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Chapter One: Period of Fantasy

Section Two: Philosophical Theology


Knowing God In this section the main emphasis is on the Eminent Greek Philosophers i.e. 'Plato' and 'Aristotle'. However, it is appropriate first to briefly look into the theology during “The Period Of Fantasies” and “The Cosmologists Before Socrates” and then during the time of Socrates.

Chapter One: Period of Fantasy

The period before Philosophy is usually propounded as the period of fantasy in Greece and the most fundamental matter, which is pertaining to the fantasy of this period, is the matter of gods. It seems that choosing the name 'fantasy' for this period is having a close connection with the matter of gods and divine myths such that the Greeks without any rational and philosophical analysis were directly considering a supernatural agent for every natural, social and ethical manifestations and rather for every thing which they encountered in this world and they expounded the happenings with those agents (living) out of this world. These super-natural agents were the same numerous gods of the Greeks which were having close connection with the various matters of this world.

Thus, for expounding the happenings of this world, the matter of gods was propounded in the Greek culture with extensive and simple fantasies and without rational and philosophical examination. These gods, who attracted the whims and fancies of the Greeks, were accompanied with analogy, simile and syllogism for justifying the natural and human affairs. Therefore the Greek gods were mostly having human figures while some were possessing beastly forms and they took shape from the syllogism and simile of gods with the natural agents.

The journey of fantasy did not end here by way of simile. Rather in the same way, they contemplated biography, ethics, manner of living, ancestors and sons for the gods and these were explained in the mould of myths.

Of course, as it was mentioned in the first section the Greek fantasies were in the form of images, which were placed upon the previous matter. This prior matter was the divine 'Fitrat' and the reminding of the previous religions. That the Greeks turned towards fantasies of gods and not to any other thing for analyzing the events of this world shows their special condition and state of affairs.

From the time when human beings began to expropriate the divine 'Fitrat' (innate disposition) through fantasies, the human Greek culture was born. In the subsequent periods, this kind of expropriation underwent a change and took the form of philosophical expropriation and finally mystical expropriation.

It appears that the above explanation explains the most fundamental factor in the multiplicity of gods. However, this does not mean that other factors like political and tribal considerations were not having any effect in aggravating the multiplicity of gods. Similarly other justifications for the origin of fantasy of gods have been explained, which are not inconsistent with the above explanation and it is needless to mention them.

With regard to the above matter, we mention here a testimony:

“Political and tribal separations added fuel to so many gods and made impossible the worship of One God…When the religious fantasies of the Greeks came out from the local limits it became the cause of myths and common gods of the Greeks. For every social and natural manifestation, for each of powers of the land and the heavens, for every joy, good fortunes, evils and works the Greeks considered one source or one god for them. The Greek gods were having human figures. This too is another specialty of Greece and no other nation has ever imagined there gods resemble so closely the human beings… With regard to each of the gods, there existed a myth, which would clarify their race, their human connection and similarly the customs related to them. These myths which would arise either out of the local exigencies or was the product of the poets brought into existence the beliefs, philosophy, etiquette and history of ancient Greece… In the Greek myths, the world is not the creation of gods. The world was existing prior to the gods.” (Will Durrant - History of Civilization; New edition; chapter 8; Pg. 197-203)

The theology at the time prior to philosophy can be summarized and said as such: During this period, the gods were propounded in a polytheistic manner through fantasies, imaginations, simile and syllogism. This theology in general is categorically opposite to the divine theology and this disagreement will be discussed in the section of religions. However the point which is worthy of attention is the influence which the theology of this period had on the later periods of philosophy especially during the time of Plato and Aristotle. This influence was to such extent that the later philosophers were speaking of gods and the matter of imagination and analogy too has always been propounded in Greece.

When Aristotle proves the multiplicity of gods by means of multiplicity of movement he coincides his ancestors gods with immutable essences (original movers). He says: “On account of the former ones and ancient forefathers you have like a heritance remained in your place in the form of a myth… He imagined that the original essences are the gods.” (Aristotle - Metaphysics)

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