Chapter 17

What About Creation, Flood, and Language Division Legends?

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Introduction

Nearly every culture around the world has a creation legend, and just as many have worldwide flood legends, and, believe it or not, there are even many language division legends around the world in different and diverse cultures.

In today’s highly secularized culture, there are attacks on the Bible using these legends. Those who do not trust what the Bible plainly says often speculate that the Bible’s discussion about creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel are just more legends and determine that the Bible cannot be trusted. What these attackers fail to realize is that these legends are a great confirmation of the Bible and that the Bible retains the true account recorded by God in His Word. From a historical perspective, these legends make perfect sense and are consistent with a biblical worldview, but it is hard to explain all these legends from a secular evolutionary worldview — people supposedly evolved and slowly filled the earth with a gradual changing of languages and no global Flood. Why then should we find so many common threads in so many accounts from all over the world? The evolutionary explanation fails to provide a reason for commonality, whereas the biblical one does.

The Nature of “Legends”

Of course, many of these legends have been distorted and have become highly mythologized and embellished over time; and these embellishments are to be expected as people dispersed from Babel and the knowledge of God and mankind’s early history was forgotten or turned into folklore. Many have common themes involving mankind being created from clay; a remnant understanding of God (i.e., a “god”) as angry with mankind for some reason; large boats (or rafts) being constructed to survive a coming flood, often foretold to the hero by this “god”; animals being collected by the hero in order to survive the coming deluge, and so on. Many of these legends sometimes still bear striking resemblances in many particulars to biblical accounts.

Many, though, are drastically different and show corruption from an original account, as one would expect from an orally passed-down story. Others show details that seem to be in direct contrast to the biblical accounts of creation and the Flood. We see numerous examples of “gods” being killed to create the physical earth and/or heavens, mankind given power by the “gods” to create the animals, mankind re-creating the earth after the Flood, animals that rescue people from the Flood, and so on. Some of these may be the result of distortion over time, while others may be a deliberate attempt by post-Babel peoples to reshape the world and the “gods” in their own image. Romans chapter 1 clearly shows that human hearts and minds willfully suppress the true God and make up one in their own image, or in the image of animals (see also Genesis 8:21; Exodus 32:4–8; 1 Kings 12:28–33; and Jeremiah 17:5–9).

Legends from Genesis 1–11 That Confirm the Bible

There is no way to exhaustively cover this topic in such a short article, as there are literally hundreds of books detailing these creation, Flood, and language division legends. Rather, ten of each will be discussed in the following tables.

Creation Legends


Who

Where

Quote

1

Mosotene

Bolivia, South America

“Dobitt created the world. He made it in the shape of a great raft which floats in space supported by innumerable spirits. Then Dobitt created mankind to live in the world. He made images out of clay and gave them life, and then went off to live in the sky. Later Dobitt returned and made animals and birds. He carried a big basket full of water and spilled it out here and there over the earth to make the rivers.” Authority: Leacha

2

Lenape or Delaware Native Americans

United States, North America

“In the beginning, forever, lost in space was the Great Manito. He made the earth and the sky. He made the sun, moon, and stars. He made everything move in harmony. Then the wind blew violently, it became lighter and water flowed strongly and from afar, and groups of islands emerged and remained. Once again the Great Manito spoke, one Manito to other Manitos, to mortal creatures, spirits and all. All creatures were friendly with one another at that time.” Authority: Maclaganb

3

Zuni Native Americans

United States, North America

“The creator Awonawilona conceived in himself the thought and the thought took shape and got out into space, and through this it stepped out into the void, into outer space and from this came nebulae of growth and mist, full of power and growth.” Awonawilona then made “motherearth” and “father-sky.” Authority: Maclagan

4

Ona

Argentina, South America

“Temaukl always existed. He created the earth and sky, and there was no time when Temaukl was not. Kenos was the first man, sent into the world by Temaukl to put things in order. So Kenos created the plants and animals and gave the Ona their land.” Authority: Leach

5

Ekoi

Nigeria, Africa

“One day in the beginning of the world, Obassi Osaw made a man and a woman and brought them down to live upon the earth. He placed them here in the green world and then went back into the sky. He returned to see how they were getting along. ‘What have you eaten? What have you had to drink?’ Obassi asked them. ‘Nothing’ they replied. Then Obassi dug a ditch, drew forth a jar full of water and poured the water into the ditch. This was the first river. The next thing he did was to plant a palm kernel which he carried in his hand. ‘Drink the water. Take care of the Palm tree.’ So the man and woman watched the palm tree grow and tended it with care and love. After a while great clusters of yellow fruit ripened. When Obassi saw this, ‘This is your food’ he said to the man and woman.” Authority: Leach

6

Lozi

Zambia, Africa

“In the beginning, Nyambi lived on earth with his wife Nasi-lele. As god, he made the birds and all of the animals and fishes. One thing Nyambi made was different, and it was a man. The first man’s name was Kamonu. One day Kamonu fixed a spear for himself. He killed an antelope and did not stop there. He killed again and again. ‘Man!’ Nyambi shouted ‘What you do is wrong. You are killing your brothers’ So Nyambi gave him a place to plant and grow things to calm man.” Authority: Hamiltonc

7

Norse

Scandinavia and Northern Europe

“In Norse mythology, a foggy void between the lands of fire (Muspell) and ice (Niflheim) produced a primeval cow Audumbla, and the Frost Giant Ymir. The cow licked at ice and eventually uncovered the ‘god’ Buri. Ymir produced frost giants as he slept, and Buri married one of Ymirs daughters. Ymir was later killed by Odin, a grandson of Buri. Ymir’s flesh became the earth, his bones the mountains, his teeth became rocks and his blood became rivers, lakes, and seas. Mankind was created later by three gods; Odin gave them life, Vili gave them intelligence, and Ve gave them the five senses.” Authority: Cotterel and Stormd

8

Babylon

Middle East

“Apsu (primeval water) and Tiamat (chaos and salt-water) created the great gods, who begat other gods. These gods danced and made noise, so that Apsu wanted to destroy them so that he and Tiamat could rest. One of the gods Ea cast a spell on Apsu which caused him to sleep, and then Ea killed him. Tiamat produced monsters so that they could avenge Apsu on the gods. Ea’s son Marduk promised to kill Tiamat if he was given supreme power by the other gods. They agreed and Marduk trapped Tiamat in a net and killed her with an arrow and a whirlwind. He cut her body in half and with the two halves, made the sky and the earth. Later he made man out of the blood of Tiamat’s second husband Kingu.” Authority: Hamilton

9

Tahitians

Polynesia

“Ta-aroa lived alone in a shell shaped like an egg. The egg revolved in dark empty space for ages. Then came a new time when Ta-aroa broke out of the egg. Being so by himself, he made the god Tu. Tu became Ta-aroa’s great helper in the wonderful work of creation. Taaroa and Tu made gods to fill every place. They made the universe and they brought forth land and creatures. Last, they created man to live on the earth.” Authority: Hamilton

10

Greece

Southern Europe

“In the days of old there was only chaos. Out of chaos arose the earth Gaia, and out of earth rose Uranus the sky god with whom she mated to produce the Titans who ultimately deposed Uranus.” The Titans were later led by Cronos who was overthrown by Zeus and the rest of the classical Greek pantheon of gods. Much later, a Titan named Prometheus created man out of clay and water; while even later, Zeus ordered Hephaistos to create woman, more or less as a punishment for mankind for having been given fire by Prometheus. Authority: Leach; Cotterell and Storm

a. Maria Leach, The Beginning: Creation Myths Around the World (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1956), p. 127–139, 234–235.

b. David Maclagan, Creation Myths: Man’s Introduction to the World (London: Thames and Hudson, 1977), p. 15, 78–79.

c. Virginia Hamilton, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 1988), p. 65–67, 83–85, 101–103.

d. Arthur Cotterell and Rachel Storm, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology (Lanham, MD: Anness Publishing, 1999).

Flood Legends


Who

Where

Quote

1

Aztec

Central America

“Humanity was wiped out by a flood, but one man Coxcoxtli and one woman Xochiquetzal escaped in a boat, and reached a mountain called Colhuacan.” Authority: Shepparda

2

Hindu (Sanskrit)

India

“The God Brahma, in the form of a fish told Manu who had cared for him many years: ‘the dissolution of all moving and unmoving things of earth is near. This deluge of the worlds is approaching . . . all ends in violent water. A boat is to be built by you, furnished with a sturdy cord. There with the seven Rsis, sit Great Manu and take with you all the seeds, preserving them in portions.’ ” Manu did as instructed and waited in the boat after it was built, and he and the Rsis were preserved in the boat by Brahma while the entire earth was flooded. The boat landed on a peak of the Himalayas. Authority: Martinb

3

Karina

Venezuela South America

“The sky-god Kaputano came down to the kingdom of the Karina. ‘Children, hear me well. Soon a great rain will fall on the earth and will cover all with water.’ Only four couples listened, as the rest scoffed, declaring that there wouldn’t be any flood. Kaputano and the eight people began building a very large canoe, and when they were done they went around gathering two of every animal to put on board. They also brought seeds from every plant on earth. Once they were done they got on board and it began to rain, and it rained for many, many days. Soon the entire earth was flooded. Eventually the rain stopped and the water began to recede and the land began to dry. The four couples exited their canoe but the world was destroyed. Kaputano asked how the Karina would like the world remade, and they asked for rivers and hills and trees, which Kaputano made for them.” Authority: Martin

4

Babylon

Middle East

Utnapishtim related to Gilgamesh how the god Ea told him to build a boat to escape a worldwide flood the other gods were sending to wipe out mankind. It was to be a 30x30 cubit boat in the shape of a cube. He was instructed by Ea to also bring two of every animal, and water and provisions. He obeyed and after loading the boat, with his cargo, his wife and a captain to pilot the boat, the rains came and lasted for 7 days. All, the earth was flooded and destroyed, but 12 days later dry land began to appear. Utnapishtim waited 7 more days then sent out a dove, then a swallow which both returned, then a raven which did not. After this, Utnapishtim unloaded all the animals from the Ark. He offered a sacrifice to the gods and he and his wife were granted immortality. Authority: Martin

5

Bahnars

China

“Once a crab and a kite had an argument. The kite pecked the crab so hard that he pierced the crab’s shell. To avenge this great insult, the crab caused the waters of the sea to swell. They swelled so much that everything on earth was destroyed, except for a brother and a sister, who survived by locking themselves in a huge chest. Because they were afraid that everything would perish forever, they brought on board two of every animal. After 7 days they heard a rooster crowing outside the chest (which the ancestors had sent) and knew it was safe to come out.” Authority: Martin

6

Greece

Southern Europe

“One Day Prometheus came to Deucalion and told him ‘Zeus was going to destroy all the men of this bronze age. Build yourself a chest of wood so that you and your wife may survive.’ Deucalion did just that and after he had provisioned it, took his wife aboard with him. Zeus caused a great flood which destroyed everything.” Authority: Martin

7

Hareskin Tribe

NWT, Western Canada

“Kunyan (Wise Man) resolved to build a great raft. When his wife asked him why he would build it, he said ‘If there comes a flood, as I foresee, we shall take refuge on the raft.’ He told his plan to other men on the earth and they laughed at him saying, ‘If there is a flood we shall take refuge in the trees.’ But Kunyan made a great raft, joining the logs together by ropes made of roots. Suddenly there came a flood such that the like of it had never been seen before. Men climbed up into trees, but the water rose after them and all were drowned. But Kunyan, his wife and his son floated safely on his strong raft. As he floated he thought of the future, and he gathered two of all the animals he met with on his passage. ‘Come up on my raft, for soon there will be no more earth’ he said. Indeed the earth disappeared under the water. The Wise Man told a beaver to dive down into the waters and see what he could find. The beaver returned with a piece of mud. Kunyan took the mud into his hand and breathed on it and it began to grow. So he laid it on the water, kept it from sinking and watched as it continued to grow. Later, after a long time, it grew to the size of the land as it was before the flood. Then Kunyan, his wife and son, and all the animals came off the raft and repopulated the world.” Authority: Frazierc

8

Rotti

West Timor, Indonesia

“Once, the sea-god became angry with mankind and decided to flood the whole earth. In fact the entire earth was destroyed except for the peak of one mountain. A man and his sister along with several animals had escaped to the high mountain and there survived. However, there was nowhere to go, so they asked the sea-god to bring the waters back down. He refused unless they could find a creature whose hairs he could not number. After throwing into the waters a pig, goat, dog, and hen, all of whose hairs the sea-god could number, they finally threw in a cat and the sea-god gave up and agreed that the waters could recede. He then caused an osprey to fly over the mountain, sprinkling dirt on the water. The dirt became dry land and the man, his sister, and the animals were able to descend the mountain.” Authority: Martin

9

Montagnais Tribe

Quebec and Labrador, East Canada

“A race of giants was destroying the earth, and God, angry with them for it, commanded a man to build a very large canoe. The man did as he was told and as soon as he entered in the water rose on all sides until no land could be seen in any direction. Bored with the scenery, the man told an otter to dive down into the waters and see what he could find. The otter returned with a piece of earth. The man took the earth into his hand and breathed on it and it began to grow. So he laid it on the water, kept it from sinking and watched as it continued to grow. As it grew the man saw that it was becoming an island. The man decided that the earth was not yet large enough so he continued to blow on it. In time all of the lakes, mountains, and rivers were formed, and the man knew it was time to leave the canoe.” Authority: Martin

10

Lake Tyers Aborigines

Victoria, Australia

“Once upon a time, a huge frog swallowed all the water of the world and everyone was thirsty. Because of this all the animals took a poll and decided that the best way to make the frog give the water back was to make him laugh. So they all took turns playing pranks and cutting up in front of him. They were so hilarious that everyone else would have died laughing, but the frog did not even smile. Finally, as a last resort the eel wriggled about dancing and swaying as it stood on its tail. Not even the glum frog could watch this without laughing. He laughed and laughed until tears ran down his cheeks. The water poured from his mouth and soon became a flood. The waters rose killing many people. In fact all of mankind would have drowned, if the pelican had not paddled about in a canoe, rescuing survivors as he went.” Authority: Martin

a. Pam Sheppard, “Tongue Twisting Tales,” Answers in Genesis, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v3/n2/tongue-twisting-tales.

b. Charles Martin, Flood Legends: Global Clues of a Common Event (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2009), p. 126–129, 131–143.

c. James George Frazier, Folklore in the Old Testament: Studies in Comparative Religion (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2010), p. 310–312.

Language Splitting/Tower of Babel Legends


Who

Where

Quote

1

Maidu Natives

Western North America

“Suddenly in the night everybody began to speak in a different tongue except that each husband and wife talked the same language. . . . Then he called each tribe by name, and sent them off in different directions, telling them where they were to dwell.” Authority: Shepparda

2

Quiches

Central America

“When the tribes multiplied and left their old home to a place called Tulan. Here the language changed, and the people sought new homes in various parts of the world as a result of not being able to understand each other.” Authority: Sheppard

3

Wa-Sania

East Africa

“That of old all the tribes of the earth knew only one language, but that during a severe famine the people went mad and wandered in all directions, jabbering strange words, and so the different languages arose.” Authority: Sheppard

4

Mikir

Northeastern India

“Higher and higher rose the building, till at last the gods and demons feared lest these giants should become the masters of heaven, as they already were of earth. So they confounded their speech, and scattered them to the four corners of the world. Hence arose all the various tongues of mankind.” Authority: Sheppard

5

Greece

Southern Europe

“For many ages men lived at peace, without cities and without laws, speaking one language, and ruled by Zeus alone. . . . At last Hermes introduced diversities of speech and divided mankind into separate nations.” Authority: Sheppard

6

Polynesia

Pacific Island of Hao

“They made an attempt to erect a building by which they could reach the sky, and see the creator god Vatea [Atea]; but the god in anger chased the builders away, broke down the building, and changed their language, so that they spoke diverse tongues.” Authority: Sheppard

7

Sumerians

Middle East

“In those days . . . the whole universe, the people in unison. . . . Enki, the Lord of abundance. . . . Changed the speech in their mouths, and [brought?] contention into it, Into the speech of man that [until then] had been one.” Authority: Sheppard

8

Gaikho

Southeast Asia

“In the days of Pan-dan-man, the people determined to build a pagoda that should reach up to heaven. . . . When the pagoda was half way up to heaven, God came down and confounded the language of the people, so that they could not understand each other. Then the people scattered, and Than-maurai, the father of the Gaikho tribe, came west, with eight chiefs, and settled in the valley of the Sitang.” Authority: Sheppard

9

Greece

Southern Europe

“In the days of old the gods had the whole earth distributed among them by allotment. There was no quarrelling; for you cannot rightly suppose that the gods did not know what was proper for each of them to have, or, knowing this, that they would seek to procure for themselves by contention that which more properly belonged to others. They all of them by just apportionment obtained what they wanted and people to their own districts. . . . Now different gods had their allotments in different places which they set in order.”b

10

Inca

Western South America

“In the story of the creator god Virachocha, he created the second race of human beings from clay — the earth. Having painted his creations with distinctive clothes and given them different languages and customs that would distinguish them, he breathed life into them and caused them to descend into the earth and disperse.”c

a. Pam Sheppard, “Tongue Twisting Tales,” Answers in Genesis, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v3/n2/tongue-twisting-tales.

b. Plato, Critias, in Great Books of the Western World, vol. 7, ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1952), p. 479.

c. David M. Jones, The Lost History of the Incas (Leicester: Hermes House, 2007), p. 198.

Conclusion

The Bible records the true account of creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel. The more we find legends from cultures around the world that contain elements of these actual events, the more excited the Christian should be to connect these confirmations to the Bible’s truth. As people left Babel, they took their history with them. Therefore, we would expect to find cultures with this history of Creation, Catastrophe, and Confusion, and we would expect it to be corrupted, unlike the Bible, whose word will never pass away (Luke 21:33).

Even many atheists have a massive flood legend. The problem with their flood legend is that it is said to have happened on Mars, while insisting that there is not enough water on earth for a global Flood! The primary reason they reject a global flood on earth is that it gives credence to truthfulness of God’s Word, which they do not want due to their religious convictions.

The New Answers Book 4

Building on the previous New Answers Books, learn more about the Gospel and a young earth, death of plants and leaves, dragons, religious wars, cavemen, science, living fossils, and more.

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