When I was kid I spent a lot of time wandering the woods around my house. I would make up stories about who and where I was, usually involving some kind of epic fantasy adventure. I used to imagine I was looking for a magical secret world that could be found through a hidden door on one certain tree. I loved the idea that there could be an underground world that only I knew about.

Maybe that is why I have always been fascinated by creation myths. They are the original fantasy stories. Today we love to share fiction in books, on stage, on TV, and on the big screen. It is proof of our constant desire to not only empathize with each other, but to imagine things that aren’t even possible. And we’re great at it. We always have been. No matter where you stand on the god issue, you cannot deny that those who came before us made up some pretty tall tales about creation. I mean, they can’t all be true…. right?

Many creation stories involve some kind of birth. Deciding that the earth’s beginnings were the result of a father, mother, or both seems like a natural conclusion. Some believed we hatched from an egg. There are a variety of creation theories, but my personal favorites are the emergence myths. I am drawn to the idea that we come from a previous world that acted as a womb, and that we are reborn into different worlds over time. I especially like the idea that there are secret portals between worlds that can be discovered.

It makes a compelling backdrop for a book or a movie, but I do not believe it as a reality I am currently experiencing. Maybe I lack a crucial component to imagination. As a kid I never believed there was a tree that would lead me to a secret world. I never even had an imaginary friend. But I knew kids who could have been convinced of both the reality of that tree and any imaginary guide I may have introduced them to. I bet their adventures were ten times more exciting than mine.

I wonder if I had been one of those kids if I would now embrace a religion that believes in some form of emergence story. Maybe not. I’m looking for a little magic, and I’m not talking about water into wine. I want the real possibility of Alice in Wonderland on my own terms. But that isn’t possible. Only god creates the terms…. unless we were created with the power to live out whatever reality we want. In which case none of it matters. Because if no one else is sharing the same reality, then what is the point?

That’s the kind of thinking that ruined heaven for me.

Maybe I like the idea of magic, but liking it isn’t enough to make it real. It is for some. And believing in the thing you like to believe seems way more satisfying than believing in a myth because it is the only thing you have known. With so many options out there, I guess you have to narrow it down somehow. I prefer to narrow things down by what feels true. That preference is very subjective, and realizing that has kept me from staying up nights wondering what is wrong with people.

If I were a clean slate with a selection of god stories before me, I’d like to think I would at least pick one that favored women and spent very little time asking me to repent. I would find of plenty options, too. But being who I am I would probably look around at the overwhelming number of different answers to the same question and choose nothing at all.

And I would absolutely show up again every single day….  just to browse.



7 thoughts on “The Magic of Creation

  1. Hey there! I noticed an exchange over on a different website concerning cosmic accidents and how atheism must be awful as a result. The response you got was something pretty awful, concerning how some people “will be called to belief, some won’t.” That kind of reply is basically victim-blaming at best (meaning it’s everyone’s fault to choose damnation), and at worst it implies that a deity is choosing to intentionally create people…just to damn them for eternity.

    I couldn’t reply there because my comment was eaten (it happens to many who don’t share the views of the blog owner). I just wanted to let you know that I agree with your sentiment that some people choose the magic because it feels good. Not only does it feel good, it warps one’s sense of what ought to feel good. It’s like browsing the fiction section and then hitting people with the book you like.

    1. Of course, I specifically disagree with the word “called.” And I find it interesting that he would word it in this way, since if god is not calling me then maybe it isn’t my fault I can’t find god. In previous discussions it was made quite clear to me that I am simply not listening to god and it is entirely my own fault. Well, which is it?

      I have known many people who believe in whatever idea attracts them most, and they are completely aware of how they came to the decision. Religious evidence is of no interest to them and they see no reason why it matters. If it wasn’t so contrary to my nature, I would most certainly envy them.

      “It’s like browsing the fiction section and then hitting people with the book you like.” I love that 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Alright, I lied a little bit, because I wanted to respond to this before I lost the thoughts in my head, because this is an interesting topic to me too. I think I was very much like you when I was young. And while I love a good work of fiction, I feel I have little imagination myself. At least in the sense that you are talking about. I even feel bad like I might be fundamentally depriving my son of something very human. Maybe some people are just made a little more one way than the other. What I hope to excel in, instead, is showing him the wonder of what actually is, because it feels like we don’t have enough of that in the world. 🙂 Because even if you don’t have the most creative of imaginations, your dreams can be pretty good. The difference between the peace of heaven and world peace is the latter is at least possible since it exists. 🙂

    1. Yes, I’m with you…. And I think those who can easily immerse themselves into an imagined world are not attracted to wonder the way we are. For some, finding an answer which meets their current need is not only enough, but it feels safe and comforting. For others, the feeling that it might not be real is an itch that must be scratched. And this is why we could never make imaginary friends 🙂

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