Christians may think that the idea of creation is unique to the Bible. However there are numerous stories in the book of Genesis that have parallels in other ancient cultures. Liberal scholars hold that the biblical accounts are “borrowed” from other historical myths and this explains the similarities in the accounts.
However, if one holds the Bible as true, the fact that other ancient cultures have similar stories actually reinforces the Bible. Three stories in particular – creation, the flood, and the Tower of Babel – appear all over the ancient world. Those who believe the Bible will contend that this is proof that these events occurred and numerous cultures tell the stories of these events although some of the details are altered as they are adapted to each culture.
|Biblical Creation Story||Babylonian Creation Story|
|Genesis 1:1 to 2:3||Enuma Elish|
|Date of writing (liberal belief)||8th or 9th century BCE||Late 12th century BCE|
|Date of writing (conservative belief)||13th century BCE, the time of Moses||Late 12th century BCE.|
|Author (liberal belief)||“P,” authors of the Priestly tradition.||Unknown.|
|Author (conservative belief)||Moses.||Unknown.|
|Creator(s) of the universe||A single God, YHVH.||A God battling a Goddess.|
|Initial state of the earth||Desolate waste; covered in darkness.||Chaos; enveloped in darkness.|
|First development||Light created.||Light created.|
|Next development||Firmament created – a rigid dome over the earth separating the earth and heaven.||Firmament created; also perceived as a rigid dome.|
|Next development||Dry land created.||Dry land created.|
|Next development||Sun, moon, stars created.||Sun, moon, stars created.|
|Next development||Creation of men and women.||Creation of men and women.|
|Final development||God rests and sanctify the Sabbath.||Gods rest and celebrate.|
Story exists in numerous countries: Sumerian, Babylonian, Jewish, Islamic, China, Lao, India, Indonesia, Australia, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Finland, Aztec, Inca, Maya, Polynesia.
The Chinese epic follows a man by the name of Nuwa and Chinese historians have dated the flood to occur in 2348 BC, which corresponds with the date of the Biblical flood.
The publication of The First Fossil Hunters by Adrienne Mayor, followed by Fossil Legends of the First Americans, have caused the hypothesis that flood stories have been inspired by ancient observations of fossil seashells and fish inland and on mountains to gain ground. The Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese all commented in ancient writings about seashells and/or impressions of fish that they found inland and/or in the mountains.
Tower of Babel
Like the flood account, there are numerous accounts from various sources. Perhaps most interesting is references to the tower aside from the Bible. Nebuchadnezzar speaks of the tower as he constructs a tower of his own.
“A former king built the Temple of the Seven Lights of the Earth, but he did not complete its head. Since a remote time, people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words. Since that time earthquakes and lightning had dispersed its sun-dried clay; the bricks of the casing had split, and the earth of the interior had been scattered in heaps.”