Human and the Environment-Genesis,Pomo Indian and Aztec creation stories

Different cultures, societies and religions have different theories and stories about the creation of Earth and the nature, humans and animals that inhabit it . However we find that many of these stories contain features , ideas , or themes that are very much alike. The darkness that was present before Earth , the divine power that started it and the strong relation between nature (environment) and human, are all common themes present in most creation stories. The Genesis (taken from the Bible) , the Pomo Indian story and the Aztec creation stories , are the stories that were thoroughly discussed in terms of the relation between humans and nature (environment).
One thing we seem to understand from all the texts is that us humans are responsible for the environment, and this responsibility gives us power, but even though we have this power that makes us superior to all other species and puts us at the top of the food chain, we should learn to appreciate this power rather than abuse it. In Genises, what proves that is that Adam was created from dust, which is basically the environment and Adam was given the divine right to rule Earth, he held the responsibility. In the Indian creation story, maybe the fact that he waited four days until he set earth free shows a sense of responsibility, that he didn’t let go of it too soon, in a sense, he waited for it to ripen.
Furthermore, in these stories, we found that the existence of human and nature is interdependent. In Genisis, they said Adam was created from dust and when a person dies, he returns to dust again. In Pomo Indian story, nature was created from armpit wax of two men and a hair from their head, so nature was depending on human parts (armpit wax and head). Also in Aztec, nature was created from human death. Humans that survived the disastrous consequences of the God’s fighting became animals (monkeys, fish and birds,) and the disasters themselves of their fighting resulted in nature, (fire, wind, water flood).

All of the above ideas are under or are a result of one main theme. Both nature and humans and the relation between them , are under the control of a divine power. In the Genesis story, God decided to create Nature and then humans and decided to give Adam the power and authority to cope with nature. And since Adam is under God’s control , disobeying God will put him in punishment. When he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit , they angered God , and they were punished . Adam was to suffer, search , and work hard to survive , Eve was to obey Adam and they both were to leave heaven and go to Earth. In the Pomo Indian story , the description of the Earth being tied around Marumda’s ear hole , indicates that its his possession and he is in control of it. As for the Aztec story, the death , creation of animals ,rebirth of humans from bones and a God’s blood drop was all due to the Gods’ decisions and battles.
In conclusion, these ideas , themes and views suggest ancient cultures and religions respected nature and saw man as a ruler of nature that is completely responsible for it and should not misuse it

By Nasim Al Sawalma

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This entry was posted in CCR exchange: Stanford-AUC, Fall 2010: Creation Stories and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Human and the Environment-Genesis,Pomo Indian and Aztec creation stories

  1. Hyunsuk Shawn Yoo says:

    Overall, I thought it was very awesome that you found interesting themes such as interdepence of human and nature and interpreted it in a bigger picture of “human responsibility.” However, I think that viewing “responsibility” as a common idea is a bit forced. I would very much appreciate if you could explain to me in more detail about the responsibility of humans in the Indian creation story. In that story, I thought that responsibility pertained to the creator, not the human. Also since I don’t know the Aztec story, I would like to hear from you what the story was! -Hyunsuk Shawn Yoo

  2. Jose Gutierrez says:

    I found the idea of creation evolving from violence in the Aztec story very interesting due to the fact that the Aztecs were known for their bellicose traditions. Moreover, this begs the question of whether the Aztec creation story was influenced by their traditions or if Aztec traditions were influenced by the story. I’m not sure how it actually worked out, but I’d be interested in finding out.
    On another note, it seems as if the creation stories place a greater burden on man than nature. While man and nature are shown to be interdependent, man is described as a steward, and nature is portrayed as something brittle and fleeting that cannot support itself. However, this is not necessarily true since nature existed long before humans began writing these stories. I would like to know if there is any evidence to the contrary that would show nature on an equal level as humans.

  3. Darren Jindal says:

    In some ways, I agree with Jose. Science tells us that the earth existed without humans for quite a while. Although some creation stories disregard this, I believe that it is necessary to include this in our analysis of these stories. We can really see the difference between our modern attitude towards nature and the predominant attitude in creation stories.

    I do agree with you Nasim, that most creation stories portray man as respectful of nature and responsible for it.

  4. Natalie says:

    im a dork

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