Friday, January 1, 2010

Origin of the universe stories, from wild to wacky

George Waters column for Sunday, April 27, 2014:

In the 17th Century, mathematician Johannes Kepler calculated that the universe was created on this day, April 27, in the year 4977 B.C. According to modern scientists, he was off by only about 13.7 billion years. A mere whisker, as they say. Kepler is best remembered, though, for his later theories of planetary motion, which just goes to show that the important thing is to finish strong.

Every culture has a creation story to explain the universe, and because cultures are made up of humans, and humans often think alike, there are a lot of similarities between stories. This also explains the popularity of Christina Aguilera.

Experts divide creation myths into several major common categories:

Creation "ex nihilo," or "out of nothing." This one suggests that the universe was created through the dream, breath, thoughts or even the bodily secretions of a divine being. "Bodily secretions" does not sound like "nothing" to me, but thankfully, the experts are not more specific.

Creation out of chaos. Any parent who has ever escaped from a kids' birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese knows this feeling.

Creation from the separation of two "world parents," who clutch each other so tightly that nothing else can form between them. They are pulled apart, probably by their grossed-out "world teen" children, and room is made for the universe.

Creation from the dismembered parts of a primordial being. This vague process is, I believe, the same way we ended up with something called "Buffalo wings."

Creation by the cracking of a cosmic egg. I expect that if the cultures which came up with this one had domesticated alligators instead of chickens, the myth would be much the same.

In the Hindu religion, Brahma, the god of creation, was born out of a lotus flower which grew from the god Vishnu's navel. This was reportedly witnessed by the goddess Lakshmi, who swears she was absolutely, positively not high at the time.

Another version has Brahma being born from a golden egg, and the egg then expanding to create the universe, which explains all the chickens.

Brahma then goes on to create, from his mind, 10 sons, who became the fathers of the human race. He only created one daughter, but Brahma supposedly had four heads, so he could certainly keep an eye on her.

Kepler is starting to look a little better right about now, isn't he?