Christianity holds that the Cosmos was brought into being by the Logos, the thoughts or mind of God. The word 'cosmos' is derived from the Greek kosmos, meaning "order" or "ordered universe". The Cosmos is the totality of existence, expressed as an organised system. It implies order as opposed to chaos.
In the opening verses of St John's Gospel we read; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
According to the first verse of Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; the darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters".
The next few verses record how God then created light, day and night, and then all living things; the seas and the land that we live on. This was done in six days and the seventh is given over to rest. We are not given much detail about how God brought all these things into existence, just that He willed it to be. "Let there be light" and so forth, He declared; and so it was. This is in many ways a fairly simple and even simplistic account of one of the most profound of all mysteries. And yet, it provides some extremely important insights into them. In particular, the fact that God existed at the very beginning of time and that he brought about the creation process through an act of will, almost literally thinking or speaking the creation into being.
Tolkein, who sought to create an ‘English’ mythology to complement the Old Testament, explained this very well. ‘Ainulindale’, meaning music of the Ainur, recounts the creation of Arda by the deity Eru Ilúvatar (All-Father). The story begins with a description of the Ainur as ‘children of Ilúvatar's thought’. They are taught the art of music, which becomes the subject of their immortal lives. The Ainur sing alone or in small groups about themes given each of them by Ilúvatar, who proposes a "great" plan for them all: a collaborative symphony where they would sing together in harmony. Although the Ainur embody Ilúvatar’s thoughts, they are expected to use their freedom to assist the development of the "great" plan.
Germanic Creation Mythology
The northern and western Germanic peoples developed a sophisticated understanding of how they saw the Cosmos. They set this down in stories that we now call mythology. These stories changed somewhat over time, and between different tribes, but the main ideas contained in them remained remarkably similar.
The Swedish scholar Viktor Rydberg, writing in the late 19th century, drew a parallel between the Norse creation myths and accounts in Zoroastrian and Vedic mythology, postulating a common Proto-Indo-European origin. While many of Rydberg's theories were dismissed as fanciful by later scholars his work on comparative mythology was sound to a large extent. Zoroastrian mythology does have a primeval ox which is variously said to be male or female and comes into existence in the middle of the earth along with the primeval man.
As mythology, these stories should not be taken as being literally true - they were not intended to be. They took forms that the ordinary people listening to them could understand. As such, they form a vital part of our folk culture.
At the heart of all things, and all time, lies the formless void we call Ginnungagap - the yawning gap. This is remarkably similar to the Genesis account, ‘and the earth was without form and void’.
As the divine energies stirred; the first processes of creation began, represented in mythology as two equal and opposite forces; primal fire and eternal ice. Through the interaction of these two forces, a primal substance of matter was formed. This is represented in mythology as Ymir, a sleeping giant; barren and sterile. The inert primal substance of Ymir was transformed into a living cosmic substance, represented mythologically as the great cow of nourishment, Audumla. She produces great rivers of milk from which the giant fed. Her licking at the salty ice represents some form of cosmic "catalyst", the change mechanism that triggers the creation process.
As Audumla licks the ice from Ymir, a being called Buri is released. Buri is depicted as another giant and in turn has a 'son' called Bor who 'marries' Bestla, the 'daughter' of a giant. Bor and Bestla give rise to the three gods; Woden, Willa and Weoh (Odin, Villi and Ve).
The formation of Buri represents the creation of active matter out of the inert primal substance represented by Ymir. It is matter which has been transformed by God and through which the spirit of God permeates. It is from this matter that all things have been shaped, represented by Bor and Bestla.
Our ancestors called the divine wisdom and creative inspiration 'Woden'. They called the divine Will to carry this out 'Willa' and they called the perfection of all creation in the unity of God, 'Weoh', or holiness. They saw the divine energy as thunder, and called it Thunnor or Thor. Indeed, the act of creation can be seen as a sudden burst of cosmic energy, like a clap of thunder. Mythology tells of how Thor is in a constant battle with Giants, the forces of chaos, to maintain order.
Giants do not represent evil. They are the raw energy of the cosmos that have been responsible for shaping our world. They represent volcanic action, earthquakes and major changes in climate bring about terrible destruction, but are also the processes by which new lands are created. But the power represented by the giants can still be very destructive even where the longer term effects are positive. Natural disasters occur as a result of these forces.
The EFC teaches that God exists within, throughout and separately to the cosmos. His overarching nature is to create form out of nothingness, to bring light out of darkness and order out of the chaos. Our ancestors called this nature of God 'Orlog'; the primal reality or law that transcends all reality. It is the ‘divine law’. The underlying nature of God does not change and to live in harmony with it, is to live in harmony with the cosmos. Thus was the divine Logos revealed to our ancestors through the personalities of our folk gods and our folk mythologies. It is the Logos who brought about creation out of chaos and it is the Logos who constantly struggles to prevent that creation from reverting back to the chaos of Ginnungagap. This is depicted in our mythology of the struggles of Thor against the ‘giants’ of chaos.
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