In this activity, you will become familiar with the idea of an origin story. Cultures around the world have their own origin stories, ways in which they believe and describe how the Universe came to be. It’s important that you understand that all origin stories should be respected, as they often relate to people’s cultures and beliefs. Big History is another one of these origin stories. Specifically, it is what many consider a modern, scientific origin story.

The Universe and Human Origins

Telling stories by the fire © Gideon Mendel/CORBIS
Everywhere around the world people tell stories about how the Universe began and how humans came into being. Scholars, namely anthropologists and ethnologists, call these tales “creation myths” or “origin stories.”
Some origin stories are based on real people and events, while others are based on more imaginative accounts. Origin stories can contain powerful, emotional symbols that convey profound truths, but not necessarily in a literal sense.
The following five readings are all different origin stories. The first four are from different cultures and different eras. The fifth origin story is a short version of Big History, which is a modern, scientific origin story.
By Cynthia Stokes Brown


Download the origin stories comparison chart here. As you read the stories, fill out the chart to help you remember the details of all the stories.
Origin stories comparison chart: download the PDF, or download the answer key.
Once you are done filling out the worksheet, look at the answer key to see if you missed any details!