This post is part of a series looking at Basil’s views on the creation account in Genesis. If you have not already read it, I recommend starting with part 1.
In the last post we saw Basil defend the beginning of the universe and time. Views that were not broadly accepted until approximately 100 years ago. Prior posts further demonstrated that Basil held the widely accepted idea that the universe was comprised of 4 or 5 elements. These elements are what Basil understood as being created in the beginning.
The opening of the creation account in Genesis, as we have noted, states that the water is already found in existence at the beginning. Furthermore, the account only states that the “heavens and the earth” are created “in the beginning”. These observations caused philosophers to question whether the elements were co-existent with God.
In the beginning, he says God created. [Moses] does not say God worked, God formed, but God created. Among those who have imagined that the world co-existed with God from all eternity, many have denied that it was created by God– Homily I
Basil, rightly, rejects the idea of the elements co-existing with God. In order to defend his view he seeks to explain why the elements that comprise the universe are not enumerated in the creation account. To understand his explanation we must set aside what we know of the universe today and form a picture of how a fourth century person would view things.
A small geo-centric universe
Basil accepted the prevailing theory of his day that the earth was the center of, what would be to us now, a very small universe. This idea was based on the theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy and it prevailed until the 17th century when a heliocentric model replaced it.Continue reading