4.30.2011

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.

3 comments:

  1. I don't know why more people don't post comments here, E.R. -- you write some pretty good stuff.

    Regarding the topic at hand, it seems to me that, since all creatures must in some way be composed of potency and act, potency would have to somehow exist prior to all creation. Of course, there's no potency in God, but wouldn't potency necessarily be present as an uncreated effect of God's being? I'm not married to that notion, however, and I think I may falling into the error that you're talking about. Nevertheless, I do not see how describing creation as relational clears up the matter; for it seems to me that relation must be posterior to creation.

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  2. The problem as I see it is that we have no experience of creation ex nihilo in nature. All nature furnishes us with is either substantial or accidental change (i.e. from one form into another). Given this, how would one argue for the possiblity of the former in the first place?

    Further, was the existence of this 'relation' (of creation) concurrent 'with' the creative act of God or did it, in some sense, precede it?

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  3. It should not be surprising that we do not experience creation from nothing in nature.Nature is a principle of motion and motion is the reduction of some potency to act, therefore potency must somehow always be present in that which is natural.

    Nothing can precede the creative act because creation causes existence, something which even potency must possess in some way in order to be a real principle of the changes we do experience. As stated earlier, natural motion requires that some potency be reduced to act. Creation from nothing supposes that there is no potency prior to the act of the Creator. Since greater power is needed in proportion to the distance between potency and act, acting with no potency at all (creatio ex nihilo) would require infinite power. God, being infinite in essence, possess infinite power and is therefore the only being capable of such an act.

    As for your second question, I want to know what sense of "precede" you have in mind. Temporal? Ontological? Specification would help me understand your inquiry more fully.

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