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The World on the Turtle's Back: How the World Was Created

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 We will never scientifically prove how the world or the universe came to be. No matter how many tests, discoveries, and theories are done, nothing can be said for certain. And that’s okay, because nothing can stop people from believing. Cultures all across the world have different creation myths and beliefs, some more similar than others; these creation myths also tend to feature people, although how important the people’s roles are in creation varies from culture to culture. Some aspects of creation myths tend to be repeated, as can be shown by comparing The World On The Turtle’s Back (Iroquois), Adam and Eve (Islamic), and The Island Called Earth (Japanese).

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Let’s begin where the myths began, in the sky. At first, each of these myths revolves around people living in the sky. In Adam and Eve, all the cosmos and earth were created by God, who ‘. . . turned to the sky, and it had been (as) smoke. He said to it and to the earth: ‘Come together, willingly or unwillingly’. They said: ‘We come (together) in willing obedience” (Quran 41:11), but the couple lived in heaven regardless. However, in The World On The Turtle’s Back and The Island Called Earth, the divine couples lived on clouds because the earth was not yet made, and all that was below was ocean. In those stories, earth rose from the ocean, but how this happened is different in each. The Island Called Earth states that Izanagi and Izanami pulled the first island out of the ocean using a jeweled spear handed to them by the gods, while The World On The Turtle’s Back states that all earth is on a large turtle’s back, where it was first brought by the muskrat and then grown by the woman from the sky. (McDougal pg. 4 and 6; Maguire)

Secondly, an interesting correspondence happens to be the creation of man. The Island Called Earth is disincluded from this since in it, man was the descendant of gods, for the first man was the emperor Jimmu (“Izanagi and Izanami”). However in both Adam and Eve and The World On The Turtle’s back, man was made of clay. “And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: ‘I am going to create a human (Adam) from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud. So when I have fashioned him and breathed into him (his) soul created by Me, then you fall down prostrate to him.” (Quran 38:71-72), in my belief, the first man, Adam, was created by God, and not divine people; while in The World On The Turtle’s Back humans were created by the twins. (McDougal pg. 9)

Speaking of twins, the last point revolves around twins. See, Adam and Eve had two pairs of twins, two girls and two boys. Their boys were Abel and Cain, a selfless twin and a selfish twin, and Cain–the selfish twin–killed his selfless brother out of rage and jealousy. Thus, Cain was father to all who chose to live violently rather than with love, while Abel to those who chose love and kindness. This reads awfully similar to The World On The Turtle’s Back, in which the lady from the sky’s grandchildren were twins. One was righteous, while the other was devious, and the two spent their days trying to best each other- until, one day, their minds communicated each other’s weaknesses, and the righteous twin’s mind lied. The next day, the righteous twin killed his brother with deer antlers. The righteous twin ascended back onto the clouds, where he watches over the humans, while the devious twin governed the dark and dangerous night (McDougal pg. 10, 11). Lastly, Izanami and Izanagi were clearly siblings, but whether they are twins or not is never mentioned. Unlike the other siblings listed, the pair got along well and did not fight. In fact, they got married and Izanami birthed the other islands of Japan, before giving birth to the deity of fire killed her. The couple’s first fight ensued after her death, when Izanagi went to Yomi, land of the dead, to visit his wife but was so disgusted by her rotting corpse that he ran away and blocked Yomi’s entrance with a boulder, permanently separating life and death. (Maguire)

Overall, it’s clear that all creation myths have some similarities, yet all of them are still unique to their cultures. No matter how different, there are always similarities in people’s beliefs; but whether or not we can find them, it’s important to remember that they are there, and to accept that people from different cultures believe different things.

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