A creator deity or creator god (often called the Creator) is a deity or god responsible for the creation of the Earth, world, and universe in human religion and mythology. In monotheism, the single God is often also the creator. A number of monolatristic traditions separate a secondary creator from a primary transcendent being, identified as a primary creator.
See also: Atenism
Initiated by Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti around 1330 BCE, during the New Kingdom period in ancient Egyptian history. They built an entirely new capital city (Akhetaten) for themselves and worshippers of their Sole Creator God on a wilderness. His father used to worship Aten alongside other gods of their polytheistic religion. Aten, for a long time before his father’s time, was revered as a god among the many gods and goddesses in Egypt. Atenism faded away after the death of the pharaoh. Despite different views, Atenism is considered by some scholars to be one of the frontiers of monotheism in human history.
Further information: Genesis creation narrative
The creation narrative is made up of two stories, roughly equivalent to the two first chapters of the Book of Genesis. (There are no chapter divisions in the original Hebrew text, see Chapters and verses of the Bible.) The first account (1:1 through 2:3) employs a repetitious structure of divine fiat and fulfillment, then the statement “And there was evening and there was morning, the [xth] day,” for each of the six days of creation. In each of the first three days there is an act of division: day one divides the darkness from light, day two the “waters above” from the “waters below”, and day three the sea from the land. In each of the next three days these divisions are populated: day four populates the darkness and light with sun, moon, and stars; day five populates seas and skies with fish and fowl; and finally, land-based creatures and mankind populate the land.
The two stories are complementary rather than overlapping, with the first (the Priestly story) concerned with the cosmic plan of creation, while the second (the Yahwist story) focuses on man as cultivator of his environment and as a moral agent.There are significant parallels between the two stories, but also significant differences: the second account, in contrast to the regimented seven-day scheme of Genesis 1, uses a simple flowing narrative style that proceeds from God’s forming the first man through the Garden of Eden to the creation of the first woman and the institution of marriage; in contrast to the omnipotent God of Genesis 1, creating a god-like humanity, the God of Genesis 2 can fail as well as succeed; the humanity he creates is not god-like, but is punished for acts which would lead to their becoming god-like (Genesis 3:1-24); and the order and method of creation itself differs. “Together, this combination of parallel character and contrasting profile point to the different origin of materials in Genesis 1:1 and Gen 2:4, however elegantly they have now been combined.”
Ancient Near Eastern mythologies and classical creation myths in Greek mythology envisioned the creation of the world as resulting from the actions of a god or gods upon the already-existing primeval matter, known as chaos.
An early conflation of Greek philosophy with the narratives in the Hebrew Bible came from Philo of Alexandria (d. AD 50), writing in the context of Hellenistic Judaism. Philo equated the Hebrew creator-deity Yahweh with Aristotle’s primum movens (First Cause) in an attempt to prove that the Jews had held monotheistic views even before the Greeks. However, this was still within the context of creation from pre-existing materials (i.e. “moving” or “changing” a material substratum.)
A similar theoretical proposition was demonstrated by Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and founder of the Thomism that linked the Aristotelian philosophy with the Christian faith, followed by the statement for which God is the First Being, the Fist Moving unmoved, and is Pure Act.
Looking at the Bible, the Second Book of Maccabees shows two relevant passages. At chapter 7, it narrows about the mother of a Jewish proto-martyr telling to her son:
“I beseech thee, my son, look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them: and consider that God made them out of nothing, and mankind also”; at chapter 1, it refers a solemn prayer hymned by Jonathan, Nehemiah and the Priest of Israel, while making sacrifices in honour of God: “O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, who art fearefull, and strong, and righteous, and mercifull, and the onely, and gracious king”. The Prologue to Gospel of John begins with: “In the beginning was the Word, & the Word was with God, and the Word was God. / 2 The same was in the beginning with God. / 3 All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”.
Christianity affirms the Creation by God since its early time in the Apostles’Creed (“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”, 1st century AD), that is symmetrical to the Nicene Creed (4th century AD). Traditionally the Latin expression “Factórem cæli et terræ” is read as the Creation ab initio temporis and ex nihilo.
Nowadays, theologians debate whether the Bible itself teaches if this creation by God is a creation ex nihilo. Traditional interpreters argue on grammatical and syntactical grounds that this is the meaning of Genesis 1:1, which is commonly rendered: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” They further find support for this view in New Testament passages like Hebrews 11:3—”By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible”—and Revelation 4:11—”For you [God] created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” However, other interpreters understand creation ex nihilo as a 2nd-century theological development. According to this view, church fathers opposed notions appearing in pre-Christian creation myths and in Gnosticism—notions of creation by a demiurge out of a primordial state of matter (known in religious studies as chaos after the Greek term used by Hesiod in his Theogony). Jewish thinkers took up the idea, which became important to Judaism.
Main article: Islamic Views on Evolution
According to Islam, God, known in Arabic as Allah, is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator, Sustainer, Ordainer, and Judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular (tawhid). God is unique (wahid) and inherently one (ahad), all-merciful and omnipotent. According to tradition there are 99 Names of God (al-asma al-husna lit. meaning: “The best names”) each of which evoke a distinct attribute of God. All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name. Among the 99 names of God, the most famous and most frequent of these names are “the Compassionate” (al-rahman) and “the Merciful” (al-rahim).
Creation is seen as an act of divine choice and mercy, one with a grand purpose:
“And We (Royal we) did not create the heaven and earth and that between them in play.” Rather, the purpose of humanity is to be tested: “Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving;” Those who pass the test are rewarded with Paradise: “Verily for the Righteous there will be a fulfilment of (the heart’s) desires;”
According to the Islamic teachings, God exists above the heavens and the creation itself. The Qur’an mentions, “He it is Who created for you all that is on earth. Then He Istawa (rose over) towards the heaven and made them seven heavens and He is the All-Knower of everything.” At the same time, God is unlike anything in creation:
“There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing.”
and nobody can perceive God in totality:
“Vision perceives Him not, but He perceives [all] vision; and He is the Subtle, the Acquainted.”
God in Islam is not only majestic and sovereign, but also a personal God:
“And indeed We have created man, and We know what his ownself whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge).”
Allah commands the believers to constantly remember Him (“O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance”) and to invoke Him alone (“And whoever invokes besides Allah another deity for which he has no proof – then his account is only with his Lord. Indeed, the disbelievers will not succeed.”).
Islam teaches that God as referenced in the Qur’an is the only god and the same God worshipped by members of other Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Judaism.
One of the biggest responsibilities in the faith of Sikhism is to worship God as “The Creator”, termed Waheguru who is shapeless, timeless, and sightless, i.e., Nirankar, Akal, and Alakh Niranjan. The religion only takes after the belief in “One God for All” or Ik Onkar.
See also: Brahma
Monolatristic traditions would separate a secondary creator from the primary transcendent being, identified as a primary creator. According to Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Brahma is the secondary creator and not the supreme. Vishnu is the primary creator. According to Vaishnava belief Vishnu creates the basic universal shell and provides all the raw materials and also places the living entities within the material world, fulfilling their own independent will. Brahma works with the materials provided by Vishnu to actually create what are believed to be planets in Puranic terminology, and he supervises the population of them.
Main article: Monism
Monism is the philosophy that asserts oneness as its fundamental premise, and it contradicts the dualism-based theistic premise that there is a creator God that is eternal and separate from the rest of existence. There are two types of monism, namely spiritual monism which holds that all spiritual reality is one, and material monism which holds that everything including all material reality is one and the same thing.
See also: Creator in Buddhism
Buddhism denies a creator deity and posits that mundane deities such as Mahabrahma are misperceived to be a creator.
Main article: Jainism and Non-creationism
Jainism does not support belief in a creator deity. According to Jain doctrine, the universe and its constituents – soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion have always existed (a static universe similar to that of Epicureanism and steady state cosmological model). All the constituents and actions are governed by universal natural laws. It is not possible to create matter out of nothing and hence the sum total of matter in the universe remains the same (similar to law of conservation of mass). Similarly, the soul of each living being is unique and uncreated and has existed since beginningless time.
The Jain theory of causation holds that a cause and its effect are always identical in nature and therefore a conscious and immaterial entity like God cannot create a material entity like the universe. Furthermore, according to the Jain concept of divinity, any soul who destroys its karmas and desires, achieves liberation. A soul who destroys all its passions and desires has no desire to interfere in the working of the universe. Moral rewards and sufferings are not the work of a divine being, but a result of an innate moral order in the cosmos; a self-regulating mechanism whereby the individual reaps the fruits of his own actions through the workings of the karmas.
Through the ages, Jain philosophers have adamantly rejected and opposed the concept of creator and omnipotent God and this has resulted in Jainism being labeled as nāstika darsana or atheist philosophy by the rival religious philosophies. The theme of non-creationism and absence of omnipotent God and divine grace runs strongly in all the philosophical dimensions of Jainism, including its cosmology, karma, moksa and its moral code of conduct. Jainism asserts a religious and virtuous life is possible without the idea of a creator god.
In polytheistic creation, the world often comes into being organically, e.g. sprouting from a primal seed, sexually, by miraculous birth (sometimes by parthenogenesis), by hieros gamos, violently, by the slaying of a primeval monster, or artificially, by a divine demiurge or “craftsman”. Sometimes, a god is involved, wittingly or unwittingly, in bringing about creation. Examples include:
- Sub Saharan African contexts:
- Mbombo of Bakuba mythology, who vomited out the world upon feeling a stomach
- Unkulunkulu in Zulu mythology
- American contexts:
- Nanabozho (Great Rabbit), Ojibwe deity, a shape-shifter and a cocreator of the world
- Cōātl īcue in Aztec mythology
- Chiminigagua (and/or Bague) in Muisca mythology
- Viracocha in Inca mythology
- A trickster deity in the form of a Raven in Inuit mythology
- Near Eastern contexts:
- Egyptian mythology
- Atum in Ennead, whose semen becomes the primal component of the universe
- Ptah creating the universe by the Word
- Neith, who wove all of the universe and existence into being on her loom.
- ’Ēl in Canaanite religion
- Marduk killing Tiamat in the Babylonian Enûma Eliš
- Egyptian mythology
- Asian contexts:
- Esege Malan in Mongolian mythology, king of the skies
- Kamuy in Ainu mythology, who built the world on the back of a trout
- Izanagi and Izanami-no-Mikoto in Japanese mythology, who churned the ocean with a spear, creating the islands of Japan
- In Hinduism, its Vedic scriptures call the unchanging eternal reality as Brahman. The Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig Veda expresses doubt whether there is or is not any creator deity, and whether even gods know who or what created the universe. In later Puranicperiod, equate the Brahman to Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva or Devi, and each major sub-tradition of Hinduism calls them respectively as the creator deity.
- European contexts:
- The sons of Borr slaying the primeval giant Ymir in Norse mythology
- Rod in Slavic mythology
- Ipmil or Radien-Áhči (Radien Father) in Sámi mythology
- Oceanic contexts:
- Makemake, creator of humanity, the god of fertility and the chief god of the “Tangata manu” or “bird-man” cult of Rapa Nui mythology.
- Ranginui, the Sky Father, and Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother in Māori mythology
Plato, in his dialogue Timaeus, describes a creation myth involving a being called the demiurge (δημιουργός “craftsman”). Neoplatonism and Gnosticism continued and developed this concept. In Neoplatonism, the demiurge represents the second cause or dyad, after the monad. In Gnostic dualism, the demiurge is an imperfect spirit and possibly an evil being, transcended by divine Fullness (Pleroma). Unlike the Abrahamic God, Plato’s demiurge is unable to create ex-nihilo.
Main article: Hindu Views on Evolution
Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, and atheism among others; and its concept of creator deity is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed. Hinduism is sometimes referred to as henotheistic (i.e., involving devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of others), but any such term is an over generalization.
The Nasadiya Sukta (Creation Hymn) of the Rig Veda is one of the earliest texts which “demonstrates a sense of metaphysical speculation” about what created the universe, the concept of god(s) and The One, and whether even The One knows how the universe came into being. The Rig Veda praises various deities, none superior nor inferior, in a henotheistic manner. The hymns repeatedly refer to One Truth and Reality. The “One Truth” of Vedic literature, in modern era scholarship, has been interpreted as monotheism, monism, as well as a deified Hidden Principles behind the great happenings and processes of nature.
The post-Vedic texts of Hinduism offer multiple theories of cosmogony, many involving Brahma. These include Sarga (primary creation of universe) and Visarga (secondary creation), ideas related to the Indian thought that there are two levels of reality, one primary that is unchanging (metaphysical) and other secondary that is always changing (empirical), and that all observed reality of the latter is in an endless repeating cycle of existence, that cosmos and life we experience is continually created, evolved, dissolved and then re-created. The primary creator is extensively discussed in Vedic cosmogonies with Brahman or Purusha or Devi among the terms used for the primary creator, while the Vedic and post-Vedic texts name different gods and goddesses as secondary creators (often Brahma in post-Vedic texts), and in some cases a different god or goddess is the secondary creator at the start of each cosmic cycle (kalpa, aeon).
Brahma is a “secondary creator” as described in the Mahabharata and Puranas, and among the most studied and described. Born from a lotus emerging from the navel of Vishnu, Brahma creates all the forms in the universe, but not the primordial universe itself. In contrast, the Shiva-focussed Puranas describe Brahma and Vishnu to have been created by Ardhanarishvara, that is half Shiva and half Parvati; or alternatively, Brahma was born from Rudra, or Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma creating each other cyclically in different aeons (kalpa). Thus in most Puranic texts, Brahma’s creative activity depends on the presence and power of a higher god.
In other versions of creation, the creator deity is the one who is equivalent to the Brahman, the metaphysical reality in Hinduism. In Vaishnavism, Vishnu creates Brahma and orders him to order the rest of universe. In Shaivism, Shiva may be treated as the creator. In Shaktism, the Great Goddess creates the Trimurti.
Chinese traditional cosmology
Main article: Chinese Mythology
Pangu can be interpreted as another creator deity. In the beginning there was nothing in the universe except a formless chaos. However this chaos began to coalesce into a cosmic egg for eighteen thousand years. Within it, the perfectly opposed principles of yin and yang became balanced and Pangu emerged (or woke up) from the egg. Pangu is usually depicted as a primitive, hairy giant with horns on his head (like the Greek Pan) and clad in furs. Pangu set about the task of creating the world: he separated Yin from Yang with a swing of his giant axe, creating the Earth (murky Yin) and the Sky (clear Yang). To keep them separated, Pangu stood between them and pushed up the Sky. This task took eighteen thousand years, with each day the sky grew ten feet higher, the Earth ten feet wider, and Pangu ten feet taller. In some versions of the story, Pangu is aided in this task by the four most prominent beasts, namely the Turtle, the Qilin, the Phoenix, and the Dragon.
After eighteen thousand years had elapsed, Pangu was laid to rest. His breath became the wind; his voice the thunder; left eye the sun and right eye the moon; his body became the mountains and extremes of the world; his blood formed rivers; his muscles the fertile lands; his facial hair the stars and milky way; his fur the bushes and forests; his bones the valuable minerals; his bone marrows sacred diamonds; his sweat fell as rain; and the fleas on his fur carried by the wind became human beings all over the world.
The first writer to record the myth of Pangu was Xu Zheng during the Three Kingdoms period.
Shangdi is another creator deity, possibly prior to Pangu; sharing concepts similar to Abrahamic faiths.
According to Kazakh folk tales, Jasagnan is the creator of the world.