Creation Story from a Tongan perspective

By Siosifa Pole in Articles

learning truth from different stories of creation

I read recently a small booklet written by Keith
Rowe, entitled Charles Darwin - Secular Saint. In that booklet, Keith Rowe suggests that Christians should value the contribution of scientists in our search for truth. He claimed that Charles Darwin is one of those scientists who opened a new way of understanding
and thinking about creation. He was among the first to suggest that life had evolved as a natural process without the interference of all- powerful, controlling deity. Charles Darwin's work is known as The Origin of Species was controversial in the life of the church in the 19th century but was able to bring another dimension to our understanding of the creation story. I suppose we all have that instinct of constantly looking for the truth. We continue to explore until we find the truth about God and his creation. As a Tongan, I have my own story of creation, which I would like to share with you. In this story you can realise that the creation of the human race was a combination of a deity involvement and also a process of evolution. This story can be called The Tongan Legend of the Creation of the First Human Beings. This story is translated from a book written in Tongan language by Masiu Moala, entitled, 'Efinanga.
This is the version of the creation story from a Tongan perspective. The whole land was covered with green vegetation and they were grown in multitude that they scattered everywhere. Tangaloa Tufunga (god of the sky) told Tangaloa 'Atulongolongo (god of the land) to wonder around and to look for the island of 'Ata (one of the islands in the eastern side of Tongatapu, the main Island) for there is a big fue (a type of creeper plant) grown up in there. Tangaloa 'Atulongolongo (god of the land) asked Tangaloa Tufunga (god of the sky) of what he would do if he would able to find the fue plant. Tangaloa Tufunga responded, "You cut/peck one of the branches, and left it there to be rotten. Out of that rotten branch of the fue plant would come a huge 'uanga (worm) and you have to cut/peck it into three pieces and from them there will be three living persons would come out and you will name them, Kohai (What), Koau (I am), and Momo (Crumbs)." These are the first human beings that were created, multiplied, and also scattered on the land, who became the origin of the Tongan people. There are significant aspects that came out of this story, which are; the involvement of a deity in the creation, and also the evolving of different species to create other species, which obviously part of the creation process. This process of creation has a combination of pain and also of new life. A branch was cut from the fue plant and left to be rotten and out of that a new life began of a big worm. That new life was cut into three pieces and out of these three pieces came out three human beings. Life was not the same for it evolves and certainly there is a connection with Darwin's theory of evolution.
We have in Genesis chapter 1 and 2 a different version of another creation story. It is a story that was told from a Hebrew perspective. This
story starts with God created the universe (cosmos) from nothing (exnihilo) by his words. He brought life out from chaos and from disorder into order. Every day God created certain thing according to his plan and he saw each one of them is very good. He created the first human being from the dust of the earth in his image and he called him Adam. He put Adam into a deep sleep and took out one of his rips and created a woman and Adam named her Eve. Obviously, a deity was in control in this creation story and the whole purpose was to bring harmony and order into the creation. This harmony was short lived when Adam and Eve abused their power to look after God's creation with love and care. They have been given the power to be good stewards of God's creation but they violated that right for their own personal gain. Their action was resulted in their expelling from the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve gave birth to their children, which result in the growth of the human race. Life was not the same for it evolves, develops and growth.
Those two creation accounts prove to us that there was a deity involved in the creation of our world and that life cannot be the same for it evolves. Change, development, and progress are parts of the created world we live in. We are created to be part of this global household. Life is like a journey, filled with surprises, pleasures and tragedy. Through that journey we evolve and transform by the contexts where we located ourselves. These changes can possibly be for good or for bad depending in the intention of the changes that happened. Last Sunday was the World Refugee Sunday and the reminder for us of our role in this global household toward the refugees and those who have no place to live. People have fled their homes and countries for fear of their lives. The wars, persecution, oppression, and prejudice have forced people to move away from their world that God created for them to live and enjoy life. I believe when we divorced God from the world, we will act in an ungodly manner toward our fellow human beings. But when we saw God is within the creation and take part in the evolution process we would understand that we have a responsibility toward our fellow human beings and the rest of the creation. The Creator God calls us to treat each other with love, care, respect, and with compassion. God created us in his own image and would love to see us treating each other and whole of creation in the way that he treats each of us. Although changes are inevitable but we have a mission to see others as people who are created in the image of God who loves us all.
Siosifa Pole