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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
THEOPHILUS: Chapter IV.—Absurd Opinions of the Philosophers Concerning God.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IV.—Absurd Opinions of the Philosophers Concerning God.

Some of the philosophers of the Porch say that there is no God at all; or, if there is, they say that He cares for none but Himself; and these views the folly of Epicurus and Chrysippus has set forth at large. And others say that all things are produced without external agency, and that the world is uncreated, and that nature is eternal; 550 and have dared to give out that there is no providence of God at all, but maintain that God is only each man’s conscience. And others again maintain that the spirit which pervades all things is God. But Plato and those of his school acknowledge indeed that God is uncreated, and the Father and Maker of all things; but then they maintain that matter as well as God is uncreated, and aver that it is coeval with God. But if God is uncreated and matter uncreated, God is no longer, according to the Platonists, the Creator of all things, nor, so far as their opinions hold, is the monarchy 551 of God established. And further, as God, because He is uncreated, is also unalterable; so if matter, too, were uncreated, it also would be unalterable, and equal to God; for that which is created is mutable and alterable, but that which is uncreated is immutable and unalterable. And what great thing is it if God made the world out of existent materials? 552 For even a human artist, when he gets material from some one, makes of it what he pleases. But the power of God is manifested in this, that out of things that are not He makes whatever He pleases; just as the bestowal of life and motion is the prerogative of no other than God alone. For even man makes indeed an image, but reason and breath, or feeling, he cannot give to what he has made. But God has this property in excess of what man can do, in that He makes a work, endowed with reason, life, sensation. As, therefore, in all these respects God is more powerful than man, so also in this; that out of things that are not He creates and has created things that are, and whatever He pleases, as He pleases.


Footnotes

95:550

This is according to the Benedictine reading: the reading of Wolf, “nature is left to itself,” is also worthy of consideration.

95:551

That is, the existence of God as sole first principle.

95:552

Literally, “subject-matter.”


Next: Chapter V.—Opinions of Homer and Hesiod Concerning the Gods.

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