Principles of Natural Theology / by George Hayward Joyce, S.J.

Part III. God in His Relation to the World.

Chapter XIV. Creation.

  1. The Idea of Creation.
  2. Proof of Creation.
  3. Creation and the Immutability of God.
  4. God's Freedom in Creation.
  5. The Exemplar Causality of God.
  6. The Purpose of Creation.

1. The idea of creation. By Creation is signified the act by which God freely produced as a reality other than Himself a universe which before this act had no existence in any form. The world, it is here asserted, is not as pantheists maintain, an aspect of God Himself: nor, as the materialists declare, self-existent. God gave it being as its efficient cause: and in doing this He called into existence a reality external to Himself. This externality of the world in regard of God must not, however, be understood as denying His omnipresence. God is immanent as well as transcendent. In treating of His immensity we have shewn that He is intimately present to all His creatures. But the creature is 'other' than God. Moreover, the universe had no existence previous to the creative act. God did not form it of pre-existing matter, for there was none such: nor did He draw it forth from His own substance, as was held by those ancient thinkers who professed one or other of the various emanationist theories.

Two definitions of creation employed by the Scholastic writers will serve to elucidate the idea. (1) Creatio est productio rei secundum totam suam substantiam -- the production of a thing in regard of its whole substance. Production, so far as our experience goes, is never production of the whole substance of a thing: in every case it supposes subject-matter. In other words we are familiar with change but not with creation. We have experience of substantial change, such as takes place when a living creature is generated, and matter thereby receives a new substantial form: and of accidental change, as when the sculptor gives to the marble the new shape which makes it a statue. But there is always a subject in which the production takes place. Creation, on the other hand, is a production of the whole substance without a subject of any kind. St. Thomas, when giving this definition, adds to it the words "nothing being presupposed whether created or uncreated," thus ruling out the notion of a subject in set terms.{1}

(2) Creatio est productio rei ex nihilo sui et subjecti -- the production of a thing from a previous nonexistence alike of itself and of any subject-matter. The former definition had reference to the terminus ad quem of creation; this one expresses the terminus a quo, and declares creation to be production out of nothing. In every real production the result is produced ex nihilo sui -- from a previous non-existence of itself. The form of the statue has no existence until the sculptor gives it being in the marble. Creation, however, is distinguished by this, that in its case even a subject-matter is wanting.

It might seem unnecessary to explain that the phrase 'production out of nothing' is not to be understood as signifying that 'nothing' in some way serves the Creator as a material cause, were it not that opponents of the doctrine still appear to attribute some such meaning to it.{2} Yet the Scholastics were careful to give the term its true explanation. The expression 'ex nihilo fieri,' says St. Thomas, may legitimately be taken in two senses. We may understand the phrase (1) as simply signifying the order of succession, exactly as it is permissible to say Ex mane fit meridies, though the relation of morning to midday is purely one of temporal succession. Or again (2) we may take it as signifying that though the world is produced, it is not produced out of anything. Thus we sometimes say of a man that he is sad about nothing, meaning that there is no reason for his sadness.{3}

It is not to be denied that the notion of a causality which extends to the whole substantial reality of a thing is something quite remote from our experience. We recognize without difficulty the fact of causal activity in the world. We see around us on all sides agents determining other things to new modes of being. But causation such as that which the doctrine of creation supposes has no parallel in our surroundings. This need not mean that the notion involves any repugnance. Indeed, a little reflection on the limits which hedge in the causality exercised by finite agents, will shew us that it could not be otherwise. Where the causality of finite beings is in question, the power exercised is necessarily finite. And for this very reason it is requisite that it should act upon a subject -- a material cause -- which possesses a potency in regard of the achieved result. For in this case the interval between the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem of the action is finite and therefore not incompatible with a finite causal power. It is manifest that the interval between these two must be commensurate with the causal power exercised. In proportion as the terminus a quo is more remote from the result to be achieved, will more power be required to attain the terminus ad quem and realize this result. It follows that only an infinite power can produce the whole substantial reality of a thing without subject-matter of any kind: for the result in this case involves the transition from sheer nonentity to being, and the distance between these termini is infinite. On the other hand, finite causality demands, as we said, as an essential condition of its exercise a real potency, and in consequence a real material cause. And since our experience is limited to finite agents, it is plain that creative causality can have no parallel within the sphere of our immediate knowledge.

We may reach the same conclusion in another way. The action of a finite being is necessarily an accident.{4} But an action which is an accident demands a subject in which it can take effect: it is impossible that it should result in the production of a substance without subject-matter of any kind. This is evident. Transitive action, as we have seen (ch. xiii., § 1), is the effect viewed as proceeding from the agent. If, then, the action is accidental, that effect can only be a modification of a pre-existing subject. Now creation excludes the idea of such a subject. It is by definition the production of a thing in regard of its whole substance. It follows that creation is beyond the power of any finite agent, and is only conceivable where we are concerned with a being whose action is identical with his substance.{5}

We have thus shewn by two independent lines of reasoning that a finite cause is, as such, incapable of effecting the production of a substance in its totality, but requires of necessity subject-matter for its operation. It follows that physical agents -- and these alone fall within the range of our experience -- can never shew us anything which resembles creative action. For this reason the mind must always find the idea of creation a difficult one. Imagination has no means of representing such an event.

We have enlarged on this point for a special reason. For we are now in a position to ask ourselves the question: Is the idea of creation ex nihilo absurd? Is it one which, when analysed, the mind cannot entertain, but rejects as self-contradictory? It is evident that there is no such internal contradiction. The idea of a divine act productive of a substantial reality from a previous non-existence alike of itself and of any subject, consists of simple and intelligible elements, which are not repugnant to each other. The notion of causality as such does not exclude the idea of the production of substantial reality. And though the finite causality with which we are familiar does not admit of such an effect, we have seen that there is no reason to extend this impossibility to God. Our reasoning went far to shew, that since He is infinite, and since His activity is not accidental but is identical with His substance, the production of the complete. substance lies within His power. In the course of the chapter we shall examine the objections urged against the doctrine of creation on the ground of its alleged incompatibility with certain of the Divine attributes -- infinity, immutability, liberty. It will appear that in no case is such incompatibility capable of proof.

2. Proof of creation. To those who have studied the previous chapters, and have realized what is involved in the concept of self-existent being on the one hand, and of contingent being on the other, a set proof that God created all things other than Himself will hardly be necessary. The arguments of chap. iii., by which, from the contingent, mutable, multiple things of experience we established the existence of the Necessary, the Uncaused, the Changeless, the One, will be seen to involve creation as an immediate corollary. If two such realities exist, there is no other possible explanation of the origin of the one whose reality is on the lower plane, than that it was produced ex nihilo by the Self-existent. Yet since it may be urged that our reasoning failed to touch explicitly on the subject of creation ex nihilo, it seems desirable to express the arguments in a form leading directly to that conclusion. It should be noted that we do not here enter into the question whether the world had a beginning or not. We are solely concerned to shew that it is due as regards the whole of its reality to an act of divine causation, apart from which it would have no being of any kind. This is equally true whether it had a temporal beginning or existed from all eternity.

It is manifest that necessary being, and necessary being alone, is the sufficient reason for its own existence. Necessary being possesses existence in its own right. Other things have in their own right no existence at all. They are not exigent of existence. If existence belonged to their essential nature, they could not be at one time mere unrealized possibles, and subsequently be determined to the possession of real existence; they would exist ab aeterno. But a nature which is not exigent of existence is of itself nothing. Whatever removes it from nonentity it has received from elsewhere. In other words, if it exists at all it has been produced ex nihilo: it owes its existence to creation.{6} Now the finite substances which form the universe are all contingent. Neither any one of them in particular, nor the whole collection of them, is necessary being. We treated this matter in chap. iii., and the arguments there employed have been immensely reinforced by the demonstration subsequently given that necessary, self-existent being must be infinite in perfection. There is no need for us to go over the same ground here, especially as in the next chapter, in which we deal with anti-creationist theories, a certain amount of repetition will be unavoidable. It will be sufficient to remind our readers that the universe of which we form part has no characteristic more fundamental than change. Change in its various forms -- substantive transformation, qualitative and quantitative modification, local motion -- meets us on every side. Nothing is exempt from it. And change is wholly incompatible with necessary being. In view of what has been already said on the matter, there is little need to labour the point. It is of the very essence of motion that the thing moved should pass through successive stages of actuation. Throughout its course it is in potency to some mode of being. But that being is not yet actualized. It is becoming something; but has not yet attained being in that regard. It is in fieri; but it can only possess the esse to which the fieri is directed, when the motion ceases. Motion stamps its subject as imperfect. On the other hand, necessary being is as such actual and perfect. It needs no process to actualize it. In so far as it is not actual, it is not necessary.{7}

We tend, it is true, to regard motion as something additional to mere being. It is looked on as involving an increment of perfection, as something which is an advance on any mere static condition, and we find it hard to grasp the truth that ultimate Perfection must of necessity be changeless. This erroneous view of motion is attributable to the fact that we regard it, not in its relation to the terminus ad quem towards which it is directed, but in its relation to the terminus a quo. It is natural that we should do so, so long as we allow mere sense-perception to rule our consideration rather than the rational intellect. For in the order of time the terminus ad quem is subsequent to the motion and does not appear to determine it in any way. Yet the true aspect under which to regard motion is, as we have already shown, as a passage to the terminus ad quem.{8} This is the end to which it is directed. It is what it is by reason of its relation to that end. Indeed, essentially it is a mere tendency towards that term. Save as tending to that term, the subject of motion would not move in that direction rather than another. It would be capable of moving in many directions, but would not actually move in any.

Another argument no less decisive may be drawn from the henologicai proof of God's existence. In that proof we urged that, unless we were prepared to reject the principle of sufficient reason, we must admit that when the same perfection is found in a number of different individuals, it is derived from a single source: that it is philosophically impossible to maintain that they possess it Independently, that unity cannot have its ultimate explanation in diversity. And we further argued that the ultimate source of the transcendental perfections, being, goodness, and truth -- perfections in the notion of which is involved no imperfection or limit -- could be none other than One in whom they are realized in an infinite degree, Himself at the same time subsistent being and subsistent goodness. It is hardly necessary to point out that creation follows by immediate consequence from this conclusion. For if finite things owe all the being which they possess to the causative activity of the Infinite Being, viz. God, so that, in so far as they are at all, they are effects produced by Him, it is plain that apart from this Divine activity they are nothing -- mere nonentity. They have been transferred from nothingness to being by Him. In other words, He created them ex nihilo. It may be asked perhaps whether we are not somewhat hasty in our assumption that the Infinite Being produces finite beings by efficient causality? May it not be that they arise by some kind of emanation? We have already excluded such a supposition. For finite things are limited. And we pointed out above that to suppose necessary being to be realized in limited modes is to postulate a cause which is capable of acting upon necessary being and bringing it into composition with a limitative principle. This, however, is out of the question. There can be no such thing as a cause capable of acting on necessary being.

These arguments give us apodictic proof that every finite substance is due to creation ex nihilo. Yet it is notorious that this conclusion is widely rejected. The philosophy prevalent in the universities is pantheism in one or other of its forms: while outside the seats of learning a more or less crude materialism has a wide vogue. 'Evolution' is held to be a sufficient explanation of all things. It is believed that the primaeval world-stuff somehow gave rise to living organisms, and ultimately issued in man -- the less producing the greater, and perfectionless matter raising itself without efficient agency of any sort to those miracles of beauty and of contrivance with which the world is filled. These opponent theories must be carefully weighed. But it will appear that they involve far more serious objections than any which can be urged against the creationist solution. This in itself constitutes an additional, if indirect, proof of our thesis. This examination of rival views we reserve for another chapter. For the present we must confine ourselves to the further elucidation of the doctrine of creation and to the removal of difficulties which have been urged against it.

3. Creation and the immutability of God. In considering whether creation is compatible with the attributes which reason compels us to ascribe to God, it might seem natural to begin with the attribute of infinity. The objection can scarcely fail to suggest itself that a being who creates a world external to and other than Himself, is by that alone shewn not to be Himself the Infinite: for the infinity of God supposes that His being is exhaustive of all reality. We have, however, already had occasion to treat this point, and have seen that it admits of a perfectly satisfactory solution (chap. ix., § 3). Finite things are real; but they cannot add to the reality of the Infinite.

We may pass on to the question whether the difficulties which arise in connection with the Divine immutability are surmountable. Here it is to be noted that we are concerned with creation viewed as an event occurring in time and not realized ab aeterno. Although we have stated that in our opinion it cannot be established by mere reason that God might not, had such been His good pleasure, have given being to the universe from all eternity, nevertheless we claim that reason can demonstrate that a temporal creation is within the scope of His omnipotence: that no impossibility is involved in the supposition that the universe once had no existence, and that it came into being at a certain moment, which, however remote, is separated from the present by a finite interval measurable in terms of time. This conclusion is of no little importance. Christian dogma affirms that the world is not infinite in duration: that it had a beginning. On the other hand, it is confidently maintained by a certain school of philosophical opinion that creation is involved in the very being of God: that it is no free act on His part, but one that is absolutely necessary. We shall treat of this view in the next section. Those who hold it seek, not unnaturally, to shew that the position for which we are contending is open to fatal objections and is incapable of a reasoned defence. It is urged (1) that what God regards as a good to be realized must be viewed by Him as such from all eternity, and in consequence must be realized eternally and immutably: that the theist doctrine of a long delay and of a subsequent change to creative activity is repugnant to reason. Thus Professor Ward writes: "Whatever the reason or motive for creation may have been -- and some reason or motive the theist must assume -- it seems 'absolutely inconceivable,' as von Hartmann puts it, 'that a conscious God should wait half an eternity without a good that ought to be.'"{9}

It is further contended (2) that an exercise of causal power, previously quiescent, is in itself a new perfection -- an increment in the being of the causal agent. Hence, to assert that God creates in time is to hold that He undergoes change and acquires perfection by creating. But God is perfect by nature, and immutable because perfect.{10}

It is worth noting that this question was an extremely vital one in the mediaeval schools. Aristotle had maintained the eternity of the world (Phys., viii. 3; De C. et M. ii. i): and the Averroists of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries defended his view, and urged it as a fatal objection to the Christian doctrine on the subject. They laid special stress on the reason last given, viz., that a new action is impossible apart from a passage from potentiality to act in the agent.{11} Their various arguments are examined in detail by St. Thomas: and he offers us a full and adequate solution of each of the difficulties urged.{12}

Before proceeding to the discussion of the points raised, it may be noted that the alternative offered by modern pantheism, so far from removing the difficulty, gravely increases it. We are told that creationism is impossible since it logically involves a single change in the Godhead, and we are bidden accept in its place a doctrine which requires us to hold that unintermittent change is a necessary condition of the Divine Being. For the thinkers to whom we refer affirm that the world, of which every part is in perpetual flux, is one with God. It may at least be said for creationism that, consistently or inconsistently, it declares that God is changeless, and that He creates the world without any change occurring in Himself. Pantheists, on the other hand, are held to the glaring contradiction of holding that change is an essential condition in the very being whom in controversy they own to be immutable.

The first of the two difficulties which we have mentioned arises, as is evident, from that fruitful source of fallacy, the representation of eternity as though it were simply time without commencement and without end. When von Hartmann asks how God can be supposed to have waited half an eternity before creating, he clearly regards eternity and time as durations of similar character. In view of our treatment of the Divine attribute of eternity there is no need to enlarge on this point. There was no time until God created the universe. Only when things came into being, whose existence is not actualized in all its parts simultaneously, but is ever advancing from potentiality to actuality in a continuous progression of successive and homogeneous parts, did time exist. God did not create the universe at a given point of time, but created time with the universe. The term 'waiting' has no significance as applied to eternity. Nor is it less meaningless to say that God could have created the universe before He actually did. For in what sense can the words 'before' and 'after' be understood, save in reference to an existing flow of time? It is doubtless possible to ask why time had any beginning at all -- why the universe was not created ab aeterno? To this subject we shall recur later in this chapter. Here it is sufficient to point out that the difficulty with which we are concerned, viz., that the long delay involved in the doctrine of a temporal creation is repugnant to the Divine wisdom, is based upon a sophism.{13} Moreover, the argument is open to exception on another count. It is urged that the theist must own that the same motives which induced God to create when He did, were present to the Divine mind from all eternity: and hence, since ex hypothesi they sufficed to move the Divine will at last, they must perforce have produced the same result from the very first. Here we find the ohjector assuming that God's will is conditioned in the same manner as that of the creature: that He is aware of certain objects of desire, which He does not possess, and which in some way will conduce to the perfection of His state: and that being guided in His volitions by right reason, He must needs allow His will to be swayed by these motives. On the principles of theism, which we claim to have established by adequate proof, such reasoning involves manifest errors. It assumes that God does not possess in Himself the plenitude of beatitude: that He may be in some way dependent on the existence of creatures for the attainment of some more perfect state: and, further, it supposes that the Divine action -- which is identical with the Divine essence -- is determined by creatures. Our discussion of the Divine will has shewn how radical are the misconceptions here. God, assuredly, creates for a purpose. Of that purpose we shall treat in a subsequent section of the present chapter. But there can be no question of a motive which rules the Divine activity, and has force to determine its exercise. Neither the Divine excellence nor the Divine beatitude can gain aught from creation. The creature, not God, is the gainer when God gives it being.

We have now to examine the second of the two difficulties mentioned, viz., that any fresh exercise of efficient causality is ipso facto a new actuality in the agent, and in consequence involves in him a change by which he acquires a greater perfection. This, as we saw, was the primary argument of the Averroist opponents of the faith. They maintained that it was impossible that a new action could take place without a transition from potency to act.

To this it is replied that God possesses in Himself ab aeterno all the perfection requisite to the actual exercise of causality. In Him there is no potency of any kind. In created agents the exercise of causality involves a passage from potency to act, because while nature gives them the power to act, the power needs a complement in order to its actual exercise. They are not actualized as causes save by such a complementary change. God needs no such complement to His actuality. It is true that, though He is fully constituted as a cause from all eternity, His effect does not proceed from Him eternally, but has a beginning in time. But this is because its realization depends on His free-will, and in consequence comes to pass as and when He decrees.{14}

What then, it may be asked, do we mean, when we speak of God's act of creation? We have already (chap. xiii., § 1) called attention to the two uses of the word action. It is, we saw, employed to signify (1) the process by which an agent passes from a condition of potential to one of actual causality -- the acquisition, in other words, of the complement to which we have just adverted. Thus the action of writing is often taken to mean the various bodily movements requisite before the letters actually take shape on the paper. It signifies (2) the effect in so far as it emanates from the agent, e.g., the actual fieri of the script itself. The former of these two senses is, as we explained, philosophically inaccurate, since until all these motions are complete, the agent is not fully constituted as cause of the writing: and till he is so constituted, the real action of writing is impossible. Yet such a use of the term is inevitable. For we rightly conceive action as intermediate between cause and the abiding effect: and so far as the perceptions of sense are concerned, this preliminary process is what appears to hold this place.

When, therefore, we ask, what is the act of creation, our question may signify: What are we to conceive in God as being the immediate principle of His creative activity? or: What is the effect immediately issuing from God as actually creative? In the first sense, we say that inasmuch as God needs no complement to His causal power, the act of creation is the Divine essence, eternal and immutable, viewed in its relation to the new created order. In the latter sense, the act of creation is the created order itself, as newly existing, and in its relation to the Creator as dependent on Him for being. It is no process of fieri: for the creature does not pass by degrees from nonentity to being. Either it is not, or it is. The act of creation is simply the newly fashioned universe in its relation to God. As we have already explained (chap. viii., § 3), the relation of the creature to the Creator, and that of the Creator to the creature, are widely different. The former is a 'real' relation: the dependence of the creature on the Creator is a real determination of its being. The latter is 'conceptual' only. The Creator acquires no new determination when He creates: the Infinite does not become part of a wider whole embracing alike Himself and finite things, so that He is ordered in some way to them. But our mind views Him in connection with them, and therefore relates Him to them in thought, because they are related to Him.{15}

4. God's freedom in creation. We mentioned above the existence of a school whose adherents, while prepared to admit a doctrine of creation, deny that God was free not to create. The world, they maintain, is 'as necessary to God, as God is necessary to the world.' From this it follows that creation took place ab aeterno. The thinkers who adopt this position are those who, while accepting a large measure of Hegelian idealism, nevertheless claim to be theists and not pantheists, inasmuch as they hold the existence of a personal God, the Supreme Spirit, who is distinct from the finite personalities which owe their being to Him. In England this idea of creation has been defended in our own time by several writers of influence. We may mention among the number, Professor Pringle Pattison, Principal J. Caird and Dr. Rashdall. It calls, therefore, for our consideration.

A word must first be said about the Hegelian idealism from which it sprang. This system, though owing its origin to the speculations of Kant, was none the less in great measure a reaction against his theories. Hegel rejected in toto the distinction between noumena and phenomena. He denied the existence of a world of realities which we can never hope to know, and our judgments regarding which, so far as we can judge about them at all, must inevitably be conditioned by subjective categories of the understanding precisely as are our judgments regarding phenomena. There is, he contended, no noumenal reality outside the facts of experience. The universe which we know is the sole reality. It is thought and being at once: for being has no existence apart from thought. It is, moreover, self-existent and necessary. But the necessity which Hegel attributed to the universe differs widely from that which the creationist attributes to God. For, whereas the creationist views God as self-existent being, Hegel conceives the universe to exist in virtue of a logical necessity belonging to the order of thought. The supreme idea, he holds, involves its own reality. The question forthwith arises: Is there any room in such a system for God? To Kant God was a noumenal reality. Is the idea of God a pure figment of the imagination? It was answered, God is the supreme Idea which finds its self-realization in the universe. The universe is the Divine thought. We are thus justified in retaining the notion of God as the source of all things. The answer may be understood in various senses: and, as we shall see in the next chapter, Hegel and his real followers were far from intending to signify a belief in a personal God. But a certain number of those who accept his general philosophical position are not prepared to go this length, and have sought to find room in it for religious belief, and even for the acceptance of a modified form of Christianity.

The world, these writers tell us, is the thought of God, the term and likewise the object of the immanent intellectual process which constitutes His life. It has and can have no being outside God: for being outside experience there is none. It is then in no sense an external embodiment of the Divine thought. It is that thought in its objective aspect. We finite spirits know the world because we are admitted to share in the Divine life, the Divine experience. Hence thought as realized in us offers the same experience as does the thought of God. Here lies the solution of the problem involved in the fact, otherwise so enigmatic, that the world presented to all finite minds is one and the same. Creation thus understood is necessarily ab aeterno. The Divine life is eternal, and consists in thought: and a thinking subject is impossible apart from an object distinct from itself. Moreover, when it is once realized that the universe is the thought of God, it is seen that God could not have created any other universe than that which we know. For the universe of experience is exhaustive of the Divine being. Or to speak accurately, it is identical with the Divine being. It is the complete and ultimate expression of God's essence.

This last point is of such importance that we quote Professor Pringle Pattison's own words. It is true, he tells us, both of God and of finite minds, that they "cannot be substantiated as static units apart from the process in which they live or which constitutes their life. In the case of the finite conscious being this is fairly obvious, for he plainly receives his filling from nature, and is reduced at once to a bare point or empty focus if we attempt to lift him as an independent unitary existence, out of the universal life from which he draws his spiritual sustenance. But it is apt not to be so obvious in the case of God. And yet in this ultimate reference it is equally essential to be clear on the point, if we are not to involve ourselves in meaningless speculation. . . . Even a theory like Hegel's, which insists so strongly on the idea of creation as an eternal act or an eternal process, seems repeatedly by its form of statement to suggest just that prior existence of the bare universal, which it is the essence of the theory to deny."{16} In other words: God, if viewed apart from the universe, has no being save a logical one. Where thought is concerned, we inevitably distinguish subject from object. But we should greatly err if we regarded this subject as possessed of independent reality apart from the thoughts which we view as his. As such he is merely a focal point to which we logically refer the 'experience' in question. So it is as regards God. God is constituted by His thought.

"The only real creation," the same author assures us, "is that of minds." {17} Yet it is manifest that on the principles of this philosophy it is difficult to defend the creation even of minds as subsistent entities external to God. If we are to be thoroughly consistent, they too must resolve themselves into divine experience without subsistent reality of their own. Hence we are not surprised when what is given us with one hand is promptly taken away by the other. "Creation," we are told, "if it is taken to mean anything akin to efficient causation, is totally unfitted to express any relation that can exist between spirits. Spirits cannot be regarded as things made, detached like products from their maker."{18}

It is clear that we have here reached an impasse. On the premisses of this philosophy the existence of finite minds, which are not merely, like the other parts of the universe, terms of the Divine thought, but personalities to whom the Divine thought is communicated, and who thus share in the Divine life, is wholly inexplicable. It can be maintained only at the price of manifest inconsistency. And indeed no explanation is offered us: the two parts of the system are left unreconciled.

Apart from the general principles of their philosophical system, the thinkers who defend creation ab aeterno, lay stress on another consideration. God, they say, would not possess the fullness of life did He not call finite creatures into existence and enter into relation with them. "May we not say," writes Principal Caird, "that there is something in the very nature of God which would remain unrevealed and unrealized, but for His relation to the world, and especially to the finite spirits He has made in His own image."{19}

It will be convenient to defer our criticism of the Hegelian view of the world as experience until the next chapter. Here it must be sufficient to say that any system which fails adequately to distinguish between the real and the conceptual must needs be radically fallacious. We have to deal with two orders -- the order of objective existence and the representative order of thought -- which form the subject-matter of two totally distinct sciences, metaphysics and logic. A philosophy which denies this fundamental and evident fact, which identifies the science of being with the science of 'second intentions,' can only lead us into a quagmire of inconsistencies and contradictions. Of the demerits peculiar to the doctrine with which we are here dealing, we have already indicated that which seems to us the most notable, viz., that it can only maintain the existence of finite personalities at the cost of internal contradiction. On other grounds also it must be pronounced gravely at fault. We have seen that it declares the universe to be the complete expression of the Divine being, so that apart from the world God is a mere abstraction, a focal point. The position is intelligible in an avowed pantheist, but not so in those who attribute to God personality in a true and proper sense so that He merits the appellation of the Supreme Spirit. Once let this be granted, and it is manifest that God, apart from the world, is no mere abstraction, any more than a man is an abstraction apart from the thoughts which he has hic et nunc before his mind. The infinite intelligence must be aware, not of the existing order of things alone, but of innumerable things, persons, events, and even whole orders of being, which, though not actualized and never to be actualized, are nevertheless possible. If creation consisted simply in existence as the term of a Divine thought, all these would be created things. Yet, in fact, although the mind of God contemplates them, they lack the actuality which would place them among creatures. Even were it to be maintained that the universe is exhaustive of reality, so that God cannot contemplate entities as possible, which are not at some time or another actualized, since all such possibility is a fiction: yet the existing order of things is not realized in its entirety simultaneously. The world of to-day is not the world of the igneous or of the glacial ages. God, if He be a subsistent Person endowed with intelligence and will, most certainly foresaw from the beginning all that nature's laws would bring about. A limited degree of foresight belongs even to the finite spirit. The same perfection cannot be denied to God. Yet the theory which we are criticizing, if logically applied, demands that whatever is actually an object of Divine thought, enters thereby ipso facto into the actual created order: for creation is identical with the thought of God. It is plain that the theory is untenable. No argument for creation ab aeterno can be drawn from the fact that God's thought is eternally present to the Divine Mind.

The other argument which we mentioned, viz., that God acquires a fuller and richer existence by the creation of finite spirits, need not detain us. We have seen in previous chapters that God is of Himself in possession of infinite perfection and infinite beatitude. He can gain no 'intensification of life' through creation. The argument is, in fact, mere anthropomorphism. Man is imperfect and incomplete apart from society. It is rashly and unphilosophically assumed that what is true of man is also true of God.

5. The exemplar causality of God. We have hitherto considered God simply as the efficient cause of creatures. But this is far from being the sole aspect of His causality in our regard. Our dependence on Him for our being is more complete than is suggested by the relation between an efficient cause and its effect. He is likewise the exemplar cause, and as we have already indicated, the Ultimate final cause of all created things. In the present section we deal with His exemplar causality.

Whenever an agent possessed of intelligence exercises the causality proper to it as such, his action must be directed by an exemplar cause. For an agent of this kind is not, like mere natural agents, determined by nature to the production of a particular effect. He enjoys the power of self-determination, and decides by free election what the term of his activity shall be. So far as the actual exercise of causality is concerned, the principle of determination is the will. But the specific character of the result is determined by the intellect. And the intellect can only perform this office by the conception of a directive idea, in other words, an exemplar cause. If creation were no free act on God's part, but were an operation necessarily involved in His nature, as is held by the thinkers whose views were controverted in the last section, any discussion of exemplar causality would he idle: for no such directive idea would be required. But once admit that God in creating acts as a free agent, and it is evident that He too must direct His activity by exemplar causes. What has been said will throw light on the nature of the causality exercised by the idea. Though presenting characteristics peculiar to itself, it enters into the scheme of the four causes enumerated by Aristotle -- the efficient and the final, the formal and the material: it does not demand a separate place, and thereby render the Aristotelian enumeration incomplete. It is to be accounted primarily an efficient cause, as giving to the agent the ultimate determination in virtue of which he produces the effect, and also as directing the various stages of his activity. It must, however, further be reckoned as exercising a special kind of formal causality in regard of the effect. For the idea serves as the model or standard to which the work produced must conform. It is not merely an efficient principle, but a norm. It is an extrinsic type or specific character, to which corresponds the intrinsic type which we call the formal cause. It may be noted that Aristotle, when mentioning it, classes it with the formal cause.{20}

This question is one of those which first received adequate treatment in Christian philosophy. Neither Aristotle nor any other of the Greeks had any true idea of God's efficient causality in regard of the world. They were thus debarred from realizing the need of the exemplar cause. But the revealed doctrine of creation soon led Christian thinkers to the consideration of the exemplar ideas which directed the Divine action. Both Augustine and the Pseudo-Areopagite, as later the Schoolmen, recognized in the Platonic theory of ideas the suggestion of a profound truth. They saw, however, that the ideas were not, as Plato surmised, subsistent realities external to the Divine intellect, but within it. To say that God creates without such ideas is tantamount, says Augustine, to saying that His work is not directed by reason.{21}

It is manifest that the exemplar ideas of the creature present only a remote analogy with those of the Creator. Certain fundamental divergences must be carefully noted, if the doctrine here explained is not to he in open conflict with what we have said as to the Divine infinity and Divine simplicity. God, as we have often insisted, embraces in His essence the plenitude of reality: and other things are only in so far as in finite modes they imitate some aspect of that 'immense and unbounded ocean of being'{22} which is God. It follows from this that the exemplar ideas of God are drawn from His own essence Man draws his ideas from without. He contemplates nature, and finds in her perfections the material elements of those types which his intellect conceives and to which he subsequently gives external actualization. God, knowing His own essence, knows it not merely in itself but as imitable in countless types of finite reality. He sees how His infinite being contains the Possibility of innumerable created perfections Amongst these He sees material natures, graded by their respective forms into genera and species -- some inanimate and others endowed with vegetative or even animal life. Highest among them is man, whose vital principle is a soul capable of independent subsistence, and who thus forms a link between the material and the spiritual. And higher yet than man He sees the possibility of many kinds of immaterial essences. All alike by the mere fact of their existence reflect the perfection of Him, who alone in the full sense of the word is. But as the vast hierarchy of being ascends in its myriad types from the elementary forms of inanimate matter to the most exalted of created spirits, each successive stage represents, however inadequately, the inexhaustible perfections of the Godhead. Yet while the contents of the divine ideas are drawn from God's essence, the constitution of the exemplar cause as such must be attributed, as is evident, to the Divine intellect The very reason why we have been led to assert their existence is that creation is a free act on God's part and therefore directed by ideas present to the Divine mind. The presence in God's essence of perfections imitable by creatures will not suffice, unless the Divine intellect holds them as ideas and views them as models of dependent being. Moreover, the operation of the intellect is also necessary to organize the perfections into types. As they are found in God Himself they are not gathered into groups corresponding to the specific natures subsequently to be realized. They are in Him one infinite perfection, comprehensive of all being. To employ Scholastic terminology, the exemplar ideas are fundamentaliter in the Divine essence, but formaliter, i.e., in their formal character in the Divine mind, as exemplars, The exemplar ideas of actual and possible creation are, it is evident, innumerable. Yet it is not to be imagined that they are, as with ourselves, so many separate acts. The act of the divine intelligence is, as we pointed out in chap. xi., one and one only, and its immediate object is the divine essence. But, since that act is infinite, it apprehends the divine essence in all the multiple aspects under which, it may be known. And inasmuch as its exemplar causality constitutes one of these aspects, it is apprehended in this manner. Thus it is that in the one act of the Divine Mind, God contemplates the exemplar ideas of all possible creatures. St. Thomas, in order to assist us to imagine how this can be, reminds us that in virtue of the hierarchical order of created natures, a knowledge of a higher nature gives knowledge also of the lower. If we consider the nature of man, we have but to abstract from his rationality, and we see what is involved in mere animality: and if from this we abstract the notion of sense-perception, we understand what is signified by vegetative life. Similarly, since the Divine essence contains all being, the mind which contemplates it and views it in its various proportions to possible creatures knows them all.

Yet if creatures can, in certain respects, be viewed as exhibiting, inadequately yet truly, some aspect of the Divine essence, there are points of such fundamental diversity between the subsistent being of God and the being of creatures that philosophy has often been at a loss to understand how the one can really be derived from the other. God is essentially Infinite and essentially One. How is it possible that, being such, He can he the sole origin of finiteness and multiplicity. It would seem, at first sight, as though the contemplation of His essence could in no sense manifest these among the conditions of dependent essences modelled on His own. If He does indeed draw ideas of possible reality from the contemplation of Himself, must not the ideas thus formed be in conformity with His essential characteristics? In view of these considerations can our theory of exemplar causality be maintained? Moreover, the objection seems to receive strong confirmation from the existence of evil in the created order. Can God draw from the treasures of His own essence the exemplar ideas of evil things.

The mind of Plato saw no other way to solve the difficulty than to accept the theory of uncreated matter, the source of finitude and multiplicity in the universe. Yet such an answer was worse than none: for nothing can be more repugnant to reason than the supposition of uncreated matter.

Here, too, it was reserved for Christian thinkers to deal successfully with the problem, and to shew that it admits of a satisfactory solution.

Finiteness, as they point out, is an essential condition of created being as such: and this for a twofold reason. On the one hand, the Infinite can be but One. Two infinites is a contradiction in terms. And on the other, since created being is drawn from nothing, it follows that its existence is dependent on the causal influx of the Creator -- that it is capable of annihilation. But such a condition cannot belong to a being which is infinite in perfection. Infinite perfection must include the note of perpetuity. If God, then, conceives the possibility of created beings, He must, in the nature of things, know such beings as finite. Nor is the note of finiteness repugnant to an idea derived from the Divine essence. For finiteness is nothing positive. It is merely the negation of ulterior perfection. An exemplar idea of finite being does not contain the representation of some reality which has no place in God. A finite being is simply the imitation of the Divine essence in a certain measure, and not beyond. In the finiteness of created being lies the explanation of the multiplicity of the exemplar ideas realized in creation. The very purpose of creation, as we shall explain more fully in the next. section, is to make known the Divine perfections. Since, then, the creature is of necessity finite and only capable of shewing forth some limited aspect of God's being, it is manifest that nothing can be more conformable to the end for which He creates, than that He should call into existence a multitude of diverse things. In this way, by means of multiplicity He displays the unfathomable abyss of perfection which is His essence to a degree which could not be attained through the limited essence of a single finite nature.

Nor does the existence of evil in the world compel us to regard anything as outside the exemplar causality of God. For the essence of evil lies in privation. Evil is the absence of something which is requisite to the perfection of some nature or some action. The thing is termed bad because it is incomplete or because in some way the perfection of right order is wanting to it. It lacks some integral part, or some quality or relation which should be present. So far as it possesses being it deserves to be called good; it is bad by reason of the privation which mars it. The crippled limb is not bad because it consists of bone and flesh and sinew, but because these are lacking in their due development or in their proportion to one another. Sickness is the want of vigour in this or that organ: or the absence of harmonious order in the constituents of the body. The same is true of the will, the seat of moral evil. The act of the will, viewed purely as an exercise of active power, and in regard of its reality, is good. It is evil, not in itself, but because in regard of this particular object it is contrary to the due order required by the moral law. But God is the exemplar cause of creatures in respect of what they have of being, not in regard of not-being. Privation, like limit, is not-being: and as such has no exemplar cause. There are, of course, other questions, and those most weighty, regarding the existence of evil, which claim our consideration. They do not, however, concern God's exemplar causality, but the wisdom and sanctity of the providence, which He exercises over the world. They will receive treatment in another chapter.

6. The purpose of creation. We have shewn, when dealing with the Divine will, that the ultimate purpose of creation is God's glory. Creation is the realization outside God of certain aspects of His infinitude -- the overflow, if we may so term it, of infinite perfection -- and has its final reason in that perfection itself. We argued at some length that in the last resort the Divine action can have no other reason than God. Every end is such because it is good: were it not good, it could not be an end. But God is the Good: and other things are good, only in so far as they reproduce in some way the perfections of the supreme Good. Though we may say, and with truth, that the excellence of the work -- its wisdom, its beauty, its magnificence account for God's creation of the universe, and made it a fitting end for His action, yet that excellence is not something apart from Himself. The attributes which arouse our admiration are but the external manifestation of His perfections. The excellence of His perfections made it good that they should be communicated to created being. The true end of His action is to be found in Himself.

We must not, however, conclude, because God is the primary end of creation, that the creature is a mere means. It, too, is truly an end, though in an inferior degree. To see this, it is sufficient to reflect that God's glory is found in the perfection of the creature. The more fully the good of the creature is realized, the more adequately, in other words, it attains its ideal, so much the more fully is God's glory manifested. The good of the creature is not a thing indifferent in itself, which conduces somehow to the final end of creation. In it the final end is realized, since it is itself identical with the Divine glory. God, in desiring His glory and delighting in its realization, of necessity desires and delights in the good of the creature. But if this be so, the creature is itself an end. For a means is regarded as a good, simply inasmuch as it leads to the attainment of something other than itself. God seeks the good of the creature, not to obtain something else, but because in that good as such is found the end of His creative action. His glory and the creature's good are not distinct: they are two aspects of one and the same end. Of these the Divine glory is rightly reckoned as primary, since God, not the creature, is the final cause of all that is. But the two are not divergent. God, in desiring one, desires the other.{23} It appears from what we have said that creatures are truly the objects of God's love. To love anything is to desire its good, and to take pleasure in that good when it is attained. And this, as we have just seen, is true of God as regards creatures. Moreover, the greater the degree of perfection with which God endows a creature, the greater is the love of God for it, and the more does it deserve in comparison with other creatures to be an end of Divine action. Animate natures as more perfect than inanimate are rightly held to be of more value in God's sight. The latter fulfil an appropriate function when they become means to the perfection of the animate. Animals He esteems above plants. While man, who in virtue of his rational nature stands in an entirely different category from all other material beings, is the object of a love incomparably higher than they.

Some difficulty may perhaps be felt with regard to our assertion that the Divine glory as realized in creation is to be identified with the good of the creature, on the score that it would seem to follow from this, that every individual substance is bound to attain its specific perfection: whereas nature, as we well know, presents to our view a very different state of things. The objection is, however, to a large extent removed by the reflection that the material universe is a vast organized whole of which individual substances are the constituent parts. Though not an organism in the sense that other things are not complete substances in themselves but merely organic parts in a single all-embracing substance, the universe is a veritable cosmos, and not a mere collection of independent units. The constituent parts are subservient to the good of the whole. Man, by reason of his personality, is an end in himself. But other substances cannot be viewed in isolation, abstracted from the universe of which they are portions. The purpose of creation is not the manifestation of God's glory in the perfection of each individual substance as such, but in the perfection of the universe. He desires the perfection of the individual thing in so far as it is compatible with the perfection of the whole.{24} How that perfection is determined we shall consider when in a later chapter we come to discuss and to controvert the erroneous theory known as optimism.

It may, however, be contended that for the Christian philosopher at least a crucial difficulty yet remains in the doctrine of eternal punishment. We have admitted, it will be urged, that man's good is not subordinated to the bonum universi. Indeed, it will be argued later that the universe exists for man, and that its character was determined in reference to him.{25} If then God's glory and the creature's good are not two distinct objects of desire, but one: and if each human being is an end in himself, it would seem to follow that the Divine glory demands that not one member of the human race should fail of attaining the beatitude proper to man. Yet it is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion that God has made this dependent on man's right use of his freedom: and that, in consequence, the final condition of many is one, not of beatitude, but of eternal punishment. The difficulty is, however, less than at first sight would appear. Doubtless the very existence of moral evil in the world at all is a profound mystery. But since to man has been granted the power to choose freely between good and evil, it follows that he is able to thrust from him the perfection which should be his, and to choose by his own deliberate act a condition in essential opposition to his true ideal. Yet it is impossible that God should permit a creature to frustrate the primary end of creation. Since through man's own fault God's glory is not attained through his perfection, it is attained through his punishment. Another series of Divine attributes is manifested. God's majesty, His justice, His hatred for sin, are exhibited in the penalties inflicted upon the unrepentant sinner. The gift of freedom enables man to separate in his case the primary end of creation from the secondary. But by doing so, he only renders it yet more abundantly evident that the ultimate purpose for which creation exists is the manifestation of the fathomless perfections of the Godhead.

{1} Summa Theol., I., q. 65, art. 3. "Creatio autem est productio rei secundum suam totam substantiam, nullo praesupposito, quod sit vel increatum vel ab aliquo creatum."

{2} "We talk of creation out of nothing. But if the qualification 'out of nothing' has any meaning at all, it implies a certain lack of reality on the part of the creature." J. Ward, Realm of Ends, p. 39.

{3} De tot., q. 3, art. i, ad 7; Summa Theol., I., q. 45, art. 1, ad 3.

{4} The Statement that the action of a finite being is, of necessity, accidental, hardly calls for proof. It seems evident that, save in the Infinite Being who embraces in one simple actuality all the perfections found in the various modes of finite being, the mode which we term action must be other than the mode of substantial existence, and therefore accidental in its regard. A proof is, however, here given; but in view of its abstract character we have thought best to place it in a note. In finite entities action, like every other perfection, is the actuation of a potency. The potency which it actuates, is not, however, the substantial essence. That is, indeed, a potency, but a potency in regard of existence. The potency of action has regard to a perfection other than mere existence: to act is something over and ahove mere being. It follows that action presupposes the substance as already existing. It is the actuation of a potency belonging to an existing thing. But a secondary actuation in an existing substance is an accident. In the Infinite Being it is otherwise. Action is not the actuation of a potency, for in Him potency has no place: He is Actus Purus, and His action is identical with His substance.

{5} Tertia ratio est, quia cum omne accidens oporteat esse in subjecto, subjectum autem actionis sit recipiens actionem: illud solum, faciendo aliquid, recipientem materiam non requirit, cujus actio non est accidens, sed ipsa substantia sua, quod solius Dei est." St. Thomas Aquinas, De Pot., q. 3, art. 4.

{6} "Un être qui n'est ni l'être necessaire, ni partie de l'être necessaire n'est de lui même rien: si donc il existe, il a été à la lettre produit de rien, donc créé. . . . Le principe ici formulié est evident, puisqu'il n'y a pas de milieu, entre être nécessairement, ou être par soi, et n'être pas nécessairement, ou n'être rien de soi ." H. Pinard in article Création in Dict. apologétique de la foi Catholique, edited by A. d'Alès (Paris, 1911), vol. 1., p. 726.

{7} Cf. Bradley, Appearance and Reality, p. 499. "Is the Absolute better or worse at one time than another? It is clear that we must answer in the negative, since progress and decay are alike incompatible with perfection. . . . Nothing perfect, nothing genuinely real can move."

{8} Supra.

{9} Realm of Ends, p. 233. The same objection is proposed and solved, de Pot., q. 3, art. 17, obj. 13.

{10} Cf. Mansel, op. cit. p. 32, p. 205, where he notes that the difficulty is urged by Rothe, Theologische Ethik, § 40. The latter writer was a Lutheran divine of some eminence as a thinker: he sought to combine Hegelian philosophy with the acceptance of liberal protestantism.

{11} Thus the Dominican, Nicholas Eymeric (1320-1399), mentions among the Aristotelian errors prevalent at his time. "Item: quod nihil novi potest a Deo immediate procedere, quia nihil potest fieri sine dispositione praevia et motu praecedente. Deus autem immobilis perseverat." Directorium Inquisitorum (Paris, 1587), p. 238, n. 8, cited by Duplessis d' Argentré Collectio Iudiciorum (Paris, 1728), I., p. 205. The error was among those held by Siger of Brabant and condemned by the bishop of Paris, in 1277. Cf. Aristotle, Physics, viii., c. i., 251a2O.

{12} Con. Gent., II., c. xxxiii.; de Pot., q. 3, art. 17.

{13} Cf. De Pot., l.c. " Consideraverunt [sequaces Aristotelis] primum agens ad similitudinem alicujus agentis quod suam actionem exercet in tempore, quamvis per voluntatem agat: quod tamen non est causa ipsius temporis, sed tempus praesupponit. Deus autem est causa ipsius temporis. Nam et ipsum tempus in universitate eorum quae a Deo facta sunt continetur. Unde cum de exitu universi esse a Deo loquimur, non est considerandum quod tunc et non prius fecerit."

{14} Cf. De Pot., q. 3, art. 17, ad 6. "Sicut quod est a causa naturaliter agente, retinet simi]itudinem ejus prout habet formam similem formae agentis: ita quod est ab agente voluntario, retinet similitudinem ejus prout habet formam similem causae, secundum quod hoc producitur in effectu quod est in voluntatis dispositione, Ut patet de artificiato respectu artificis. Voluntas autem non disponit solum de forma effectus, sed de loco, duratione et omnibus conditionibus ejus. Unde oportet quod effectus voluntatis tunc sequatur quando voluntas disponit, non quando voluntas est."

{15} De Pot., q. 3, art. 3.

{16} Idea of God, p. 309.

{17} Op. cit., p. 308.

{18} p. 315.

{19} Fundamental Ideas of Christianity, I., p. 162. Similarly Prof. Pringle Pattison speaks of creation as involving for God "an intensification of life through realization of the life of others." (Op. cit. p. 308).

{20} Met., IV., c. ii.

{21} Lib. de lxxxiii qq., q. 46 (P.L. 40, col. 30).

{22} pelagos ousias apeiron aoriston. Greg. Naz., Or xlv. 3. (P.G. 36, col. 625).

{23} Au lieu d'un mouvement divergent de l'Absolu vers le contingent, nous ne constatons en Dieu qu'un seul mouvement toujours vers soi, mais à double effet. A ne considérer cette solution que pour sa valeur philosophique, on jugera sans doute qu'elle résout mieux que les autres les difficultés du problème. Elle parait de plus s'appuyer sur une conception plus profonde de l'être nécessaire. Les autres avec leurs scrupules d'écarter de lui le repoche d'égoïsme, n'en jugent en somme qu'à mesure de notre humanité." H. Pinard, art. Création in Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique (Vacant-Mangenot), III., col. 2169.

{24} Cf. Summa Theol., I., q. 22, art. 2, ad 2. "Aliter de eo est qui habet curam alicujus particularis, et de provisore universali: quia provisor particularis excludit defectum ab eo quod ejus curae subditur, quantum potest: sed provisor universalis permittit aliquem defectum in aliquo particulari accidere ne impediatur bonum totius. Unde corruptiones et defectus in rebus naturalibus dicuntur esse contra naturam particularem: sed tamen sunt de intentione naturae universalis, in quantum defectus unius cedit in bonum alterius, vel etiam totius universi. . . . Cum igitur Deus sit universalis provisor totius entis, ad ipsius providentiam pertinet quosdam defectus esse in aliquibus particularibus rebus, ne impediatur bonum universi perfectum."

{25} Infra, c. xvii., § 1.

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