Pan Gu vs. Genesisby Rit Nosotro
Compare the creation accounts of China's Pan Gu vs. Genesis and extrapolate the underlying cosmology of the societies that authored them.
How does the story of creation affect world views around the world? Accounts
vary greatly - from a giant egg with eventually became the earth, to nothingness,
in which there was only God, who spoke the world into being.
The Chinese account begins with chaos in the shape of a giant black egg. In the midst of it was a being named Pan Gu. After 18 thousand years, Pan Gu awoke. Feeling cramped, he used an axe to break the shell of the egg. The two parts of the egg separated and the light part (white) became the sky while the heavy part (yolk) became the earth. For the next 18 thousand years, Pan Gu stood between the heavens and the earth to keep them apart. When he died, his breath became the wind and clouds, his blood the rivers, his voice the thunder, his eyes the sun and moon, his body mountains, and so on. One version of this account says that the fleas and lice which had been living on him were the ancestors of man.
This account appears to indicate a culture in which the wind, water, mountains, sun, moon, etc. would be worshipped because they were all, at one time, part of the man who founded the earth and kept the sky from growing back onto it. It does not appear that this society would believe in any god(s). Where could they come from? Such a view of the world would probably lead to a society where there would be few absolute laws, because there would be nothing to base them on. Without any higher authority, who cares if they break all the laws? There would be nobody to punish lawbreakers, except the government, either in this life or after death. It seems logical to think the Chinese believed that after death, they simply became part of the earth, just like Pan Gu. It also seems logical that, since the Chinese viewed the world as having come from chaos, they would view the universe as being chaotic.
The Christian account is found in the Bible, in the book of Genesis. “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 water. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:1-3). According to the Bible, God created the heaven, earth and light the first day, the second he created dry land, the third, plants, the fourth, the sun, moon, and stars, the fifth, aquatic creature. The sixth day he created land animals. Also on the sixth day, God created man in his own (God's) image. He created all things simply by speaking.
The Christian account comes from a very different culture, where the inspired Word of God, the Bible, is the rule of life. "The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him....The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God and what duties God requires of man." (Westminster Shorter Catechism, answers to questions #2 and #3) In this culture, the people worship one God, the creator. The laws are unchangeable, because they come from the Bible. For Christians, death leads to a second life, in which they are immortal and live in heaven with God. The universe is an exquisitely designed machine designed to work exactly as it does.
These two accounts of creation are quite different; in fact, the only real similarity between them is that they both tell about how the world came to be. The one says it came from chaos, the other that it came from nothing when God spoke. One says that the sun and moon came from Pan Gu’s eyes, the other that God spoke them into being. There is no place for any gods in the Chinese account, but Christians say that without God, absolutely nothing would exist. The Chinese version says that after death a person becomes a part of the earth, while the Christian account says that after death, Christians go to heaven and unbelievers to hell. One says that the universe is originally chaotic, the other says that it was made by an orderly God and is therefore orderly.
Bible, The. Old King James Version. Sept. 18-19, 2003
Morgana's Observatory Sept. 19, 2003
Westminster Assembly "Westminster Shorter Catechism" Sept 19, 2003 Related
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