Models Of Reality

Models Of Reality “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” (Gen 1:1). These words, along with the rest in Genesis, and for that matter, the rest of the bible, seem to give a very definite image of our Christian God as an entity clearly different from the humans he creates. Although He may walk and talk with Adam and Eve through the Garden of Eden at the beginning of Genesis, He soon exits the human world to a more ethereal place far off in the heavens. Similarly, the creation stories from the tribal people in the Indian state Orissa seem to hold the same concept that their gods too had at one time or another taken a physical part in the creation of their world, but they also went to “live in the sky.” The traditional two-worlds model of reality states that some regions of reality, or “worlds”, are qualitatively different from others. Often times, humans equate this model of reality of God (or gods) with perfection and paradise, while the reality of humans is devoted to the attainment of this “other world.” These ten creation stories support the long held belief in a two-worlds model of reality and that, although humans cannot remove themselves from one reality to another, they can be conscious of it and have interactions with it (or those in it may interact with them). According to these creation stories, as well as Genesis and Gilgamesh, in the very beginning, there was but one reality, that of the gods.

The stories then usually go that the gods either wanted somebody to keep them company or worship to them (or both), so, in their infinite wisdom, the gods created humanity. This very creation of man is very interesting in that many of the stories employ very similar methods for the actual creation process. In the first of these ten creation stories, the gods all take a little of their blood and a little of the dirt on their bodies and, after a few incantations, fabricate man. The creation of Enkidu by Aruru in Gilgamesh is very similar as she creates him “out of earth and divine spittle the double” (Gilgamesh 5). Even the Christian story of the creation of Adam entails similar characteristics when God “formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen 2:7).

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This reoccurring theme of man being formed from the ground seems to strengthen the thought that his (i.e. man’s) only reality can be the one he spends on earth, in tangible, physical space, and that the gods are only physically present during the creation of man. The latter two of my previous examples also support the thought of gods living in different, separate realities. In Gilgamesh, the gods obviously live in a different, supposedly “unreachable” reality that none but Gilgamesh (who is part god) may reach. And in the bible, God also eventually removes himself from the world of the living man to Heaven, where only the spirits of men may go.

The part of the two-worlds model of reality that is perhaps most surprising is the amazing likeness of the gods to the humans (or should it be humans to gods?). Not only do the gods shape man in their likeness as clearly stated in the bible or is implied in some of these creation stories, but they also act much in the same ways. In the third creation story, Kittung Mahaprabhu (a supreme being) eats fruit, just like man, something I would never really expect a god to do (i.e. eat). In the fourth creation story Kuraitsum, another god, has body hair which he ends up using to raise up trees and grass (who would ever expect a god to be hairy anyway?). Perhaps the reason for such likeness between god and man, as portrayed in these stories, can best be explained by, if the gods did not have such similar human characteristics, humans could never fully comprehend or quantify the concept of a being greater than themselves.

A good example of this is that people can much more easily relate to Jesus Christ, who was at both times man and God, than they can with the Holy Spirit, a non-physical, ghostly apparition which is also God. It may even be argued that these likenesses between gods and humans are necessary for the concept of a two-world model of reality to even be possible. The amazing likeness of man to gods may also help to explain the seemingly good disposition gods have towards man in these stories. One can reason that gods would have a positive feeling towards their creations just from common sense. I know that if were a great god and I created the entire human race in my likeness, I would want them to do as well as possible.

And, being their creator, I would have an almost obligatory sense of kindness towards them. The Christian concept of God clearly reveals Him as a completely loving and caring god, one with the utmost regard and concern for his creations. The creator gods in the second (Nirantali) and the third (Kittung Mahaprabhu) Orissa creation stories show care and love towards man when they provide the hunters with stones to sharpen their axes with and seeds which bring about the creation of mountains for hill-side farming. However, one may argue that if the gods are so well disposed towards man, why did they in many instances wipe out almost the entire human race with great flood? The best answer to this is that, as with any invention, sometimes the creator messes up the first time and wants to try again. In the cases of the flood, if the gods did not like humans, they would not have bothered to save any who would one day revamp the entire human race.

Human life is not the easiest thing to decipher, break down, and understand. The two-world model of reality helps tremendously in attempting to explain many of the motives and notions which surround the human life and why humans do what they do. These ten creation stories, which have ancient roots in the tribes of India, are just more examples of human attempts to understand and make tangible human life and its purpose and beginnings. By creating a two-world model of reality to separate the gods (the non-understandable and intangible) from man (the understandable and tangible), much is helped to be deciphered, broken down and explained.


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