Up until recently the focus of the sciences of human behaviour have been primarily on people themselves, and not on the environmental conditions that created that individual. But we must continue to develop all the sciences of life and start to allow our inner being to make its way from beneath our manufactured, conditioned, personalities. Biology, physiology, and psychology are the only courses that could lead to positive change in our quality of life, not the fabrication of yet a bigger screen television or a faster car or an ever more powerful god. Just studying the individual does not identify the factors regarding that person’s behaviour. It is not human nature, but human behaviour that we need to be concerned with. And up until now, much of our behaviour is based on religious thought, cultural influences and the belief in creation myths.

I’ll end this essay with some interesting ways of looking at science and the world, for I believe the future does not just happen, other than natural events of course, but instead comes through the efforts of people and is determined by how well we are informed, of both sides of the story. There need not be so much polarity between us. There is absolutely no right or wrong, instead there are only points of view. If what we want to create, are fairness, balance and understanding then we need to give these things to others.

One of the most recent belief systems to have emerged in the world, one of the youngest of all religions, is the Baha’i faith which believes that humanity is indeed a single race and has the fundamental belief of the equality of men and women. One of its fundamental principles is of the harmony of religion and science. They believe that religion without science is merely superstition, and that science without religion is materialism. They believe truth to be one entity, the unity of science and religion. They  cannot be opposed for they are both aspects of the same truth. As Einstein once said, “Science without religion is lame, while religion without science is blind.”

The Baha’i faith believes that a human’s reasoning power is all that is required to understand the truths about religion and that whenever conflict arises between religion and science it is always due to human error, either through misinterpretations of religious scriptures or through the lack of a more complete understanding of science. Religious leaders who only accept the truth by what has been written in scripture many centuries ago, could learn much from scientists who are mortal humans also seeking the truth. The difference though is that the most important trait a scientist must have, is to admit when they are wrong, which then enables them to go on and find perhaps the right conclusion.

The written word of divine scripture is based on one of the main problems with language since it was invented, in that it is extremely limited because it is based on metaphors and comparisons. Most scriptures are interpretations that, more than likely, have nothing to do with the original texts that they are taken from, nor have they survived intact through the multiple translations. Many of them are primitive tales of legend and superstition. Another problem with a lot of scripture is that many people believe it is a goal, when instead, the words that are contained within are actually tools. Though there are some religions that do understand that most all scriptures are human attempts to try to understand the incredible actions of the universe, but their attempts were limited by the particular time and culture, in which they were originally written down, more than two thousand years ago.

In most all faiths, when a person’s perception of themselves becomes fundamentally separate from other people, things and obstacles that they encounter, and even separate from the divine, it becomes very difficult to attain spiritual growth. They create limitations upon themselves. For developing a meaningful and personal spirituality takes work, and is an ongoing job. It is a way of walking, not talking.

The powers of logic and reason are also just as limited as is language, when it comes to a belief, for true realization in a faith comes from something that is far simpler and more innocent than logic. The ancient Greeks came to believe that logic (logos), the reasoning side, was only one of three distinct parts that made up a human being and in no way was the most important. There are also the positive and absolute, the (pathos), from where feelings come and which is based on our relationships. And finally, there is character (ethos), our integrity and the trust that one inspires.

As to logic, no matter what our ego thinks, we are not inherently rational. Formal logic is a very recent creation of humankind. It was brought about so that humans could ignore inner knowledge. Our more natural methods of thought is doing what feels right, based on experience and custom, intuition and instinct, and simple gut feelings. We modern humans seem to be happier and feel more comfortable talking about the logical reasons for doing something, instead of being honest and admitting that many times we simply don’t know and go with what we feel. For seeking to understand requires consideration, while seeking to be understood takes courage.  Once again we return to Mr. Einstein who stated,  “I didn’t arrive at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe through my rational mind.”

Einstein thought of himself as an agnostic in that he did not believe in a personal god, for he felt god was simply an expression and product of human weakness. But he felt himself to be very religious, as he once explained, “If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitutes the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.” He believed that there were
three styles of religion. The first being fear with the weak understanding of causality, of cause and effect, which then creates yet more fear, and the invention of supernatural beings. The second style is the desire for love and support, which then creates a social and moral need for a supernatural being. The third style does not have a concept of god per se, as in a non-human creature or a being that has human characteristics, but instead, “The individual feels  . . .  the sublimity and marvellous order which reveal themselves in nature  . . .  and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.” As Einstein, and countless others before him were able to do, and which we must do today, is to give ourselves the freedom to rise above our present realities and seek new and creative ideas, to get past the log jam that we have created.

One way to do this would be by pulling our heads out of the sand, shutting up the voices in our heads, living and understanding the moment, start looking out for one another and find the lost emotion of empathy. Far too many of us feel we must believe in an almighty protector and saviour, and that this deity’s divine power is the source of help and support, and makes us feel secure in the thinking there is someone watching over us. Reality may be that we simply start showing just as much compassion to our fellow members of the human family, as we do to a god, that may or may not exist, we will attain help and support, and always have someone watching over us.

I myself try to understand all sides and enjoy doing so, and believe that society is not fixed by a god’s will or by human nature. It is a system that we can study scientifically and based on what we learn about our world and its nature; we can act deliberately to improve, whether it is us or our planet. And yet the flip side of this coin is that many scientific findings are based entirely on mathematics and cannot be practically tested or proven. So one then has the choice of believing or not. Thus, in many ways, science could also be defined as a belief system.

It seems that the essence of the universe is the same energy that we all share, and it is this which we need to become more aware of. To realise that we are all a part of and share the energy source of the atom and therefore we all share the same soul and that our imperfections are what makes us the beings we are. As the revered Leonard Cohen so wrote and sang, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

If indeed there is a creator, a supreme god, or even a group of gods, whether male or female, mortal or supernatural, man or animal, I can only imagine what they would be thinking as they look down upon their creation today. I wonder if its sadness, disappointment, or embarrassment? Or maybe they have no thought on the matter whatsoever, knowing that regardless of the ignorance of humanity, the future will force us to behave differently, whether we like it or not. If it is true that they can see everything, do they notice that much of the life that they created is gone from the earth, with the remainder abused, used, assaulted, and raped? Do they not see that untold numbers of plants and wildlife have become extinct from their creation? What do they feel about our madness in soiling our own nest, the earth? Are they downcast and shaking their heads because we failed to understand that each living thing on the planet has the divine essence within it or that the messages hidden within their scriptures were not interpreted properly or maybe ignored? Perhaps they are rolling their eyes at us, and trying to figure out why we did not just listen to our inner being. Our spirituality is the wisdom that we each carry within. What do they think about when they see that the world they created has been re-created by a very few, for the many? Or is it that good and righteous are more often than not, overshadowed by evil and immorality. From their vantage point, I’m sure they notice that the majority of us are living lives that have not changed since the first civilizations. We continue to make lies truths, and that we dream and don’t act, and that far too many of us are moving through our lives on paths of least resistance and distraction. Most people are simply being functions of their culture, living out scripts, based on opinions, perceptions, and standard patterns written by parents, friends, the church, and society. They must feel embarrassed seeing their own followers, the ones that believed in them, more concerned with their own salvation than the planet on which they live or their fellow human being. This to me, seems somewhat of a paradox.

No matter how evolved or sophisticated we think we are today, much has stayed the same for us since creation, though in many other ways we have digressed. No longer believing we are all interconnected, we first separated ourselves from nature. We then separated god from creation, ourselves from other groups of humans, and then went a step further where we separated ourselves from our own families and even our own selves and now find ourselves believing we can do anything we want for our own reasons. We spend our time wandering around looking for the right person, when we should in fact be trying to be the right person. It was a shocking point in time for humanity when it was discovered that the earth was not the center of the universe, though today, we have come to believe as individuals we are the center of the universe.

Too many of us have lost our relationship with our inner selves, our souls, and need something to fill the void. Our soul is the representative of the natural energy that all living things share. Organized religions and the perceived values of our cultures are what usually fills this void when our soul is forgotten and/or ignored, or just missing and lost. They fill the void by dictating how we are to live, how we should feel, and what we are to think. While those without a soul at all and who only listen to the voices in their heads, eventually become ever more greedy and violent. Creation myths and most organized religions are based on these dualities of humankind. Ego represents evil, and good represents the divine, that is within each one of us.

In reality we humans do not need much to seek and develop our true spirituality, which when realized, should benefit all. We need few things, one being to live peacefully, in comfort and ease; secondly, the ability and freedom to explore. We need to test new frontiers, challenge some myth, work on becoming more aware, try new foods, try once in awhile to think outside the box, and be free from the drudgery of regular routines. And finally, we all need a support system to keep us in check whenever we wander, and to believe wholeheartedly, that though we may not be able to control our thoughts all the time, we can act and control our actions.

Besides creation myths, one could look back over the short time we humans have resided on the earth and agree that we have created and re-created our worlds and ourselves, in countless ways and continue to do so, each and every day. Which direction we go in from here, is simply up to us. Should we even worry about where we came from? Should we learn what has already been taught and seek further knowledge by placing the greatest importance on simply being concerned for what we do today? This is only going to happen but once, and will dictate what happens tomorrow. As for yesterday, well, it already happened, lets learn from that.

As a species we will eventually homogenize and all start to, no doubt look the same, but it will be a very slow process, controlled by our genes, language and cultural, financial and economic choices. But we should always continue to discuss and never lose sight or perspective, that all individuals, no matter the race, are deserving of the same rights and opportunities. And that no matter the where, how and why we were created, or what creation story one happens to believe, we were created at the same time, from the same place. Living together on one planet among many revolving round the sun and that if we were to die off as a species the earth and life would continue.

“History is not what was, but what is.”  William Faulkner

 

 

 

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/osvaldorove/5976998701/    (Machu Picchu)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilspicys/2349783572/sizes/z/in/photostream/      (Waterfall)