The audience to which Athanasius addressed himself was made up of men who found it difficult or impossible to emancipate themselves from classical ways of thought. Upon these men he was concerned to urge a view of ultimate reality which, as he insisted, so far from giving countenance to obscurantism, was the necessary presupposition to a wider intelligibility, if not to all intelligibility whatsoever. In other words, what he offered them was an intellectual, no less than a moral and spiritual release. This release was from the perplexities involved in pagan scientia and from the backwash of pagan obscurantism to which it inevitably led. It represented the fourth century version of the promise: the truth shall make you free. (363)
God [Athanasius declares] is not nature, all the constituents of which are mutually interdependent. Nor is He the totality of its parts; for He is not compounded of parts on which He depends, but is Himself the source of existence to all.
To think of God as composing and putting together the universe out of matter is a Greek notion, and it is to represent Him as a workman rather than as a creator. (364)