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Creation by a Divine Craftsman


A number of traditions believe that the cosmos was made by a “divine craftsman” who took pre-existing material and fashioned all things from it. This notion is prevalent in Greek philosophic thought beginning in the Sixth Century BCE. The important thing to remember about this understanding of creation is that the “stuff” from which all things are made is considered to be eternal. The Greek philosophers differed over the exact nature of this eternal matter: was it fire, water, or even “atoms”? They also set forth different ideas about the nature of the force (the “eternal cause”) that shaped this eternal stuff: was it love, hate, the mind (nous)? Perhaps the most significant and detailed explanation was set forth by Plato. Plato called this eternal cause the Demiurge, or divine craftsman who shapes the world according to pre-existent, eternal Forms or Ideas. Two points should be noted: