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Aboriginal and Biblical Accounts of Creation




Written by a group of Aboriginal Christian elders, this table shows links between Aboriginal and biblical accounts of creation (Notes have been adapted to form a table.) 


Aboriginal Creation Account


Biblical Creation Account


1. The earth was formless and empty of life. The Creator Spirit shaped the land, its mountains, seas, rivers, and trees. In some stories, the earth is covered with water or mud prior to creation.

(The focus is on the transformation of a lifeless and empty earth into an ordered land and sea, filled with life – the focus is not on creation out of nothing.)


1. Genesis 1:2 – the earth is formless and empty, but covered with water. Genesis 2:4 – earth is depicted as a vast desert without life or form.

(The focus is on the transformation of a lifeless and empty earth into an ordered land and sea, filled with life – the focus is not on creation out of nothing.)

2. From the beginning, the Creator Spirit has been and still is present deep within the land. This Spirit is always as close as the land.

2. Christians believe that God is present everywhere. However, many missionaries presented God as dwelling at a distance – living in heaven in splendid isolation.


3. The one Creator Spirit is known by many names, including Yiirmbal, Rainbow Spirit, and Wandjina.

3. In the Old Testament, for example, God is also variously depicted such as El Elyon, YHWH, and the Israelite Redeemer God.


4. The Creator Spirit filled the land with numerous life-forces and spiritual forces. The Creator Spirit causes these life-forces to emerge from the land and its waters as plants, animals, fish, and birds.

4. In the Genesis 1 imagery, all vegetation and animal life emerge from the land at the summons of God. This is consistent with the belief that life-forces are present within the land, and emerge at the impulse of the Creator Spirit.


5. The spirit of human beings comes from the Creator Spirit and returns to the Creator Spirit. The spirit of each person is sacred and belongs to the Creator Spirit.


5. Genesis 2 emphasises that the spirit of the human being is breath from the Creator and belongs to the Creator.

6. Human beings are entrusted with the responsibility to cooperate with the Creator Spirit to care for the land.


6. A similar sense of responsibility to serve and sustain the land is reflected in Genesis 2:15.

7. In the beginning, the Creator Spirit entrusted different lands to different peoples. To Aboriginal Australians, this Spirit entrusted the land of Australia and its waters.

7. Acts 17:26 – “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (NIV)


8. The Creator Spirit renews the land, and through the land teaches land-care to its custodians.

8. The Psalmist proclaims in Psalm 104:30 – “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth” (NIV).



Source: Rainbow Spirit Elders, “Land and Culture”, in Rainbow Spirit Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 28-41.

Photo credit: Intellimon Ltd. 

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