On Creation [Quaestiones Disputatae de Potentia Dei, Q. 3]

On Creation [Quaestiones Disputatae de Potentia Dei, Q. 3]

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
Translated with introduction and notes by S. C. Selner-Wright
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 202
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32b1kh
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  • Book Info
    On Creation [Quaestiones Disputatae de Potentia Dei, Q. 3]
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1929-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. vii-xvi)

    Thomas Aquinas wrote his Disputed Questions On the Power of God (Quaestiones disputatae de potentia Dei or De potentia) in Rome in 1265–66. It was begun, but probably not completed, before he began the first part of his most famous work, the Summa theologiae, also composed during this time in Rome.¹ In the De potentia, Thomas takes up questions and ideas that evoked lively debate in his day and continue to do so in ours. In Question 3 these include divine and human freedom, the question whether or not the world is created, the problem of evil, and the...

  4. A NOTE ON THE TRANSLATION
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xxi-2)
  6. ARTICLE 1. Whether God can make something out of nothing
    (pp. 3-13)

    And the first thing to be asked is whether God can make something out of nothing. And it seems that he cannot.¹

    OBJ. 1. For God cannot act counter to first principles,² as for example the whole cannot be greater than its part. But as the Philosopher says in Physics I,³ it is a first principle and axiom of physics that nothing comes out of nothing. Therefore God cannot make something out of nothing.

    OBJ. 2. Everything which comes to be was possible before it came to be, for if it were impossible it could not come to be, for...

  7. ARTICLE 2. Whether creation is a change
    (pp. 14-16)

    The second thing to be asked is whether creation is a change. And it seems that it is.¹

    OBJ. 1. The word “change” denotes that one thing comes after another, as is plain in Physics V.² But this is true of creation, for being comes after non-being. Therefore creation is a change.

    OBJ. 2. Everything which is made, comes to be in some way from non-being, since that which [already] is does not come to be. Therefore just as generation (through which a thing is made with respect to part of its substance) is related to the privation of form...

  8. ARTICLE 3. Whether creation is something real in the creature, and, if it is, what it is
    (pp. 17-22)

    The third thing to be asked is whether creation is something real in the creature, and, if it is, what it is. And it seems that it is not something real in the creature.¹

    OBJ. 1. For as the Book of Causes says, anything which is received in something is in it according to the mode of the receiver.² But God’s creative action is received in absolute non-being, since in creating God makes something from nothing. Therefore creation posits nothing real in the creature.

    OBJ. 2. Everything that is real³ is either the creator or the created. But creation is...

  9. ARTICLE 4. Whether the power or even the act of creation is communicable to another
    (pp. 23-35)

    The fourth thing to be asked is whether the power or even the act of creation is communicable to another, that is, to a creature. And it seems that it is.¹

    OBJ. 1. For things are ordered to their ultimate end in the same mode and order in which they come from their first principle, since one thing is [both] their first principle and ultimate end. But lower creatures are ordered to God as their end through mediating higher creatures because, as Dionysius says, it is the law of the divine to draw the last things to himself through the...

  10. ARTICLE 5. Whether there can be anything that is not created by God
    (pp. 36-39)

    The fifth point of inquiry is whether there can be anything that is not created by God. And it seems that this is possible.¹

    OBJ. 1. Since the cause is more powerful than its effect, that which is possible to our intellect, which takes its knowledge from things, would seem yet more possible to nature. Now our intellect can understand a thing apart from understanding that it is from God, because its efficient cause is not part of a thing’s essence, so that the thing can be understood without it. Much more therefore can there be a real thing² that...

  11. ARTICLE 6. Whether there is only one principle of creation
    (pp. 40-53)

    The sixth thing to be asked is whether there is only one principle of creation. And it seems not.¹

    OBJ. 1. In the fourth chapter of the Divine Names, Dionysius says, Good is not the cause of evil.² But there is evil in the world. Therefore it is either caused by some cause which is not good or it is in no way caused but is [itself] a first cause. But in either case we must posit multiple principles of creation, for it is certain that the first principle of creation of good things is good.

    OBJ. 2. Someone might...

  12. ARTICLE 7. Whether God works in all the operations of nature
    (pp. 54-66)

    The seventh thing to be asked is whether God works in all the operations of nature. And it seems that he does not.¹

    OBJ. 1. For nature neither lacks necessary things nor abounds in superfluous ones.² But the active power on the part of the agent and the passive on the part of the recipient suffice for natural action. Therefore there is no need for divine power operating in things.

    OBJ. 2. One might reply that the active power of nature depends in its operation on divine operation. On the contrary, just as the operation of created nature depends on...

  13. ARTICLE 8. Whether God operates in nature by creating, which is to ask whether creation is mingled with the work of nature
    (pp. 67-77)

    The eighth thing to be asked is whether God operates in nature by creating, which is to ask whether creation is mingled with the work of nature. And it seems that it is.¹

    OBJ. 1. In On the Trinity III, Augustine says, The apostle Paul, distinguishing God creating and forming things inwardly from the operations of nature which are conducted outwardly, takes a metaphor from agriculture and says, I planted, Apollo watered, but God gave the increase.²

    OBJ. 2. But one might reply that creation here is meant loosely as any kind of making. On the contrary, Augustine on the...

  14. ARTICLE 9. Whether the rational soul is brought into being by creation or by the transmission of semen
    (pp. 78-94)

    The ninth thing to be asked is whether the rational soul is brought into being by creation or by the transmission of semen. And it seems that it is propagated with semen.¹

    OBJ. 1. For Genesis XLVI says, All the souls that went into Egypt with Jacob and came out of his thigh, except his sons’ wives, sixty-six.² But nothing comes out of the thigh of a father except by the transmission of semen. Therefore the rational soul is transmitted with the semen.

    OBJ. 2. But one might reply that the part stands for the whole there, that is, the...

  15. ARTICLE 10. Whether the rational soul is created in the body or apart from the body
    (pp. 95-103)

    The tenth thing to be asked is whether the rational soul is created in the body or apart from the body. And it seems that it is created apart from the body.¹

    OBJ. 1. Things which are of the same species come into being in the same way. But our souls are of the same species as the soul of Adam, and his soul was created apart from the body when the angels were created, as Augustine says in On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis VII.² Therefore other human souls are also created apart from the body.

    OBJ. 2. Any...

  16. ARTICLE 11. Whether the sensitive or vegetative souls are created or transmitted through the semen
    (pp. 104-113)

    The eleventh thing to be asked is whether the sensitive or vegetative souls are created or transmitted through the semen. And it seems that they are created.¹

    OBJ. 1. For things which are of the same kind² have the same way of coming into being. But sensitive and vegetative souls are of the same kind in men, brute animals, and plants. Now in men they are created, since they are of one substance with the rational soul which is created, as has been shown.³ Therefore the sensitive and vegetative [souls] in brute animals and plants are also created.⁴

    OBJ. 2....

  17. ARTICLE 12. Whether the sensitive or vegetative soul is in the semen from the beginning, when it issues forth
    (pp. 114-118)

    The twelfth thing to be asked is whether the sensitive or vegetative soul is in the semen from the beginning, when it issues forth. And it seems that it is.¹

    OBJ. 1. For, as Gregory of Nyssa says, The assertion of either opinion does not escape² censure, either that of those whotalk of souls living previously in a certain state and order unto themselves or of those who think they are created after bodies.³ But if the soul was not in the semen from the beginning, it must be that it comes to be after the body. Therefore the soul...

  18. ARTICLE 13. Whether something which is from another can be eternal
    (pp. 119-122)

    The thirteenth thing to ask is whether something which is from another can be eternal. And it seems that it cannot.¹

    OBJ. 1. For nothing which always is needs something in order that it be. But everything which is from another needs that by which it is in being. Therefore nothing which is from another always is.

    OBJ. 2. Nothing receives that which it already has.² But that which always is, always has being. Therefore that which always is does not receive being. But everything which is from another receives being from that from which it is. Therefore nothing which...

  19. ARTICLE 14. Whether that which is from God, differing in essence from him, can have always been
    (pp. 123-130)

    The fourteenth thing to be asked is whether that which is from God, differing in essence from him, can have always been. And it seems that it can.¹

    OBJ. 1. The cause which produces the whole substance of a thing has no less power over its effect than a cause which produces form alone. But a cause which produces form alone can produce it from eternity if it be from eternity, for the light which is produced and diffused by fire is united with it and would be co-eternal if the fire were eternal, as Augustine says in On the...

  20. ARTICLE 15. Whether things proceeded from God by natural necessity or by the decree of his will
    (pp. 131-140)

    The fifteenth thing to be asked is whether things proceeded from God by natural necessity or by the decree of his will. And it seems that it was by natural necessity.¹

    OBJ. 1. For in the fourth chapter of The Divine Names, Dionysius says, Just as our sun, without reasoning or choosing, but by its very being, illuminates all those things that can participate in its light, so does the divine goodness . . . by its own essence cast the rays of[its] goodness on all existing things proportionately.² But the sun, illuminating things without choice or reason, does so...

  21. ARTICLE 16. Whether a multitude can proceed from one first thing
    (pp. 141-154)

    The sixteenth thing to be asked is whether a multitude can proceed from one first thing. And it seems that it cannot.¹

    OBJ. 1. For just as God is good per se and consequently is the supreme good, so is he the per se and supreme one. But insofar as he is good nothing can proceed from him except what is good. Therefore neither can anything proceed from him except what is one.

    OBJ. 2. As good is convertible with being, so also is one. But those things which are common must be considered a likeness of the creature to...

  22. ARTICLE 17. Whether the world has always existed
    (pp. 155-170)

    The seventeenth point of inquiry is whether the world has always existed. And it seems that it has.¹

    OBJ. 1. For a thing always does what is proper to it.² But, as Dionysius says in the fourth chapter of The Celestial Hierarchy, It is proper to the divine goodness to call those things which exist to communicate in it.³ This he does by producing creatures. Therefore, since the divine goodness has always been, it seems that it has always produced creatures in being, and so it seems that the world has always been.

    OBJ. 2. God does not deny a...

  23. ARTICLE 18. Whether angels were created befor the visible world
    (pp. 171-181)

    The eighteenth thing to ask is whether angels were created before the visible world. And it seems that they were.¹

    OBJ. 1. In Book II [of his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith], Damascene notes that Gregory Nazianzen says God first devised the angelic and heavenly powers, and the devising was the doing.² Therefore he made the angels before he produced the visible world.

    OBJ. 2. But someone might say that “first” here denotes the order of nature, not of duration. On the contrary, in the same place Damascene cites two opinions on this, of which the first posits that angels...

  24. ARTICLE 19. Whether angels could have existed before the visible world
    (pp. 182-184)

    The nineteenth thing to ask is whether angels could have existed before the visible world. And it seems they could not.

    OBJ. 1. Any two things whose distinction requires diversity of place cannot be in one place. But it is commonly held that two angels cannot be in one place. Therefore it makes no sense that there be two distinct angels unless there are two distinct places. But before visible creatures there was no place, since according to the Philosopher in Physics IV, place is nothing but the innermost boundary of what contains a body.¹ Therefore angels could not exist...

  25. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 185-192)
  26. INDEX OF SUBJECTS
    (pp. 193-200)
  27. INDEX OF SOURCES
    (pp. 201-202)