1. that we have here omitted those words which philosophers insert in their definition, viz., ex nihilo, as if nothing were some matter from which things are produced. Because they are accustomed to speak in this way, and to think always of something preceding the given objects, they are not able, in speaking of creation, to omit this particle ex. The same thing is true concerning matter. Because all bodies are seen in some position, and surrounded by other objects, when they are asked where matter is, they reply, that it is in some imaginary space. Therefore, it is clear that they do not consider nothing as a mere negation of all reality, but believe or imagine it to be a something real.
It is evident that they who think duration and time existed before
the world was created, are laboring under the same prejudice as they
who conceive of space apart from matter.
So much for the definition of creation.
MT210-P07. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPThere is no need to repeat what is given in Axiom 10, Part 1. viz., that no more power is needed to create than to preserve the world. God's work in creating and preserving the world is the same.
The work of creating and preserving the world are the same.
Having recalled this point, we proceed to inquire first,
what is created and what uncreated, and second, whether what
is created has existed from eternity.
MT210-P13. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPIn the first place it is said that the thing produced must be co-existent with its cause. And since God has existed from eternity the effects of His being ought to be eternal. This argument is supported by reference to the Son of God, who has existed with the Father from eternity. It is evident that they confuse eternity with duration, and only attribute to God a duration from eternity. This is shown, too, in the example cited. The same eternity which they attribute to the Son of God they think can be attributed to created objects. They imagine time and duration to have been instituted before the world began, and think of duration apart from created objects as some think of eternity as independent of God. That both opinions are wrong is now evident. So we respond that it is not true that God was able to communicate His eternity to the world. Neither was the Son of God created, but was eternal like the Father. When we say that the Father had begotten the Son from eternity we only mean that the Father has always shared His eternity with the Son.
Because God is eternal, it does not follow that the things he has created have existed from eternity.
MT210-P14. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPIn the second place it is argued that when God acts from choice, He is not less powerful than when He acts from necessity. But if God acts from necessity, since He is infinite in virtue, He must have created the world from eternity. It is easy to reply to this argument if we consider its basis. For these same good men presume that they may hold conflicting ideas concerning a being of infinite virtue. They conceive of God, a being of infinite virtue, as acting both from necessity and from choice. But we deny that God, if He acts from necessity, is a being of infinite virtue. Which action is justified, indeed, and must of necessity be conceded even by those same men when we have shown that a perfect being must be free, and can only be conceived as unitary. Should they reply that it is possible to suppose that God acting from necessity is still infinite in His virtue, we would reply that we are not at liberty to suppose this, any more than we are at liberty to suppose a square circle in order to conclude that all lines drawn from the center to the circumference are not equal. And this, we repeat, is sufficiently proven from what has been said above. We have proven that there is no duration that may not be conceived as greater or less or even double as great. If God acts from free choice it may be created as greater or less. But if God acts from necessity this by no means follows. Under the latter supposition only those things which follow from His nature can be realized, not an infinite number of hypothetical results. Therefore, it may be argued in a few words: If God should create a duration so great that no greater could be given He necessarily diminishes His own power. And this is impossible for His essence and His power are one and the same thing. Therefore, etc., and further, if God acts from necessity, He must have created a duration, than which no greater can be conceived. But had God created such a duration He would not have been of infinite virtue. For we are always able to conceive of a duration greater than the one given. Therefore, if God acts from the necessity of His nature He is not of infinite virtue.
If God acts from necessity he is not infinite in virtue.
MT210-P15. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPA point which may be a difficulty to some here presents itself, viz., that although the world has only been created some five thousand years, if our chronology is correct, we are nevertheless able to conceive of a much greater duration, and this notwithstanding we have said above that duration depends upon created objects. The difficulty will disappear if we remember that our ideas of duration arise not only as we contemplate created objects, but from reflection upon God's infinite power, in creating them. For we do not think of objects existing per se, but only through the infinite power of God. Vid. Prop. 12, Pt. 1. and Coroll.
Whence we have a concept of a duration greater than any actually given.
(1) The distinction between duration and eternity, and
(2) that the former without created objects, and the latter without God are non-intelligible. These things being kept in mind it is easy to answer all these arguments. So we need delay no longer upon this point.