Extra-Biblical Cosmogenies

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The Biblical account of creation is so clear and so vastly superior to the ancient cosmologies there is little comparison. In some cases its clear that the biblical account was the basis of forming the new cosmogony. We also have the accounting of evil entering into the world so that we know where evil springs from and how its entrance into our world brought alienation from God. We have a clear understanding of what sin consists of, what disobedience is, what the result of disobedience to God brings…death.  Here we meet with God coming to man, not man running to God. We find God making a covering for their shame, a sacrifice for their sins, a promise to vanquish Satan and the promise that there would come a man who would bruise the head of the Devil. This accounting of human history; actual humans encountering spiritual beings and talking snakes sounds too far-fetched for this humanist-mindset that many have, but their humanist worldviews do not invalidate the necessity to confront the claims of scripture that has been shown by myriads of tests for millenia to be true and trustworthy.

Only the shallow infidel or the parroting internet atheist rages against what has been validated time and time again. Turning to every unproven assertion and ignorant philosophical proposition some people prove that its not evidence they want, they want something more, they want to live according to their own notions of life and pleasure. For them academic proofs are like specialized tooling; they have no idea how to use it; the scientific evidences or solid philosophical thought that establishes the necessity and importance of biblical truths are summarily dismissed for no other reason than the silly “Christians are stupid” jargon that’s common among them.  They are children of the immediate, the 6 minute attention span; because of this deficiency to think and reason, close investigation has no place in their lives. For others they have been like cows in the stall, or pigs in the pen, fed ideas that have no grounding universals, they are genuinely thirsty for a criteria to understand the particulars of life and give meaning to even their own education. These victims of the enlightenment live a life of insipid pleasure seeking valuing self and self-preservation above all…but they don’t even know why. For others who have not been inoculated against thinking and deadened to the invitation to reason without importing the angry bias of secular anti-theism I offer this little excursion so that one can compare stories.

The post modern mind is trying to find a new ‘thing’ because he is against everything that smacks of ‘status quo’. But the problem for the post modern mind is that he cannot recognize any ‘new’ thing. He is lost. So, what does this child of the 2010’s do? Just what the culture tells him or her to do. He or she does just what the primal urges of their sexual desires press upon them. He or she wants to find freedom from the shackles of an empty angst ridden mindset, but they have decided that the old ‘flash-lights’ don’t work any more. I beg to differ, They do work, the old ways of finding hope and life, joy and purpose exist, but it doesn’t exist in the boxed in post-modern mindset that refuses to admit objective truth.  If they don’t jettison the lie that objective truth is missing or cannot be known they will miss their chance to find out its really out there and ready to be received. Those who continue to reject transcendent objective truth will struggle in the same empty angst-ridden path. Some will revert to harming others and themselves, some will just give up and become puppets to a civilization that they know is not improving but degenerating.
The reason I offer this introduction to extra biblical cosmogonies is because the scriptures start immediately with settling some of the biggest questions the 21st century man is asking. Why are we here? What is wrong with the world? Why cant we fix it? If we look simply at the Genesis narrative we can see some valuable things that can settle universal truths that will give us the flash-light to find the path way to hope and life without chaos and destruction being the first outcome.

Written by Dr. H.C Leupold

About Dr. Leupold

On June 24, 1914. Thereupon he served as pastor of a mission, Ascension Lutheran congregation in Buffalo, and at the same time held an assistant professorship at the Martin Luther Seminary until 1922. He served as professor of historical theology at the Martin Luther Seminary from 1922 to 1929. In 1929, when the Buffalo Synod closed Martin Luther Seminary, Dr. Leupold was transferred to the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary at Capital University, Columbus, Oh., where he became professor of Old Testament Theology, in which capacity he is serving at the present time. He was elected secretary of the Theological Seminary faculty in 1941. Dr. Leupold received the Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Chicago Seminary in 1926 and the Doctor of Divinity degree from Capital University in 1935.

Dr. Leupold speaking…

If at this point we append a summary of certain of the better known cosmogonies, or at least of those which have a certain affinity with the Biblical account, anyone can judge for himself whether the Biblical account in any sense seems to be a derivative.

The most famous of the non-biblical cosmogonies is the Babylonian or the so-called “Chaldean Genesis,” which created such a stir at the time of its publication in 1876 after it had been unearthed as a part of the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh by George Smith in 1873. The several tablets on which the account is written are in a fairly good state of preservation. The story begins with an account that is a theogony—an account of the origin of the gods—in itself already an indication of a far inferior level. The true God did not come into being by a certain process, nor were there originally several deities. Now of these various deities one stood out as particularly aggressive and ferocious, the unsubdued Tiâmat—again a decidedly inferior point of view. For the struggle that impended Tiâmat, the old mother of gods, enlists as many of the old gods as she can and a whole crew of horrid monsters. The resulting conflict for supremacy (note the low moral level even among gods) is a truly titanic struggle in which the forces of the opposition are led by the great Babylonian deity Marduk. Marduk proves himself the stronger. He prevails over Tiâmat, cleaves her into two montrous halves, the upper of which he fixes in place as the heavens, in which in turn he fixes the heavenly bodies; and the lower of which halves, on the other hand, he sets in place as the earth. Then he compounds material of his own blood for the creation of man, the chief purpose of whose creation is “that the service of the gods may be established.” This account of creation is so pronouncedly different from the Biblical account that the points of difference completely overshadow the incidental points of resemblance. To speak of a “striking resemblance between the two cosmogonies” certainly is a partisan overstatement of the case; and to go on to say that “the cosmogony of Genesis 1 rests on a conception of the process of creation fundamentally identical with that of the Enuma elis (the opening words of the Chaldean Genesis) tablets” is simply a distortion of the truth.

Of the Phoenician cosmogony it is sufficient to remark that it contains the idea of the world-egg, hatched out to produce the world. Analogous to this from this point of view is the Indian conception. The uncreated Lord appeared in chaos. The next step was to render this world visible by means of the five elements, by shining forth in brightest light and dispelling darkness. Into the water, which he creates first, he lays a germ cell. This becomes a gleaming egg in which Brahma is found, the source principle. A protracted period of hatching brings him to light. Aside from fantastic and confused elements it may well be that even this cosmogony carries within it certain echoes of the Genesis account which are all but forgotten.

The Parsee Genesis, appearing in a late book of the Bundehest, has at least this sequence of created things: 1. heaven, 2. water, 3. earth, 4. planets, 5. animals, 6. man. Nothing is said concerning the creation of light. The partial correspondence with the account of the Bible is obvious. But since this is a late book, this correspondence may have resulted from an acquaintance with the Biblical record.      Still more nearly parallel to the Biblical account is the cosmogony attributed to the Etruscans by the writer Suidas, who lived in the tenth century A. D. For the sequence runs thus: 1. heaven and earth, 2. firmament, 3. sea and water, 4. sun and moon, 5. souls of animals, 6. man. To the six items six periods of a thousand years each are assigned. Yet the influence of the Bible record is so very likely in the case of a writer of the tenth century of the Christian era that there is great likelihood that the writer’s Christian ideas will have led him to find these successive items, which another might not even have noticed in the same material. Or else the ancient Etruscan tradition had absorbed a high percentage of Biblical thought on matters such as these.

One would expect the Persian cosmogony to be radically different and in conformity with the principles of dualism. In the Avesta time and light and darkness are uncreated. These constitute the true spiritual world. They are eternal because Mazda, the god of light, is himself eternal.      Hesiod informs us how the Greeks conceived of the origin of things. First there existed Chaos; thereupon the earth; next Tartarus; then Eros (Love), the most beautiful of the deathless gods. Out of Chaos night is born. The earth begets the heavens; then the ocean comes into being. After these Saturn, father of gods, existed. The rest of the pantheon follow him.

To the Egyptians several views on the origin of the earth are to be attributed. Some regarded the god Ptah as the craftsman who built the world. Others held that it was the goddess Neith who wove its fabric. The fundamental principle from which all things take their origin was thought to be water, for in it were fancied to be the male and the female germs of life. Even the great god Ra was supposed to have sprung from it, though others believed that he had been hatched out of an egg.

We may well say that these cosmogonies are the best available outside the Genesis account. A man does not need any supernatural enlightenment to discern that not one of all these can compare even remotely with the scriptural account for depth of thought, simplicity, propriety and beauty. All the others disappoint us by their incompleteness, or by their confusion, or by their lack of sequence, or as being the embodiment of some deep-seated error. Their conception of God is most unsatisfactory and unworthy. Or if they rise to a higher level, we have reason for believing that the better element is traceable to the Bible as the source.

This finishes Dr. Leupold.

Here is the Biblical account of the creation of the Earth and the Universe as given by Moses.

Genesis 1
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 
And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 
And the evening and the morning were the third day.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 
And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 
And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 
And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 
And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. KJV

In the simplest way, we can look at this account and understand God called what he created ‘very good’. He gave man power to govern his world, he gave food and cattle to man, fruit and seed for health and strength. We see man was made in God’s image, not evolving from slime then fish then reptile then man. God created this world to be live in and enjoyed, he charged man to go forth and multiply. Man is an image of God, with reason, wisdom, power, strength, knowledge, understanding, kindness and love. These qualities that exist in God are part of man, man has a designed intelligence, an intelligence created in order to relate to his Creator.

But we all know Genesis chapter 3 is coming soon and there we find that what man is, becomes twisted and corrupted, he is ashamed and now alienated by sinfulness. These are direct answers to life’s brutal questions, No other ideology even comes close to answering these questions, no other religions outside of Judaism and Christianity posit a personal God that created them, cares for them and provides for them. All the rest offer a human autonomy that keeps the human mind that is designed to relate to God in complete darkness about God. Complete and utter ignorance, rebellion, shameful hatred toward God…and all for what? Because the lie from the beginning is “you will be like God”. The human heart alienated from God presupposes that he is capable of providing for himself and live in harmony with one another according to his own wisdom. As we all know this has been an utter and complete failure and continues to fail every moment of every day. The only time man exists in harmony for any extended period of time is when man has accepted God’s moral standard and God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ.

God’s redemptive grace…that’s another post.