Talk:Creation myth/Archive 4

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Split up article?

I'm wondering if it might not be better to focus, in this article, on creation myths as a general category instead of such a laundry list of various myths. We could expand the general article to include more of the motifs like creation from a cosmic egg, creation from chaos, etc.. Then we could have a separate article that lists creation myths. Does that sound good to anyone? I'm going to keep plugging in some references in the meantime.Griswaldo (talk) 12:22, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

That's exactly what I have in mind too. I've been slowly plowing toward this myself, but the process is slow going so far because the references I have reserved have been very slow getting to me for some reason, and also because much of the content here is suspect. As I explained above I think everything here needs to be checked for copyright and missing sources need to be supplied. Verifying this content usually requires us to hunt down initial edits to see when the content was first added and whether the sources were once identifiable. And this process is onerous enough just looking through the edit histories here-once they're scattered even further into separate articles, the process becomes even that much more laborious.
Wikipedia uses WP:Categories and WP:Lists for clustering like has been done here, and I think once they're ready, most of these sections can be split off to their own articles. I don't think it's always good to cluster all these myths by geographic location-sometimes yes, but often it's not especially informative to lump them this way. This article should focus on the genre itself, I think. Some of these myths should be used here as examples of features in the genre, but the A to Z catalog should be reduced to a See also. Professor marginalia (talk) 15:05, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Great and I agree. I noticed that some of the sub-motifs here aren't that well developed on their own either. I had to create Earth diver, for instance. Should we flesh out some kind of backbone for how the new entry should look? Gather together some of the related motifs, etc.? Then we can decide on good examples to keep, but we should probably be brief in how we use the examples relying on the main articles to tell the detailed stories when people are interested.Griswaldo (talk) 15:11, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Fantastic. Yes-I agree. Earth diver, the ex nihilo and chaos creation myths, emergence, cosmogonic egg, the creator parent "pair" etc. The Leonard/McClure book also has a nice survey of some other ways of looking at them thematically. Professor marginalia (talk) 16:08, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Related Content

Appears somewhere else already


Should this be in the article? If these were "cosmological" as opposed to "cosmogonic" myths I'd say it belonged but since there is no actual creation I just don't think it should be here. Thoughts?Griswaldo (talk) 11:44, 1 May 2010 (UTC)


According to Jain beliefs, the universe was never created, nor will it ever cease to exist. It is eternal but not unchangeable, because it passes through an endless series of cycles. Each of these upward or downward cycles is divided into six world ages (yugas). The present world age is the fifth age of one of these "cycles", which is in a downward movement. These ages are known as "Aaro" as in "Pehela Aara" or First Age, "Doosra Aara" or Second Age and so on. The last one is the "Chhatha Aara" or Sixth Age. All these ages have fixed time durations of thousands of years.

When this reaches its lowest level, even Jainism itself will be lost in its entirety. Then, in the course of the next upswing, the Jain religion will be rediscovered and reintroduced by new leaders called Tirthankaras (literally "Crossing Makers" or "Ford Finders"), only to be lost again at the end of the next downswing, and so on.

(see: universe history section in the Jainism article.)


  • For two reasons I favour including this in the article. First, I am an inclusionist and, when there is a marginal call, it seems to me better to let readers decide if marginal information is relevant to their search. Second, the cycles could be interpreted as 'destruction and creation' as easily as 'upward and downward' since "even Jainism itself will be lost". Starting again from scratch is very like creation out of primordal chaos. A rose by any other name smells as sweet. Abtract (talk) 13:24, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Regarding inclusionism - there is a main entry already covering Jain "non-creation" so we wouldn't be taking anything out of the encyclopedia per se. Also we need to change this entry rather drastically to cover the basics of creation myths without all the examples. The idea would be splitting the laundry list out of this article. I do agree however with what I think your main point is about this subject matter being related and of interest here. I think in the new article we can include a section on myths like the Jain one (with it as prime example) as something related that does not fit exactly. What do we call such myths? Another question that comes up is what do scholars call the Jain myth?Griswaldo (talk) 13:29, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Well, I'm in favor of cleaning this up and splitting off most of these here now because a complete and comprehensive description of all known creation myths would fill a bookshelf. But that said, Leeming calls the Jain story a "non-creation creation myth". Professor marginalia (talk) 15:40, 1 May 2010 (UTC)


Does Neopaganism use any creation myths? (talk) 04:21, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

surely it would depend on who you worship? i though paganism was just a polytheistic religion? (if it can even be called that) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:16, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Chipping away at this

I've been plugging away at this bit by bit. A good deal of it, but not all, is clean enough to be kicked loose. I think all the existing subsections should be in their own articles (they'll be stubs, most of them). The article here can't be describing any and every creation myth on Planet Earth, and until they're gone there is no scaffolding for a coherent article discussing themes, theories, etc. By their very nature, coming mostly from non-textual, oral traditions, these myths come in a myriad of variations, and spellings! Ideally we move them all to existing articles, where they can be identified, and create new articles when needed. I'd like to see new categories for creation myths; categories based on geography and theme, such as "earth diver myths" or "ex nihilo myths". And then this article takes on more of a comparative mythology analysis angle than the "catalog of every creation myth ever told" angle. So I'll begin kicking loose those I've checked for sources and copyright vio's to stand-alones. It would be great if some savvy editor set up a few new categories (or category tree) to help make sure they don't get lost once they're on their own. Professor marginalia (talk) 04:16, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

When you "kick stuff loose", please at least LINK to the article instead of simply deleting stuff...I've come here to get an overview of creation myths, which I now can't. How am I supposed to get an overview if I don't know which creation myths are even covered by Wikipedia? For example, I never even heard of the "Bakuba". Since you now deleted the entry about their creation myth in this article, I would have never found out about their beliefs had I not checked the history of this article and then searched for the separate entry (which I found with a slight detour when I was first directed to some Iraqi city) where I found the link to the main deity which in return also sports the creation myth...Either you add links to everything you've removed, or I'm in favor of returning this site to the state it was in before you crippled it. One could think that there were no creation myths in Europe from looking at this entry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:06, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

i agree, until it has been discussed properly then there should be no major changes, and at the very least a list of all the subsections you deleted should have been made —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:19, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Please check the [ [Category:Creation myths] ] page which should keep these in a more appropriate itemized collection. The category page is linked, and nothing that isn't either unsourced or redundant is being deleted. The article isn't encyclopedic in this fashion: it's too much an ethnographic myth archive or catalog. And as an article it's far too big and disjointed to be useful except as a collection, which isn't the mission of the encyclopedia but more appropriate for wikisource. I'd welcome any help with cataloging to improve the ability of editors to retrieve these from many more angles--the only ones "gone" are those that have languished unsourced for years now, and they're unreliable. Professor marginalia (talk) 04:24, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Oral origins

"Creation myths develop in oral traditions". Is this an invariable rule? Because if it is, then we have to take the Jewish, Christian and Islamic creation stories out - none of them ever went through an oral stage. PiCo (talk) 07:29, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

According to Scott Leonard and Michael McClure in "Myth and Knowing", "The first five books of the Hebrew scriptures, or Torah (Pentateuch in Greek) were, according to Jewish and Christian traditions, attributed to Moses until modern times. Most biblical scholars now agree that the Torah is composed of at least four separate and distinct narratives, compiled from an original oral tradition and eventually written down over the course of several centures." Professor marginalia (talk) 19:58, 3 August 2010 (UTC)
Scott and Mike are a bit behind the times - the "oral tradition" thing is from Gunkel, first half of the 20th century. Current thinking is that someone sat down in about 450 and wrote the whole thing out by hand, based on the Atrahasis myth. Not that I much care. But certainly modern biblical scholars don't think it ever went through an oral phase. PiCo (talk) 22:19, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

North America only?

why is there only a north american section? where is the garden of eden etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:43, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

The article is undergoing a major clean-up and should be restored soon. I believe the plan is to break it up into smaller, more manageable chunks that can be more easily fleshed out and documented. TechBear | Talk | Contributions 00:49, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, sorry that it's a bit of a mess at the moment, but it can't be helped. The clean-out is almost complete, and then the priority is the rebuild. Professor marginalia (talk) 01:23, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
If you're doing a major revision, can I suggest you approach the subject more analytically, by myth-type? There are a few basic types of creation myth: the Cosmic Egg, the Primeval Twins, Primeval Waters of Chaos, maybe more but not many. That approach would allow you to simply refer to various individual myths, rather than summarising them one by one. PiCo (talk) 06:11, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that's exactly the approach to build from. The hitch has been how to dislodge the many years accumulation of the "summarising one by one" without sending them to oblivion or sacrificing a legit licensing history. The "one-by-one" has been an albatross that can't be loosed without considerable backwork and forework. Professor marginalia (talk) 06:29, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

Under construction

This entry is currently going through a major rewrite. Please help! Please do not revert to previous versions just because it looks like there is content missing at the moment. The old entry was simply a repository of examples of creation myths. Prof. M took the very arduous job of finding new more appropriate homes for that material. Now we are trying to build the new entry about creation myths in general focusing on the different motifs found in this category. Concrete examples are of course welcome as long as they illustrate a more general theme. Please help expand the entry in this regard. Griswaldo (talk) 18:57, 6 August 2010 (UTC)

  • "The ex nihilo creation is thought to be the most common type of creation myth." Who told you that? Ex nihilo is the least common, found only in Christianity, Islam and modern Judaism. Which I guess makes it the most common in terms of number of believers, but not in terms of all myths. It developed from a mistake: Philo of Alexandria in the 1st century BC applied Platonic concepts to the Genesis story and interpreted Yahweh as Plato's First Cause. It was then picked up by Christian philosophers in the 1st century AD and then later by Jewish thinkers, but it isn't the original idea in Genesis, which is creation from the waters of Chaos. I can find references for all this if you want.PiCo (sn't deducible talk) 05:05, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
Hmmm... "is thought to be" is not equivalent to "is actually", and it often turns out to be "is erroniously thought to be" though correctness vs. error isn't provable in re the question of creation except to dogmatic believers and disbelievers. Regarding whether or not "is thought to be" is supportable, see [1] (challenging the assumption, but ceding the point that the assumption is made), [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], etc. Now that the assertion you quote has been challenged, WP:V requires that it be supported by citation of a supporting source. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 00:59, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Lots of refs there. For your first, the publisher's blurb that you point to says Gerhardt May's book is "challenging the assumption that the doctrine of 'creation out of nothing' was inherited by Christianity along with the Jewish scriptures," yes, but what does it really mean? From May's book it's clear that he's engaging in an academic argument over whether Christianity developed CEN for itself, or whether it came ready-made from the intellectual milieu of late Hellenistic Judaism. In other words, the assumption the publisher refers to is that CEN was a pre-Christian idea - May says it wasn't, and the early Christians thought it up for themselves in the late 2nd century AD. (See the chapter "Recapitulation" in May's book). This has nothing to do with whether or not CEN is the most common type of creation myth. I think it would be safer just to leave that statement out.PiCo (talk) 05:42, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Outside observer on titles

Cosmogonic beliefs (here_ is not an improvement over creation myths, and Genesis creation narrative (@Genesis creation narrative) is not an improvement over Genesis creation myth. That said, if the decision has been made to go "Cosmogonic beliefs" (far more impenetrable than "creation myth" but would not be the first time WP scares away readers), then Genesis creation narrative needs to be retitled "Cosmogonic beliefs in the Judeo-Christian tradition" or similar. Since "narrative" is not used for similar other articles, it is inappropriate there; and since other articles speak to geography and not specific scriptures, then the use of "Genesis" (specific named scripture in the title) is also inappropriate unless you organize along the lines of:

  • Cosmogonic beliefs in the Book of Genesis
  • Cosmonogic beliefs in the Bhagavad-Gita

et al. including any similar article using "creation myth" regarding specific accounts. So why, exactly, has "Creation myths" not been renamed to "Cosmogonic belief narratives?" I have to ask, has anyone thought of the reader here, lately? PЄTЄRS J VЄСRUМВА TALK 18:36, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

The name changes to "cosmogonic beliefs" was very poorly considered and short-lived. I think that proposal is completely dead now-and it never had much support in the first place. Professor marginalia (talk) 18:48, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm utterly confused. Where was the decision made to call creation myths, "cosmogonic belief narratives"?Griswaldo (talk) 18:50, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
I'm reading the notice at top as stating content being split out into a series of "Cosmogonic beliefs...". It that's dead, it needs to be removed. PЄTЄRS J VЄСRUМВА TALK 18:52, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
No, it's dead :). It's probably not helpful to dig for the old bones of that "phase", but I'm sure they're in the talk page archives somewhere. I don't see the notice there now but if it's there please do remove it. Professor marginalia (talk) 19:03, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Individual creation myths now on master list

The creation myths which were split or merged from here have now been listed on the List of creation myths and grouped by region or continent and myth type. Professor marginalia (talk) 21:49, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Creation ex nihilo

Creation ex nihilo is definitely not the most common form of creation myth - it's quite a recent idea, and more a philosophical concept than a myth. I've rewritten that section in line with the reality.PiCo (talk) 11:46, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm finding that the rational/philosophical concept of ex nihilo is quite different than the mythologist's term for it. I'm not sure how the same term came to be used for both, but from what I've gathered in the context of talking about myth themes today ex nihilo means a creation from an emanation (or emission) of the creator. The "something from nothing" abstract that so captivates theologians and philosophers intellectually today is a rational rather than mythical focus. In myth it's a "from the creator" absent a refashioning of other stuff, thus it can be from the speech, thought, look, sweat, spit etc. Also the creation myths don't fall into tidy categories--they can employ multiple themes, for example a myth can begin with a cosmic egg (chaos) from which emerges a creator who creates the skies through both look and sweat (ex nihilo), much like a new creation springing into existence as a newborn baby first opens his eyes. Since so many well-known creation myths are later refined via a more structured, rational discourse into religious doctrine I'm finding more conscious use of the term "creation doctrine" when it applies. That's one of the complications talking about Genesis--there is the creation myth itself, and then there are creatio ex nihilo doctrines which develop from it. And this idea that the ex nihilo enjoys this lofty perch as somehow the most elegant, highly developed in a metaphysical sense has definitely fallen out of favor--just another case of western civilization's propensity to invent excuses to congratulate itself. I was also surprised, though, that it's thought to be the most common-but the given explanation helped it to make sense. Professor marginalia (talk) 14:08, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
More: In Leonard and McClure, these categories are said to come from Eliade with the addition of "Emergence" by Eliade's student, Long, and a later broadening of "dismemberment" to "world parents/parent". In this text also, ex nihilo is defined as created cosmos by thought/word/dream or bodily effluents, and does not imply that "nothing" is the pre-existing condition. In one of the examples given, from the Yuki, the creator emerged from a primeval sea and creates a rope that he seems to coil or twist to draw it up; in doing so, he is attempting to pull the earth up through the waters to the surface. This doesn't work well-he's pulling up too much water with each draw and washing everything away again. So then he spoke the earth into existence, and immediately lined it with whale hide (before there are whales) to keep it from washing away again. And because the earth was empty-no plants or animals-the creator made them from the eagle feathers(before there were eagles) taken from his headdress. This is cited as an example of ex nihilo creation in myth, presumably referring to how the creator spoke the earth into existence.Professor marginalia (talk) 15:10, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't think Leeming and Leeming are very good at their joint job. They make this statement, which I find quite extraordinary: "The God of the Hebrews in Genesis simply decides to create, and 'He made Heaven and Earth'." That flies in the face of all current understanding of the first verse of Genesis. It's even an incorrect translation - what Genesis actually says is that God made "the heavens and the earth" - 'heavens is a plural, and earth isn't capitalised (i.e., it's not the planet Earth, it's the earth, the stuff trees grow in - the ancient authors weren't aware that they were living on a planet whirling round the sun). Going a little deeper, it diregards the inherent ambiguity of the Hebrew, which can be translated quite validly as both "In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth," and as "In the beginning of God's creation, the heavens and the earth...". The second excludes the heavens and the earth from God's creative activity, and this is the translation preferred by the vast majority of modern scholars. Please, burn your copy of Leeming and Leeming. PiCo (talk) 11:54, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
Pico - I think you're trying to approach this with the hyper-rational "theological" lens. So in myth it's largely meaningless to claim any single "pure" version of the story-there is no such pre-eminence given in creation myths. All creation myths are seen to be meaningful only in terms of how they are viewed to the people who adopt them--they're a cultural artifact that changes as cultures change. The singular "heaven and earth" may not be the preferred translation today to the historians--but tell that to the millions who've adopted the King James version.[15] So I'm not sure what you mean by it "flies in the face of all current understanding". I think the hairsplitting is appropriate when the argument is over the proper interpretation of the oldest existing Hebrew texts and what that means in theology, but that's a bit far afield here. I think I'd be safe assuming the majority of people, living or dead, who've ever adopted this creation story themselves have concluded God made heaven and earth. Professor marginalia (talk) 16:06, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
The inclusion of creation by "creator's bodily secretions" under "ex nihilo" confuses two differnt forms of creation. Using a body secreation, even if it is by a creator, is not "out of nothing", and is contrary to the definition of the term, and the understanding of the meaning of the term by those whose coined it. The traditional belief of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslims communities is that God (Allah) truly created the world out of nothing, i.e., by the God's will alone. That is quite different that using a body secretion, Creation using the creator's body secretion have more in commmon with the Norse and Mid-East creation myths of out of a body of a dead god or giant. In addition, the ancient Egyptian creation myth are not an example of "ex nihilo" - Ra is said to hatch out of an egg or primordial ocean, depending on the version, which is not nothing. By the way, whatever the original intention of the writer of Genesis, the Judeo-Christian communities have for the past 2000 years have understood the first chapter of Genesis as describing creation "ex nihilo". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:36, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
From Oxford English Dictionary: Myth

a. A traditional story, typically involving supernatural beings or forces, which embodies and provides an explanation, aetiology, or justification for something such as the early history of a society, a religious belief or ritual, or a natural phenomenon.

What happened to this article??

What the hell, it used to be so good and all the information has been deleted? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:55, 16 October 2010 (UTC)

Some information had to be deleted because it was plagiarised or even constituted a copyright violation. Wikipedia is not above the law.
But I guess most of what you are looking for still exists in other articles. This article is about creation myths in general. It can't discuss all individual creation myths in detail. This article should just give an overview and link to the more specific articles. Hans Adler 11:19, 16 October 2010 (UTC)

Using the word Myth is NOT NPOV

":This has been argued to death; please review previous discussion and the archives. Let's not start flogging that horse again. " Too bad.

If there is no proof and it is presented as factual, then it is mythological. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:50, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't have a dog in this race; I'm not religious and am pretty hard to offend anyway. Still, I don't see what harm would come from renaming the article to 'Religious accounts of Creation', or 'Creation (religion)' or some such thing. Is there a reason that 'Creation myth' is a better title for the article than these? Bdrasin (talk) 22:17, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

I'll add to this that Wikipedia itself uses "myth" to mean a type of ahistorical fiction; for example the article Christ myth theory. 'Myth' isn't a precise synonym of 'fiction' but certainly myths are a subset of fictions; otherwise the title of that article is nonsense because Christ would be a myth weather historical or not. There actually is a case to be made that the religious accounts of creation are objectively false according to RS and therefore it is NPOV to describe them as fiction, but no one seems to want to argue this way.Bdrasin (talk) 14:07, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Well I am sorry but I argue the word Myth is very biased, the word "Account" is more appropriate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Paul Lewison (talkcontribs) 01:46, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

From Merriam-Webster:

myth n. 1 a : a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon b : parable, allegory 2 a : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society

This has been discussed ad nauseam. In the context of this article's topic, the word "myth" is correct. TechBear | Talk | Contributions 03:08, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree and what's more important so does Mr Collins in his concise dictionary "a story about superhuman beings of an earlier age, usually of how natural phenomena, social customs etc came into being". Abtract (talk) 07:44, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

There seems to be some dispute as to whether "creation myth" is a neutral term.

I googled it, and here's what I read at Amazon about the first book that came up in my serch:

  • Evolution and Religious Creation Myths seeks to educate and arm the public on the differences between myth and science, fiction and theory.

It seems the word "myth" connotes "fiction", while "theory" refers to a finding of science. I don't see, therefore, how myth could mean anything other than false, made up nonsense. --Uncle Ed (talk) 15:29, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

That's because you're preferentially putting more stock in a definition you already agree with, above that of any of the others available defining a 'Creation Myth' as a supernatural explanation of creation, absent any judgement of truth or falsehood, perfectly neutral. --King Öomie 15:37, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
And you're also setting up a counter-argument yourself, using the colloquial definition of 'myth' alongside the technical definition of 'theory'. The colloquial definition of 'theory' isn't far from that of 'hypothesis'- unproven, and laughable to accept at face value. "It's just a theory!" --King Öomie 15:38, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
There may be an argument for renaming articles with titles such as Enûma Eliš - Enûma Eliš creation myth. But there is no reason at all to change the title of this one. Creation myths are a real life category - offensive to some or not we're not reinventing the English language here at wikipedia. The extreme oversensitivity about using this term in this article is absolutely 100% unjustifiable. Professor marginalia (talk) 15:44, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

I don't own any stock in either viewpoint; I'm a longtime fan of NPOV. I'm just going along with what Evolution and Religious Creation Myths says: i.e., that there are differences between myth and science just as there are differences between fiction and theory. But the authors of that book also argue that evolution and creationism are not both valid theories and that they don't deserve equal attention.

I wouldn't want our use of myth in an article title to make the reader think that every "myth" is likely to be a "fiction". --Uncle Ed (talk) 15:59, 20 April 2010 (UTC)

The argument then is to those in the real world that termed this category of stories "creation myths". It's probably been the proper usage for couple thousand years beginning with the Greeks-and it's certainly the name given in the overwhelming majority of reliable sources today.Professor marginalia (talk) 16:12, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Apparently contributors feel a need to distinguish between (A) scientific cosmology, i.e., scientific theories of creation (cosmogony) and (B) religious cosmology. I'm sure we can come up with terminology that suits all parties. --Uncle Ed (talk) 16:49, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure Mr. Lurquin will be surprised to learn his text has become the leading authority on religious scholarship. Again, the term Creation Myth does not assign truth or falsehood to the story it represents. It merely states that a group of people believe/believed that it is/was literally how we/the earth/the universe came to be. --King Öomie 17:34, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
Side note-not all "creation myths" involve supernatural beings or forces either. The introduction to this article is terrible, imho, but I'm currently pulling together a body of good sources to use there. Many of the best known of the creation myths come from peoples who had no concept of separate realms between nature and supernature. Their creation myths describe beginnings initiated and guided by what they viewed as natural or "innate" properties and forces. Professor marginalia (talk) 17:56, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
I disagree these words have loaded meaning, Myth in language might as well mean fiction. And Supernatural sounds like something on the X-files. Esp the abbreviated for of Myth. If there is so much disagreement CHANGE IT. isn't that how Wikipedia works. clearly it is a problematic word.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 17:06, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
VERY PROBLEMATIC. In no way is it neutral, nor can it be when the most prominent meaning of "myth" is fiction, hence untrue fantasy. Do a Google search on "myth" on any major newspaper in English. There will be many hits, and I have yet to find even one that implies truth. Why do these writers and editors use "myth" so often in their headlines and titles? It's straightforward when one glances at the article. The editor or writer is claiming something this being misrepresented or falsified, hence is a myth. They don't have to worry about any technical understanding of myth occurring to even a single reader.
In no way is the definition "myth" not neutral. Seeing how the con provides no counter definition and the only definition within this conversation derives from the Merriam-Webster, we should use that definition. Even if popular culture (X-files) or google may offer a contradictory definition, you fail to provide any warrants why that definition should be used. In fact, It would seem as if these definitions fashioned by popular belief or google were "supposed" to be incorrect. "A usually traditional story..." is not something that MUST be fiction, "A popular belief or tradition" is not something that MUST be untrue. To put this in perspective, all Abraham religions can be placed into these general parameters but nothing tells us that they are fiction. Remember that the purpose of wikipedia should be to educate people in this case, end the misconception that myth means fiction. The fact that popular belief tells people that myths are anything but real should give us more incentive to make the line between such definitions bolder. (talk) 02:39, 28 April 2010 (UTC)


  • January 3, 2010 "What an anti-climax: G-spot is a myth"
  • January 2, 2010 "Over 7000 women a year get false breast cancer alert. We debunk the myth behind the headlines...."
  • April 20, 2010 "Exhibition explores the myths behind artist Paul Gauguin. They will depict a strikingly modern artist: a monstrous, exploitative, lying self-publicist and instead focus on “the tendency towards myth-making, in his work and his presentation of himself”.

L.A. TIMES: April 5, 2010. "Myth-busting polls: Tea Party members are average Americans, 41% are Democrats, independents." "It has nothing to do with the myth of left and right. It has to do with democracy versus corporatocracy (formerly known as plutocracy)." ...and the list goes on and on this way. Absolutely no one is going to FIRST think of "Symbolic narrative of the creation and organization of the world as understood in a particular tradition" when they see "Genesis" and "Myth" together in the same phrase. It defies reasonable expectation, particularly in view of the fact that there are many who believe Genesis or even the whole Bible is "a fictitious narrative presented as historical but without any basis of fact"─which was, by the way, a recent SAT's "correct answer" for the definition of "myth." ─AFA Prof01 (talk) 21:35, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Because the first thing I think of when I think "Wikipedia" is "Atheist plot". Well, after "Illuminati". --King Öomie 21:41, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
The most prominent meaning of "creation myth" is not "untrue fantasy". (This article hasn't done a good job of saying what it does mean yet, but I've got it in the queue to make improvements in that area.) The long and short of it is this: it's a real topic, well known and well covered from a variety of domains, from children's books, ancient history, anthropology, mythography, classical scholarship-themes from myth also frequently appear in art, sculpture, cinema and architecture, and real encyclopedias do not reinvent, they describe. Encyclopedias such as Britannica and Grolier do it, and wikipedia does too. Professor marginalia (talk) 05:19, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
For the love of...Creation Myth is neutral. It's an accepted and official scolarly term used to describe a specific type of story found in various cultures. Each entry on this list meets the criteria to be described as such. Using the term is not a violation of NPOV standards, avoiding it simply to defend people's sensibilities would, however, be such a violation. And let's be honest here, that is why the change is being proposed as noted by the very phrasing of the arguments for change, including "Other people might not be aware that myth doesn't imply falsehood in this context" and the repeated reference to the creation, strongly indicating that the objection is not so much to the term (which again is an official scholarly term for these kinds of stories, applied to those of both modern and past religions) as it is the fact that their belief is being grouped with them. The request to change it is as ludicrous as suggesting that the title of Atomic Theory be changed because the colloquial usage of "Theory" denotes a uncertainty. The request doesn't work at all. (talk) 15:19, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
The problem is there is a problem. How do we know? because look at the energy going into this debate. Solution: Work on a solution. U have a point, I have a point. But they are pointing in opposite directions. Myth is a problem, as the above writer says. Language changes, and technical terms and terms in common usage do not always marry up. look what happened to feeling gay.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 15:41, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Your point is bunk. Let me put it this way, there was a lot of time and energy put into the Galileo Affair, that doesn't mean that there was good cause for labelling heliocentrism heretical. A lot of time and effort is put into holocaust denial and claiming that the moon landing was a hoax, that doesn't mean that there's any validity in either claim. What matters here are the facts. And the fact of the matter is that at the end of the day the usage of the phrase "Creation Myth" is not a POV issue because that's the term used in scholarly discourse, and in fact the insistence that it should be viewed as such because so-and-so doesn't like seeing the word anywhere near their own belief is far more of a POV issue as it insists that we ignore the official terminology purely for the sake of appeasing certain individuals (read: Favoring a point of view to the extent that we ignore facts). The term "Creation Myth" is accurate for the subject matter, and that's the long and short of it and the only thing that matters in encylclopedic entries. (talk) 19:37, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Well said. The term is accurate, anything else is almost certainly going to be pov pandering to various interests.
So the scholarly discourse out weights the religious discourse? Because i think most humans subscribe to it not being a myth. Either way what you are saying is that as long as a minority of scholars (clearly not religious scholars) use the term it is valid. Finito. The "discovery" myth i.e. Columbus discovered the Americas is still used in most school systems around the world. SO i guess we just go with the majority on that one to. republish a lie because some Oxford scholar and friends use the word. Wikipedia NPOV rules apply outside of what so-called scholars say. Myth in english means fiction. --Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 16:20, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Scholarly discourse does outweigh colloquial discourse. That's the term they overwhelmingly use for this and thus the most accurate. Your inability to understand how the term is used means less than nothing, especially considering that the facts that a) that in scholarly discourse the term is used to describe the story type rather than it's validty and b) you've acknowledged as much in the history of the discussion and then started arguing that the article be renamed because of the colloqual usage of the word "myth". Again, what you're suggesting is akin to renaming Atomic Theory because the colloquialization of "theory" denotes far more uncertainty than is attributable to the model. You don't like it? Deal with it. The reality of the situation is that the term Creation Myth is used to describe the type of story, not the validity thereof. Your lack of research into the matter does not change this fact, nor does your dislike of the term 'myth' have any bearing whatsoever on it. Here's a piece of advice: Look up how scholars use the term myth before you do anything else. This would be a good place to start. (talk) 20:23, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
My research shows that scholars of religion are far more numerous than your so-called scholars. unless scholar means secular scientific. Prove the point with sources showing that scholars (in the broad sense of the word) agree that it is myth. Encarta has rules, wiki has rules. If Encarta trends are valid then delete the page and just redirect to the likes of Encarta. Consensus over rules your claims of weight. I wonder if I look at all the religious schools in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity if the word Myth is used to describe creation. Now all of these schools have scholars. Because I have just glanced at the Iranian school for religious studies and I didnt see the term Myth in use. So unless you want to change the definition of scholars you have home work to do. --Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 20:55, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
You and I both know that you've done no such research. What you're referring to here is your presumption that the world agrees with you when the actuality is that you have done little to nothing to learn about the subject matter, as is overwhelmingly evident by your ignorance on how the term "myth" is used by religious scholars, as explained in the link above, in the Encyclopedia Britanica link in the introduction of the page we're discussing, repeatedly cited multiple times on the page about Mythology from multiple sources there, though if you'd prefer more, I could also cite the introduction here and this right here. Incidentally, I am using the term scholars correctly. The difference between your usage of the term and mine is that I refer to theologians, who use the term myth without the ire or presumption you're attributing to it. (talk) 06:19, 26 April 2010 (UTC) I can understand why you choose to remain an anynomous IP user. That's apparently so you can hide in a cowardly manner and be rude, crude, and ignore any intelligent discussion of User:Halaqah's attempt at logical and informed discourse. Disappointing from someone supposedly intelligent, scholarly and civil!─AFA Prof01 (talk) 21:00, 25 April 2010 (UTC)
So wait, let me get this straight...all of the edits attributed to me are on this page, over three responses (well, four including this one) over a period of less than 24 hours and because I dared to say that Halaqah was arguing a point based on his own ignorance of a term's usage, you declare that I am rude, crude and don't have an account because I'm a coward (which honestly makes no sense as so long as I sign an edit I'm ostensibly just as open to public criticism) instead of adopting the more rational and actually supportable belief that I lack an account because I don't do a lot of wiki-editing? Incidentally, while I'll fully admit to being prone to bluntness, how you managed to get "crude" in that personal attack is beyond me (with rude additionally being subjective, though far easier to understand where you're coming from). Frankly, after a quick review of your history I'm rather distressed that you're so quick to jump to conclusions. (talk) 06:19, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

Comment This is a completely unproductive conversation and someone should put it in an archive so no one has to be subjected to it anymore. Lexically "myth" is a homonym. Like any homonym, or indeed any word in actuality, meaning is dependent on context. There is absolutely no reason to believe that people are reading this entry and assuming that it covers "untrue stories about creation" as opposed to "sacred stories about creation." Anyone who does so fails basic English reading comprehension and I'm sorry but we can't do anything about that. Might someone who has not encountered mythology yet read the title only and wonder if it isn't about "untrue stories about creation"? I suppose that is a distinct possibility but as an encyclopedia our job is to help them learn what "creation myths" actually are. I will also note that none of Afaprof's examples above actually utilize the term "creation myth". And yes I'm sure there are some hard core atheists who have published books or articles in which "creation myth" is utilized in a way to also mean "untrue" but let's face it those examples make up 0.0001% of usages in mass culture. When someone does encounter the term "creation myth", as they will pretty much anytime this general subject matter is broached they should be able to turn to an encyclopedia to read more about it. This title is in line with common use across social fields -- the media, scholarship, everyday speech, etc. There is NO proof to the contrary. Please do us all a favor stop this silliness. It is this type of absurdity that makes otherwise neutral editors weary about supporting a different title at Genesis creation myth where common use actually warrants one. You all are doing those types of discussions a huge disservice and what you suggest for this entry is completely unencyclopedic. Please give it a rest.Griswaldo (talk) 12:22, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

The topic would be better served if you would be CIVIL and contribute to the debate or stay out of it. and use proper indents to address the issues at hand. Silly is not defined as "what you do not agree with". Edit the topic and not the editors.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 12:40, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
There is nothing uncivil about what I said and I have not attacked anyone. This discussion is not helping the content of this entry in the least. If you want to have a serious conversation about the title bring in some real evidence from scholarship, mass culture etc. None exists on this talk page. The use of "creation myth" in any of those contexts is entirely consistent with this title. The presentation of this type of content in any of those contexts is also consistent with this title, with a few minor exceptions -- see for instance the discussion at Genesis creation myth. However those specific exceptions should be dealt with on a case by case basis. My very point here is that ironically your arguments here hurt even those specific cases because of the atmosphere of distrust they drum up. People have a hard time believing that genuine arguments based on policies and guidelines are being made as opposed to just "I don't like that phrase personally". I will not answer you again. I suggest, once more that you find something to back up your argument or stop making it. Best regards.Griswaldo (talk) 12:49, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Halqh, instead of choosing a random number of spaces to indent your comments, use one more colon than the comment you're replying to. --King Öomie 13:18, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

Anyone that seriously thinks myth is a pejorative term needs to go read some Joseph Campbell and get an education. Torchiest (talk | contribs) 13:21, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

It can only be pejorative in contexts where people are obsessed with the truth value of stories. There certainly are people who use it specifically to mean "untrue" in relation to religious stories. Everyone isn't Joseph Campbell. But those people are in the vast minority, at least in the real world. One of the problems here, unfortunately, is that people on both sides of "truth value of (religious) stories" argument are uncommonly many in contexts like Wikipedia. They feed off of each other as well. What you get is a hostile environment in which rational discussion based on sound research is drowned out by ideological defensiveness. Personally I wish these people would find their way back to chat rooms and blogs, where their types of argument belong.Griswaldo (talk) 13:38, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Both the use of the word myth in its original meaning and with the meaning that its untrue is appropriate for Wikipedia IMO. Wikipedia should not be the place for people to spread their misinformed views about the origins of this planet. Let me quote Larry David : "I wasnt making fun of his religion, and even if I was, so what, you know, its a comedy. Religion should be made fun of, its quite ridiculous, isnt it? Just think how people spend their lives; they have no idea, they go around as if this is a fact. Its so insane, you know. If I really believed in this I'd keep it to myself."Wims (talk) 16:51, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

This is not only incorrect, but unhelpful. The purpose of this article is not to mock religion, and you inflame the (misplaced) anger of its detractors by claiming that it is. --King Öomie 17:47, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
The base of this problem is that Wikipedia should not be putting politeness and political correctness above truth. For example, would you describe Thor's Hammer as a myth or a theory? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:54, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

Basically what it comes down to is that religious people, those who believe these stories literally, don't realize that the stories are fiction and only allegorical representations and thus have a tough time accepting that some may view the word "myth" as fiction, even though it is. Let's stick to reality of what we know and not entertain magical thinkers. Tolerance should only extend so far before it becomes detrimental to being able to discover a clear cosmological view. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:38, 25 November 2010 (UTC)

Images Only Represent the Judeo-Christian Creation Myth

The two images on this page are both based on the Judeo-Christian creation myth, there should be a wider range of images from different creation myths to make the article more representative.--WikiSolved (talk) 14:23, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

Great idea. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.Griswaldo (talk) 14:45, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
From Norse mythology, the following articles may have some usable pictures: Ask and Embla, Ymir, Völuspá. - Soulkeeper (talk) 14:01, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Australian Aborigines

I'm perplexed by the various classifications of creation myths found in the article, on several grounds:

  • they are quite contradictory to each other, with their component categories having little in common;
  • they are not noticeably evidence-based - or if they are, the article does not offer supporting evidence for them;
  • not one of them seems to contain a category that usefully describes salient characteristics of the creation myths of the Australian Aborigines.

Within this latter, large group of creation myths, most serve to explicate:

  1. the major topographical features of the lands occupied and cared for by an Aboriginal nation, and
  2. distinctive features of important animals or plants.

They do so by referring to:

  1. journeys undertaken by totemic animals, spirits and other ancestors through a pre-existing (and usually undifferentiated) landscape, and
  2. particular actions taken by protagonists in a story of conflict, usually involving competition for resources (chiefly food or wives).

I doubt that the scholarly accounts are quite as remiss as this article makes them seem, but unfortunately, I don't know enough about the relevant works, or even the scholars. Now without me (or anyone) indulging in Original Research, I'd hope that some editor can remedy the faults I first listed?

yoyo (talk) 15:00, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

This article doesn't go into any detail about specific creation myths. What talkpage are you actually looking for? --King Öomie 19:18, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
The article doesn't go into specific detail of individual creation myths, but the article does need further development with more examples. I try to chip away at it little by little, but I'm no mighty-mo. More help is welcome here. (Note to those willing to help: It's important to key in on reliable sources of an academic nature instead of the do-it-yourself or popular content. ) Professor marginalia (talk) 03:19, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Big bang?

Shouldn't the big bang be mentioned here, I mean it fits perfectly into the chaos myth/theory? From chaos into creation, that's literally what it describes.... --Nabo0o (talk) 01:44, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

No, it doesn't belong here. The Big Bang is a cosmogony, but it is not a cosmogonical myth, it's a cosmogonical "theory". Myths and theories are very different in their academic and real life (in most cases) contexts. The authoritative sources on both cultural myths and scientific theories are essentially agreed on this. Professor marginalia (talk) 03:05, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
erm, biased much? saying the big bang is fact not myth? actually the idea of creation from nothing is fact, not myth. the article should be renamed to exclude the word myth. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:55, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
here we go... (talk) 11:07, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
Re "saying the big bang is fact not myth", above, in case nobody has bothered to look at the Big Bang article yet, its lead sentence reads, "The Big Bang model or theory is the prevailing cosmological theory of the early development of the universe.", Citing
as a supporting source. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 01:04, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
Let's make this simple. Creation is a myth because there is no evidence. The Big Bang Theory is a theory (in science, a fact) because there is overwhelming evidence supporting it. There we go. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 01:51, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
"[I]n science, a fact" ... do you mean in the sense that evolution is considered a "fact," because it is a "theory for which there is overwhelming evidence?" It is entirely irrelevant to a mythological narrative whether or not there is scientific evidence propping it up. In the academic sense, myth is not defined by its lack of scientific evidence, but by its thematic content and its social and psychological functions. As a point of fact, I will note that to a vast majority of us there is actually no overwhelming evidence for the Big Bang. That is to say most of who believe the Big Bang is the most likely explanation, do so because we trust scientific authorities and not because we understand or are even cognizant of the relevant scientific evidence. As such the Big Bang may actually fulfill many of the same social or psychological functions as a creation myth, while clearly covering some of the same thematic ground. I'm not arguing for inclusion here, simply pointing out that the dichotomy between "myth" and "scientific theory/fact" being presented above is a false dichotomy--unless of course what is meant by "myth" is "fiction," but that isn't scholarly nor, as far as I can tell, how we use myth here on Wikipedia.Griswaldo (talk) 02:58, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
I get seriously bored with academic philosophical discussions. Simply put, a scientific theory is essentially a fact. The rest of your post-modernist commentary....could care less to be honest. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 03:08, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
"Academic philosophical? Post-modernist?" Sorry, but this is very mainstream, very boring, and very pre "post-anything." Oh and it's not "philosophical" it is for the most part "social scientific." For instance, for the view that myth is defined by its social or psychological function see Structural functionalism. Why are you making points about what is or is not considered "fact" in the scientific community on the talk page of an entry about myth, a topic that is not defined by the status of scientific theories/facts? Apples and oranges. That's my point. Cheers.Griswaldo (talk) 03:21, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
Why are talking to me about this? I'm not the OP, some IP author is. I know precisely what is a theory, and what is a myth. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 03:37, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
I think that the problem is that there is a mass of people in the world that do not believe the creation is not a "myth". Instead of stating everything as "fact", no matter how much one believes that they are right, respect the views of others and their beliefs. One may not agree with someone else, but this debate, and that is all this is, will be ongoing until the Earth is destroyed, whether by a natural disaster or by religious prophecy. There is always going to be someone out there trying to discredit religion and someone else the science. What is the point? Why can't we all get along and respect each other and their beliefs? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:29, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
While people can hold whatever beliefs they want, beliefs are also either accurate or not, and a belief alone establishes nothing about its own accuracy. ‘The point’ of acknowledging fallacious reasoning when it occurs is to, you know, try to stop doing it. Do you really want to discourage debate? --Saerain (talk) 17:34, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
Clearly there is a distinction between the Big Bang Theory and creation myths. If not because of the strong scientific evidence in support thereof, then because it has no 'narrative', nor social or psychological function. Or perhaps it is distinct from a creation myth because creation myths are believed to be false by most people. Either way, it clearly has no place in this article.JTansut (talk) 18:24, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
The big bang, although I believe it to be a myth, does not involve creation, so it wouldn't belong here. Wekn reven i susej eht Talk• Follow 09:12, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
No. the Big Bang shouldn't be mentioned here. "The Big Bang theory isn't about the bang itself, but about what happened after the bang."[Bryson, Bill (2004). A short history of nearly everything. Black Swan. p. 32. ISBN 9780552151740. ] However (said half in jest, but only half), vacuum genesis might; also quantum genesis.[Ferris, Timothy (1988). Coming of age in the Milky Way. Morrow. pp. 351–356. ISBN 9780688058890. ] Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 05:26, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Whilst I don't agree with the overall direction of this article (mainly as it feels it has a direction) it would be wholly incorrect to discuss the Big Bang in this article. A myth by definition is a story or narrative. Whilst not everyone believes the big band theory to be correct, it is not a myth. Theories are for another page. Jkennedy561 (talk) 11:01, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Definitely not a myth, - clearly not a traditional story, doesn't have the characteristics of a myth, etc. Dougweller (talk) 11:53, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
While I agree, there is a distinction that should be made between the scientific theory and the commonly held beliefs about the creation of the world via "big bang." I'm sure those popular beliefs can be easily compared to other folk traditions, including ancient creation mythology. But the theory itself, no.Griswaldo (talk) 13:17, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
You have a point about the "creation of the world via 'big bang'", but not the theory itself being on here, Griswaldo. Wekn reven i susej eht Talk• Follow 14:55, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. Creation myths are symbolic traditional narratives; the Big Bang is the scientific consensus about the current (and past) expansion of spacetime. It's not even like comparing apples and oranges - it's like listing "happiness" as a type of vegetable. (talk) 11:00, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

Symbolic narrative?

User SudoGhost and I have a disagreement about using the word "symbolic" in the definition of creation myth. I argue that we should remove it because it is unencyclopedic due to the fact that it is both biased and objectively wrong. The word "symbolic" means that the text/narrative/etc either deals with symbols or that it is a symbol. A symbol, by definition, is something which represents something other than what it actually is. As such, defining "creation myth" as a "symbolic narrative" is equivalent to saying that a creation myth is by definition something that contains elements (or something that IS, in its entirety,) representing something other than what it explicitly represents. Now, a definition should include all things which it applies to. It is an objective fact that a large number of people who believe these myths, oftentimes entire cultures, do not take their myths as being symbolic. They believe that their myths represent a literal historical account of events that occurred in the past. As such, a definition including the word "symbolic" is wrong because it excludes many things which are clearly creation myths from being creation myths. Does a creation myth involving flying gods and talking animals suddenly stop being a creation myth simply because the people who believe it believe it literally? Are ALL creation myths objectively symbolic? Must something be, by definition, symbolic in order for it to be a creation myth?

SudoGhost can correct me if I misrepresent his argument in any way shape or form, but I believe this is a fair representation of his argument: He believes that my definition of the word "symbolic" is wrong. I suggest readers should look up for themselves the wiktionary definitions as well as definitions from other dictionaries.

He says: "Wiktionary gives the definiton of Symbolic (in this use) as "Referring to something with an implicit meaning." It then gives implicit as "Having no reservations or doubts; unquestioning or unconditional; usually said of faith or trust." In this meaning, therefore, a symbolic narrative is something that has a meaning that some people believe unconditionally."

later on he says: "if a group of people believe a creation myth without doubt or reservation, that makes it symbolic. Whether they believe the literal meaning or not is immaterial to that. This is what is meant by symbolic narrative. The difference between a creation myth and a work of fiction about the creation of the world is that there are people that believe it without doubt or reservation"

and: "The defining thing about a creation myth is that it is symbolic to some people. Not everyone. This is what separates a creation myth from a work of fiction."

"Nothing is symbolic to everyone. That is the definition of the word symbolic, therefore saying that it is not symbolic to other people is irrelevant."

"I think the issue may also stem from you confusing the word symbol with the meaning given to religious symbolism. That article says that religions view religious texts, rituals, and works of art as symbols of compelling ideas or ideals. This means that creation myths are therefore symbolic, as they are religious texts (written or not) in one form or another."

I have taken out the word "symbolic" from the article's definition because I believe it is clearly erroneous, given the definitions involved. The original discussion can be found at User talk:TheAlphaWolf. --TAW (talk) 15:33, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't see why the word symbolic is needed. Jesanj (talk) 15:50, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
We can discuss semantics all day, but at the end of the day, Wikipedia is based on Wikipedia:verifiability, not truth. That a creation myth is a symbolic narrative is reliably sourced by a cultural anthropologist (per reference #2 in the article). - SudoGhost 15:53, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, a threshold for inclusion is verifiability. But just because it is verifiable doesn't mean it is worth including. We can exercize editorial discretion. A cultural anthropologist wrote that. So what? Why should we? Maybe they were writing in anthropological language. We don't necessarily have to. Why is the word symbolic needed? Jesanj (talk) 15:58, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't think a cultural anthropologist that specializes in symbolism would use the word symbolic incorrectly, nor would she use the word to describe something unless that was the correct word for it. This reference gives weight to this definition, and makes it worth including. The word symbolic needs to be there, as this is what separates a creation myth from any other story about creation. Creation myths are symbolic. Stories of fiction about creation are not. This is why the word is needed. "So what?" isn't a reason to remove this word. - SudoGhost 16:04, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
The burden is on editors to make an argument about why the word is needed. Jesanj (talk) 16:10, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
You may want to read what you just linked. It is a reliably sourced meaning, fulfilling WP:V and WP:WEIGHT. Aside from that, I have explained why this word is needed. I have fulfilled this burden. - SudoGhost 16:13, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Singularly, it has nothing to do with weight, in my opinion. That would require assessing many sources. Jesanj (talk) 16:25, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Sources are not, and never have been, quantity over quality. If you can find a stronger source than a professor and cultural archeologist that specializes in symbolism, by all means, please provide one. - SudoGhost 16:33, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
If "symbolic" is used by the reliable source, then we are compelled to channel that characterization of creation myths into the article. However, I wonder if we could identify a suitable synonym that might alleviate TheAlphaWolf's concern. I understand why "symbolic narrative" is somewhat problematic. First of all, many people who believe in one of the creation myths believe the myths to be symbolic or allegorical whereas others believe them to be literal. On that same token, a creation myth could be "symbolic" in that, for someone who believes it, it represents something more than just a literal narrative; for example, the Maori legend that the islands of New Zealand were hauled from the ocean like a giant fish by some kind of divine entity, could be taken to mean that, but also have greater implications for their culture or belief system, as an extension rather than a subversion of the meaning of the narrative. Quickly glancing at potential synonyms, I think some of these might be suitable for paraphrasing the reliable source in a way that carries the author's meaning but diminishes the confusion for readers? augural, emblematic, meaningful (these are just a few quick ones I found). Any thoughts? This article's lead admittedly has a tough job to do. It has to characterize creation myths in a way that readers will understand before they venture further down to read endless creation myths that mercilessly differ from one another in their structure, adherence, cultural context, and more. John Shandy`talk 16:17, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Here, we're not compelled by one reliable source to do anything, in my opinion. Yes, the key here is that many individuals take their creation myths literally. By using the word symbolic, I think we are likely reflecting a subjective bias that no creation myths have literal truth value. Jesanj (talk) 16:30, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Actually, we are. That's what a reliable source is. A creation myth being literal has nothing to do with it. Read further down the lede. It says "a creation myth is usually regarded as conveying profound truths, although not necessarily in a historical or literal sense" why would the lede say this if creation myths were not taken literally? Symbolic does not by default mean "figurative". - SudoGhost 16:33, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I assumed we were all competent enough that I didn't need to qualify my statements by noting that we are compelled by a preponderance of reliable sources, rather than one source. That a creation myth is a symbolic narrative doesn't preclude another creation myth from having literal meaning. Indeed, all narratives have a literal interpretation (what is written or spoken), and all narratives are open to readers' own interpretation or perception of symbolism. If it prevails that scholars of creation myths characterize creation myths as symbolic, then it's imperative that we transmit that characterization into the article, but I see no problem in choosing another word (one less likely to be contested) to do the channeling. John Shandy`talk 16:48, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
How about this version? Jesanj (talk) 17:16, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
No complaint about that from me. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 17:27, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Seems reasonable to me, but I don't know whether it will appease the concerns of the other editors. John Shandy`talk 17:53, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree with much of what has been said. I think adding a "can" to the definition so that it says "Creation myths CAN have symbolic meanings" would be perfect (or even "often have"). I also like the alternative of using a phrase like "meaningful narrative", because AFAIK it's universal and it would be hard to misinterpret what it means. As it is, "symbolic narrative" is (apparently) misleading and unclear. Wikipedia should not be using highly technical terms which would easily mislead the readers into thinking they meant something else. At least not without providing a clear definition of how that term is being used (although I would be willing to bet my house that "symbolic narrative" has no highly technical definition and merely means a narrative that contains symbols or is a symbol itself). --TAW (talk) 22:43, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
There is no reason to say can. Symbolic narrative is a reliably sourced definition, and if you think it is unclear, expand and elaborate, don't remove the word, as that changes the entire meaning. - SudoGhost 00:48, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
The only thing it changes is that it broadens the definition to include all creation myths, not just the narrow subset that are meant or interpreted as being symbolic. I CAN'T expand/elaborate, because it's unclear and there is no definition out there that I have been able to find which in any way shape or form supports your claims of what "symbolic" means. If you don't think it's unclear, why don't you "expand and elaborate" it yourself? I will repeat my challenge from before: find ANY dictionary out there that DIRECTLY defines the word "symbolic" as meaning anything even close to what you claim it means: "to have faith in", "to believe unquestioningly", or any variations thereof.
As was previously pointed out, the burden is on you to justify the addition of a misleading term which narrows the definition. The only justification you've given so far is that you want to blindly and unthinkingly follow what one source said--TAW (talk) 00:55, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
You're kidding, right? Read this "previously pointed out" conversation again, and then read WP:BURDEN. I have fulfilled this "burden". All creation myths are symbolic narratives, whether literal or not. Show me a single reliable source that says otherwise. This is your burden, and anything short of this will not permit you from removing a sourced definition, simply because you erroneously thing it cannot apply to everything. As for your definition rant, you're repeating things that have already been refuted on your talk page multiple times. Stop repeating it. - SudoGhost 01:23, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I will revert the article back to the test version I pointed out above, as I think there is a rough consensus that it would be an improvement. Jesanj (talk) 01:12, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Fair enough. What do you (and everyone else) think about adding "often have" to the "Creation myths have symbolic meanings" sentence? This version of the article ("Creation myths have symbolic meanings") is meaningfully equivalent to saying "Creation myths are symbolic narratives". It just says it in a different place, with a slightly different wording. It is still saying/implying that creation myths must always have symbolic meanings.--TAW (talk) 01:20, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Absolutely not. See above. - SudoGhost 01:23, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't see how this improves the lede, I think it hurts it instead. A creation myth is not simply a narrative. Otherwise, how is any work of fiction that details creation not a creation myth? Like a creation myth, it is a narrative of a culture. The only difference is that it is not symbolic. It holds no meaning. Something symbolic has meaning, whether literal or not. - SudoGhost 01:28, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking that the current version does imply all creation myths have symbolic meanings, but that this was OK as it does not preclude the possibility of any one creation myth from being literally true. @TAW, do you know of any RS that says not all creation myths have symbolic meaning? Jesanj (talk) 01:36, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I disagree, per the Manual of Style. WP:BEGINNING says that If its subject is definable, then the first sentence should give a concise definition: where possible, one that puts the article in context for the nonspecialist. Similarly, if the title is a specialised term, provide the context as early as possible. Moving symbolic from the first sentence to further down violates this, and doesn't expand the reader's understanding of the subject in any way. I think providing context for symbolic narrative would be better than burying it farther down the lede, perhaps by linking symbolic to Religious symbolism. - SudoGhost 01:59, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Jesanj: If you're asking for a source that specifically says that not all creation myths have symbolic meaning, that's a completely unfair standard. You won't be able to find a single definition of a house that specifically says that it doesn't have to be red, but that doesn't mean that all houses must be red. Not finding a source that says what something doesn't have to be be is meaningless.
Per the manual of style you cited Ghost, removing "symbolic" from the definition IS the best choice. It puts the article in the context of the nonspecialist. And once again, I will point out that even Ghost doesn't seem to be able to justify his definition of "symbolic". He hasn't provided us with a single source that clearly (and directly) defines the word "symbolic" to mean "meaningful", "something that is accepted as truth", or anything similar.--TAW (talk) 02:08, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Nice try, but no. Removing symbolic changes the meaning, one that isn't descriptive enough to accurately define the article's subject. I have provided a source that defines creation myth as "symbolic narrative". You've provided no evidence to the contrary. I'm more apt to rely on a cultural anthropologist than an editor that doesn't understand context. As John_Shandy` said above, "If "symbolic" is used by the reliable source, then we are compelled to channel that characterization of creation myths into the article." Your analogy above is also extremely faulty, as there are not reliable sources that say all houses are red, so that means nothing. - SudoGhost 02:17, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
TAW, I was following you up until this point, but now I'm lost. You say that Ghost hasn't been able to justify his claim that "symbolic" in this context actually means "meaningful", etc. instead of "non-literal". If that's true, then doesn't that count as a reason to keep the word "symbolic" in the lead? If the sources were using "symbolic" to mean "meaningful" rather than "non-literal", then we would have reason to remove the word "symbolic" and replace it with "meaningful", since the average reader isn't going to understand that "symbolic" means "meaningful" (as opposed to "non-literal"). But if the sources are using "symbolic" in its more common sense of "non-literal" or "allegorical", then the word "symbolic" should stay, because it accurately expresses to an average reader what the sources are saying. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 03:09, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Phatius McBluff: You bring up an interesting point. Personally, I think that unless there is a clear explanation of what the sources meant, the word "symbolic" should be removed. If they meant "symbolic" as is defined by the dictionary (take your pick), then it is wrong or misleading. As this discussion suggests, most readers interpret the word "symbolic" to be a near antonym of "non-literal". As such, it is misleading to use the term "symbolic". In addition, not all cultures believe their creation myths to be representative of something other than what they explicitly relate. As such, a literal interpretation of the word "symbolic" clearly makes the definition wrong (sources can be wrong), since it excludes myths which are taken literally. If they meant "symbolic" in the arbitrary, ad-hoc sense that Ghost wishes them to have meant (which is not used anywhere I've been able to find, and he refuses to provide a source), then you're right- a far less ambiguous and misleading term should be substituted in its place. Whichever scenario though, the bottom line is that it's either wrong or misleading to use the word "symbolic". If possible, an alternate word should be substituted. If not, it should be removed.--TAW (talk) 03:33, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I seriously hope you're kidding. Half of this discussion has been about a given source, one that you refuse to approach, because you don't like the word symbolic. You haven't provided any evidence that symbolic is not the correct word, other than your opinion. Wikipedia is not based on faulty editor opinions when reliable sources say otherwise. - SudoGhost 03:38, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
@Sudo: I don't understand what you disagree with and why. I agree with the italicized quote, and I think the current version meets them. Jesanj (talk) 02:09, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
It does not. You removed a sourced definition from the first sentence, and against the manual of style, moved it further down the lede. "A creation myth or creation story is a narrative that presents an account" is not what the source gives, and is an incorrect definition. If I were to say "Steve created the world and then put people there", by the definition you changed it to, that automatically becomes a creation myth. Despite the fact that this obviously isn't one, it meets this article's current definition. Creation myths have religious symbolism. Stories that are works of fiction do not. Changing the first lede sentence removed this distinction. - SudoGhost 02:22, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
"A creation myth or creation story is a religious narrative that presents an account"... there. Fixed.--TAW (talk) 02:32, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
@Sudo: I think you're splitting hairs. Jesanj (talk) 02:43, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I'm not going to take sides in this dispute ... yet. However, I think both sides of this dispute are missing the real questions to an extent.

The pro-"symbolic" folks suggest that "symbolic" is not really problematic because in this context it simply means "meaningful" or "significant" (rather than "non-literal"). They then resist any effort to remove the word "symbolic", pointing out that reliable sources use it. The problem here is that WP policy does not require us to reproduce the exact wording of reliable sources. (Indeed, if we did so, then every article would be 100% plagiarism!) Yes, reliable sources define creation myths as "symbolic narratives", but that doesn't mean that we have to use the phrase "symbolic narratives". If the reliable sources make it clear that they are using the word "symbolic" to mean "X", then we can say "X" instead of "symbolic". The real question is not whether reliable sources use the word "symbolic" but, rather, whether they clearly imply what they mean by "symbolic". If they do, then we can (and should) replace the word "symbolic" with a word that explains what "symbolic" actually means in the reliable sources.

The anti-"symbolic" folks argue that "symbolic" needs to go because it implies (incorrectly) that no one takes creation myths literally. When the pro-"symbolic" folks point out that "symbolic" might actually mean "meaningful" (or something like that) instead of "non-literal", the anti-"symbolic" folks (or TAW, at any rate) respond by saying that the pro-"symbolic" folks don't have any evidence that "symbolic" means anything other than "non-literal". But wait. If that's true, then doesn't it count as a reason to keep the word "symbolic" in the lead? If the sources were using "symbolic" to mean "meaningful" rather than "non-literal", then we would have reason to remove the word "symbolic" and replace it with "meaningful", since the average reader isn't going to understand that "symbolic" means "meaningful" (as opposed to "non-literal"). But if the sources are using "symbolic" in its more common sense of "non-literal" or "allegorical", then the word "symbolic" should stay, because it accurately expresses to an average reader what the sources are saying.

To sum up:

  • Either the reliable sources are using "symbolic" to mean "non-literal" or they aren't.
  • If they are using "symbolic" to mean "non-literal", then we should keep "symbolic" in the lead. You may think that the reliable sources are wrong, that not all cultures regard their creation myths as non-literal. But that doesn't matter. On WP, truth doesn't matter; only reliable sources do.
  • If the reliable sources are using "symbolic" to mean (for example) "meaningful", and the sources themselves make this clear, then there is no reason for us to confuse readers with the word "symbolic"; we should replace it with the word "meaningful".

Do people agree or disagree? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 03:39, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for commenting. I think it makes good sense. IMO it's also possible the sources could have meant both non-literal and meaningful. Jesanj (talk) 03:47, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I do agree, but the reason I think symbolic is the key word is that I've seen multiple sources that define myths (including creation myths) specifically as symbolic narratives. I don't think that many sources would use those two words specifically if they weren't what was meant. - SudoGhost 03:58, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with a few minor details, but the gist is correct... in isolation. We all (-Ghost) agree that if "symbolic" means "meaningful", "religious", or something similar, we should replace it. Let's assume, then, that it DOESN'T mean that, and that it actually means the dictionary definition. Well, there is a vast number of reliable sources (here's just one) reporting the fact that not all cultures regard their creation myths as non-literal. Unless you are willing to exclude the genesis creation myth, the very one which is the inspiration for the main image in the article, then one (or both, in theory) of the sources must be wrong. We can either take out all reference to the genesis creation myth, or we can simply take out the word "symbolically" from the definition (or say "often have symbolic meanings").--TAW (talk) 04:04, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Please see this. Why a symbolic narrative means "cannot possibly be literal by anyone who reads it" doesn't seem clear, and your logic is refuted by multiple reliable sources. If you're going to make the argument that "X means Y, and Y cannot be true, so X cannot be in the article", you need to establish that X actually does mean Y, and not with your opinion, but with reliable sources, especially when your opinion is being contradicted by multiple reliable sources. - SudoGhost 04:08, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
That definition of "symbolic" is so vague and general as to be meaningless. Yes, all narratives are open to readers' own interpretation or perception of symbolism, but that does not make the narrative objectively symbolic. That does not make narratives by definition symbolic. If it did, then EVERYTHING would be symbolic, because EVERYTHING is open to observers' own interpretation or perception of symbolism, and the word "symbolic" would have no meaning.
I have already established that "X actually does mean Y". I've linked to dictionary definitions of both "symbolic" and "symbol" (dealing with symbols for the former, and something that represents something else for the latter). It is not my opinion, it is the explicit dictionary definition. I have also established that Y isn't true. The fact remains that there are cultures out there whose basic tenants include the idea that their creation myths are not symbolic, but are "real, reliable, historical" (quoted from here). They do not believe that the creation story represents something other than it explicitly purports to represent.--TAW (talk) 04:36, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────A quick search turns up the following sources that describe creation myths as "symbolic":

  1. Charles H. Long, "creation myth", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition: "The myth of creation is the symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular community."
  2. David Adams Leeming and Margaret Adams Leeming, A Dictionary of Creation Myths, p. vii: "Like all myths, creation myths are etiological — they use symbolic narrative to explain beginnings..."
  3. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, p. 267: "symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular tradition and community"
  4. Ida H. Stamhuis, The Changing Image of the Sciences, p. 149: "The Encyclopaedia Britannica offers the following, useful definition. A 'Creation Myth' (or 'cosmogonic myth') is: 'a symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular tradition and community...'"
  5. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia, p. 411: "creation myth or cosmogony Symbolic narrative of the creation and organization of the world as understood in a particular tradition."

However, this source seems to restrict the term "symbolical" to only certain cultures' interpretations of their creation myths: David Leeming, "Creation", The Oxford Companion to World Mythology: "Many of the father god people—perhaps because of their commitment to the ideal of power—have, over the centuries, tended to insist on a literal rather than symbolical understanding of their myths." (Oddly, this is the same David Leeming who co-authored A Dictionary of Creation Myths above!) --Phatius McBluff (talk) 04:38, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Unless I'm misreading this (and I welcome others to double-check), it seems to suggest that yes, symbolic narratives are often taken literally. However, that does not mean that there is not a symbolic meaning behind these narratives. This is what I gathered from this source. From this I would say that symbolic narratives are often taken literally, but this does that mean that the symbolism behind the literal is not present, nor does it mean that a literal interpretation of a creation myth negates the fact that it is still symbolic narrative. - SudoGhost 05:04, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Could the issue here be that whether something is a creation myth or not is relative? Narrative X is a creation myth to people Y, but it is NOT a creation myth to people Z? Because as I said earlier, if something is objectively a creation myth or not, and the first few definitions apply, then the genesis narrative (as well as many others, but I'm most familiar with this one) cannot be a creation myth, since it isn't currently symbolic to a large portion of christians. In addition, it most certainly was not symbolic to nearly all christians before Darwin came along with The Origin. It seems silly to say that the genesis narrative was NOT a creation myth and then gradually became one, even though the narrative itself did not change one iota.
Anyway, my point is that IF the term "creation myth" is relative, we would be forced to a) find sources to confirm this fact, and b) basically have to completely rewrite the article to make this clear
as for Ghost's point, how can an encyclopedia say whether something is objectively and by definition symbolic? I think it's legitimate to say that X CAN be symbolic to some people, but to make the positive statement that something IS symbolic is to make a claim about objective reality.--TAW (talk) 05:09, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
If you're unsure, then the best route is to follow what reliable sources say. Reliable sources overwhelmingly say that creation myths are symbolic narratives. Creation myths can be taken literally and allegorically at the same time, that some people take the creation myth literally does not automatically strip any symbolism from the narrative. - SudoGhost 05:13, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
lol... from the article cited: "An allegorical interpretation of Genesis is a symbolic, rather than literal, reading of the biblical Book of Genesis.". And yet, from allegory: "Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation." Yay, more articles that should be corrected.--TAW (talk) 05:21, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Here's another quote from that article: "Some Jews and Christians have long considered the creation account of Genesis as an allegory instead of as historical description"... really, the only thing this goes to show is that the word "symbolic" is seen by most people to be an antonym of "literal" or "historical description". Just goes to show that we should specify what the word "symbolic" means, otherwise it is just plain misleading.--TAW (talk) 05:25, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
So you would be fine with "A creation myth is a symbolic narrative..." as long as we clarified that meaning? - SudoGhost 05:28, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Only if you can justify using that clarified meaning with reputable sources. If "symbolic" means "meaningful" or any of the things you say they mean in anthropological circles, then fine. I have nothing against using the correct technical term. But you have to prove that it is indeed the correct technical term for "meaningful"/etc. Otherwise there is no justification for "clarifying" the meaning.--TAW (talk) 05:33, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I have already proven that it belongs in the article. It is reliably sourced, and there are many strong reliable sources that verify this further. Your opinion is that creation myths are not symbolic narratives. Anthropologists overwhelmingly disagree with you. It's up to you to show (not opine) why "symbolic" doesn't belong. I have provided a source above that details how a creation myth can be taken literally by people and still be defined as a symbolic narrative. - SudoGhost 05:43, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Sigh. We were talking about the MEANING of the word "symbolic", not whether any sources use that word. Read your and my previous posts again. Your last post is a complete non-sequitur--TAW (talk) 05:52, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

If you want to expand on the meaning of the word, that is open to discussion. However, the definition is reliably sourced, and belongs in the lede sentence of the article. Do you disagree, and if so, what can you provide that disputes this? Being a symbolic narrative does not preclude a literal interpretation, that has been shown in the source above, and I believe that was the objection. - SudoGhost 05:57, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Again, I think that you two are arguing past each other to an extent. Before Ghost returned to the issue of sourcing, his point was that a story can have literal and symbolic layers of meaning simultaneously. TAW seems to have taken him to mean that the word "symbolic" isn't opposed to the word "literal". Well, of course the words are opposed in a certain sense: a symbolic meaning is, on most ordinary definitions, a non-literal meaning. But that doesn't mean that a community cannot simultaneously attribute both literal and symbolic meanings to one and the same text. Indeed, during the Middle Ages, it was considered a truism that scripture had four different layers of meaning, only one of which was literal (see Allegory in the Middle Ages).
Wouldn't one solution be to appeal to take the "attribution" escape route? When there's disagreement about a certain claim in a WP article, it's common to add "According to source A" or "According to a number of sources" to beginning of the claim. This qualifies the claim, but in a way that does no violence to its content. Ghost objected to rewording "Creation myths are symbolic narratives..." as "Creation myths often have symbolic meanings" because the sources do not say "often". But if we say, "A number of sources define creation myths as symbolic narratives...", then we are qualifying the claim without misrepresenting the sources. Here is my idea for what we should say somewhere in the lead:
Definitions of creation myths vary. A number of sources define a creation myth as a "symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood" by a particular "tradition" or "community".[A] Other sources define a creation myth as "a cosmogony", a "narrative" or "story" "that describes the original ordering", or "the origins", "of the universe".[B]
For [A], we could provide the following citations:
  1. Charles H. Long, "creation myth", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition: "The myth of creation is the symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular community."
  2. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, p. 267: "symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular tradition and community"
  3. Ida H. Stamhuis, The Changing Image of the Sciences, p. 149: "The Encyclopaedia Britannica offers the following, useful definition. A 'Creation Myth' (or 'cosmogonic myth') is: 'a symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular tradition and community...'"
  4. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia, p. 411: "creation myth or cosmogony Symbolic narrative of the creation and organization of the world as understood in a particular tradition."
For [B], we could provide the following citations:
  1. David Adams Leeming and Margaret Adams Leeming, A Dictionary of Creation Myths, p. vii: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a narrative that describes the original ordering of the universe".
  2. David Adams Leeming, Margaret Adams Leeming, Encyclopedia of Creation Myths: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a narrative that describes the original ordering of the universe."
  3. David Adams Leeming, A Dictionary of Asian Mythology, p. 47: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a story that describes the origin of the universe."
What do people think? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 15:04, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
That revision would be true, so I think it works. I don't have time to elaborate, but while I still think it is wrong and misleading to say creation myths are objectively symbolic, it is fair to acknowledge the fact that some sources do define creation myths that way.--TAW (talk) 15:31, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I do not like the attribution solution. Not in the lead of an article about something this basic. The sources almost exclusively call it a symbolic narrative. There is no problem with both using "symbolic" as a descriptor and pointing out that some communities have also read the narratives as literal. Whatever happens please do not perpetuate the poor writing of one of the sources above which claims it "is understood by a tradition ..." Traditions don't understand things. Understood "within" a tradition would be fine. By a community, within a tradition. Cheers.Griswaldo (talk) 15:55, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
We only really have two different definitions. The ones calling it a symbolic narrative are clearly copying each other's definition, as the wording is far too similar for that to not be the case. The ones calling it a cosmogony (and clearly they should have said "religious cosmogony") are written by the same authors. I don't like the idea that we have to mindlessly parrot something just because sources say it. Sources can be wrong and they can contradict each other. Even you Griswaldo clearly think so, since you're advocating that we not say something which is in a number of sources- that the myths are understood by a tradition.
The oxford dictionary defines "literal" as "taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or allegory" (emphasis mine). It defines "allegory" as "a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one" "a symbol.". By extension then, a literal interpretation means that something cannot be symbolic. (note that I said "a literal interpretation". The word "literal" has other meanings, such as "representing the exact words of the original text.". Something can be both symbolic AND literal in this sense, but this is is not be the sense in which creationists/fundamentalists mean when they say the bible should be interpreted literally)
The bottom line is that we have conflicting sources. One source says that a creation myth must, by their definition, be symbolic. Other sources say that something being symbolic means that it is not literal (with the caveat I mentioned above), and other sources report the fact that some cultures or traditions interpret their creation myths as being literal.
This conflict is EASILY resolved by simply using the definition from another reliable source, one that doesn't imply that ALL creation myths MUST be symbolic. Alternatively, since we DO have reliable sources which do not consider a symbolic meaning to be absolutely necessary for a creation myth, the word "symbolic" can simply be removed from the definition in the article. I will note that doing so is both a)unbiased b)objective c)verifiable. There is NO good reason why we SHOULD include the word "symbolic" in the definition. Yet there are quite a number of reasons (it's misleading, confusing, biased, and wrong) why we SHOULD remove the word "symbolic. --TAW (talk) 22:32, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
You're providing original research, your opinion, not verifiable fact. Reliable sources call creation myths symbolic narratives. All of these anthropologists wouldn't call them symbolic narratives if they didn't mean exactly that. I have already provided a source above that says that symbolic narratives can be taken literally and still be symbolic, thus negating your entire argument. There are no conflicting sources. As for "There is NO good reason why we SHOULD include the word "symbolic" in the definition." How about WP:RS, WP:V, WP:WEIGHT? I'd give those more value than your opinion. Reliably sourced information with significant weight doesn't magically go away because you don't like it, or because your overgeneralized dictionary definition assumes it contradicts something, when a reliable source has already shown that it does not. Reliable sources trump your opinion, especially the overwhelming number of reliable sources contradicting your opinion. - SudoGhost 03:21, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Exactly, the sources are what guide us. TAW, to be clear its one source, as far as I can tell, that uses the incorrect "understood by" but that fact doesn't make a difference anyway as it has no bearing on the "symbolic" issue. The sources say "symbolic" and its clear as day.Griswaldo (talk) 03:51, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
1) I am not providing original research, just showing that sources contradict each other. I am NOT putting words in the mouths of the sources, they used those words themselves. I am also not changing the meaning of the words, that's what the words MEAN. YOU are the one doing original research in saying that "symbolic" means "something that is believed", "meaningful", etc. The burden of proof is on you to show that what the sources meant was something other than the dictionary definition. That is what you're claiming.
2) How has anything I've said not been verifiable? I linked you to the definitions of "symbolic", "literal", "allegory", etc. I also linked you to research reporting the fact that some traditions interpret the bible literally, and Phatius linked to sources defining "creation myth" in a way that shows that a "symbolic" interpretation is NOT a necessary component of a creation myth.
3) Sorry, could you provide the reliable source saying "that says that symbolic narratives can be taken literally and still be symbolic" again? I must have missed it, because all I see is a link to a wikipedia article (not a reliable source) which a) does not cite reliable sources for the relevant claims, at least as far as I can tell, b) explicitly warns the reader that that article may contain original research, and c) outright implies that the words "symbolic" and "literal" are antonyms and thus mutually exclusive. For example: "An allegorical interpretation of Genesis is a symbolic, rather than literal", "Some Jews and Christians have long considered the creation account of Genesis as an allegory instead of as historical description", and says "Those who read Genesis literally" vs. "Those who favor an allegorical interpretation of the story". Your very source puts "literal" and "symbolic" interpretations in opposing camps.
4)The sources cited above which do not use the word "symbolic" in their definition of "creation myth" ARE WP:RS, WP:V, WP:WEIGHT. They clearly and unambiguously show that a "symbolic" interpretation is NOT a necessary component of a creation myth. As such, "There is NO good reason why we SHOULD include the word "symbolic" in the definition.". Let me repeat it: There are sources that fit the WP:RS, WP:V, WP:WEIGHT categories which clearly show that the word symbolic is not needed in the definition. There is therefore no good reason to stubbornly demand that our definition must include the word "symbolic" in it.
5)Reliable sources trump your opinion
6)Griswaldo, you're using a double standard. The sources (two of them, #2 and #3 above) say "as understood by a particular tradition" as clear as day. By your own logic, you have no basis for wanting to exclude that phrase from wikipedia's definition. In fact, at the present time, you have far less basis than I do wanting to remove the word "symbolic". You haven't shown that "understood by a particular tradition" is wrong, misleading, biased, etc.
7)This argument is getting old. Do NOT simply repeat what you've been saying before. If you want to argue my points, then show me EXACTLY why the oxford dictionary is not a reliable source, or why it isn't verifiable, or how the definition of "literal" is NOT in opposition to the word "symbolic", or how using the word "symbolic" is not going to mislead many readers, or how the word symbolic is a an absolutely integral part of the term "creation myth". In other words, address my points. Do NOT ignore my points and just repeat the same old canards. Here's a hint: I numbered my points, number yours as well.--TAW (talk) 04:52, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Again, I don't have a strong opinion on this issue either way. But TAW, I think you're misunderstanding what Ghost means when he says you're engaged in OR. We don't have any source that explicitly says, "Not all creation myths are symbolic narratives". In arguing against the word "symbolic", you appeal to (1) sources that say that "symbolic" means "non-literal" and (2) a source that says that some people interpret Genesis literally; you then combine these sources to yield the conclusion that not all creation myths are symbolic. That is, of course, original research.

Now, I'm not saying that TAW's original research shouldn't influence us as editors. Of course, as OR, it shouldn't be inserted as article content; but as TAW rightly points out, WP editors do have the right to exercise editorial discretion. Editorial discretion may involve refraining from adding certain phrases even though they could be sourced. Nonetheless, TAW, since you must synthesize various sources in order to reach the conclusion that not all creation myths are symbolic, that conclusion counts as "original research" in a perfectly straightforward, non-judgmental sense of the term. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 05:40, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

We should definitely not be using any dictionary to explain how specific reliable sources in specific situations are using a word. Dougweller (talk) 05:52, 12 October 2011 (UTC)


TAW, "understood by a tradition" is simply poor writing. It means that a tradition can understand something which isn't correct because only people or groups of people "understand" things. Understanding requires consciousness, something that a tradition does not have. Major publications make these minor errors at times, but we need not repeat them. On the other hand this issue, once again, has nothing to do with the use of "symbolic". I can repeat that to you until I'm blue in the face but what needs to happen is for you to listen. Cheers.Griswaldo (talk) 12:16, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Phatius- I still don't think it's original research. I'm just pointing out that two sources contradict, so we should use an alternate definition (which IS verified, not original research, etc) that isn't contradicted by other sources. There is a source that says creation myths are symbolic. There's another source saying that in some traditions, their creation myth is taken literally. They therefore contradict. I merely cited the dictionary definitions because it was clear that some people here were not aware of what certain words meant. I am also not advocating saying anything in the article that is in any way shape or form unsourced or unverified. The phrase "original research" refers to statements said in the article. To use the "no original research" page's own words: I am not "adding OR" because I am "able to cite reliable, published sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and directly support the material as presented.". The very sources you yourself provided fit that criterion. They directly support the material as I want it to be presented (ie. a definition without the word "symbolic" in it).
Griswaldo- lol... you're completely missing my point. My point is that you are using special pleading. Your logic is inconsistent. I actually agree with you in that we shouldn't say "understood by a tradition". However, that is "merely my opinion". I do not have any verifiable sources saying that it is wrong so say "understood by a tradition", and you haven't provided any such sources either. Using Phatius' logic (which I assume is similar to your own), using grammar textbooks, dictionaries, and whatnot in order to prove that it is grammatically wrong to use that definition constitutes original research. Why? because doing so is "synthesizing" or "combining" sources, which according to his logic constitutes original research. At least unless you are able to find a source that specifically says that "understood by a tradition" is wrong.
"Major publications make these minor errors at times, but we need not repeat them"-- BINGO! So what you're saying is that you're on my side, right? :) --TAW (talk) 23:02, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
No there is nothing "inconsistent" about my point at all. Making choices to use correct grammar is a stylistic issue and not a content issue. We don't need sources to tell us how to make stylistic decisions. If a vast majority of sources use a specific turn of phrase then that's a different story, but that's not the case here at all. You're arguing tendentiously now. If you want to engage the actual arguments over "symbolic" then do so, but these attempts to prove that I'm some kind of hypocrite are getting very old and are convincing no one. The sources all say "symbolic" ... the sources do not all use that incorrect turn of phrase I suggested we avoid. Cheers.Griswaldo (talk) 02:50, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

For your #4, I must have missed these sources that "clearly and unambiguously show that a "symbolic" interpretation is NOT a necessary component of a creation myth.", could you please provide them again?

For your #3, I apologize, I think it got lost and overlooked in the discussion above. The source is this, which says on page 58 "Anthropologists generally agree that myth is a symbolic text . . . which has a double meaning. The first one is a linguistic one on the surface where the story is interpreted in its literal sense . . . in this way religious myths are read by the believers. However, there also exists a second hidden meaning hidden in symbols . . . Symbolic narratives which constitutes myth expresses cultural issues through the double meaning of the text." This source is not contradicted by your reference that stated that a percentage of people take Genesis literally. However, this literal interpretation does not preclude the symbolic meaning present in the text, which other people draw from the same text.

On the next page, this same source also addresses that which you have been conveying, that if a narrative is symbolic, it cannot also be literal, because those two are the opposite of one another. "In particular, in our logical discourse we assume that if A and B are different or contradictory, they cannot be identical. In myth it is quite the opposite."

I omitted words from the first quote above that I did not feel were relevant to this discussion, but the source is found above, for anyone that would like to read the text in its entirety. - SudoGhost 18:14, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

For #4: sure. Phatius was actually the one that provided them:
  1. David Adams Leeming and Margaret Adams Leeming, A Dictionary of Creation Myths, p. vii: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a narrative that describes the original ordering of the universe".
  2. David Adams Leeming, Margaret Adams Leeming, Encyclopedia of Creation Myths: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a narrative that describes the original ordering of the universe."
  3. David Adams Leeming, A Dictionary of Asian Mythology, p. 47: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a story that describes the origin of the universe."
Those definitions do not have any mention of "symbolic" or "symbolism". They therefore show that such interpretations are not necessary for you to have a creation myth.
About #3- Thanks for the source. Notice that your source specifically elaborates in what sense it uses the word "literally"- "The first one is a linguistic one on the surface where the story is interpreted in its literal sense" (emphasis mine) It then continues on to say: "On this level of meaning myth may convey the message from the past which justifies and sanctifies the normative structure of the society, its values, and its way of life,... ".
When many christian groups talk about their tradition of interpreting the bible literally, they do not mean this in a purely linguistic fashion. They do not JUST think that when genesis refers to a talking snake, it is referring to a literal snake literally talking, and not an evil person who is called a "snake" as a literary device. This is surely key for many of them, but they go much further than that by interpreting genesis as historically literal. They think there literally was a literal snake that literally talked to Adam and Eve in this planet's past. What's more, they do not find justification and sanctification of their society, values, or way of life in genesis. That comes later, with Moses and the 10 commandments, god's rules, and Jesus' teachings.
In short, you're inadvertently committing the equivocation fallacy. There way in which my source uses the word "literally" is not the same way in which your source uses the word "literally". As such, your source is not relevant in this debate. --TAW (talk) 23:33, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
That a source does not specifically use the word symbolic does not "clearly and unambiguously show that a "symbolic" interpretation is NOT a necessary component of a creation myth" by any stretch of the imagination. The source I gave above specifically says that "in this way religious myths are read by the believers" (referring to a literal interpretation). That individuals interpret Genesis literally does not contradict this, but rather reinforces what the source is saying. - SudoGhost 23:55, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
If you can define something without using that word, then that word is not necessary for the definition. It's simple logic. It's clear and unambiguous. As for the rest of your reply, you just repeated what you had said before. You didn't even attempt to address any of my points.--TAW (talk) 01:39, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
As I've already said before, creation myths are not simply narratives, and this is not a clear and concise definition. For the cosmogony definition, that is a single definition given by David Adams Leeming, and overwhelmingly a minor view, "symbolic narrative" the consensus definition given by reliable sources written by experts in the relevant fields. As for not addressing your points, it is because your points had already been refuted multiple times before and at this point aren't worth even acknowledging, because you're just going to repeat them later as if they had not been addressed. At this point it seems as if you're arguing for the sake of arguing, and I'm weary of it. The consensus seems to be against you, and if no other editor has any additional input, I'm going to assume that this is the case, as per the comments by the other editors on this talk page section. Everything you've said has been addressed, and shown with reliable sources why it is not the case. A symbolic narrative does not preclude a literal interpretation, but in fact supports the fact that there is one. That people will read the creation myth in a literal way to the exclusion of any symbolism present does not change this. - SudoGhost 02:07, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
No. You CANNOT just assume people agree with you from silence. That is an ignominious, dishonest tactic. Besides, most people who have posted here have been willing to compromise and either replace the word "symbolic" or qualify it with something else. You are the only one preventing progress by stubbornly refusing to compromise or offer alternatives. Let's put a general proposal for a vote, and then narrow it down.
Everyone reading this, please vote. Rate these options from most preferable to least: 1) leave as is (the consensus is already that this is an improvement from the previous version). 2) replace the word "symbolic" with another word, such as "religious" or "meaningful". 3)remove the word "symbolic" altogether, without replacement. 4)Qualify the definition by adding "often" or a similar word to it, so it reads "Creation myths often have symbolic meanings..."
My vote: 4,2,3,1.--TAW (talk) 02:53, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
PS: let's keep this poll open for 5 days, to make sure everyone who wants to vote has time to do so.--TAW (talk) 02:57, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm going to assume you somehow missed this.[16][17][18][19][20]
As for the "vote", Wikipedia is not a democracy, we do not vote. Everything you have said has been refuted by reliable sources. Per the reliable sources and WP:BEGINNING, it needs to be changed back to the previous version, as "A creation myth is a symbolic narrative..." is the most concise definition available. I would then recommend that it be clarified that a creation myth can be taken literally, to clear up any confusion. You've given no verifiable facts that refute this, only your opinions and original research. - SudoGhost 03:14, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Just so it is clear, your number 3 and 4 are not supported by reliable sources, and changing it to either of these would be because you want to, not because reliable sources support it. For number 2, if they had meant some other word, such as religious or meaningful, I think they would have used that instead, as those don't appear to correctly convey the meaning as some of the sources were using it. Number 1 I believe is a violation of WP:BEGINNING as removing symbolic just to place it further down changes the definition given in the first sentence, making it no longer a concise or truly accurate definition of creation myth. - SudoGhost 03:22, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia is about building a consensus, as the link says. If people don't make their preferences known, we cannot know whether a consensus has been reached. My poll is simply the first step in building a consensus about what the exact wording should be. You and I alone shouldn't be the ones discussing this, yet most of the "discussion" is between us. You CANNOT unilaterally decide you have the absolute truth and disregard everyone else's opinion. --TAW (talk) 03:27, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm not the only one that has replied[21][22][23] and a consensus is not made through votes. - SudoGhost 03:33, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
(ec)Except you, TAW, are the one disregarding everyone else, or so it seems to the rest of us. Who supports your position? You appear to be filibustering and that's not the way to go about it.Griswaldo (talk) 03:35, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Let me get this straight: we have reliable sources using a certain term that one or a couple editors don't like, and somehow this conversation took up more than 500 bytes? No, Sudo cannot unilaterally decide, the sources decide for us, we just report what the sources say. And yes, Alpha, your opinion is irrelevant insofar as the sourcing is good, which is certainly appears to be. Noformation Talk 03:42, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
I have been willing to compromise a number of times, but neither of you are actually listening to anything I say, so I will just let the poll run. You don't like my "filibustering"? fine, stop merely arguing and actually advocate a position. VOTE. I won't reply if you vote, only if you argue.
Noformation- We have reliable sources that do not use the word "symbolic". Alright, so what do you advocate we do?--TAW (talk) 03:45, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── To clarify, we have one author out of a dozen or so sources that does not use symbolic narrative, however, the author also does not, to my knowledge, state that creation myths are not symbolic narratives. The others not only define it as such, but a few go into great detail about the symbolic nature of creation myths.

As for "stop merely arguing and actually advocate a position", I have done so from the start, and used reliable sources to do so. You have offered your opinion. Articles are not changed by editor opinions that are contradictory to what reliable sources say, no matter how many times you say those opinions. - SudoGhost 03:57, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Yes I saw that we have a single source using one phrase and multiple sources using another, I also haven't seen anything that I consider a compelling justification for making a change. So I ask again, why is this topic using more than 500 bytes?! If Alpha wants to bring an RFC then that's his prerogative, but I don't see this conversation going anywhere at this point (nor do I think an RFC would help). Is there any new information to be added? If not, then consensus is pretty firmly with the status quo. Noformation Talk 04:05, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
(Moved to separate section below) - SudoGhost 04:20, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
As I mentioned before, we really only have two sources. The couple of different pages using the word "symbolic" are using the same sources, as the wording is nearly identical. In fact, at least one of them clearly says that they are using another source's definition. Notice [this source says "The Encyclopaedia Britannica offers the followring, useful definition". So in reality, all those sources are ultimately derived from the same source.
So, Noformation, you vote for #1 then, leave as is.--TAW (talk) 04:16, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Just to reiterate, voting means nothing here. One editor with policy on his side will beat 10 editors without, 100% of the time. Noformation Talk 04:19, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Also, to address your point regarding it being the same source. The fact that a source has been cited and used multiple times adds strength to the argument for using it. If other reliable sources saw fit to use it as their source, then clearly it's a respected source. Noformation Talk 04:23, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Having said that, there ARE other sources that omit the word "symbolic".
  1. "creation myth In most mythologies and religions, an account of the origin of the world, as well as of the human race and all the other creatures on Earth." from "creation myth." World Encyclopedia. 2005.
  2. "creation myths The essential metaphysical question that creation myths seek to answer is that of origins, or where things come from." (...etc. No mention of "symbolic" as being applied to creation myths in general) from COLIN BLAKEMORE and SHELIA JENNETT. "creation myths." The Oxford Companion to the Body. 2001.
  3. "cosmogony. Also known as creation myth; a mythological explanation for the creation and evolution of the universe." from JAMES MacKILLOP. "cosmogony." A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. 2004.

Plus, of course, the ones previously mentioned:

  1. David Adams Leeming and Margaret Adams Leeming, A Dictionary of Creation Myths, p. vii: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a narrative that describes the original ordering of the universe".
  2. David Adams Leeming, Margaret Adams Leeming, Encyclopedia of Creation Myths: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a narrative that describes the original ordering of the universe."
  3. David Adams Leeming, A Dictionary of Asian Mythology, p. 47: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a story that describes the origin of the universe."
The first four, as I can tell, are all from completely different sources. They use different language, the authors are different, etc. --TAW (talk) 04:24, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
I might also point out that a couple of my sources are specifically about mythology or creation myths.--TAW (talk) 04:27, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
There seems to be a difference between a creation myth and cosmogony, depending on who you ask. I'm still looking into that, but I thought I would point that out. - SudoGhost 04:43, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Apparently the line between creation myth and cosmogony is a grey one. However, omitting the word symbolic does not mean that they contradict these sources, especially given the detail some of these sources go into when describing the symbolic nature of creation myths. The references above are also still a minor definition, one outweighed by numerous reliable sources, and this specifically says that anthropologists agree that they are symbolic. These aren't my words, they're given by a reliable source, in addition to the dozen or so reliable sources on this talk page agreeing with that statement.
Scratch that. The three sources you linked from before, by David Adams Leeming, do say that creation myths are symbolic narratives.[24] I suspect that, if we were able to see the other three sources you added (I admit I cannot find them online), they would also say the same. - SudoGhost 04:58, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Moving forward

I believe that this should be changed back, as this change does not improve the article in any way, does not give the reader any additional insight or clarity, and does not adhere to the Manual of Style (specifically WP:BEGINNING: If its subject is definable, then the first sentence should give a concise definition.) Moving this concise definition from the first sentence to an awkward spot further down the lede doesn't improve the article in any way, and if Wikipedia's MoS says to put it in the first sentence, I see no compelling reason not to. However, to avoid edit warring, I wanted to discuss it before reverting. - SudoGhost 05:37, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Nevermind, it has been made. - SudoGhost 23:39, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
I've reverted Phatius' change because it plagiarizes Britannica. And for the record even if we quoted Britannica I would be against it because we should not be blindly following one source like this in our lead. We should be succinctly summarizing the topic. Why do we need the addition of "understood within a tradition or community" at all? What does it add? It is redundant and in my opinion inelegant. Why add that in but eliminate the part about first inhabitants, which was sourced as well, and is not implied in the text and has to be stated?Griswaldo (talk) 00:32, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Let's have a note explaining what a symbolic narrative is to readers, as this note explains another potentially confusing aspect of an article with its [note 1], for example. As our discussion demonstrates, "symbolic narrative" is not immediately clear and accessible, as Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section requires. Jesanj (talk) 00:41, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Random, quick question that I'm sure Sudo will enthusiastically jump on- are any of you able to block me (as a user) and/or to delete my account? If not, how would I achieve this? No need to reply to this if you can do it, and you can reply to me in my talk page if need be--TAW (talk) 00:47, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Please see your talk page. - SudoGhost 02:40, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, Griswaldo, but I'm confused... The phrase "understood within a tradition or community" was supported not just by Britannica but also by most of the other sources that I cited for that sentence (i.e., "A creation myth is a symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood within a particular tradition or community"). And, no, it wasn't plagiarism; the exact wording at Britannica is "The myth of creation is the symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular community". Let me repeat the list of sources that I've posted a number of times above:
  1. Britannica: "The myth of creation is the symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular community."
  2. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions: "CREATION MYTH [...] symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular tradition and community"
  3. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia: "creation myth or cosmogony Symbolic narrative of the creation and organization of the world as understood in a particular tradition."
  4. Ida H. Stamhuis, The Changing Image of the Sciences: "The Encyclopaedia Britannica offers the following, useful definition. A 'Creation Myth' (or 'cosmogonic myth') is: 'a symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular tradition and community...'"
We may feel that the words "tradition" and "community" add nothing to the definition. But, by the logic that the pro-"symbolic" side just used against TAW, that would be irrelevant, no? The explicit tying of creation myths to a particular community or tradition is supported by sources; claims that such a move adds nothing to the definition is personal opinion and OR. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 02:35, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Two of those references are actually the same one - Encyclopedia Britannica. Note that Britannica has gotten rid of the confusing "by a tradition" portion and settled only on "community." But back to the point ... the other two sources are both Merriam Webster, though separate reference sources I suppose. Keep in mind that Merriam Webster is a "Encyclopedia Britannica company." The fact that their definitions mirror each other to this extent can't be a coincidence since no sources outside of this company's umbrella seem to stick this closely to that particular wording, and most don't include anything about "a community or tradition." Regarding plagiarism, you only replaced one word as far as I could tell. I didn't mean it as an attack on your or as a criticism of what you did, because I see it all too often when people write the initial definition of a concept in Wikipedia entries. They seem to think that taking one dictionary definition and copying it almost entirely isn't plagiarism. I don't agree. Not when there are many other, different ways of defining a concept or of presenting a similar definition.Griswaldo (talk) 13:21, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
I suppose I'm trying to make a point here. (I don't mean this as a personal attack on anyone here — least of all Griswaldo, who wasn't even involved in the above dispute for very long — so I hope that no one takes it that way.) I hope that everyone realizes that we just managed to drive an editor (TAW) away from Wikipedia. Was that whole long argument just about getting the phrase "symbolic narrative" into the article? I thought it was about the idea that reliable sourcing trumps other arguments. If we're serious about that idea, then shouldn't "understood by a particular tradition or community" also be included in the article? Look, I don't feel strongly about the phrase "understood within a particular tradition or community", just as I didn't feel strongly about the phrase "symbolic narrative". But I do feel strongly that, if we aren't willing to include "understood by a particular tradition or community" in the article, then we owe TAW a big apology. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 02:43, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't think anyone needs to apologize to TAW. If he can't handle this level of disagreement on a talk page without quitting the project it's not anyone else's fault. I will note also that apparently I'm an "idiot" if I'm reading his talk page correctly at the moment, not to mention the fact that I consider his manner of arguing with me to have been tendentious. Yet here I am not quitting the project. Just below I've explained why something like "symbolic" or "mythological" should be part of our initial description. In my opinion the Britannica related sources are saying "symbolic narrative" because they are avoiding the word "myth," for whatever reason. Perhaps its just stylistic, so as not to use a word that is part of the compound word they are defining in it's own definition. Anyway we do need to reiterate that not all narratives of origin are "creation myths," and without some descriptor that helps us narrow the field we wont be relating that information.Griswaldo (talk) 14:47, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

I'm not wed to the word symbolic either in fact, but as far as I can tell when it isn't used in the sources tend to use "myth" or "mythological" instead. I'd be happy with such substitution. Here are some examples:

  • Oxford English Dictionary - "a myth describing or explaining the creation of the world."
  • Oxford's A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology - "cosmogony. Also known as creation myth; a mythological explanation for the creation and evolution of the universe."

I think what some editors are trying to avoid is simply calling these myths "narratives," without any qualification since they might then include scientific cosmogonies, or else not make it clear that there is a difference between folk tales and religious stories about creation and scientific cosmogonies. I think that is a valid concern, and I think it is adequately dealt with by the sources that are saying either "symbolic" or "mythological" narrative. As far as conveying the idea that individual myths stem from specific traditions, or may vary between different communities, I'm not entirely against stating that in the first sentence either, although by no means do all sources do that the way the Britannica sources do. What I do object to is copying, or virtually copying, what one of the Britannica sources says.Griswaldo (talk) 13:21, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Okay, I agree that TAW is being overly dramatic. My statement about us owing him a "big apology" should not be taken completely literally. (Pun intended.)
My real point is about consistency: we need to be consistent in the extent to which we allow sources to dictate wording (as opposed to ideas). Everyone (including TAW) agrees that a creation myth isn't just any story that purports to describe creation. It's a creation story with some kind of special significance within a community or tradition. The sources are presumably trying to express this special significance by using the word "symbolic". Now, as you correctly point out, the mere fact that the sources choose that word does not mean that we must use it: if we can find some substitute that expresses what the sources are trying to convey with the word "symbolic", then we can use that substitute. Here's the problem (and the reason why I don't oppose the word "symbolic"): it's unclear to me what kind of special significance the sources are trying to express with "symbolic", and hence I can't think of a good substitute for "symbolic".
So here's the question: Do we have any idea what the sources mean by "symbolic"? You apparently think that, by "symbolic", the sources just mean "mythological" (of course, that raises the question of how to define "mythological", but I suppose that's a question for a different article). Here is my guess: by calling creation myths "symbolic", the sources mean that a creation myth expresses and encodes (i.e. conveys through symbols) the values, etc. of the community that tells it (hence the reference to "community" and "tradition" in the sources). Unfortunately, that's all my personal opinion unless I have a source to back it up. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 16:18, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
IMO, symbolic in these contexts is equivalent to non-literal. The Britannica entry supports your opinion that the non-literal meanings encoded in myths reflect the values of the community. You do have a source to back that up in other words. But that is only one strand of thought on myth among many, and I don't think we can extrapolate it from one sentence dictionary definitions - that is we can't extrapolate the "values" part. The idea that myths encode meanings symbolically goes beyond the functionalist equation of mythic meanings and social values. IMO it is nearly ubiquitous in the study of mythology to some extent or another. If you say a story is a myth or mythological you imply that it is has symbolic meanings and not literal ones, among other things. I think that Britannica is making a stylistic choice here not to repeat the fact that the stories are myths, since "myth" is part of the name given to the concept they are defining. Instead they are presenting one of the major aspects of myth. My point above is that saying that the narrative if symbolic and/or mythological has the same practical value in differentiating it from other narratives of origin like those produced by scientists. "Symbolic" and "mythological" are not equal, and I wasn't trying to imply that, but in this context they are intimately related. How about we call it a mythological narrative? Cheers.Griswaldo (talk) 19:59, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
If I understand your last comment correctly, then I'm happy to say that our viewpoints on this issue are nearly identical. Surely the best (and, luckily, least controversial) definition of a creation myth is "a mythological narrative describing the creation of the world and its inhabitants" or "a myth describing the creation of the world and its inhabitants". This definition would almost fall under WP:BLUE. Maybe "symbolic" does belong in the definition of myth, but let editors on the Mythology article fight over that question; if common sense tells us anything, it's that the definition "a myth describing the creation of the world and its inhabitants" accurately captures the meaning of the phrase "creation myth".
My only worry is that we would not be able to get consensus for another change to the article at this point. What do you think, Griswaldo? Should we change the article's definition of "creation myth" to "a mythological narrative [or "a myth"] describing the creation of the world and its inhabitants", or should we just leave the article alone for a while? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 02:39, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
I would prefer this because I don't know what a symbolic narrative is. It is not clear and accessible, as MOS:LEAD requires. Alternatively, we could define symbolic narrative with a note. (Example: note 1) Jesanj (talk) 19:29, 23 October 2011 (UTC)
In your example above, you might have intended to refer to item 1 of the Notes section of that other article. Feel free to remove this interjection. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 20:48, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

Braziller 1963

This work is cited in several places but is not listed in the References section. The References section does contain a work listed as

  • Long, Charles H. (1963). Alpha: The Myths of Creation. New York: George Braziller. ISBN 0891306048. 

However, Google books lists that ISBN as

I'm guessing that the Braziller cites should probably name Long as the author, but that's just a guess -- they might be referring to another book. I don't have access to the Long book and can't check it out. Could someone who has access please straighten this out? Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 02:28, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't have access to the text, but as far as ISBNs go, Amazon is very stringent about not displaying books that do not have proper ISBNs (it will attempt to notify the publisher and sort things out to retrieve an appropriate ISBN from the publisher). On Amazon I see that the ISBN ending in numbers 47 is correct. However, one thing I have noticed about ISBNs over the years, is that different versions or prints of books can sometimes contain different ISBNs. For example, I have some textbooks in ebook format and on the copyright notice page, they list an ISBN for the hardcopy, an ISBN for the electronic copy, and sometimes I have seen an ISBN for the paperback copy (though I think it's rare, I think hardcopy/paperback usually share the same ISBN, but I could be wrong). So, I think the cites are correct and do mean to cite Charles Long. Unfortunately, I don't have the text. Perhaps check your local library and see if you can obtain it via interlibrary loan? Best wishes, John Shandy`talk 04:07, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, Braziller is supposed to be the publisher, not the author, and according to google books that edition doesn't have an ISBN. It's my screw-up, I'm sure-I templated numerous references here en masse. Professor marginalia (talk) 08:39, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm... This highlighted something I had not noticed previously re citations using Google books. Reconstructing what I did:
  1. I did a Special:BookSources search for ISBN 0891306048
  2. I then clicked "Find this book at Google Book Search online database" on that page
  3. which navigated to this, showing one hit
  4. clicking on the link for the hit navigated me to this edition of the book, which shows two different ISBNs, one ending in 047 and the other in 048.
  5. I then used this tool to format the citation, not noticing that it had inserted the 047 ISBN in the cite instead of 048
I'm guessing that both ISBNs are synonymous numbers for the same edition of the book, with identical paginations for books bearing either ISBN number, but I don't know enough about assignment of ISBN numbers to be sure about that. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 01:53, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't know anything about them either. I assume this in google books matches the edition I referred to, and based purely on the page count I assume its pages and those in the Scholar's Press edition would lay out the same. Professor marginalia (talk) 05:39, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Title adheres to Words to Avoid Guideline?

Upon reading the title of this passage, I immediately questioned the neutrality of the name "Myth". The third definition of "Myth", stated by Wikipedia's own Wiktionary, is as follows:

"A commonly-held but false belief, a common misconception; a fictitious or imaginary person or thing; a popular conception about a real person or event which exaggerates or idealizes reality."

Would this not deem the banner of neutrality and adherence to the Wikipedia Manual of Style wrong? It states in the Wikipedia Manual of Style not to use words such as the prefix "pseudo-" and not to use words that express doubt and imply inaccuracy as "myth" does. Would it not be more fitting to use a phrase such as "Creation Theory" that expresses neutrality and not the knowledge that something is wrong? (talk) 15:20, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

This has been discussed at great lengths and frankly, ad nauseam. Please see the archives for this 'myth' discussion and this page of multiple 'myth' discussions for numerous lengthy discussions on the use of the word "myth." The consensus has held that "creation myth" is accurate and is appropriate because it is what scholarly sources use to characterize the topics of this article. It isn't editors' prerogative to substitute words in order to bring "balance." WP:NPOV often gets misinterpreted to mean neutral to all sides, when in reality we must channel sources' views in accordance with the weight they are given in the preponderance of reliable sources (particularly high quality sources such as scholarly works). We can't give undue weight (whether greater or lesser) to certain terminology, meanings, or views. Also, I don't see why we would give undue weight to myth's third definition.
Regarding your second point, the manual of style as I interpret it recommends against the use of such prefixes as "pseudo" only when they are inappropriate. Obviously, an article such as Pseudoscience may make liberal use of words featuring the "pseudo" prefix, so I think the manual of style's prescriptive power is relative and limited, and particularly so when up against reliable sources. John Shandy`talk 16:00, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Symbolism in the Genesis account of Creation

The opening sentence of the lede, juxtaposed with the famous painting of God creating Adam, gives the reader the impression that the Genesis creation myth is a "symbolic" one. This would seem to assert the fundamentalist view of God creating everything in six days isn't believed by anybody to be literally true. It's just symbolism.

I would suggest striknig the work "symbolic" from the article's first sentence:

  • A creation myth or creation story is a symbolic account of how the world began and how people first came to inhabit it

Just call it "an account".

The quotation from Womack doesn't have to be in the lede:

  • Creation myths are symbolic stories describing how the universe and its inhabitants came to be.

This could be placed further down, somewhere in the body. --Uncle Ed (talk) 18:13, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm going to have to disagree with you, Ed. I don't see the problem you have vis a vis fundamentalist beliefs, nor do I think dropping the word "symolic" would improve the article. In fact, it's an essential part of the definition of a creation myth, ands belong in the lead. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 21:58, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

Narritives and accounts

I wanted to explain why I changed "symbolic account" back to "symbolic narrative", just so that there was no confusion. The wording was initially changed after one of the sources backing up the wording was tagged with a request for the quotation (which can be found as either #5 or #6 in the sources listed below), and narrative was then changed to account, I'm assuming because the quotation was not found (I'm not sure where, but that source was later removed from the lede). However, nearly every single reference that has been discussed on the talk page (from what I saw looking through the archives) uses narrative as opposed to account.

An account is typically used in English to describe a series of events specifically from a particular person's point of view (i.e. a soldier's account, a doctor's account) whereas a narrative is not, simply being a systematic recitation of an event or series of events. To give a biblical example, Genesis would be a narrative; the Gospels would be accounts.

Because of this, and the fact that the majority of reliable sources reflect this (I only found the one source that described a creation myth as an account), I went ahead and changed it. Here are some sources that reflect this:

  1. Charles H. Long, "creation myth", Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition: "The myth of creation is the symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular community."
  2. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, p. 267: "symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular tradition and community"
  3. Ida H. Stamhuis, The Changing Image of the Sciences, p. 149: "The Encyclopaedia Britannica offers the following, useful definition. A 'Creation Myth' (or 'cosmogonic myth') is: 'a symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood by a particular tradition and community...'"
  4. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia, p. 411: "creation myth or cosmogony Symbolic narrative of the creation and organization of the world as understood in a particular tradition."
  5. David Adams Leeming and Margaret Adams Leeming, A Dictionary of Creation Myths, p. vii: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a narrative that describes the original ordering of the universe".
  6. David Adams Leeming, Margaret Adams Leeming, Encyclopedia of Creation Myths: "A creation myth is a cosmogony, a narrative that describes the original ordering of the universe."
  7. Leslie Griffin, Law and religion:cases and materials: "Like all myths, creation myths are etiological — they use symbolic narrative to explain beginnings..."

I apologize for the length of the explanation, but I wanted to be thorough in explaining the reason for the change, to avoid any possible confusion. - SudoGhost 03:24, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Agreed. Genesis is a narrative, the gospels are accounts. Well chosen and accurate example. Colonel Tom 13:28, 1 February 2012 (UTC)


I apologize, I accidentally hit enter when typing out this edit summary. WP:AT's "Treatment of alternative names" says that "There is also no reason why alternative names cannot be used in article text, in contexts where they are more appropriate than the name used as the title of the article." I think that Genesis creation myth is a more appropriate title, given that the image is supposed to be an example of the article's subject, creation myth. Also taking into consideration that Zenkai has made the edit four times in the past few months [25][26][27][28] and it has been reverted each time, I think a discussion should take place explaining why that title is preferred before the change is made. - SudoGhost 04:39, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Is there a problem with piping the link? (i.e. Genesis creation myth) That would provide the text that agrees with the name of this article while providing a link that agrees with the name of the target article. Or are we fighting more over edit histories than over the problem itself? (just asking, not accusing anyone) Wilhelm Meis (Quatsch!) 12:53, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
Honestly, I thought it was piped. Seems I got confused by looking at the earliest diff, thinking it was the latest one. As far as piping goes, I see no issue with it. - SudoGhost 21:11, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Creatinog using body secretions is not Ex nihilo

If the creation involed is using body secretion, then that really not ex nihilo (out of nothing). You are confusing different types of creation. Saying creating out of tears, sweat, semen, blood is not at all the same as ex nihilo or chaos.

Also, the distinction between creation ex nihilo and creation out of chaos is rather artificial. The formless chaos is in essence the same as nothing, it has no shape, form or substance, and so would not have any effective difference. It sounds as if the definitions and distinctions were created so different types of creation myths could artificially combined, and essentially the same creation myths artificially seperated.

Ex Nihilo and creation out of chaos really are very similar, and any creation story that uses body secretions is not ex nihilo. Article should be updated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:24, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

Top image

I've made a bold change in how the article is illustrated that I'd like to justify. The Aion mosaic is notoriously difficult in its interpretation, and unless we have a citation that says it's a representation of creation myth, I have concerns about it illustrating this article at all. Conceptually it seems most concerned with Time.

I've glanced through the archives for discussion on images, and I agree that the article shouldn't be illustrated disproportionately with Judaeo-Christian imagery.

I've placed the Tissot at the top, and here's why. Although Tissot was a committed religious painter in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, if I viewed his Creation painting without knowing anything about his work in general or his intentions in this single work, I wouldn't know where exactly he was coming from. If you told me this was his visualization of some early stage in Hesiod's Theogony, I'd nod and say OK. If you told me it was the mating of Tiamet and Abzu, I'd nod and say OK. It seemed the most generic of all the images, perhaps because many of these creation myths from the Near East and Mediterranean share elements, and the Tissot captures that sense they have of a primordial formlessness swirling around. Therefore, I think the caption should be as simple as possible, so as not to give undue weight to a particular myth. Its background is explained in a footnote.

In addition, the existing images in the article weren't very global. The Hindu tradition, which offers many image possibilities, was absent. So I've tried to add images that come from all over. The Tissot image is meant to relate directly to the animated Dao creation image in the following section, since both have a sense of emanation from a center. This is a theme of many creation myths; hence also Brahma emerging from the navel. In other instances, I've tried to choose better-quality images, or images that illustrate each section more directly.

I hope I haven't rocked the boat too much. Cynwolfe (talk) 06:12, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

Seems mostly reasonable. I'm guessing the reason we had two pictures in the lede before was to appease some previous content dispute, so I like the idea of using the most generic image possible; I think a lede with two pictures just doesn't look right. I'm not sure if this is the best picture to use but I agree with the argument to use it or something like it. SÆdontalk 06:26, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
The new images look great by the way. SÆdontalk 06:32, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
I still prefer using The Creation of Adam as the lead image, because it is the most iconic creation image I can think of. I understand the argument for using a more generic image; however, the current image does not really evoke creation in the same way as the Michelangelo image does. Honestly, the current image doesn't really look like much of anything to me. Rreagan007 (talk) 23:53, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
The creation of Adam likely doesn't evoke the same feeling for someone whose idea of god isn't a long bearded white man but rather a young blue child, an elephant or a pale, androgynous Oriental person. Sædontalk 00:14, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Fact tag craziness

What is going on here? Seriously? What is this really about?

Is it about whether or not to have the so-called "myth" disclaimer in the lead? Or whether the claim (or some element of it) isn't verified?

Because, hello, MOS isn't a valid reason to fact tag a claim as unsourced! Professor marginalia (talk) 07:48, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Your reference [29] does not verify the text. In fact the source does not take the slant you are taking. Notice how they are in quotations as "true", not simply stated as being true. This is because they are meant to be true in a symbolic sense. Where does it talk about cultures saying it is true? Where does it support "While in popular usage the term "myth" is often thought to refer to false or fanciful stories," IRWolfie- (talk) 11:44, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm not the one imparting any "slant" here. Creation myths are, by definition, profoundly true to the people who subscribe to them. That source, as well as others citing similar statements to that effect in the article, explicitly say so. If you're disputing the "often thought to refer to" clause rather than the "true" clause, fine. I don't think that will be the least bit hard to source, myself, but I consider it progress if we can at least appropriately define what this fact tag is meant to address. Professor marginalia (talk) 11:58, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm disputing several aspects of the source. Firstly: "While in popular usage the term "myth" is often thought to refer to false or fanciful stories," is not addressed by the reference. The reference does not verify that, it's OR added as a kind of warning to readers in case they misinterpret things (Contrary to WP:RNPOV). Secondly, "creation myths are by definition those stories which a culture accepts as both a true and foundational account of their human identity" is not verified by the source either; it doesn't talk about communities or cultures, nor does it say anything about being a "true and foundational account of their human identity". In sum, it fails verification. IRWolfie- (talk) 12:10, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
It is true that the source does not address the "popular usage" issue. You are wrong that the source doesn't verify the truth claim. It directly links the "myth" to a tribe, community, religion etc (each examples of a "culture") which adopts it as true. It also directly identifies the "myth" as serving as the foundational context in which peoples that subscribe to them place themselves. Professor marginalia (talk) 12:41, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't see that in the quote you included for verification. The current text also implies they (whoever they are) take it as true, rather than symbolically true (i.e the way he says "true" with the quotation marks, implying not literally true). Also, if the reference partially fails to verify the text then we are left with a reference that still fails to verify the sentence. IRWolfie- (talk)
The author put "true" in quotation marks to juxtapose it with "false", also in quotation marks ( they are "true", and as such quite clearly distinguished from "false" stories). This author is not by any stretch attempting to diminish what "true" means here, as if the truth of the myth is some lesser kind of truth than "literal truth". The problem is the statement is ill placed where it is, and this "truth" vs "literal truth" business was much better expressed in the lead before this statement was squeezed in up there. Professor marginalia (talk) 16:48, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
If that is the case the author directly contradicts the first sentence of the lead. IRWolfie- (talk) 17:06, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
What do you mean? You're imparting some significance to the term "truth" in that sentence that it doesn't say. As the article's lead more clearly stated it before, it's the exception rather than the rule that the "truth" of the creation myth is necessarily considered by its adherents to mean a "literal truth". Pettazzoni, for one, goes on at great length how in many, many cultures the truth of the myth is taken to mean it's more "true" than any "literal truth" (such as the myth world being "true"/this world "illusion"). This true/literally true slant is missing the point which is not whether "true" means "true in the literal sense" but whether the term myth means a false story. Professor marginalia (talk) 18:12, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── We have this text in the lead: "In the society in which it is told, a creation myth is usually regarded as conveying profound truths, metaphorically, symbolically and sometimes even in a historical or literal sense", whereas the current text under discussion effectively repeats this but with less clarity and with more ambiguity: "creation myths are by definition those stories which a culture accepts as both a true and foundational account of their human identity". I think true in the second case looks like literal truth. IRWolfie- (talk) 23:03, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Again, I don't think the statement belongs there. It is furthering confusion because the word "truth" there is coming before the discussion about what kinds of "truth" myths provide those who adopt them. I say it should go back where it was to start with. Professor marginalia (talk) 23:25, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
The other reference made it into a synth. I've tried to reword it slightly so the first ref covers the sentence. IRWolfie- (talk) 00:19, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Change "symbolic narrative" to "myth"?

I once participated in an utterly dreadful argument about the phrase "symbolic narrative" in this article. At that time, I had no strong objection to the phrase. Now I think it's obfuscating verbiage. Toward the very end of that argument, a few editors seemed to agree with me that replacing "symbolic narrative" with "myth" or "mythological narrative" would do no harm, but none of us decided to actually make the change.

I'm probably stepping knee-deep in you-know-what by rekindling this discussion, but here it goes. Currently the lede says, "A creation myth is a symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came to inhabit it". I propose that we revise that sentence as follows: "A creation myth is a myth describing the creation of the universe." (If we did this, then we would need to link the word "myth" to the Mythology article. If we failed to do so, then the revised statement would amount to an unhelpful tautology: a creation myth is a myth about creation. The Mythology article provides the needed definition of "myth" without using the phrase "symbolic narrative".)

If we change "symbolic narrative" to "myth", here are some sources we can use to support the revised statement:

  • Oxford English Dictionary on "creation myth" - "a myth describing or explaining the creation of the world."
  • Oxford's A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology on "cosmogony" - "Also known as creation myth; a mythological explanation for the creation and evolution of the universe."
  • Random House Word Menu on "creation myth" - "mythic explanation of formation of universe; cosmogonic myth"

What do people think? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 03:59, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

  • Comment - I know I was a big part of the previous issue, so I'll just leave this one comment and take a step back from it. Saying that "A creation myth is a myth" seems less helpful and does come across as a tautology, and I don't think wikilinking the term really changes that. I do think that the scare quotes around the word myth in the subsequent sentence should be removed and perhaps that instance of the word myth should be wikilinked, but rewording the lede to effectively say that "A creation myth is a myth describing creation" seems to be less than helpful, especially for the most important sentence in the article. - SudoGhost 04:33, 30 April 2013 (UTC)
  • I have no strong feelings about the use, or not, of "symbolic narrative" but "A creation myth is a myth describing the creation..." is awful and pointless, even if wikilinked to myth. All the best, Simon Burchell (talk) 07:30, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

Sources: We need page numbers.

Many of the citations are lacking page numbers. See Help:References and page numbers. Yours, GeorgeLouis (talk) 22:31, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Big Bang Myth

The Big Bang mythos would fit in well as a variation of the "cosmic egg" theme, or the universe exploding out of some form of primordial state. (talk) 15:39, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

"Myth" 2014

I agreed after reading the reason for the current terminology, and I nearly moved on but it still didn't seem right, so I looked into it further, and I'd like to share my findings. I saw that past discussions have been heated at times, so let this be a concise and academic 2014 discussion.

The word "myth" is accurate by its first definition, but the full definition of the word may not be appropriate for this article on Wikipedia. To clarify, the Oxford dictionary confirms that the word denotes falsehood in its second definition:

  • Oxford English Dictionary on "myth" - 2. a widely held but false belief or idea

That is the dictionary definition, but proficient English speakers know this intuitively, and it's probably why this topic has been argued for so long. A lot of people believe that creationist accounts are false, but a large population also believes them true. Wikipedia is not the place for one side of the world to discard the other side. Let those debates continue in forums. Let this article finally take on a less controversial and more definitive title, such as "Creation beliefs" or even "Creation lore". Thank you for listening to this in 2014. --Waliway (talk) 13:36, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

I agree. Something more objective like beliefs would be more appropriate, because it implies neither that the beliefs are true or false, but simply that they are believed. This would be more fair and objective, instead of discounting different cultures and their beliefs about the origin of the universe. (talk) 17:37, 1 January 2014 (UTC) Michal

Take a look at WP:RNPOV. Thanks.   — Jess· Δ 17:43, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Disagree This article IS about creation myths, and in common linguistics, "creation myth" is what the subject matter in this article is going to be referred to as. "Myth" does have the connotation of untruth, but I think it more strongly conveys the meaning of mythos, which implies that the subject of this article is:
  1. A story or set of stories relevant to or having a significant truth or meaning for a particular culture, religion, society, or other group.
  2. Anything delivered by word of mouth: a word, speech, conversation, or similar; a story, tale, or legend, especially a poetic tale.
  3. A tale, story, or narrative, usually verbally transmitted, or otherwise recorded into the written form from an alleged secondary source.
I could possibly accept "Cultural creation narratives" as an alternative to the word "myth", but "Creation beliefs" and "Creation lore" don't truly encapsulate the subject matter here. "Beliefs" suggests that all the creation narratives discussed on this page are regarded as true by some people, and that isn't really the case. A creation narrative that is not commonly held to day should be included in this article, regardless of common beliefs. --Iamozy (talk) 22:08, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
"Creation narratives" or "Creation accounts" make sense. Words, like "myth", often have slightly different meanings for different people. It's usually best to refer to the official definition because much effort is made to keep it as accurate as possible for all major uses of the word. The second definition of "myth" (not the 4th or 5th) does denote falsehood. I think we should set the title to something more neutral by the end of the year. Waliway (talk) 14:01, 8 April 2014 (UTC)
If we renamed articles because of alternative definitions of certain words, most articles would have to be changed. Reliable sources use the term "creation myth", and the lede very clearly spells out what is meant by that, so the "second definition" of a particular dictionary doesn't negate usage in reliable sources, because the article unambiguously defines the use of the word. It doesn't make sense to move away from the most concise title for the article, and in fact WP:RNPOV is quite clear on this: "editors should not avoid using terminology that has been established by the majority of the current reliable and notable sources on a topic out of sympathy for a particular point of view, or concern that readers may confuse the formal and informal meanings." - Aoidh ((User talk:Aoidh|talk]]) 14:43, 8 April 2014 (UTC)
Secondary meanings of words are important, but I think the formal meaning of the word myth is acceptable in this context if its intended usage is made clear to non-experts on the subject. I think that was a large source of the conflict, so I modified the second sentence of the description to avoid unnecessary offense or misleading of readers, as per WP:RNPOV. Please review it. - Waliway (talk) 08:58, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Poles in mythology

Now we have a new article Poles in mythology, Please see and include suitable improvements , if any, in article Poles in mythology.

Rgds Mahitgar (talk) 09:12, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

Back and forth with the Big Bang

Maybe we should discuss the Big Bang as a suitable entry in the See Also section instead of edit warring over it.

The Big Bang is an example of a cosmogony, as mentioned in the lead, so I see it as quite proper to include it here under See also.

This seems to be another example of the phenomenon where editors disagree about what it means to include a topic under See also (or to tag it with a category). Sometimes you want to include things that you consider to be anti-examplars of the topic of an article. The See also list is not the same as List of things that are instances of X  —jmcgnh(talk) (contribs) 22:07, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

Reverted removal of 'Big Bang' from see also and asked editor to come here for consensus for removal. I agree with  —jmcgnh for the reasons stated that it should be included. Robynthehode (talk) 06:44, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

A Christian theologian on myth

Christian theologian Conrad Hyers wrote that

...myth today has come to have negative connotations which are the complete opposite of its meaning in a religious context... In a religious context, however, myths are storied vehicles of supreme truth, the most basic and important truths of all. By them people regulate and interpret their lives and find worth and purpose in their existence. Myths put one in touch with sacred realities, the fundamental sources of being, power, and truth. They are seen not only as being the opposite of error but also as being clearly distinguishable from stories told for entertainment and from the workaday, domestic, practical language of a people. They provide answers to the mysteries of being and becoming, mysteries which, as mysteries, are hidden, yet mysteries which are revealed through story and ritual. Myths deal not only with truth but with ultimate truth.[1]

*Hyers, Conradl (1984). The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0804201254.  Doug Weller talk 16:29, 29 June 2017 (UTC)

Adam and Eve?

Curious: How can a page on creation mythology not mention the Christian creation belief system specifically?

2604:6000:100E:C1D2:B9AF:8527:F54D:E0FA (talk) 23:28, 1 June 2017 (UTC)

This article seems to only deal with stories about the creation of the universe, not the origins of humanity. Also, the Biblical Creation story is mentioned, albeit only in one brief sentence at the end of the section "Ex nihilo." There is a separate article on the Genesis creation narrative. There is also an article List of creation myths dealing with specific creation stories. Nonetheless, the information about specific Creation myths in this article could perhaps use some expansion, at least for the purpose of giving examples of the different types of creation stories. --Katolophyromai (talk) 00:03, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
I deleted that sentence because the Genesis creation story is not in fact an ex nihilo myth. It's been read that way since about the 2nd or 3rd century AD, but originally it's about God's ordering of already-existing matter in order to make it habitable. That matter already exists is made clear by the status of the "waters" - God doesn't create them, they already exist. Nor does God create the earth - it too already exists, covered by the waters. God separates the waters to allow the earth to appear, but doesn't create either. (The opening clause says "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," but "heavens and earth" is a figure of speech meaning "everything", and the Hebrew is better rendered as "In the beginning of God's creation/ordering of the world, the earth/land was barren and bare, and darkness was upon the face of the waters.") For references, see the article Genesis creation narrative.PiCo (talk) 04:10, 30 June 2017 (UTC)

Nature timeline

Why is the nature timeline in showing up on the right side of the page? Is it mentioned in the text somewhere? If not, I'm taking it out because the scientific POV is not generally considered a "myth". --Uncle Ed (talk) 13:51, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

Uncle Ed: OOps, I missed this comment earlier. Such timelines have been spammed in many articles where they are not really useful. This was the object of a lengthy discussion, in which I was involved: Wikipedia:External_links/Noticeboard/Archive_18#Interactive_Human_Evolution_Timeline. My take on this particular instance is that it could be removed. I think it is intended as a scientific counterpoint to the rest of the article, but, in order to be effective at that, there would need to be a section dedicated to that counterpoint. Otherwise it just feels out of place. — Gamall Wednesday Ida (t · c) 15:30, 30 June 2017 (UTC)