I particularly quoted Lucretius who in his writing ‘The Nature of the Universe’ indicates that this matter was debated 600 years prior to Islam.
Lucretius maintained that the heaven and earth were separated while in a chaotic state of cloudy atomic fusion:
‘...they (the atoms) began, in fact, to separate the heights of heaven from the earth, to single out the sea as a receptacle for water detached from the mass and to set apart the fires of pure and isolated ether. In the first place all the particles of earth, because they were heavy and intertangled, collected in the middle and took up the undermost stations. The more closely they cohered and clung together, the more they squeezed out the atoms that went to the making of sea and stars, sun and moon and the outer walls of the great world’ (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe, 184-5).
Secondly Lucretius pointed out another idea of his time, namely that the atoms themselves consisited of a mass of least parts tightly packed together:
‘It is with a mass of such parts, solidly jammed together in order, that matter is filled up. Since they cannot exist by themselves, they must stick together in a mass from which they cannot by any means be prized loose. The atoms therefore are absolutely solid and unalloyed, consisting of a mass of least parts tightly packed together. They are not compounds formed by the coalescence of their parts, but bodies of absolute and everlasting solidity. To these nature allows no loss or diminution, but guards them as seeds for things. If there are no such least parts, even the smallest bodies will consist of an infinite number of parts, since they can always be halved and their halves halved again’ (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe 45)?
I asked in my previous article:
What are these least parts of which the atoms consist? And how about the opposite position, but otherwise proposed impossibility, that atoms can be halved and halved again?This idea seems to have been raised 600 years prior to Islam.This debunks the claim of Muslims that the postulate of particles smaller than atoms were non-existent prior to Islam.
Lucretius not only refers to particles smaller than atoms but even further that the particles exist within the atoms.
Interestingly I have recently discovered a number of other references in the writings of pre-Islamic thinkers that indicate their belief or the belief in sub-atomic matter; one such thinker is the third century Christian philosopher Origen who writes:
‘...whereas the gods of Epicurus, being composed of atoms, and, so far as their structure is concerned, capable of dissolution, endeavour to throw off the atoms which contain the elements of destruction’.
The entire context can be read here:
But let us look at what Celsus next with great ostentation announces in the following fashion: "And again," he says, "let us resume the subject from the beginning, with a larger array of proofs. And I make no new statement, but say what has been long settled. God is good, and beautiful, and blessed, and that in the best and most beautiful degree. But if he come down among men, he must undergo a change, and a change from good to evil, from virtue to vice, from happiness to misery, and from best to worst. Who, then, would make choice of such a change? It is the nature of a mortal, indeed, to undergo change and remoulding, but of an immortal to remain the same and unaltered. God, then, could not admit of such a change." Now it appears to me that the fitting answer has been returned to these objections, when I have related what is called in Scripture the "condescension" of God to human affairs; for which purpose He did not need to undergo a transformation, as Celsus thinks we assert, nor a change from good to evil, nor from virtue to vice, nor from happiness to misery, nor from best to worst. For, continuing unchangeable in His essence, He condescends to human affairs by the economy of His providence. We show, accordingly, that the holy Scriptures represent God as unchangeable, both by such words as "Thou art the same," and" I change not;" whereas the gods of Epicurus, being composed of atoms, and, so far as their structure is concerned, capable of dissolution, endeavour to throw off the atoms which contain the elements of destruction. Nay, even the god of the Stoics, as being corporeal, at one time has his whole essence composed of the guiding principle when the conflagration (of the world) takes place; and at another, when a re-arrangement of things occurs, he again becomes partly material. For even the Stoics were unable distinctly to comprehend the natural idea of God, as of a being altogether incorruptible and simple, and uncompounded and indivisible.