Eternal Matter II

To resolve this problem, we must affirm that creation, meaning the bringing into existence of things from non-existence, cannot properly be called a change. We have reasoned rightly when we say that the subject of change cannot be produced by the change, but we have also reasoned rightly when we say that all things, inasmuch as they have real existence, are created by God. Change as such, then, cannot include the bringing into existence of things that previously had no existence, even in potency.

This error, like many others, is partially caused by our imagination. We imagine something as a sort of being even though it does not exist, a non-existent being, and then we imagine it being brought forth from this state of non-existence into existence. In other words, we imagine that something persists during a transition from non-being to being. Before this tree existed, for example, it was a tree that did not exist. When God created it, it became a tree that exists. This approach is mistaken for the simple reason that before the tree existed there was no tree. 

 Going from non-existence to existence only resembles change, which is why we call it a change. In reality, though, creation is not a change but a relation of the creature to the Creator.


Imaginary Warning II

"And when I desired to meditate on my God, I did not know what to think of but a huge extended body -- for what did not have bodily extension did not seem to me to exist -- and this was the greatest and almost the sole cause of my unavoidable errors."

-The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book V Chapter X

"For I had been both impious and rash in this, that I condemned by pronouncement what I ought to have learned by inquiry. For thou, O Most High, and most near, most secret, yet most present, who does not have limbs, some of which are larger and some smaller, but who art wholly everywhere and nowhere in space, and art not shaped by some corporeal form: thou didst create man after thy own image and, see, he dwells in space, both head and feet."

-Book VI Chapter III

"...My desire was to have other things as clear as this, whether they were physical objects, which were not present to my senses, or spiritual objects, which I did not know how to conceive of except in physical terms."

-Book IV Chapter IV

Imagination is fundamentally related to sensation. The activity of the human intellect is also essentially related to sensation, but it is not related qua intellect but qua human. Both the angelic and divine intellects have operations apart from sensation and are superior to the human intellect, a superiority which, in fact, partly consists in separation from sensation.

As a power that is related to sensation, imagination is essentially related to matter and material existence. The imagination, then, can only assist our understanding inasmuch as matter is a principle of the object understood. As we climb the ladder or hierarchy of being toward things not composed of form and matter or as we approach metaphysics in general, the imagination can become, at least, a hindrance and, at most, a dangerous cause of error.


Eternal Matter?

For everything that has being subsequent to non-being is changed from non-being to being.

Change or motion presupposes some subject because change is the act of a mobile insofar as it is mobile.

The subject of motion must be prior to the change from non-being to being.

The subject of motion cannot be the thing produced because the thing is the term or end of the motion.

Therefore some subject must be prior to the change from non-being to being.

If this subject was itself produced, then it, too, came from some subject or potency.

We cannot infinitely regress, so we must come to some matter which was not made prior to a state of non-existence.

Therefore, there is some matter which is eternal.

Two posts ago, we said that God created with no pre-existing matter. But this argument concludes to some always-existing matter. Whatever shall we do?