Oral his­to­ries and mytholo­gies about where we come from have exist­ed for many tens of thou­sands of years.

Some of the ear­li­est evi­dence of spir­i­tu­al­i­ty” can be traced to a site right here in South Africa, in the caves known as Blom­bos”.

In the last 5000 years, mod­ern reli­gions, (such as Hin­duism, Judaism, Chris­tian­i­ty and Islam) have cre­at­ed their own expla­na­tions of where we, as the human species have come from.

Human cul­tures over time have offered many expla­na­tions to answer ques­tions of existence:

In the begin­ning God cre­at­ed the heav­ens and the earth. After cre­at­ing the earth, the sky, all veg­e­ta­tion, the sun, moon and stars, and the seas, God made the birds and the fish on the fifth day. On the sixth day ani­mals and human beings were cre­at­ed. So God cre­at­ed man in his image, in the image of God he cre­at­ed them, male and female he cre­at­ed them.” (From the cre­ation account in Gen­e­sis 1:1. There are two accounts of cre­ation in the Bible, the oth­er starts in Gen­e­sis 24b.)

But, after all, who knows, and who can say. Whence it all came, and how cre­ation happened?

Whence all cre­ation has its ori­gin, He, whether he fash­ioned it or whether he did not, He, who sur­veys it all from high­est heav­en, He knows, or maybe even he does not know.” (from the Hin­du text Rig Veda, one of he old­est reli­gious texts in exis­tence, dat­ing back to c1800 BCE.)

Creation

Cre­ation beliefs around the world are com­plex and varied

The Steady State

The Steady State” the­o­ry is a rival the­o­ry to the Big Bang” the­o­ry. The Steady State” the­o­ry claims that the uni­verse has no ori­gin but is expand­ing as new mat­ter is being cre­at­ed con­tin­u­ous­ly through­out the universe.

Hin­duism

The cre­ation belief cen­tral to Hin­duism is the idea that Brah­man (the Ulti­mate Divine Real­i­ty) has three func­tions sym­bol­ised by the trin­i­ty of Brah­ma, Vish­nu and Shi­va, who togeth­er are known as the Trimur­ti. Brah­ma is the cre­ator, the source of all cre­ation. Vish­nu is the pre­serv­er, respon­si­ble for sus­tain­ing the Earth. Shi­va is the destroy­er, who brings change by uni­ver­sal destruc­tion. With its cycli­cal under­stand­ing of time, Hin­duism teach­es that the mate­r­i­al world is imper­ma­nent and is cre­at­ed not once, but repeat­ed­ly cre­at­ed, pre­served and destroyed through the agency of the Trimur­ti.

Judaism

Jew­ish under­stand­ings of cre­ation are based on the Gen­e­sis account and reflect dif­fer­ent views of that account. Is it a para­ble or must it be inter­pret­ed lit­er­al­ly? The one belief cen­tral to Judaism is that Elo­him (God) cre­at­ed the world and that human beings are Elohim’s spe­cial cre­ation. How and when cre­ation occurred, on the oth­er hand, is the sub­ject of a fas­ci­nat­ing range of explanations.

For exam­ple, the Jew­ish cal­en­dar is dat­ed from the sup­posed date of cre­ation, 3761 BCE, cal­cu­lat­ed from a lit­er­al read­ing of the Bible. Sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of Jews believe that the Gen­e­sis account is lit­er­al­ly true and that the world was cre­at­ed in 6 days. In this view the world is 5,767 years old (in 2006).

On the oth­er hand, Rab­bi Isaac of Acco, a 13th cen­tu­ry Kab­bal­ist, cal­cu­lat­ed that the uni­verse is 15,340,500,000 years old, based on in parlm. Psalm 90:4 A thou­sand years in your sight are but as yesterday”.

amaZu­lu

Unku­lunku­lu, Ancient One, is the cre­ator of all that there is. Unku­lunku­lu was cre­at­ed in Uhlanga, a huge swamp of reeds. Unku­lunku­lu is also Umvelin­qan­gi (He who was in the very begin­ning), god of thun­der and earth­quakes. Unku­lunku­lu came from the reeds and from them he brought forth the peo­ple and the cat­tle. He cre­at­ed every­thing that is: moun­tains, streams, snakes and cat­tle. He taught amaZu­lu how to hunt, how to make fire, and how to grow food.

Kha­lakhali San

Peo­ple did not always live on the sur­face of the Earth. At one time peo­ple and ani­mals lived under­neath the Earth with Kaang, the Great Mas­ter and Lord of All life. In this place peo­ple and ani­mals lived togeth­er peace­ful­ly. They under­stood each oth­er. No one ever want­ed for any­thing and it was always light even though there was not any sun. Dur­ing this time of bliss Kaang began to plan the won­ders he would put in the world above.

Chris­tian­i­ty

Like Jews, Chris­tians base their under­stand­ings of the cre­ation on the Gen­e­sis account. A fun­da­men­tal belief is that God cre­at­ed the uni­verse out of noth­ing, reflect­ed in the clas­sic doc­trine of cre­atio ex nihi­lo.

Some Chris­tians read the Gen­e­sis account very lit­er­al­ly. For exam­ple, the influ­en­tial Arch­bish­op James Ussh­er (15811656) used the genealo­gies in the book of Gen­e­sis to cal­cu­late the exact moment of cre­ation. Accord­ing to him God began the work of cre­ation at pre­cise­ly 9 am on Octo­ber 26, 4004 BCE.

Today more Chris­tians, who hold to a lit­er­al read­ing of Gen­e­sis, that God cre­at­ed the world in six days, are called Creationists.

As ear­ly as the 4th cen­tu­ry, St. Augus­tine, one of the most influ­en­tial the­olo­gians in Chris­t­ian his­to­ry, sug­gest­ed that the six-day struc­ture of cre­ation in Gen­e­sis presents a log­i­cal frame­work rather that the exact pas­sage of time. He main­tained that inter­pret­ing the cre­ation sto­ry is dif­fi­cult and that Chris­tians should be will­ing to change their minds if new infor­ma­tion were to emerge.

Many Chris­tians stand in this tra­di­tion and are able to accom­mo­date new sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies in their think­ing. For them the Bible is there to explain who the cre­ator is and why God cre­at­ed the world, not a sci­en­tif­ic expla­na­tion of how the world was cre­at­ed. Many of the major Chris­tians denom­i­na­tions would hold this view. In 1996 Pope John Paul II wrote that new find­ings lead us toward the recog­ni­tion of evo­lu­tion as more than a hypoth­e­sis” but that if the ori­gin of the human body comes through liv­ing mat­ter which exist­ed pre­vi­ous­ly, the spir­i­tu­al soul is cre­at­ed direct­ly by God”.

Batswana

Tra­di­tion­al Batswana belief is cen­tred on Mod­i­mo wa Leokao­ka (the Lofty/​Supreme/​Most High One), who is regard­ed as the cre­ator of all, the cause and source of life. Mod­i­mo con­trols human des­tiny, and may man­i­fest self (not himself/​her­self-as Mod­i­mo is not a per­son who can be referred to in gen­der terms) to express care or scorn, plea­sure or dis­plea­sure, con­tent­ment or dis­con­tent­ment with who­ev­er con­forms with/​goes against tra­di­tion or the prop­er order of things.

Below Mod­i­mo are Badi­mo, ances­tral spir­its who are ven­er­at­ed, wor­shipped and invoked through sac­ri­fices, prayers and appro­pri­ate behav­iour. They inter­vene on Modimo’s behalf in human affairs, giv­ing or with­draw­ing sup­port, pro­tect­ing or con­demn­ing, or reward­ing or punishing.

Below Badi­mo are the spir­its of roy­al ances­tors, fol­lowed by liv­ing roy­al­ty, vil­lage elders, and then par­ents, in that order of reverence.

Islam

While Islam shares the Gen­e­sis tra­di­tion with Judaism and Chris­tian­i­ty, the cre­ation accounts in the Qur’an are less spe­cif­ic than, and dif­fer in some details from, Gen­e­sis 1.

Islam is unequiv­o­cal that all cre­ation orig­i­nates from the will, inten­tion and doing of Allah, the Almighty. The Holy Qur’an fur­ther states that the Almighty cre­at­ed the heav­ens and Earth in six days.

Ver­i­ly your Lord Allah has cre­at­ed the heav­ens and the earth in six days. (The Heights verse 54)

There are dif­fer­ing views in Islam as to the how and in what order the cre­ation hap­pened. The Qur’an is also quite clear that the human race orig­i­nat­ed From Adam (peace be upon him).

Oh mankind fear your Lord who cre­at­ed you from a sin­gle soul (Adam). (Ch Women verse 1)

Whilst some Mus­lims might see in the Qur’an sup­port for the big bang the­o­ry in which it reads.

The heav­ens and the earth were joined as one unit before We clove them asun­der. (Ch 21 verse 30)

In this verse, the Almighty Allah is respon­si­ble for this phenomenon.