COSMOGONY (κόσμος, world;
γίγνομαι, to come into being), a theory of the
origin of the world.
The different cosmogonies may be comprehended under two classes:—
1. Those which represent the matter though not the form of the
world to be from eternity.
2. Those which assign both the matter and form of the world to the
direct agency of a spiritual cause.
Pythagoras is reported as having taught that the monad was the beginning of all,
from this an indefinite duad, from these numbers, next signs, then plane
figures, then solid bodies, then the four elements—fire, water, earth, and air,—
whence the world, which is possessed of life and intellect (Diog. Laert., lib.
VIII. 48). The Atomists, Leucippus and Democritus, taught that the origin of
all was in indivisible and eternal atoms, similar in nature but differing in
form and position (Aristotle, Metaph., I. 4).
According to Aristotle, matter is
eternal; God acts directly upon the heavens; Nature has in it the principle of
motion and rest; all motion is directed to an end; and, in course of the motion,
the elements are originated, and beyond this, organised being.