Further Cracking the Symbolic Meaning of the Genesis Creation Account

by Joshua Tilghman on April 24, 2014

AtumI want to show you something pretty neat if you compare the Genesis creation account to one of my favorite creation myths from ancient Egypt. After a comparison I think you’ll agree that the Genesis account was definitely influenced by it. The similarities are astounding. What I hope you’ll notice is that both the Bible and ancient the Egyptians were trying to explain complicated aspects of consciousness, science, and physics through the same myth and allegory.

The creation myth I’m speaking of comes from one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt, Heliopolis. Heliopolis is the name given to it by the Greeks, which means “city of the sun.” Heliopolis was occupied as early as the predynastic period, which most scholars place as early as 6,000 BC. The creation myth I’m speaking of involves the deity named Atum, which was one of the earliest Egyptian Gods. As you read my brief summary below, keep in mind that the creation account of Atum evolved many thousands of years before Genesis was written.

A quick summary of Nun

No Egyptian creation myth can be understood without first discussing the concept of Nun; the Egyptians described it as the primordial waters which their self-created Gods stepped out of. While many of the Egyptian Gods evolved into other gods, Nun is a concept that remains the same in all of them. What exactly is Nun?

I believe many scholars have come up short by missing the deeper significance of “Nun.” Nun is commonly just known as the primordial chaotic state of the emptiness or the void. While it is called “waters,” it has nothing to do with oceans or literal water. Rather, it has to do with a state of primordial consciousness. Perhaps Nun can best be understood as a state of infinite potential, much like modern science has shown that, for reasons we still can’t ascertain, virtual particles can pop into and out of existence from a vacuum. The vacuum, or void, is filled with the potential for all of creation.

The characteristics of Nun are similar to Kabbalah’s Ein Sof:

1)      It’s hidden and invisible

2)      It’s infinite

3)      Infinite potential flows from it

4)      It’s dark / absence of light

The points above will become important in our Genesis comparison.

Interestingly, Nun can be compared to the Hebrew word Tahu, which is what Genesis also explains as being the “void,” and what is furthered explained as the “darkness that was upon the face of the deep.” (Genesis 1:2). Nun and Tahu are both the primordial waters from which stir further creation. More importantly, they are the beginning of primordial consciousness interacting with and upon itself.

On first glance it seems that the Genesis account and the creation myth of Atum have a big difference. In Genesis the Tahu is already on “earth.” There is really no difference. The earth here is not the globe with continents on it. “Earth” is a metaphor for primordial matter, which will become the vehicle for the development of man’s ego after eons of conscious evolution within that matter. We know this because the next part of Genesis 1:2 states that “God moved upon the face of the waters.” In other words, there wasn’t dry land yet. That doesn’t appear until verse nine. To think that this earth is the literal earth we normally know is absurd, and as you’ll see in a moment, Atum also steps onto the first dry land, known as the primordial mound.

What’s also interesting is that in the next few verses of Genesis God’s spirit moving upon the waters causes light to appear, separating darkness. Even though this detail is left out of Atum’s creation account, the same thing happens. The light is the appearance of Atum himself. Atum is a sun-god! So was Yaweh and even Jesus Christ. I have already written other post showing where both are compared to the sun. Most Christians are also unaware that when Constantine built the first basilica, Christians bowed to an image of the sun before entering.

Hopefully you are beginning to see some connections here.

More on Atum

Atum is the earliest of the Egyptian deities. It has been stated that he is self-created because he steps out of Nun. “Self-created” is the wrong term. I think it is more accurate to state that Atum is the first emanation of primordial consciousness, as it interacts within itself. In other words, Atum represents a natural outcome from the infinite potential of Nun. Because Nun IS, so is Atum. It’s no different than what we have with Yaweh, who tells Moses, “I AM THAT I AM.”

The Papyrus of Huenfer states:

“I am the great God who created himself, that is to say, I am Water, that is to say, Nu the father of the gods, or as others say, Ra the creator of the names of his members which turned into Gods.”

This is further confirmation that “water” here is simply a metaphor from which life, or the conscious experiences, springs.

In the creation myth of Atum, the god symbolically masterbates and produces two children, Shu and Tefnut, the male / female pair. This is all metaphor for the divine (conscious) male/female and positive/negative energies of life, producing duality.

In Genesis God also tells us that man is created in His image, both male and female (Genesis 1:27). Same metaphor. We should also note that the word “God,” or Elohim, is plural, meaning Gods. Scholars have argued over this for years. Some Christians argue that Elohim is used with the singular verb for create, thus denoting a single deity. This is silly. The allegory here simply explains that the positive and negative energies of the universe, that which makes duality possible, springs from the singular act of primordial consciousness interacting with itself. Thus we have the concept of “Gods” even in the Genesis account. No wonder God is stated as saying that “man has now become like one of us” when Adam (lower consciousness) fell.

Comparing the first dry lands in both accounts

When Atum arises out of Nun, he steps onto the primordial mound, or the first first dry land. Something similar is stated in Genesis 1:9:

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.”

So in the Atum creation myth it’s known as the primordial mound, but in the Bible it’s simply called the “dry land.” What is this dry land? It is a symbol for life and experience of consciousness on the different planes of manifestation.

These acts represent the first expansion of consciousness into the realm of actual time and space. This development of time and space (which is relevant to each conscious observer) is further explained in the next few verses. Genesis 1:6-8 states:

“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters [primordial consciousness unfolding into experience], and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament…”

What is the firmament?

What does it mean that the “firmament” divided the waters above from the waters below? The firmament above the waters symbolizes the higher mental plane, which is where creation truly begins. The waters under the firmament is consciousness is brought forth on the lower planes, where creation is experienced in maya, or illusion. This is also where the concept for the higher and lower self comes from.

The separation is within consciousness itself, into duality. Duality is the reality of the lower planes, which gives the ability for experience in a space-time sense. This is consciousness creating the matrix of reality, in which consciousness can interact with itself and play in.

Apep, the serpent, and Adam and Eve

The myth of Atum morphed into the myth of Atum-Ra, and then finally just Ra, the sun-god of later Egyptian myth. Apep, the snake or dragon, was Atum’s antithesis, a deification of the void, and of chaos. This element also made it into the Genesis account. The serpent is the enemy of God, who later becomes Satan in the Bible. But what we have to remember is that Satan is not an evil being, rather he is the opposite of light, and an integral and necessary part of consciousness, in order to evolve it, to grow it. Without the serpent, Adam could not have fallen into the very state of existence which is responsible for evolving consciousness itself simply by allowing it to express lower vibrations of material reality. Adam and Eve were not literal people, but rather a fallen state of God’s own consciousness, which was split into higher and lower and allowed this grand experiential process.

Further reading on consciousness, time, space, and the illusion of lower reality from a scientific perspective

Below are some links which I think you’ll find interesting. Maybe you can call it a coincidence, but after I finished writing the above article I went to Conscious Life News, an online alternate news website that periodically presents information I enjoy reading. When I went to the site, one of the first articles I read was on explaining how time was an illusion, and how consciousness creates it. I recommend giving it a read. The link is below:


Perhaps even better than the above link, I think this next one has the potential to help you understand how primordial consciousness itself created the universe by interacting with itself. When you go to the below link, go to the bottom of the page and follow the last link to an online book with 15 chapters. Hope you enjoy should you choose to read it! Blessings!


Hope you enjoy should you choose to read it! Blessings!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin April 24, 2014 at 9:21 am

Thank you for the lovely article Josh! The knowledge the ancients had of existence is astounding, is it not? I find that the deeper I dive into the world of spirituality the more in tune I become with myself and with the world around me. It makes me want to share this experience with everyone, for everyone deserves to feel this connection, this Love.

Time and time again I experience the parable of the sower and the seeds in this journey. I talk to family and friends about my experiences and how life can be free from fear. But, alas, I find that often my words would fall on deaf ears. Finally, I tried something new for me, I began to speak in parables about my experiences. Since my family is Christian, liberal Christians but Christians none the less, I have had to not only learn to interpret Jesus’ parables for myself but also had to learn to use them to communicate with my family.

I know this was all off topic to the post, but I really wanted to thank you and every here at SOS. You have all been a beacon of light in a dark world for me. I would love to write an article for this wonderful blog, and have tried to do so on several occasions, but I always feel that what I write is lacking. Maybe I will find a topic and the spirit will speak through me, until then I am more than happy to read and learn from so many wise individuals.

Live Blessed;


Joshua Tilghman April 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm


I really appreciate the encouraging words. And you are very welcome. My pleasure as always.


Robert April 24, 2014 at 3:05 pm


Very interesting comparisons between the Egyptian and Hebrew sacred narratives. They are not exactly alike but there is enough of a parallel to suggest the possibility that the Hebrews adapted elements of the Egyptian narrative in forming their own. It also opens up the door to discovering a more accurate interpretation of the words used in Genesis.

I think one thing the Hebrews did differently than the Egyptians was to adjust the narrative to make sure no human leader, such as Pharaoh, would be elevated to the status of supreme God with unlimited and unchallengeable power over his people.

The referenced articles were also very interesting, sometimes hard to follow. I get it about the black holes where everything is pulled into itself, vacuums (voids) containing tremendous energy instead of emptiness, and the evolution of creation resulting in creatures that are conscious of themselves and creation. I also get that change may be an illusion, an effect of matter jumping in an out of existence.

But it gets a little flimsy defining an individual as just a manifestation of vibrations, where all vibrations are connected to each other; this may be true but it can also not be true, so in my opinion it is not “proven” by using analogies from speculations of modern physics.

And it gets even more flimsy when the authors jump from physics to asserting that consciousness is part of a natural evolutionary process of the universe becoming aware of itself; again it may or may not be true, but physics does not prove it or derive it one way or another; in my opinion science is being arbitrarily tweaked to provide an analogy in support of a metaphysical theory because we like the theory and “we want” the science to support the metaphysical.

But it is a neat thing to think that maybe creation wants to be conscious of itself.


Robert April 28, 2014 at 2:28 pm


On a less skeptical note, the mystery of why photons act like waves when we do not observe them and as particles when we do observe them (the double slit experiment) is baffling to us former Newtonian science jerks. One of many explanations for this is consciousness may somehow change reality, cause quantum mechanical descriptions of the wave nature of existence (where everything exists as probabilities and multiple possibilities) to collapse. It is waves when I am not looking and particles when I look at it.

The theory that our minds perceive a 4-D holographic interpretation of reality (3D moving through time) instead of everything that is encompassed in true reality and is unfathomable to us, is mindboggling.

I think the concept that the universe wants to be conscious of itself is inked to some metaphysical theories of Aristotle about potentiality that he derived from his understanding of the physical motion of planets. It might go back further than that from eastern spirituality.


Joshua Tilghman April 29, 2014 at 4:39 pm


I know this is a very difficult concept to both explain and accept. Words could probably never do it justice, but even in the quantum world everything comes down to concepts like “charge” and “spin,” etc. Are these aspects of physics even real in the way that we think about them? Perhaps all matter truly is an illusion created by consciousness, and as consciousness acts upon itself, subatomic particles begin to appear, not as “real” things, but as forces of thought in a higher reality. It’s the only thing that really makes sense, or that can be possible, at least that’s my opinion. If matter were real in the sense that we have been taught, how did it come about? I know we can say the same thing for consciousness, unless we think about it a little differently. Humans have imagined up the concept of nothing, but it cannot be. What we term as “nothing” has infinite potential, and therefore must produce some “thing.” But this some “thing” is a grand illusion, both real and not real. Real because we really experience it, but not real because what we’re experiencing is just a dream, a grand thought upon myriads of other thoughts, all woven together to form the fabric of space-time. We know space-time isn’t real because it’s relative to each individual observer. The only concept that’s a little difficult to see as an illusion for me is gravity, but in some way I am sure this is a fundamental aspect of consciousness as well.

I saw somewhere where a physics professor used math to show how something can actually come from nothing using a bit of logic and out of the box thinking. But math itself is not real, just a concept that makes sense. And yet, the language of the universe is math. Go figure.

It is interesting, isn’t it? I would love to get together over a few beers or a few cups of coffee and discuss it with you sometime when I move to the Wake Forest area. I know you aren’t far away.


Robert April 29, 2014 at 10:41 pm


Sounds great.


Paul April 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm

You know, Josh, as I read this article I began to reflect on the fact that many of the scriptures of the world use variations of the same stories, such as Adam and Eve, Abraham, David, etc. I find this fact fascinating as I consider what it all means. Thanks for sharing the relationship between the two creation myths. In addition, I think your explanation of the “waters” is very important in coming to understand the life-giving nature of our adversities — what the Bible calls the “waters of affliction.” These waters of affliction truly are the “life-giving waters.”

BTW, do you realize that the YHVH of the Old Testament IS Christ? You make the comparison in your article, but make it as though they are somehow separate entities. They are actually one and the same (although, of course, we are not talking about a literal ‘being”).

Great article. Thanks for sharing your insights.


Joshua Tilghman April 29, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Paul. Absolutely. YHVH and Christ describe the same principle through two different cultures. Of course the esoteric and mystical insights are one. Blessings, my friend.


Robert April 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm


The eBook version of “Dictionary of All Scripture and Myths” by Gaskell is available from THE OPEN LIBRARY to read online or to download at https://openlibrary.org/. You join for free and have free access to all their books. It.s legal.


Joshua Tilghman April 29, 2014 at 4:53 pm


Awesome! Thanks for letting us know. Have you enjoyed it?


Robert April 30, 2014 at 6:09 pm


Very interesting read, especially Gaskell’s extra commentary and introduction. He quote’s Cambell a lot. He makes an argument that sacred scriptures are not humanly engineered like other literature or common mythology. Someone may want to do a post of that. I believe him but his arguments on this issue, though interesting, were less than convincing to me. His scholarship is excellent.


Paul May 1, 2014 at 6:55 am

It’s fascinating to consider a connection between human consciousness and what we call “Universal Intelligence.” The fact that there are such things as human beings that have minds that are able to reason, plan, make decisions, form opinions, etc., could be proof that there is a greater mind than ours that perhaps “created” ours. Perhaps there truly is something to what we call “Intelligent Design,” although the Bible is not the true source from which to be able to prove it.


Robert May 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm


Interesting speculation. One of the popular themes of science fiction, and I mean that in a positive way, because our themes of science fiction are sometimes prophetic. Also, the human mind can be in such wonder at the beauty, complexity, and harmony of the environment that we tend to speculate that all this could not just happen spontaneously. But then the same minds can abandon belief in a benevolent higher power when catastrophes occur. Other minds seek peace and harmony by emptying themselves of all speculation, and in the silence they hear the reassuring vibrations of the All, much like a baby in the womb hears it mother’s heartbeat without knowing what a mother is


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