Is there an alternative to "the creation" (when referring to everything that is alive) that is less "religious"? After all, having a creation implies there is also a creator.

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    I guess you could just use 'creation' - it has been created by something - whether a divine being or an impersonal force like the big bang.
    – neil
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 11:29
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    @neil, by a strict denotational interpretation, yes, "creation" is applicable. However, the connotation of the word is definitely religious, and carries with it a lot of baggage.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 13:45
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    When Christians use the term "all of creation," they are referring to everything that is, not just things that are alive. (An fyi...)
    – apnorton
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 15:54
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    I'd include more than just what's alive in the word "creation". Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 18:07
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    In my opinion, your question is self-contradictory: 'Creation' in the sense you are applying it is an inherently religious concept. Therefore a non-religious alternative (or even one that is merely 'less religious', whatever that might mean) is impossible. Along the same lines, you effectively answered your own question when you commented that "After all, having a creation implies there is also a creator".
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 3:34

17 Answers 17


The scientific term for all life on Earth is "biosphere"; for example, the Wiktionary has:

The totality of living organisms and their environment

And the corresponding Wikipedia article says, in part:

By the most general biophysiological definition, the biosphere is the global ecological system integrating all living beings and their relationships

  • +1 This was going to be my answer as well.
    – Jason C
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 19:55
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    Doesn't this carry the connotation of "all of the living things in a self-contained eco-system"? That is: wouldn't there be multiple biospheres if there are isolated alien life-forms in other galaxies?
    – Andrew C
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 6:28
  • Alien life-forms is cientific, not religious. So, is not part of "The Creation". Considering this will automatically exclude religious connotation.
    – Magno C
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 11:02

Life refers to everything that is alive and it is not religious.

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    Isn't it also the religious alternative? My understanding is that creation in the religious sense usually includes stuff that's not alive.
    – Rupe
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 10:19
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    @Rupe, are you suggesting that 'life' is a religious word for 'everything that is alive'?
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 13:43
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    No just highlighting what I saw as some confusion in the question.
    – Rupe
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 14:04
  • @Rupe: OK. 'Life' is the suggested alternative to 'creation' and so it is the word 'life' that is being described as 'not religious'. That doesn't mean it isn't used in religious contexts, just that it doesn't have the religious connotations when standing alone.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 20:13
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    True. I wasn't trying to suggest that the word "life" has religious connotations. Just that it only works as an answer to the request for an alternative to creation if one accepts the question's unusually restrictive definition of the word.
    – Rupe
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 20:24
  • All living species may be used to refer to everything that is alive.

But 'creation' , as noted, includes everything, alive or not.

Nature has a more inclusive definition:

  • The material world and its phenomena.
  • 3
    +1 Nature is the best answer here as an alternative to creation (and not just things that are alive). Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 18:55
  • Nature has far too many meanings, some religious, some quasi-religious to be useful. In nearly all places where it is used, a different word should be used than Nature to avoid ambiguity.
    – virmaior
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 5:34



  1. [mass noun] the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations: the breathtaking beauty of nature.

■ the physical force regarded as causing and regulating the phenomena of the world: it is impossible to change the laws of nature. See also Mother Nature.

Nature can refer to petty much all the same things as creation without any sort of connotation.

  • This is normally called Oxford Dictionaries Online or ODO. A link helps to establish exactly what is being referred to.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 8:29
  • That's nice and lovely and all Andrew but it's not from ODO, it's from an app that is called ODE which is short for Oxford Dictionary of English. If ODO and OED is understandable enough then ODE shouldn't be much of a stretch...
    – Mou某
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 12:59

Cosmos? Cosmology is the study of the universe, its creation, and the creation of all things within it.


I've always liked Bateson's -- originally Jung's -- distinction between Pleroma and Creatura.

As Wikipedia puts it,

In his work on the Ecology of Mind, Gregory Bateson adopts and extends Jung's distinction between Pleroma (the non-living world that is undifferentiated by subjectivity) and Creatura (the living world, subject to perceptual difference, distinction, and information). What Bateson calls the "myth of power" is the epistemologically false application to Creatura of an element of Pleroma (non-living, undifferentiated).

More can be found in Bateson's book Mind and Nature, of which some parts are on the Web
(though the diagrams don't work and there are occasional misretypings).

  1. For religions that make a distinction between life and nonlife, creation does not refer only to "everything that is alive." It refers to everything.

  2. If your question is about how to express everything that is alive in a single word then one obvious answer is life (or the living, depending on how you use it).

  3. Your question is really unclear. Are you asking about (a) everything; (b) things that live, have lived, or will live; (c) things that are living right now, or (d) something else?


The word creation implies the wonder and awe associated with everything that works in a grand sort of order.

I think the phrase all of creation carries grandeur with it. Unlike the phrase all of the universe or something similar.


Perhaps, Biota (pl.)

Biota are the total collection of organisms of a geographic region or a time period, from local geographic scales and instantaneous temporal scales all the way up to whole-planet and whole-timescale […] spatiotemporal scales. The biota, or biotic component of the Earth make up the biosphere.

ety: [New Latin, from Greek biotē, way of life, from bios, life; see gwei- in Indo-European roots.]


As others have noted, it depends a bit on the context.

The creation implies an event or act, the scientific equivalent would be the big bang or the origin of the universe for the creation of matter and energy (and possibly space and time) in general. If you're more concerned with the development of living organisms from a non-living chemical soup, an extremely technical term is abiogenesis, but origin of life might be a simpler, less theoretically-weighted, description of that point in time.

All of creation, however, seems to be more the sense you're going after. Non-creationist equivalents are all of existence, all of nature, or simply the Universe and everything in it.

These all encompass all matter, not just living things, (although some people would argue about nature). For living things in particular, the biosphere or all biota are good technical words, but all living things might really be the most specific plain-language description.


Flora and Fauna

Flora (plant life) and Fauna (animal life) - commonly found in written articles and books as a way of describing the "life" in a certain area.

  • This is wrong. What about bacteria and all the simple organisms which are neither flora nor fauna? That would be like saying "apples and pears" instead of "fruits". The term "biota" is the answer.
    – Tomas
    Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 12:13

Unlike the Pope or Richard Dawkins I do not profess to know much about the "creation", nor the "creator".

However, none of the replies I have read so far really answer the OP's question. Words like 'biosphere' are not really equivalent to 'creation'. The biosphere describes something that came to be.

Like so much else in occidental society it is difficult to get away from religious vocabulary, since it was upon that that our language was built. Though you may no longer believe in a purposeful 'creator', you will undoubtedly speak of 'creatures', and I see nothing wrong with that. So why is there a problem with 'creation'?

And there are plenty of historians, sociologists etc who happily use words like proletariat and bourgeoisie without being Marxists themselves. In the same way that the bearded man won an early monopoly over the way history of industrial society would be explained, the prophets of old gained a foothold in the way the world and its place in the universe would be described.

So to answer the question specifically, no, there is not a suitable alternative to 'creation'.

  • I don't think this answers the question, and should probably be a comment. Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 16:36
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    It should indeed be a comment, but it should also be read. The question is rather vague. I read it as "How would I go about saying '...ever since the creation, ...' without religious connotations?", but almost all answers here take the clarification presented in the question to be the definition of the word requested.
    – Magus
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 17:15
  • I don't read the question as vague: OP refers to "everything that is alive", in the present tense.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 21:12
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    @WS2, I agree the meanings of both "creature" and "sacrifice" have moved beyond religion; the problem is the meaning of "the creation" hasn't. Hence the OP's dilemma and question.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 1:08
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    @WS2 No, no. Please do not change it. I was poking fun at the hyper-PC crowd’s penchant for knickersnitting over it. For example, the State of Washington passed a law forbidding the use of the word oriental in any government publication. They claim it is offensive to orientals, who themselves deny such a thing. Here in the Great Lakes area of Wisconsin and Minnesota, everybody uses it without any offence at all. It's on the Coasts, especially the left one, where people take extreme umbrage over it. I think they’re silly.
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 12:50


World English Dictionary, Entry #3.

The animal and plant life of a particular region.

 "In all of biology there has never been pigs that can fly."
 "In all of creation there has never been pigs that can fly."

The cosmos is all creation in it's entirety. The Creation (capital) is a religious theory.


Here's a cheerful phrase, from Cecil Alex­and­er's hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful (1,2), which she wrote in 1848:

All creatures great and small

  • 3
    Not trying to be smart, but if the OP is specifically looking to avoid religious connotation, taking a phrase from a well-known hymn might run counter to that Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 14:03
  • @anotherdave, an alternative is All creatures short and squat, which has relatively little religious connotation Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 14:57




  1. Of, relating to, or derived from living organisms: organic matter.

From: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/organic

An example, from the Brazilian Documentary "Ilha das Flores":

Employees select the organic materials that are good to feed the pigs. 'Organic material' is everything that was once alive. Tomatoes, chickens, pigs, flowers and paper are organic materials.

Although you could still use the word to refer to things that are still alive.

  • "Organic" hasn't meant that for almost two centuries. It just means "things that have carbon in them". Certainly there are enormous diamonds out there in space which have never been alive - the etymology of the term is a historical artifact.
    – Superbest
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 16:05
  • @Superbest - organic most definitely still means that - it also has the meaning of containing carbon but the old meaning still exists - plus the new meaning of a method of food production.
    – neil
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 17:23
  • In future this word may come back to refer to "non robotic" forms. Like in Spielbergs' A.I. movie: orga and meca.
    – Magno C
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 11:16

Life the Universe and everything. AKA 42.

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    Some people will get this reference, but you really should explain it. (The system has identified that this answer is very short, which accounts for the downvote.)
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 20:08

The first thing that comes to mind for me is biogenesis.



the production of living organisms from other living organisms.

From: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/biogenesis?s=t&path=/

  • That appears to be referring to the process; the poster seems to be asking for a word referring to the end result. Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 20:20
  • biogenesis specifically refers to the reproduction of living things (whether sexually or asexually). It implies that all living things come from other living things. That really doesn't correspond to creation, which is the origin of life (and the universe in general) out of nothing.
    – AmeliaBR
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 0:00

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