A Lacuna In Scholarship -- By: H. W. Magoun

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 074:294 (Apr 1917)
Article: A Lacuna In Scholarship
Author: H. W. Magoun

A Lacuna In Scholarship

H. W. Magoun, Ph.D.


It is commonly supposed that the atomic theory is modern. As a matter of fact it is ancient. It goes back to the days of Leucippus, who lived approximately five hundred years before Christ. He invented it to combat the views of Anaxagoras, who held that the world was the product of intelligence (nous) rather than of chance (tuchē). Leucippus was a doughty champion of the latter notion, and his pupil, Democritus, who is credited with having lived one hundred and ninety-nine years (B.C. 4(50–261), developed the idea, teaching that an infinite number of atoms in infinite space, homogeneous in quality but heterogeneous in form, were in rapid motion and that some of them were by chance combined, the universe being the ultimate result. That was the original evolutionary theory, and it was pure materialism. Its object, in fact, was the elimination of any divine element from the Greek doctrines concerning creation. It had no room for the gods.

For the latter reason it appealed to Epicurus (b.c 342–270) and also to the Roman poet Lucretius, who committed suicide about B.C. 51. Before doing so, however, he formulated in his “De Rerum Natura” the entire theory for the benefit of his countrymen, as he wished to emancipate them from the fear of any such beings as gods, a thing which he regarded as

the source of all human ills. The same notion is likewise attributed to Epicurus. When the whole theory is studied, it becomes apparent that Herbert Spencer’s famous definition of evolution—”Evolution is an integration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion; during which the matter passes from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity; and during which the retained motion undergoes a parallel transformation”— amounts to little more than a restatement, in the form of a definition, of the pet doctrines of these ancient worthies, who first championed such a theory.

Darwin’s contributions to the discussion contained the same fundamental element; namely, the elimination of all theistic functions in creation. In short, throughout its entire history the true basis of Evolution has been a blank materialism in which there was no room whatever for any such factor as a divine fiat. The whole thing, on that basis, was merely a question of matter and inherent force, the source of which was not disclosed. Theism and Evolution are therefore, intrinsically, opposites, and that means that they are mutually antagonistic in their very essence. They must be so in the nature of things. Theism starts with a divine agency. Evolution st...

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