How did all this get here? How did we? Where did the earth and the heavens come from? And people?
These must be obvious questions, because they have been answered over and over through the ages, with answers that have been many and varied. Some of
the answers are called "religious," because they involve gods and myths, and some of the answers have been called "scientific," because they have been
advanced by academics. But they have a lot in common.
The number of possible answers continues to grow with scientific progress and with the growth of new religions and their variants. While the number
of scientists is greater than ever, the numbers of religions, and of the poor and ignorant, are also greater than ever, so the scientific and
religious approaches continue to grow side by side.
The origin of the universe is one thing, the origin of people is another. Somehow there came to be people on the earth; and most agree that the
universe came first, before the people. But the Creation stories are very different.
THE FAST CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE AND PEOPLE
Western accounts begin with Bibles, the religious books begun by the Hebrews and extended by Christians. All the Bibles have a common account of a
busy week when the universe, and the human race, were created by a God who somehow already existed.
The creation of the universe is described in the King James Bible like this:
God then goes on to make Eve, she and Adam are expelled from the Garden, they have sons who somehow meet other women and populate the earth.
There are interesting variants. For instance, in one of the Apocrypha ("The Alphabet of Ben Sira"), it is stated that the first woman is
Lilith(authors beloved first daughter
), who refuses to to accept a sex-on-the-bottom position, and to whom Adam grants equality--
But equality is insufficient, and Lilith leaves quickly. The Lilith story is titillating to many with different axes to grind. There is so little
authoritative information about Lilith that she can be used to support many different ideas. (She even appears in George Bernard Shaw's play "Back to
Of course, few educated people accept the six-day, Adam-and-Eve account today. It has become literature and myth, and even jokes. Sample joke (from
the computer world):
"How was God able to create the universe in only six days."
Answer: "He didn't have an installed base."
(Meaning that there was nothing already there that had to connect to the new universe.)
The different Bibles contain stories that were also kicking around separately in the ancient world, separate from Hebrew culture. For example, we are
all familiar with the story of Noah. But there are other accounts of a great and impossible flood that covered the world. The account of the Flood
in the book of Genesis has a remarkable parallel to a story of the Flood in a Babylonian stone-tablet document found in Assyria, in the ruined library
We can consider the story of Noah, and the Assyrian story of the Flood, side by side. (We use floating links to show correspondences between the two
In the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, it is the god Jehovah who gives the command to build the ark; in the Babylonian account, it is the god Shamash.
In The Biblical account of the Flood (for instance, the King James version), God tells Noah to build an Ark. In the Babylonian account of the Flood,
the instruction is given by a god named Shamash to a "man of Shurippak", who is told to build a great ship. In both stories the ship is loaded with
everything possible, including animals. (See correspondences between the two.)
Then comes the flood; and in both stories the hero releases a bird to see if the land has dried yet. In the Babylonian version, the matter is settled
by a raven not coming back; in the King James version, the matter is settled by a dove, who comes back with an olive leaf. (See correspondences
between the two.)
Today, few educated people accept the literal account of a Flood which covered the whole earth, with all the land species rescued in a boat; but to
the ill-informed people of 3500 years ago, it may have seemed perfectly plausible-- particularly since they probably had no idea how many land species
existed or how high plateaus and mountains are, or how much water it would take.
BIBLES AND HUMANOID GODS
The Biblical stories defined western culture, and that of the Mideast as well. But there are many different Bibles-- although people who believe
strongly in the Bible generally think there is only one. But, as theologian Thomas Long puts it, ""
Different Bibles include the Hebrew Torah (from which comes the Christian Old Testament), the Coptic Bible, the Catholic Bible in Latin and Greek, the
King James Bible (a translation into English for the Anglican denomination), the Catholic translation into English (the Douay Bible), and those of
various other denominations, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons.
(To say nothing of the Apocrypha, related books which are halfway out of the Bible. An Apocryphon (singular) is a book originating in Biblical times
but not accepted as part of official Bibles. Apocrypha include the books of Ezra, Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon, Epistle of Jeremy, Alphabet of Ben-Sira,
and on and on. There is no knowing how many apocrypha there are, or how mamy more will be discovered.)
But all these different Biblical views assume the notion of a God with particular interest in one species, us, the human race, who supposedly somehow
resemble this God, being made in His image. Since we are made in His image, we may assume, for example, that He has a protruding nose and two legs.
But if there is such a two-legged God, that implies that the God has physical coordinates somewhere out there, where with good enough telescopes we
might see Him kicking around.
In a more serious vein, the Darwinian view is of course that man evolved naturally among the primates, as one particularly versatile variant species
of the primate order. Darwin himself states it simply:
WHAT WAS THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE?
Getting back to the universe (as if it were possible to leave it!), our earliest perceptions of it must have been quite simplistic.
If you stand out in the open on a good night, the universe seems to consist of a bowl of sky, across which sun, moon and stars pass at different
speeds. This is how it must first have appeared to early human beings. We below seem to stand on an irregular, but relatively flat, earth.
It took us a long time to reach today's understanding of the universe's size and age.
It has taken us a very long time to see that the bowl of the sky only views a portion of a great-three-dimensional space, with millions of stars and
galaxies, and ourselves at the lip of Deep Time of billions of years-- not the few thousand years of the Bible.
Cosmology is the science of the physics of the universe, including its beginnings. There are many scientific theories of cosmology, but in a way they
boil down to only two. Some say the universe has always been here, others say it somehow started. These are the two basic views: the steady-state
view and the Big Bang view.
edit on 3-6-2019 by Lightsurgeon because: (no reason given)