Greek View of the Cosmos
In contrast to the earlier Bronze Age view of a serene, mathematically ordered process defined by the rhythm of the planets, to the machinery of which all things are geared and as agents of which they serve, the Greek view suggests an indefinable circumspection, within the bounds of which both the gods and men work their individual wills, ever in danger of violating the undefined bounds and being struck down, yet with play enough—within limits—to achieve a comely realization of ends humanly conceived.
In contrast to the Biblical view, where a freely willing personal god is antecedent to the order of the universe, himself unlimited by law, the Greek gods were themselves aspects of the universe—children of Chaos and the great Earth, just as men are. And even Chaos and the great Earth produced our world not through acts of creative will, but as seeds produce trees, out of the natural spontaneity of their substance. The secret of this spontaneity may be learned or sensed, but is not definable as the will, work, or divine plan of a personality.
The type of scholarship characteristic of both the synagogue and the mosque, where the meticulous search for the last grain of meaning is scripture is honored about all science, never carried the Greeks away. In the great Levantine traditions such scholasticism is paramount and stands opposed to the science of the Greeks. For if the phenominal world studied by science is but a function of the will of God, and God’s will is subject to change, what good can there possibly be in the study of nature?
— Joseph Campbell, The Masks Of God, p. 179-80