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Cosmogony Essay, Research Paper


Nathan Wells

Mrs. Davis

CP Eng. 12

Oct. 8, 2000

Wells 4

Brandon, S.G.F. Dictionary of Comparative Religion. New York: Charles Scribner’s

Sons, 1970.

“Cosmogony.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1990 ed.

Wells 1

Nathan Wells

Mrs. Davis

CP Eng. 12

Oct. 8, 2000


Different religions view the idea of how the world was created, or cosmogony, in different ways. China holds many cosmogonies, but they all revolve around the same ideas. Egypt’s cosmogony was motivated by the desire that their God created all other gods. The views of people define the cosmogony in Greece, mostly of Homer. Cosmogony in the Hebrew religion is defined in the first two chapters of Genesis(Brandon 208). Japanese cosmogonic mythology has its beginnings of myths that one can trace way back. Some views of the different religions remain the same, but most views differ from each other.

Chinese philosophical interest was centered on human affairs. Egypt was motivated to show that divine fiat conceives cosmic creation (Brandon 208). The Greek philosophy concerned itself with considering origin and constitution of the universe. Some cosmological ideas in the Hebrew religion represent the creation of the universe by divine fiat (Brandon 208). Divine fiat is defined when God said ‘Let there be light’; and there was light (qtd. in “Cosmogony”). Pentateuch and Yahwist deal with the creation and the fall of Adam. Shinto produced another cosmogony that presents a division in the universe. The upper world consisted of gods and everlasting bliss. The middle world included man on the surface of the earth. The lower world of

Wells 2

darkness, known as Yomi, which possesses evil spirits that live under rule of earth-mother (Brandon 210).

According to the Huai-Nantzu, in China, the universe of space and time arose before Heaven and Earth took shape. The earliest Egyptian cosmogony presented Atum as the creator and Heliopolis as the place. The Greeks believed Hesiod also explains evolution of mankind as a series of Five Ages. Yahwist, in the Hebrew religion accounts on the creation of the world by an editor who fused Pentateuch and Yahwist into continuous writings of divine creation. The Japanese believed the world of forms to be formed from emanations proceeding from the Dhyani-Buddha (”Cosmogony”).

The Han Dynasty founded the first fully developed cosmogonies for China. This naturalistic cosmogony taught that the origin of the all things lay in the Great Ultimate. The Great Ultimate produced two forces of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang combined to form four emblems, which then produced the Eight Trigrams. The Eight Tigrams resulted in all the phenomena of the world (Brandon 207). From the essence of Heaven and Earth, Yin and Yang transformed all the future events into existence(”Cosmogony”). Egypt was motivated to show that their own particular god had to be the Creator of all other gods. They also wanted to prove that their temple stood on the original site of creation. Since Egypt was hung up on the gods, they spent little time on the creation of man. They usually imagined men as being made out of clay on a potter’s wheel by Khnum. Homer named Oceanus, the primordial water, as the begetter of all. Zeus, the Chief of the Olympic gods, is never presented as the Creator. Hesiod also

Wells 3

explains evolution of mankind as a series of Five Ages. Also, many Greeks believed that creation of man was performed by Prometheus (Brandon 208). The Hebrew religion omits cosmic creation. Yahwist represents Yahweh by making man out of clay, as Khnum does in Egypt (Brandon 208). The myths of Izanagi and Izanami, in Japan, recorded cosmogonies in the Kojiki and the Nohongi. The beginning of the Nihongi borrows the Chinese idea of Yin and Yang(”Cosmogony”).

In conclusion, many people and many religions view the notion of cosmogony differently. Some ideas remain the same throughout the religions, but many more of the ideas differ from each other. Many ideas of cosmogony that people compare and contrast include where creation took place, how man was created, and how god is viewed and worshiped.

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