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Section VIII

VIII. Having now, then, discussed these matters at sufficient length, we must proceed to investigate its imperishableness. Now, there are three opinions in vogue among the philosophers on this subject: some affirming it is everlasting, and uncreated, and free from all liability to destruction; others, on the contrary, that it is created and perishable. There is also a sect which has adopted some portions of the doctrine of each of the beforementioned parties, taking from the latter sect the doctrine that it is created, and from the former the idea that it is imperishable; and thus they have left a mixed opinion, looking upon it as at the same time created and yet imperishable. Therefore Democritus, and Epicurus, and the chief body of the philosophers of the Stoic school, believe the generation and also the destructibility of the world; but they do not all do so in the same manner. For some give a sketch of many worlds, the creation of which they attribute to the concourse and conflicting combination of atoms, and their destruction they attribute to the repercussion and shattering of what has been thus formed. But the Stoics affirm that there is one world, and that God is the cause of its creation, but that God is not the cause of its destruction; but that the power which is contained in existing things, in the long periods of never-ending time, attracts everything to itself, from which again a regeneration of the world is caused by the prudence of the Creator. But Aristotle pronounced the world to be both uncreated and imperishable, and he affirmed that those who maintained a contrary doctrine were guilty of terrible impiety, as they considered that so great a work of God was in no respect superior to things made by the hand of men. And they say too that it has been proved to be both uncreated and imperishable by Plato in his Timaeus. But some persons interpret Plato's words sophistically, and think that he affirms that the world was created, not inasmuch as it has had a beginning of creation, but inasmuch as if it had been created it could not possibly have existed in any other manner than that in which it actually does exist as has been described, or else because it is in its creation and change that the parts are seen. But the forementioned opinion is better and truer, not only because throughout the whole treatise he affirms that the Creator of the gods is also the father and creator and maker of everything, and that the world is a most beautiful work of his and his offspring, being an imitation visible to the outward senses of an archetypal model appreciable only by the intellect, comprehending in itself as many objects of the outward senses as the model does objects of the intellect, since it is a most perfect impression of a most perfect model, and is addressed to the outward sense as the other is to the intellect. But also because Aristotle bears witness to this fact in the case of Plato, who, from his great reverence for philosophy, would never have spoken falsely. But some persons think that the father of the Platonic theory was the poet Hesiod, as they conceive that the world is spoken of by him as created and indestructible; as created, when he says, -

"First did Chaos rule;

Then the broad-chested earth was brought to light,

Foundation firm and lasting for whatever

Exists among Mankind;"15221522hesiod, Theogon. 116.

and as indestructible, because he has given no hint of its dissolution or destruction. Now Chaos was conceived by Aristotle to be a place, because it is absolutely necessary that a place to receive them must be in existence before bodies. But some of the Stoics think that it is water, imagining that its name has been derived from Effusion.15231523chysis, as if chaos were derived from cheoÂ̄, "to pour." But however that may be, it is exceedingly plain that the world is spoken of by Hesiod as having been created: and a very long time before him Moses, the lawgiver of the Jews, had said in his sacred volumes that the world was both created and indestructible, and the number of the books is five. The first of which he entitled Genesis, in which he begins in the following manner: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; and the earth was invisible and without form."

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