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Classical Christian Texts Basil of Caesarea: Hexaemeron Homily I 2. ‘‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’’ I stop struck with admiration at this thought. What shall I first say? Where shall I begin my story? Shall I show forth the vanity of the Gentiles? Shall I exalt the truth of our faith? The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm and unshaken, each being overturned by its successor. It is vain to refute them; they are sufficient in themselves to destroy one another. Those who were too ignorant to rise to a knowledge of a God, could not allow that an intelligent cause presided at the birth of the Universe; a primary error that involved them in sad consequences. Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the origin of the Universe to the elements of the world. Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating produce births and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider’s web woven by these writers who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little consistency! It is because they knew not how to say ‘‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’’ Deceived by their inherent atheism it appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe , and that all was given up to chance. To guard us against this error the writer on the creation, from the very first words, enlightens our understanding with the name of God; ‘‘In the beginning God created.’’ . . . 3. . . . Of what use then are geometry—the calculations of arithmetic—the study of solids and far-famed astronomy, this laborious vanity, if those 74 classical christian texts  75 who pursue them imagine that this visible world is co-eternal with the Creator of all things, with God Himself; if they attribute to this limited world, which has a material body, the same glory as to the incomprehensible and invisible nature; if they cannot conceive that a whole, of which the parts are subject to corruption and change, must of necessity end by itself submitting to the fate of its parts? But they have become ‘‘vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools’’ [Rom 1:21–22]. Some have affirmed that heaven co-exists with God from all eternity; others that it is God Himself without beginning or end, and the cause of the particular arrangement of all things. 4. One day, doubtless, their terrible condemnation will be the greater for all this worldly wisdom, since, seeing so clearly into vain sciences, they have wilfully shut their eyes to the knowledge of the truth. These men who measure the distances of the stars and describe them, both those of the North, always shining brilliantly in our view, and those of the southern pole visible to the inhabitants of the South, but unknown to us; who divide the Northern zone and the circle of the Zodiac into an infinity of parts, who observe with exactitude the course of the stars, their fixed places, their declensions, their return and the time that each takes to make its revolution; these men, I say, have discovered all except one thing: the fact that God is the Creator of the universe, and the just Judge who rewards all the actions of life according to their merit.1 Gregory of Nyssa: On the Making of Man Ch. VIII 3. Let us . . . consider . . . why the growth of things that spring from the earth takes precedence, and the irrational animals come next, and then, after the making of these, comes man: for it may be that we learn from these facts not only the obvious thought, that grass appeared to the Creator useful for the sake of the animals, while the animals were made because of man, and that for this reason, before the animals there was made their food, and before man that which was to minister to human life. 76  texts and commentaries 4. But it seems to me that by these facts Moses reveals a hidden doctrine, and secretly delivers that wisdom concerning the soul, of which the learning that is without had indeed some imagination...


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Subject Headings

  • Religion and science -- Congresses.
  • Christianity -- Doctrines -- Congresses.
  • Islam -- Doctrines -- Congresses.
  • Bible -- Criticism, interpretation, etc. -- Congresses.
  • Koran -- Criticism, interpretation, etc. -- Congresses.
  • Christianity and other religions -- Islam -- Congresses.
  • Islam -- Relations -- Christianity -- Congresses.
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