There are many people who have claimed that the creation account recorded in the book of Genesis, as well as other books in the Hebrew Bible, is dependent upon other creation accounts within the ancient Near East. The biblical creation account, it is proposed, merely evolved from these other myths and bears no special character.
There are many examples one could cite to show the absurdity of this claim (from the presence of many gods in the ancient Near Eastern myths, to the unpredictability of the gods, and so forth), but none stands out more so than the place and purpose of man within creation. It is startling. Over and over again, at least in the Babylonian accounts, not only is the creation of man essentially an “afterthought,” in the words of John T. Oswalt (The Bible Among the Myths, p. 59), but they are created for one purpose: to serve the gods.
Thus, in Enuma Elish 6:7-8, the great god Marduk announces:
Yes, I will create lullu: Man!
(Upon him) shall the services of the gods be imposed that they may be at rest.
Elsewhere, another Babylonian creation account records:
With their [the gods’] blood let us create mankind,
The service of the gods be their portion,
For all times (translated by Alexander Heidel in The Babylonian Genesis, p. 69).
This is repeated over and over again in every Babylonian creation account. It leaps off the page.
This stands in stark contrast to the biblical creation account, where man is created as God’s crowning act during the creation week, and then, amazingly, startlingly, during his first day of life, he is gifted with rest from God. The rest of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament then bear witness to the fact that man was not created in order to serve God, but that he might relate to and enjoy fellowship with the Divine.
So overwhelming is this thought that the Psalmist can only ask a question:
When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers,
The moon and the stars,
which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful [Heb. zakar, literally, “remember”] of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor (Psalm 8:3-5)
Perhaps no single verse stands in greater contrast to the creation myths of every other worldview, however, than what Jesus declared in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Talk about counter-cultural!
Yet this is actually the fundamental difference between the religion and creation of the Bible, and the religion and creation of all other worldviews. According to every other worldview, man works on behalf of the gods; according to the Bible, God works on behalf of man.
This is because the God of the Bible created us for relationship (which is precisely why He gives us rest). And thus He works on our behalf, seeking to convince us of His worthiness.