Human Beings and the Environment: Genesis, the Pomo Indian Story, and the Egyptian creation story.

Creation stories should be used to teach the children about their responsibilities towards the environment because they show that human beings are intimately connected to their surroundings and that their existence is interdependent. The repetition of the same ideas across stories from different cultures suggests that early man understood that he needed the environment to fulfill his needs and to survive.

All three creation stories share the same beginning that everything was created from nothingness or darkness. For example, in Genesis, the earth was filled with darkness when God said, “Let there be light”. In addition, in the Egyptian creation story, “at first there was only Nun, the primal ocean of chaos that contained the beginnings of everything to come “. Therefore, it is the man’s responsibility to take care of the environment, or else it will bring us back to that nothingness. For example, the greater Cairo area, home to 15 million people, has the worst air pollution in Egypt. Its most notable sources are transportation, industry and open-air waste-burning; activities that man does without considering their effect on the environment. As a result, many people are now suffering from fatal health problems such as lung cancer and heart disease problems. In addition, pollution contributes to global warming which causes climate changes threatening man’s existence and destroying agriculture, man’s food. Therefore, dark times will await man if he does not start taking care of the environment. This argument would appeal to a child’s sense of fear, so he will try his best to take care of his surroundings, afraid of what would happen to him and his children in the future if he does otherwise.

Furthermore, man was created after the environment in all creation stories. In Genesis, God created man after he grew trees from the ground which were pleasant to the sight and good for food to help man survive. In the Pomo Indian story, Marumda and Kuksu planned for “all kinds of food whereby the people will be healthy”. This implies that the environment was created for the man to help him survive; hence, it is the man’s responsibility to sustain the environment in order for it to fulfill its purpose. Otherwise, he will not find any other means of survival because the moment man stops giving to his Mother Nature, it will stop giving back to him. Once more, this appeals to a child’s sense of responsibility.

In Genesis, God gave man the authority to name all the animals and he also gave him the power of knowledge of good and evil. However, man is always tempted to do what he was told not to do. For example, in Genesis, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil even though God clearly commanded them, “You shall not eat of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die”. In addition, in the Egyptian creation story, Geb and Nut married against Ra’s orders. Therefore, it was clearly pointed out in these creation stories that  man should not be abusive of his power and that he should use it to benefit the environment because without the environment, man will not find food to eat, shelter to keep him safe, or clean air to breathe. A child would love to hear that he has got some power over all other living creatures and would love the idea of controlling them; however, he must be taught that he must not exploit any resources. It should be explained to him that man was created from the environment. For example, Adam was created from dust in Genesis, man was created from Kuksu’s armpit wax in the Pomo Indian story, and men were created from Ra’s tears in the Egyptian creation story. Therefore, man is a part of the environment, and by taking care of it, he will be taking care of himself because their existence is interdependent.

In conclusion, man must take care of the environment because it is a part of him and he is a part of it. Neither of them can exist without the other.

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

2 Responses to Human Beings and the Environment: Genesis, the Pomo Indian Story, and the Egyptian creation story.

  1. Angelique Dakkak says:

    In each of the three stories which you discuss in this blog entry, you extract evidence to prove that it is man’s duty to take care of nature. However, could the very opposite not be argued as well through different interpretation? In other words, couldn’t it be argued that because nature was created before man in each of these stories that nature preceded man because it was intended to be man’s main resource for sustenance? Thus, couldn’t it be argued that nature’s duty is to sustain us and ours to consume from its bounty?

  2. ccrvisitor says:

    I think that is the first conclusion that many people have reached;however, it focuses on man as the center or the world. In the creation stories that we read man is created from natural substances which implies that there is a level of equality among the created. If all things are good, then nothing is better.
    Regardless of this interpretation, even if the environment was created for man he ought to take care of it. If not out of responsibility, then out of self-interest.

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