Tags

, , ,

The previous post on the Apology of Theophilus may be found here

In chapters V, VI & VII, Theophilus takes his pagan reader to task by listing out all the various things the poets have said about the beginning of the gods and the world, and all the strange and confused genealogies.  He quickly shows that the origin stories are wildly incoherent. As such, it would be easy to disregard this section of his apology (who believes in Greek myths any more?). But then he makes this argument which is salient:

And saying this, he has not yet explained by whom all this was made. For if chaos existed in the beginning, and matter of some sort, being uncreated, was previously existing, who was it that effected the change on its condition, and gave it a different order and shape? Did matter itself alter its own form and arrange itself into a world (for Jupiter was born, not only long after matter, but long after the world and many men; and so, too, was his father Saturn), or was there some ruling power which made it; I mean, of course, God, who also fashioned it into a world? Besides, he is found in every way to talk nonsense, and to contradict himself.

Theophilus of Antioch, “Theophilus to Autolycus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 96.

In the end, modern creation accounts differ little from pagan creation accounts: In the beginning was the world and the world made itself. There was some original state of stuff which somehow changed itself: but how?

To argue that in the beginning was a singularity may make for  “god” with a name more amenable to our ears, but is that really much of an advance?  Where did this singularity come from? Where did the rules which gave rise to control this singularity come from — that is information which is capable of molding matter and energy. It certainly has profound powers.

The names are different, the mechanism by which the formation takes place is different, but the basic story is the same.