The Berean Expositor
Volume 27 - Page 182 of 212
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Chance or Intelligence?
The Final Phase.
Democritus and Anaxagoras.
pp. 211, 212
We observed in our last article that Empedocles endeavoured to discover some
mediating force that would bring together the "Being" of the Eleatic philosophers with
the "Becoming" of Heraclitus. John 1: 1-3 supplies this mediating force in the Person of
"The Word", Who was "with" God, Who "was" God, and through Whom all "became".
This mighty truth, however, was not discoverable by human wisdom, and so we find
other attempts to solve the problem.
Democritus (B.C.460) was the exponent of the atomic theory of the universe, a theory
that is still held by chemists and physicists to-day. The atoms of Democritus were
uncaused and eternal, and by their falling together and impinging upon one another he
supposed the present universe to have been formed. No sufficient reason could be given
for the marvelous fitness of things, but only "necessity", or "chance", in contrast with a
final Cause. The philosophy of Democritus became, therefore, naturalistic and atheistic,
and culminated in the Sophists, of whom we hope to speak later. The great failure in all
the systems of philosophy that we have reviewed is that no adequate Cause can be
discovered for the world as we see it, and no final goal or purpose.
In contrast with Democritus' theory of blind "chance" we have the system of
Anaxagoras, who lived at the same time. Anaxagoras makes an attempt to remove the
difficulty by introducing the idea of a "designing intelligence". After two hundred years
of intense thought philosophy dimly perceived the possibility of that which is expressed
very simply in Gen. 1: 1.
Anaxagoras writes:--
"All things were together, infinitely numerous, infinitely little; then came the nous
(`mind' or `intelligence') and set them in order."
There seems to be some vague realization here of the chaos and subsequent order of
the six days' creation.
Speaking of Anaxagoras and his teaching, Aristotle says:--
"When a man said that there was in nature, as in animals, an intelligence, which is the
cause of the arrangement and order of the universe, this man alone appeared to have
preserved his reason in the midst of the follies of his predecessors."
Anaxagoras, however, fails, for his "nous" is simply a "mover of matter". Socrates
complains that in the hope of being brought beyond merely occasional and secondary
causes up to final causes, he had applied himself to the study of Anaxagoras, but instead