Why is it important for individual cultures to have creation/evolution stories or myths in their literature?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I think that creation/evolution myths are an important part of a culture's identity and pride. Before we had printing presses, before we had writing at all, we had mythology in an oral tradition. These were stories handed down, generation after generation, either by an appointed storyteller or from parent to child.  When cultures were smaller groups of people, closer to tribes than to nations, these myths fused a group identity, a story that everyone had in common.  And the features of the myths reflected and reinforced the identity of the culture. In Japanese creation myths, for example, the ocean figures prominently, which makes perfect sense because Japan is an island nation, and the sea is an important aspect of its culture, particularly for food.  Thus the myth showed this importance in the culture and promoted its importance in the culture for subsequent generations. These mythologies also promote a sense of pride in the culture, as if to say, "You see, gods created us and walked amongst us." The people in the culture take pride in their origins and in their gods and heroes, much as they do in their legends. Mythology was a powerful tool in forging identity and nurturing pride in a culture, and we can learn a great deal about a culture from studying its creation/evolution myths.   

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