Aquinas on Creation
304 Malloy 631-7327
Home page: http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos
Purpose----Texts----Requirements---- Syllabus----The Short Paper----Term
Texts in St. Thomas
of Course: An exploration of the central
metaphysical questions involved in the claim that God creates the
entities in the world ex nihilo, along with an
examination of hermeneutical questions involved in the interpretation
of the first chapter of the book of Genesis. The main texts
for the course will be the treatment of creation and of the work of the
six days found in St. Thomas's Summa Theologiae,
supplemented by the treatment of creation in Francisco Suarez's Metaphysical
Disputations. We will also take two weeks at the end of the
course to explore the
question of the consonance of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo with
contemporary cosmology and biology.
- All the texts for the course will be made available
the online handout section of
the course website. They are all translations of the relevant
texts of Aquinas and Suarez in the instructor's own translations, along
with some philosophical essays.
It is recommended that the students download them, print them
double-sided, and put them into a three-ring notebook. (This
make the text far less expensive than a course book at current prices.)
At the end of the course, we will be using some secondary sources
that are also linked to the online handouts page of the course website.
- For those interested, the Latin text of the Summa Theologiae is
available online at Index
Corporis Thomistici, which is maintained by Prof. Enrique
of the University of Navarre, Spain, and the Latin text of Suarez's Disputationes Metaphysicae is
available at Michael
Renemann's hompage. An alternate (though,
needless to say, inferior) translation of the material from the Summa Theologiae is
available at the New
- In addition, I am providing some supplementary
along with class notes as available, on the course
online handout page.
- Finally, I have put on reserve in the Hesburgh Library
English translations of works by St. Thomas that contain texts that
touch on the same topics we will be dealing with in the course. See
this page for specific matches to particular questions in Summa Theologiae 1.
- Before the course begins, you are
required to read
1.1, 1.2, 2 (all), and 3 (all) of my "Suarez
Metaphysical Inquiry, Efficient
Causality, and Divine Action," as well as my classnotes on Aristotle, Faith
and Reason, and St.
metaphysics from Phil 30301. This is a refresher
for 30301 and
goes beyond what I do in 30301.
- The Short paper. Each student will be
required to write a 5-7-page paper to be handed in on the last
class day before break, February 27. See below
for more details on the paper topic. (25% of course grade).
Participation (25% of course grade). This
consists of two separate things:
(a) You must submit to me by email, before 11:00AM on each class day, a
question/comment based on the readings assigned for that day.
(When we are spending more than one day on a given topic, I will
give more specific instructions about which texts are relevant for a
given class.) I expect the questions/comments to be well thought
out and well articulated. They will serve as the starting point
for my class comments on the day in question.
(b) Active participation in seminar discussions.
- Term Paper. You are required
to write a 10-12 page
50% of the course grade. A 2-3 page proposal, plus outline, is to be
for approval on or before April 9; the paper itself is to be handed in
on or before the last class day, April 30. See below
for more details.
If I determine that it is necessary, there will be a final exam on 5/5
at 4:15. If this dreadful possibility is realized, I
will readjust the above percentages accordingly.
- 1/28: ST
1, q. 25, arts. 4-6: What God can and can't do.
- 1/30: ST
1, q. 44: God as first efficient,
exemplar, and final cause of all things, even primary matter.
- 2/4 and 2/6: ST
1, q. 45, arts. 1-2, and Suarez, MD
20, section 1, ##1-26: The
nature and possibility of the act of creating.
- 2/11 & 2/13: ST 1, q. 45, art. 3-4, and Suarez, MD 20, section 4, ##1-17: The
ontological status of the act of creating.
- 2/18 and 2/20: ST 1, q. 45, art. 5, and Suarez, MD 20,
section 2, ##1-13 and ##23-43: Is an infinite power required to
- 2/25 and 2/27: ST 1, q.
45, arts. 6-8: Divine traces and God's action in nature.
Also, read "Medieval
Aristotelianism and the Case against Secondary Causation in Nature"
- 3/10 and 3/12: ST 1, q. 46, and Suarez, MD 20,
section 5: The duration of created things.
- 3/17: ST
1, q. 47: Diversity among created
- 3/31: Genesis 1-2, ST 1, q. 65, and Suarez, MD 20, section 3 (all): The
work of creating corporeal
- 4/2: ST
1, q. 66: General treatment of the work of dividing, which occupies the first
three days after the initial creation.
- 4/7 and 4/9: ST
1, q. 67-69: The work of the first three days.
- 4/14: ST
1, qq. 70-72: The work of days four, five, and six -- adorning created things.
- 4/16: ST
1, qq. 72-74: The seventh day, and overview.
- 4/21 and 4/23: ST 1, q. 22: Providence and
contemporary cosmology: The Big Bang. Also, read William
and the Big Bang" , "Thomas
Aquinas and Big Bang Cosmology" , and "Creation,
Evolution, and Thomas Aquinas" (Highly recommended and
illuminating: William Lane Craig, "Beyond the Big Bang")
- 4/28 and 4/30: Providence and contemporary
biology: Evolution. Read Pius XII, Humani
Generis (1950), no. 36-37; John Paul II, "Truth
Cannot Contradict Truth," and Ernan McMullin, "Cosmic
Purpose and the
Contingency of Human Evolution" and "Plantinga's
Defense of Special Creation"
The so-called "short paper" is a 5-7 page paper due on the last class
day before spring break, viz., February 27. In preparation for
our discussions at the end of the course, you are to read carefully either the three papers by
Bill Carroll or
the two by Ernan McMullin. (If you choose the Carroll papers and
are at all familiar with contemporary cosmology, you will also find
Bill Craig's piece highly illuminating.) Your assignment is (a)
concisely and yet thoroughly the main claims and arguments made by
the author, making clear how St. Thomas enters into the picture, and
(b) to raise well thought-out and articulated questions for future
The main project for this course is a 12-15
paper which is to
be submitted on or before the last class day (April 30); a 2-3 page
is due on or before April 9. In what follows I will try to give you
clear indication of what I am looking for in both the paper and the
- Comments about the paper:
- The topic of the paper should be
connected in some
recognizable way with our readings and discussions. You may
discussion of some point discussed in class. You might pick
work of St. Thomas's (e.g., a question or article from one of the
disputed questions such as Summa
Contra Gentiles or De
or De Malo
or De Potentia Dei)
and zero in on
some topic that is prominent in
work, as long as we have touched upon it in class. There may
other possibilities as well.
- The paper is a fairly long one, and so you will
plan it carefully.
I expect the paper to move forward at well-marked junctures instead of
merely talking around one or another point in order to fill space. I
do not want a paper consisting primarily of loosely connected
about some topic. Further, every paper must begin with an
that tells the reader exactly what you mean to do in the paper and how
each section of the paper is related in general to your topic.
- I expect the paper to be stylistically
grammatically beyond reproach.
I will take off for sloppy sentence-structure, misspellings, dangling
etc. Proofreading is absolutely essential.
- Comments about the proposal:
- The proposal should contain two parts, viz., a narrative
and an outline.
The narrative should be a two-page (or so)
description of the
or interpretation you wish to defend and of the steps by which you will
defend it. In order to write this sort of narrative you already have to
have a fairly detailed idea of what you want to do and the series of
by which you propose to do it. In general, your strategy must be to
a logical sequence of steps which will correspond to the main divisions
of the paper.
- The outline that accompanies
the narrative should
clear the main divisions and subdivisions in the text. This outline
include more than just the three or four main headings; I want to see
subheadings within each of those main divisions, so that I will have a
reasonably clear idea of how the paper is supposed to progress.
I encourage you to try your ideas out on one another and I
encourage you to consult with me before the proposal deadline if you
it will be helpful--either after class or by making an appointment to
me at some other time.