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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 11

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 11.—Of Those Who Suppose that This World Indeed is Not Eternal, But that Either There are Numberless Worlds, or that One and the Same World is Perpetually Resolved into Its Elements, and Renewed at the Conclusion of Fixed Cycles.

There are some, again, who, though they do not suppose that this world is eternal, are of opinion either that this is not the only world, but that there are numberless worlds or that indeed it is the only one, but that it dies, and is born again at fixed intervals, and this times without number; 541 but they must acknowledge that the human race existed before there were other men to beget them.  For they cannot suppose that, if the whole world perish, some men would be left alive in the world, as they might survive in floods and conflagrations, which those other speculators suppose to be partial, and from which they can therefore reasonably argue that a few then survived whose posterity would renew the population; but as they believe that the world itself is renewed out of its own material, so they must believe that out of its elements the human race was produced, and then that the progeny of mortals sprang like that of other animals from their parents.



The former opinion was held by Democritus and his disciple Epicurus; the latter by Heraclitus, who supposed that “God amused Himself” by thus renewing worlds.

Next: Chapter 12