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

SECTION 10. -- Creation a free act of God's will.

Thesis XVIIL -- God has freely chosen to produce creatures.

97. Victor Cousin{25} says: Dieu s'il est cause peut créer; et s'il est cause absolue, il ne peut pas ne pas creéer -- "If God is a cause, He can create, and if He is an absolute cause, He must create."

According to this philosopher, the act of creation is under different aspects both free and necessary. It is free, not because God could determine whether He would exercise His creative power or not, but only because there is not any external force constraining Him to the exercise of that power. The necessity of creation, on the other hand, is to be sought in the nature of God Himself; it is this nature which irresistibly impels Him both to desire and to produce creatures. "The creative act is a necessary act, because it results from the nature of a cause, which must needs act; and it is free, for it proceeds from the proper, independent, primitive spontaneity of a cause which acts by itself, which determines itself, so that its determination, though necessary, is nevertheless entirely its own, and is not under any influence from without."{26}

Against these assertions we maintain that God has created only because He freely willed the existence of creatures, being equally free not to will it had He pleased; as again to will the existence of creatures other than those actually created had that been His choice. This is the only legitimate inference from the infinitude of the Divine perfection. Had God been compelled by necessity to create, He must have been so compelled, because His infinitely perfect intellect represented to His infinitely perfect will that creation was a necessity required to supply some deficiency otherwise discernible in His Being. But creation could not have this effect. To infinite perfection nothing further in the way of perfection can be added, and again, to view the same truth in a different light, created perfection is derived perfection. It is derived from that of God in which it is precontained eminently.{27}

Wbat is here meant will be more easily realized by the reader if he considers the relation of the supreme to the subordinate authorities in the body social. Under the absolute monarch many lower officials are constituted, each endowed with a measure of power and authority derived from his. Now their authority cannot be added to his so as to form a total authority of larger dimensions than his is by itself. Whatever they have they hold under him, and he possesses it in a higher and more independent manner. Substitute God for the absolute monarch, creatures for the subordinate powers, perfection for authority, and then we have set before us exactly the relation of the Divine perfection to that imparted by creation to creatures. And we see clearly that creation adds nothing to the Divine excellence which it did not already possess. There can, then, be no motive presentable to the perfect will of God necessitating creation. On the other hand, although creation is seen to be an act which does not increase the Divine perfection, it is also seen to be an act good in itself, and therefore, though not necessary, still worthy of election should God so please. For creatures, as being imitations of the Divine perfection, are worthy of existence and consequently of love.{28} Their existence need not be, but it may be if it please God to choose it.

{25} Introd. à l'Histoire de la Phil. Leçon 5.

{26} "L'acte cr&eecute;ateur est un acte nécessaire, puisqu'il resulte de Ia nature d'une cause, qui ne peut pas ne pas agir; et il est libre, parcequ'il émane de la spontaneit&ecute; propre, independante, primitive, dune cause, qui agit delle mème, qui se d&ecute;termiue elle même, sans que sa détermination nécessaire, mais toute sienne, subisse aucune influence du dehors." (T. E. Allaux, La Philosophie de M. Cousin, pp. 19, 20.)

{27} This technical term has been explained already. See pp. 100, 101.

{28} Cf. St. Thomas, Sum. Theol. i. 20. 2. c. et ad 2dm et 4tm.

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