Creation: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How?: Early Beliefs of Heritage and Origins

Essay by htebazile61High School, 11th gradeA, April 2009

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Claude Lévi-Strauss once said, "One must be very naïve or dishonest to imagine that men choose their beliefs independently of their situation". There have been many stories and myths about the origin of the earth and universe, some dating back to the beginning of time, and all of them were greatly affected by the situation and culture of their parent civilizations. Looking at the different stories of the ancient Egyptians, Indians, and Aztecs, it is impossible to believe they were all impartial observations or facts. Many stories have the same basic skeleton, but are all completely different because of the locations and cultures in which they are believed and followed. The distinction between the stories of many civilizations and cultures is what creates diversity and individuality among people. The traditions, rituals, and beliefs of each different culture show that the legacy left by their stories remains today.

The lifestyles of the ancient Egyptians were largely based upon their beliefs about the gods and their own mortal origin.

One example of this was the almost reverent regard the Egyptians held for the Nile River. The Egyptian creation story (Appendix A, Appendix D) told about a mound of earth rising from Nun (the waters of chaos). This was naturally reenacted annually when land began to appear above the receding floodwaters of the Nile. It was on this mound that the gods created life, which illustrates the Nile as a life-giver. Another example was the importance of the sun in ancient Egyptian worship. There were twelve different sun deities in the Egyptian pantheon (Kuhn, 1934), all associated with some part of the sun's being or activity. Also, the supreme creator in the Heliopolis myth, Atum (one of the sun gods), emerged as the first sunrise, coming from a lotus flower that had sprouted...