Friday 22 July 2011

Creation — a bad move?

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Many races believe that it was created by some sort of God, though the Jatravartid people of Viltvodle Six firmly believe that the entire Universe was in fact sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure. The Jatravartids, who live in perpetual fear of the time they called The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief, are small blue creatures with more than fifty arms each, who are therefore unique in being the only race in history to have invented the aerosol deodorant before the wheel.1
As creation myths go, that's pretty ridiculous, but compare it to this (more or less random) alternative:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.2
It then goes on a bit, tending to lose its way regarding the logical order of events, but we can cut it some slack as it's a myth. But the point of contrasting these two accounts of how things got started is to show that neither is more likely or more convincing than the other. It's possible to pick holes in both stories: the first one, for instance, simply states the creation of the Universe as bald fact — this is not exactly explanatory. The second example does exactly the same: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." It just happened. It was done, by this character called "God" who is simply assumed to be there without any sort of explanation of who he was or where he came from.

Both examples may yield some insight from the application of literary criticism — but as explanations of how things came to be, they are equally misleading and uninformative. If you're seeking an explanation that correlates with reality, I suggest you look elsewhere.

1. The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (original radio scripts), Douglas Adams, London 1985, Pan Books, p 90, "Fit the Fifth"
2. The Bible, Authorised King James Version, "Genesis" chapter 1, verses 1-5