Jacques Maritain Center : Natural Theology / by Bernard Boedder, S.J.

SECTION 6. -- Proof of Creation.

Thesis XIV. -- God's immediate action in the production of contingent being was not a production out of His own substance; nor can it be, strictly speaking, called change of possible being into actual being, but it is creation of actual being out of nothing.

85. The first part of this thesis is directed against the semi-pantheistic emanation theories now obsolete. According to these, creatures are as it were particles emitted from the Divine substance. The absurdity of this opinion is evident; for God, being simple, as we have proved (Th. VIII.), is absolutely unchangeable. Therefore it is impossible that He should produce new substances out of His own by causing particles to emanate from it.

The second part of the proposition is necessary in order to warn the reader against a misconception easily arising from the way in which we imagine possible things. Of course we cannot imagine them except by forming pictures of existing things in our imagination. We fall into no error by forming to ourselves such pictures, as long as we recognize them to be mere pictures of things which by their own nature are nowhere until God causes them to exist. We must not, however, forget this, and attribute to purely possible things some sort of real existence distinct from God. If we look at pure possibility in the light of the truth already demonstrated, that all being except God alone owes its reality to the Divine action, we see that the interval traversed between possibility and actuality is a purely imaginary interval, and that consequently no real change takes place when a possible thing becomes actual. In every real change the thing which changes passes from one state of existence to another. The purely possible thing does not exist at all: it has no state of existence. Therefore it cannot really pass from one state of existence to another; its actuation cannot be called change in the proper sense of the word.

We shall have other occasions later on for showing that the existence of other substances distinct from the one Divine Substance and created by it implies no limitation of the Infinity of the Divine Substance. It is enough for the present to observe that the infinity of an infinite being is not limited by the existence of other finite beings derived from it and dependent upon it, provided these do not contain, as they cannot contain, any perfection which is not in the Infinite Substance equivalently and "eminently," with absolute unity and simplicity.

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