How Was the World Created?
creation-hands.jpg

One question that has puzzled mankind for thousands of years is how the world was made, and how humans came into existence. People have made up stories that explained it, and even today, with all we know about the world's origins, still there are things the world still does not fully understand. When mankind did not have science to help explain that, they made up myths to explain the beauty of their environment and how it came to be. People need to know where they came from and how they exist, and, having no other solution presented to them, made up their own stories. This project will compare and contrast two of those creation myths : that of Islam and Judaism, two very similar but very different religions.

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 9.24.08 AM.png
The creation story in the Torah, the Jewish sacred text, comes in a book called Genesis:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day." (Genesis 1:1-5)This passage shows the creation of the earth, specifically light. God, who existed before everything else, creates the world be speaking. This shows His ultimate power over everything, and His worthiness . God also creates light, and says that it is 'good.' He does not say any such thing about darkness, showing that God is a God of light. The Jewish creation story happens in seven days, with this quote being from the first. This is where our week comes from. There is a specific length of creation in Genesis, and is a very orderly creation: there is no hesitation, but creation after creation in a specific order. The God of Judaism is a very orderly God, the opposite of chaos.

The creation of humans comes on the sixth day, again in Genesis:
"And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our own image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." (Genesis 1:26-28)
This shows God creating mankind with love and as superior to all of his other creation. God sees his creation, and makes man as the icing on the cake, the object of beauty, saving the best for last (the seventh day is a day of rest). He gives man dominion over his creation. Most importantly, God makes man in his own image. God makes man with love, like himself, to be his children on earth. Because man, and only man among God's creation, is in his image, showing how much He values man versus everything else. Everything else is 'good', but mankind is blessed.

"Immediately after the first creation account, the priest inserted a second story. . . The deity in this second story is a personal god with human-like emotions, the Lord of the Plantation. The story opens on a barren landscape on which “no shrub of the field had yet appeared”. God had not yet “caused it to rain upon the earth.” Creation begins in the form “a mist from the earth” that waters the parched plain. God then forms from “the dust of the earth” the first man, Adam, and breathes “into his nostrils the breath of life.” Finding a suitable home for Adam is God’s next concern. (This God takes a paternalistic interest in the first human, his very special creation.) God “plants” an oasis-like garden in Eden. Proclaiming, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him," God forms “all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air.” When none of the beasts proves to be of much comfort to Adam, God takes one of the first man’s ribs and makes the first woman, Eve."(Linder, 2004)
This describes a second creation story right after the first in Genesis 2. This story highlights even more the love of God towards Adam and Eve, giving them a land filled with fruit and beauty. The Torah says a little about each aspect of creation, but the second story focuses on mankind, showing that God cares most about people and prizes people above His other creation. He puts mankind above all of His other creation, and, when Adam gets lonely, He provides a companion for him.

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 9.15.21 AM.png
A description of creation in the Qur'an, the Islamic sacred text, comes from the Surat Ar-Rahman:"[God] Created man and taught him eloquence.The sun and the moon [move] by precise calculation,and the stars and trees prostrate.And the earth He laid [out] for the creatures.He created man from clay like [that of] pottery.And He created the jinn from a smokeless flame of fire. [He is] Lord of the two sunrises and Lord of the two sunsets.Everyone upon the earth will perish, And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor."Qur'an 55:3-6, 10, 14, 15, 17, 26, 27 (Surat Ar-Rahman)
This passage from the Qur'an shows how God created the world. It says He created man, and made the sun and moon move, and how He will exist even when nothing else does. Most importantly, I think, is how His creation praises him ('the stars and trees prostrate'), how he rules over his creation. God is a very powerful figure in this story, especially 'Owner of Majesty and Honor.' There is a notable difference from Judaism in the amount of love God made humans with.

"In the time before time, God was. And when God wants to create something, all he needs to say is "Be", and it becomes. So it was that God created the world and the heavens. He made all the creatures, which walk, swim, crawl and fly on the face of the earth. He made the angels, and the sun, moon and the stars to dwell in the universe. And consider, as the Qur'an says, how God poured down the rain in torrents, and broke up the soil to bring forth the corm, the grapes and other vegetation; the olive and the palm, the fruit trees and the grass.Then it was that God ordered the angels to go to the earth, and to bring seven handfuls of soil, all of different colours, from which he could model man. God took the seven kinds of earth and moulded them into a model of a man. He breathed life and power into it, and it immediately sprang to life. And this first man was called Adam. God took Adam to live in Paradise. In Paradise, God created Eve, the first woman, from out of Adam's side. God taught Adam the names of all the creatures, and then commanded the angel to bow down before Adam."(Muslim Creation Story)
This quote is a summary of the creation story in the Qur'an. You can see how similar is is the the Jewish creation story, with only a few minor differences. There are two of things that stand out. The first is that this quote describes creation but has no description of time. God's creation could have taken place over a trillion years, or it could have happened in an instant. Based on the amount of time and details the author puts into describing the creation of the earth versus the creation of man, I think that, to muslims, how God created man is much more important to them than everything else. The second is that, again, there is less of a personal connection between God and man.


Conclusion

It is easy to see that Islam and Judaism are related from their create stories and their similarity: God existed before everything else, God created the world by speaking, and God focused on making mankind more than his other creations. There are major differences though. The Jewish creation myth is much more concise about how long creation took, while Islam is very general about it. Also, there is much more of a personal connection between God and Adam in Judaism. God creates man in his own image, like himself, and places him on the earth, while in Islam, while God does take care in making man, God does not show as much love toward him.


Works Cited
Linder, Doug. "Genesis in the Scopes Trial." The History of Genesis and the Creation Stories. N.p., 2004. Web. 04 Nov. 2013. <http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/gen1st.htm>.

"Muslim Creation Story." Muslim Creation Story. Hampshire County Council, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013. <http://www.innovationslearning.co.uk/subjects/re/information/creation/muslim_creation.htm>.