Read this link about Norse myths. Well, read the first paragraph. Okay, don’t go to the link, read it here:
The Norse believed that the universe emerged from an empty, yawning gulf separating worlds made of ice and fire, respectively, inhabited only by a mysterious, hermaphroditic being named Ymir, who became the mother and father of the race of the jotuns, chaotic nature spirits that would later be the enemies of the Norse gods. Eventually, another being, Buri, came into existence, and his grandchildren, Vili, Ve and Odin, decided to create the world and fill it with life. But unlike the Judeo-Christian conception of God, the Norse deities could not create substance out of nothing, so Odin and his brothers did the only sensible thing – they murdered Ymir and made the world out of his body and the sky out of his skull. Ymir’s blood became the sea, his bones and teeth became rocks and mountains, and his brains the clouds.
The act of sacrifice gave great power to the three brothers, and they proceeded to give life and intelligence to human beings.
So what? I mean this is only a myth, right? The Norse didn’t really believe it, did they? Here’s how Mental Floss summed this up: “The outlook of the Norsemen, who often saw the world as a cruel and unforgiving place, was surely influenced by the fact that they lived in a universe made possible only by death.” Absolutely. Creation myths matter. They form or inform how you interpret and understand the universe. Was the world create by two beings wrestling? Then life as a struggle should be expected. Good will get the upper hand at times and then evil will. Is the world a lie, an illusion? Then the ultimate good is to overcome the lie and understand that nothing is real. Truth is almost impossible to come by. Did the world get created by nothing exploding and life happen by accident? You get the idea.
However, what if the creation myth ((The term ‘myth’ needn’t mean that something isn’t true. There are scraps of truth in a lot of different creation stories. It just refers to the stories that explain things to us.)) tells us about a God who created the world on purpose? Who isn’t part of the universe but isn’t distant from it either? What if this God did it in an orderly fashion and proclaimed it good when he was finished? What should we expect life in that universe to be like? Orderly or chaotic? An impenetrable mystery or a wonder to explore? And in that universe humanity is created especially to be like this God in some ways. How then should humans treat each other? As one of a variety of other species or with care? Creation myths matter. A lot.
A friend of mine is Norwegian and she once told me how thankful she was that Christianity came to Norway because her people were so brutal without it. Understanding the world as a Christian does elevates humanity. People are God’s image bearers and he cares for them so much that he not only speaks to them, but he sent his only Son to die in order to reconcile them to himself. With that view of humanity you’re not free to go and enslave them or hack them up indiscriminately.
Okay, now go back and read the rest of the stories in that link and think about the Vikings and their reputation. Or watch The Thirteenth Warrior. Nah, don’t. It was a lame film. Read Michael Crichton’s book Eaters of the Dead. Crichton was good at research.