The Relationship Between Mythologies and the Bible
Question: The Bible claims to have been inspired of God. Yet we find very similar accounts of some of the stories it records (Adam and Eve, the temptation in the Garden, Noah and the flood, etc.) in the myths of many ancient peoples scattered around the world. Some of these myths seem to be much older than the Bible. There are, for example, Assyrian tablets predating the books of Moses that tell of creation, the temptation in the Garden, the flood, and the tower of Babel in language very similar to the Genesis account. The first man in the Babylonian myths was called Adami. Is it not possible, then, that at least some of the Bible was derived from pagan mythology rather than from divine inspiration?
Response: To suggest that the Bible borrowed the Genesis accounts from pagan myths creates more problems than it could seem to solve. We are still left with two questions: What was the source of the pagan accounts, and what is the explanation for the close similarities in all accounts, including the Bible’s? It is mathematically impossible that different races and cultures widely scattered around the world and without contact with one another would all develop independently such similar mythological accounts of mankind’s origin and history. The odds against that happening are astronomical.
All accounts, therefore, including the Bible’s, must have come from some common source that originated outside of any race or culture. There can be no doubt about it. That fact confronts us once again with the question of the identity of that common source and how all of these widely scattered peoples came in contact with it—or it came in contact with them.
Interestingly enough, the accounts themselves provide the only plausible explanation: that all peoples of every race and color are descended from one set of parents created by God and that there was a worldwide flood, which left one family from whom all peoples on earth today are descended. Mathematically, evolution is impossible. If gradual evolution from apes to man had occurred over thousands of years, it would have left millions of fossils of missing links (creatures that were neither ape nor man) scattered over a wide area, yet not one has ever been found. If evolution were a fact, there would not be one pair of common parents for all peoples; there would be hundreds and perhaps thousands of such pairs and thus no explanation of how a single mythology became known to all peoples.
Adam and Eve, however, would certainly have passed the story of their creation, the serpent’s deception, and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden on to their children, they to their children, and so on. That story would surely have been known by Noah’s family, who would have passed it on to their descendants along with their account of the flood as they had experienced it. There is no other possible rational explanation for the worldwide existence of the common mythology recounting these events.
Furthermore, to this day, in Turkey, in the proximity of Mount Ararat, where the Bible says Noah’s ark settled after the flood (Genesis:8:4), the native people living there still refer to that lofty summit as “the Mount of Noah.” Even without the various accounts of those who claim to have seen a huge ship high in a glacier on Mount Ararat that could only be the remains of Noah’s ark, we have compelling evidence. A local tradition of long standing agrees with a story that is known worldwide. Such confirmation speaks loudly and cannot be ignored.
Perverted Mythologies Make the Bible Shine Brighter
Wherever archaeologists dig around the world, they find, in corroboration of the Genesis account, ancient representations of a woman, a serpent, and a tree in close relationship with one another. Therefore, we know there is at least that core of truth in this widespread story. When we look at the non-biblical accounts, however, there are obviously mythological elements perverting the transmission of what must have been a historical event. Of great significance is the fact that the serpent is universally presented as the symbol of wisdom, or the Savior-god, exactly the opposite from what the Bible says.
In addition to perverting the role of the serpent, all pagan accounts embody obviously mythological and fantastic elements. The biblical account alone has the factual ring of history rather than myth. It fits the rest of the Bible and agrees with what we know of mankind’s history to the present time. Thus the biblical account stands on one side and all of the others, in spite of their similarities to the Genesis story, stand together in opposition to it.
That distinction between the Bible and all other accounts is significant. It indicates that the biblical account was not borrowed from the others. Clearly, all non-biblical accounts originated from the same historical events, and their differences developed later. The pagan myths all vary from one another, so none can be trusted as authentic. They must have all become perverted in one way or another. Inasmuch as the biblical account is consistent with the rest of the Bible, it can claim the same infallibility of inspiration as all of God’s Word. The pagan accounts are similar enough to confirm the biblical account, but different enough so that the latter stands alone as the only authentic record.
The biblical account does not originate from oral tradition handed down from generation to generation (and thus it escapes the inevitable error inherent in such a process); but it was given by inspiration of God.
—An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 128-30) by Dave Hunt