Of God and His Creatures

Reasons alleged for the Eternity of the World on the part of the Creative Process itself, with Answers to the same

Arg. 1. It is the common opinion of all philosophers, and therefore it must be true, that nothing is made of nothing (Aristotle, Physics, B. I, Chapp. VII, VIII). Whatever is made, then, must be made of something; and that again, if it is made at all, must be made of something else. But this process cannot go on to infinity; and therefore we must come to something that was not made. But every being that has not always been must have been made. Therefore that out of which all things are first made must be something everlasting. That cannot be God, because He cannot be the material of anything. Therefore there must be something eternal outside God, namely, primordial matter.*

Reply (Chap. XXXVII). The common position of philosophers, that nothing is made of nothing, is true of the sort of making that they considered. For all our knowledge begins in sense, which is of singular objects; and human investigation has advanced from particular to general considerations. Hence, in studying the beginning of things, men gave their attention to the making of particular things in detail. The making of one sort of being out of another sort is the making of some particular being, inasmuch as it is 'this being,' not as it is 'being' generally: for some prior being there was that now is changed into 'this being.' But entering more deeply into the origin of things, philosophers came finally to consider the issuing of all created being from one first cause (Chapp. XV, XVI). In this origin of all created being from God, it is impossible to allow any making out of pre-existent material: for such making out of pre-existent material would not be a making of the whole being of the creature. This first making of the universe was not attained to in the thought of the early physicists, whose common opinion it was that nothing was made of nothing: or if any did attain to it, they considered that such a term as 'making' did not properly apply to it, since the name 'making' implies movement or change,* whereas in this origin of all being from one first being there can be no question of the transmutation of one being into another (Chap. XVII). Therefore it is not the concern of physical science to study this first origin of all things: that study belongs to the metaphysician, who deals with being in general and realities apart from motion.* We may however by a figure of speech apply the name of 'making' to creation, and speak of things as 'made,' whatsoever they are, the essence or nature whereof has its origin from other being.

Arg. 2. Everything that takes a new being is now otherwise than as it was before: that must come about by some movement or change: but all movement or change is in some subject: therefore before anything is made there must be some subject of motion.

Reply. The notion of motion or change is foisted in here to no purpose: for what nowise is, is not anywise, and affords no hold for the conclusion that, when it begins to be, it is otherwise than as it was before.

These then are the reasons which some hold to as demonstrative, and necessarily evincing that creatures have always existed, wherein they contradict the Catholic faith, which teaches that nothing but God has always existed, and that all else has had a beginning of being except the one eternal God. Thus then it evidently appears that there is nothing to traverse our assertion, that the world has not always existed. And this the Catholic faith teaches: In the beginning God created heaven and earth (Gen. i, 1): and, Before he made anything, from the beginning (Prov. viii, 22).

2.33, 36 : Reasons alleged for the Eternity of the World on the part of Creatures, with Answers to the same
2.38 : Arguments wherewith some try to show that the World is not Eternal, and Solutions of the same