The Missing link between Ancient and Modern Followers of Atomism

The sect of Epicureans in ancient Greece adopted the theory of atomism  as a fundamental part of their system, not indeed for its scientific utility, but its apparent inconsistency with the doctrine of divine government which they regarded as the source of worst evil that affects mankind, namely the fear of death and of what may come after it. They adopted as their own the atomic theory of Democritus; but in their hands it was neither enabled to meet the objections that may be raised against it as a theory of the ultimate nature of reality, nor made it exhibit its great capacities as an instrument of scientific description and discovery. But the theory of Epicurean pleasure soon had its effects, so that the name of Epicureans very early became a synonym for sensualist, till at last this sect was wiped out of existence, and instead the teachings of Christianity gained the ground.

      In contrast with the ancient sect of Epicureans, the modern mankind during the Western Renaissance adopted the theory of atomism purely for its scientific aspect with a discreet and determined rejection of its atheistic aspect, and indeed with an assurance that it was possible to keep the two aspects apart, and to adopt the one desired. But it is sad observation that the atheistic aspect of atomism sustained its existence along with the march of modern progress, and maintained its ever-increasing effects both openly and insidiously. And it may be clearly observed, and lamented, that whereas the ancient sect of Epicureans by adopting the atheistic aspect of atomism had after a short and merry life of debauch individually and collectively vanished in misery, shame and affliction, this modern age of Baconian atomism is by adopting the scientific aspect of atomism, and after obtaining astonishing success in scientific achievements for physical comfort now approaching the logical and scientific consequence of atomism, namely a most grievous, a most painful and a most disgraceful and in the flames of atomic hell that is the deadly atomic radiations and devastating atomic bombs. Atomism has served both the parties ill according to their respective deserts. In fact the features of Epicureanism have been manifest among the followers of the wealth-seeking, comfort-loving philosophy of modern atomism.

      A comparison and contrast, resemblance and variance between the human mind of the Epicurean and the modern age appears to be a subject worthy of the observation of a zealous, keen-sighted philosopher with a view to assessing how far human nature has been enlightened or un-enlightened during the passage of all these centuries under the influence of atomism. Plato has left us an attempt of a general kind in the form of a very famous and immortal simile, named as the Simile of the cave. It appears on the title page of “The Mysterious Universe” with much appropriateness and may be read as follows:-

PLATO’S SIMILE:-

“And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or un-enlightened.

Behold human beings living in an underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave, here they have been from their childhood and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

I see

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stones and various materials, which appear over the wall? ,,,,,

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strong prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the other shadows which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

True, He said; how could they see any thing but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

And of the objects which are being carried in the like manner they would only see the shadows?

Yes, he said.

To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

                (Plato Republic Book-VII)

      It may come as a real surprise to the world that the Quran has a similar simile. It is first time now in history, that I am revealing this really surprising fact which appears as another proof of Quran’s miraculous, all-pervading nature. Following is the text:-

“Y.S. (I swear) by the instructive Quran that thou art (one) of the messengers (of Allah sent to show) the right way. This is a revelation of most mighty, the merciful Allah that thou mayest warn a people whose fathers were not warned and who live in negligence. (Our) sentence has justly been pronounced against a greater part of them, wherefore they shall not believe. We have put yokes on their necks, which (come) upto their chins, and they are forced to hold up their heads; and we have set a bar before them and a bar behind them, and thus have covered them with darkness, wherefore they shall not see. It shall be equal unto them whether thou preach unto them, or do not preach unto them, they shall not believe. But thou shalt preach (with effect) unto him only who followeth the admonition, and feareth the merciful in secret. Wherefore bear good tidings unto him of mercy and honourable reward. Lo. We it is who bring the dead to life. We record that which they send before (them) and their footsteps. And all things we kept in a clear register”.

                         (Quran-XXXVI1 to 12)

Unfortunately not only the dreaded aspect of ancient atomism, that of its atheistic features has recurred in this age of a modern atomism but also it has been proved that atomism being a worldly philosophy is as dangerous and destructive as any theistic philosophy. Its logical and scientific consequence, the atomic hell, is there as the proof. As far as the two similes quoted above are concerned, the reader may well be apprised of the different, peculiar light in which they appear. And mark the chains of this universal economico-industrial set up of this present Baconian age.

 

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