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Home > Summa Theologiae > First Part > Question 45

Question 45. The mode of emanation of things from the first principle

  1. What is creation?
  2. Can God create anything?
  3. Is creation anything in the very nature of things?
  4. To what things does it belong to be created?
  5. Does it belong to God alone to create?
  6. Is creation common to the whole Trinity, or proper to any one Person?
  7. Is any trace of the Trinity to be found in created things?
  8. Is the work of creation mingled with the works of nature and of the will?

Article 1. Whether to create is to make something from nothing?

Objection 1. It would seem that to create is not to make anything from nothing. For Augustine says (Contra Adv. Leg. et Proph. i): "To make concerns what did not exist at all; but to create is to make something by bringing forth something from what was already."

Objection 2. Further, the nobility of action and of motion is considered from their terms. Action is therefore nobler from good to good, and from being to being, than from nothing to something. But creation appears to be the most noble action, and first among all actions. Therefore it is not from nothing to something, but rather from being to being.

Objection 3. Further, the preposition "from" [ex] imports relation of some cause, and especially of the material cause; as when we say that a statue is made from brass. But "nothing" cannot be the matter of being, nor in any way its cause. Therefore to create is not to make something from nothing.

On the contrary, On the text of Genesis 1, "In the beginning God created," etc., the gloss has, "To create is to make something from nothing."

I answer that, As said above (I:44:2), we must consider not only the emanation of a particular being from a particular agent, but also the emanation of all being from the universal cause, which is God; and this emanation we designate by the name of creation. Now what proceeds by particular emanation, is not presupposed to that emanation; as when a man is generated, he was not before, but man is made from "not-man," and white from "not-white." Hence if the emanation of the whole universal being from the first principle be considered, it is impossible that any being should be presupposed before this emanation. For nothing is the same as no being. Therefore as the generation of a man is from the "not-being" which is "not-man," so creation, which is the emanation of all being, is from the "not-being" which is "nothing."

Reply to Objection 1. Augustine uses the word creation in an equivocal sense, according as to be created signifies improvement in things; as when we say that a bishop is created. We do not, however, speak of creation in that way here, but as it is described above.

Reply to Objection 2. Changes receive species and dignity, not from the term "wherefrom," but from the term "whereto." Therefore a change is more perfect and excellent when the term "whereto" of the change is more noble and excellent, although the term "wherefrom," corresponding to the term "whereto," may be more imperfect: thus generation is simply nobler and more excellent than alteration, because the substantial form is nobler than the accidental form; and yet the privation of the substantial form, which is the term "wherefrom" in generation, is more imperfect than the contrary, which is the term "wherefrom" in alteration. Similarly creation is more perfect and excellent than generation and alteration, because the term "whereto" is the whole substance of the thing; whereas what is understood as the term "wherefrom" is simply not-being.

Reply to Objection 3. When anything is said to be made from nothing, this preposition "from" [ex] does not signify the material cause, but only order; as when we say, "from morning comes midday"—i.e. after morning is midday. But we must understand that this preposition "from" [ex] can comprise the negation implied when I say the word "nothing," or can be included in it. If taken in the first sense, then we affirm the order by stating the relation between what is now and its previous non-existence. But if the negation includes the preposition, then the order is denied, and the sense is, "It is made from nothing—i.e. it is not made from anything"—as if we were to say, "He speaks of nothing," because he does not speak of anything. And this is verified in both ways, when it is said, that anything is made from nothing. But in the first way this preposition "from" [ex] implies order, as has been said in this reply. In the second sense, it imports the material cause, which is denied.

Article 2. Whether God can create anything?

Objection 1. It would seem that God cannot create anything, because, according to the Philosopher (Phys. i, text 34), the ancient philosophers considered it as a commonly received axiom that "nothing is made from nothing." But the power of God does not extend to the contraries of first principles; as, for instance, that God could make the whole to be less than its part, or that affirmation and negation are both true at the same time. Therefore God cannot make anything from nothing, or create.

Objection 2. Further, if to create is to make something from nothing, to be created is to be made. But to be made is to be changed. Therefore creation is change. But every change occurs in some subject, as appears by the definition of movement: for movement is the act of what is in potentiality. Therefore it is impossible for anything to be made out of nothing by God.

Objection 3. Further, what has been made must have at some time been becoming. But it cannot be said that what is created, at the same time, is becoming and has been made, because in permanent things what is becoming, is not, and what has been made, already is: and so it would follow that something would be, and not be, at the same time. Therefore when anything is made, its becoming precedes its having been made. But this is impossible, unless there is a subject in which the becoming is sustained. Therefore it is impossible that anything should be made from nothing.

Objection 4. Further, infinite distance cannot be crossed. But infinite distance exists between being and nothing. Therefore it does not happen that something is made from nothing.

On the contrary, It is said (Genesis 1:1): "In the beginning God created heaven and earth."

I answer that, Not only is it not impossible that anything should be created by God, but it is necessary to say that all things were created by God, as appears from what has been said (I:44:1. For when anyone makes one thing from another, this latter thing from which he makes is presupposed to his action, and is not produced by his action; thus the craftsman works from natural things, as wood or brass, which are caused not by the action of art, but by the action of nature. So also nature itself causes natural things as regards their form, but presupposes matter. If therefore God did only act from something presupposed, it would follow that the thing presupposed would not be caused by Him. Now it has been shown above (I:44:2), that nothing can be, unless it is from God, Who is the universal cause of all being. Hence it is necessary to say that God brings things into being from nothing.

Reply to Objection 1. Ancient philosophers, as is said above (I:44:2), considered only the emanation of particular effects from particular causes, which necessarily presuppose something in their action; whence came their common opinion that "nothing is made from nothing." But this has no place in the first emanation from the universal principle of things.

Reply to Objection 2. Creation is not change, except according to a mode of understanding. For change means that the same something should be different now from what it was previously. Sometimes, indeed, the same actual thing is different now from what it was before, as in motion according to quantity, quality and place; but sometimes it is the same being only in potentiality, as in substantial change, the subject of which is matter. But in creation, by which the whole substance of a thing is produced, the same thing can be taken as different now and before only according to our way of understanding, so that a thing is understood as first not existing at all, and afterwards as existing. But as action and passion coincide as to the substance of motion, and differ only according to diverse relations (Phys. iii, text 20,21), it must follow that when motion is withdrawn, only diverse relations remain in the Creator and in the creature. But because the mode of signification follows the mode of understanding as was said above (I:13:1), creation is signified by mode of change; and on this account it is said that to create is to make something from nothing. And yet "to make" and "to be made" are more suitable expressions here than "to change" and "to be changed," because "to make" and "to be made" import a relation of cause to the effect, and of effect to the cause, and imply change only as a consequence.

Reply to Objection 3. In things which are made without movement, to become and to be already made are simultaneous, whether such making is the term of movement, as illumination (for a thing is being illuminated and is illuminated at the same time) or whether it is not the term of movement, as the word is being made in the mind and is made at the same time. In these things what is being made, is; but when we speak of its being made, we mean that it is from another, and was not previously. Hence since creation is without movement, a thing is being created and is already created at the same time.

Reply to Objection 4. This objection proceeds from a false imagination, as if there were an infinite medium between nothing and being; which is plainly false. This false imagination comes from creation being taken to signify a change existing between two forms.

Article 3. Whether creation is anything in the creature?

Objection 1. It would seem that creation is not anything in the creature. For as creation taken in a passive sense is attributed to the creature, so creation taken in an active sense is attributed to the Creator. But creation taken actively is not anything in the Creator, because otherwise it would follow that in God there would be something temporal. Therefore creation taken passively is not anything in the creature.

Objection 2. Further, there is no medium between the Creator and the creature. But creation is signified as the medium between them both: since it is not the Creator, as it is not eternal; nor is it the creature, because in that case it would be necessary for the same reason to suppose another creation to create it, and so on to infinity. Therefore creation is not anything in the creature.

Objection 3. Further, if creation is anything besides the created substance, it must be an accident belonging to it. But every accident is in a subject. Therefore a thing created would be the subject of creation, and so the same thing would be the subject and also the term of creation. This is impossible, because the subject is before the accident, and preserves the accident; while the term is after the action and passion whose term it is, and as soon as it exists, action and passion cease. Therefore creation itself is not any thing.

On the contrary, It is greater for a thing to be made according to its entire substance, than to be made according to its substantial or accidental form. But generation taken simply, or relatively, whereby anything is made according to the substantial or the accidental form, is something in the thing generated. Therefore much more is creation, whereby a thing is made according to its whole substance, something in the thing created.

I answer that, Creation places something in the thing created according to relation only; because what is created, is not made by movement, or by change. For what is made by movement or by change is made from something pre-existing. And this happens, indeed, in the particular productions of some beings, but cannot happen in the production of all being by the universal cause of all beings, which is God. Hence God by creation produces things without movement. Now when movement is removed from action and passion, only relation remains, as was said above (Article 2, Reply to Objection 2). Hence creation in the creature is only a certain relation to the Creator as to the principle of its being; even as in passion, which implies movement, is implied a relation to the principle of motion.

Reply to Objection 1. Creation signified actively means the divine action, which is God's essence, with a relation to the creature. But in God relation to the creature is not a real relation, but only a relation of reason; whereas the relation of the creature to God is a real relation, as was said above (I:13:7) in treating of the divine names.

Reply to Objection 2. Because creation is signified as a change, as was said above (Article 2, Reply to Objection 2), and change is a kind of medium between the mover and the moved, therefore also creation is signified as a medium between the Creator and the creature. Nevertheless passive creation is in the creature, and is a creature. Nor is there need of a further creation in its creation; because relations, or their entire nature being referred to something, are not referred by any other relations, but by themselves; as was also shown above (I:42:1 ad 4), in treating of the equality of the Persons.

Reply to Objection 3. The creature is the term of creation as signifying a change, but is the subject of creation, taken as a real relation, and is prior to it in being, as the subject is to the accident. Nevertheless creation has a certain aspect of priority on the part of the object to which it is directed, which is the beginning of the creature. Nor is it necessary that as long as the creature is it should be created; because creation imports a relation of the creature to the Creator, with a certain newness or beginning.

Article 4. Whether to be created belongs to composite and subsisting things?

Objection 1. It would seem that to be created does not belong to composite and subsisting things. For in the book, De Causis (prop. iv) it is said, "The first of creatures is being." But the being of a thing created is not subsisting. Therefore creation properly speaking does not belong to subsisting and composite things.

Objection 2. Further, whatever is created is from nothing. But composite things are not from nothing, but are the result of their own component parts. Therefore composite things are not created.

Objection 3. Further, what is presupposed in the second emanation is properly produced by the first: as natural generation produces the natural thing, which is presupposed in the operation of art. But the thing supposed in natural generation is matter. Therefore matter, and not the composite, is, properly speaking, that which is created.

On the contrary, It is said (Genesis 1:1): "In the beginning God created heaven and earth." But heaven and earth are subsisting composite things. Therefore creation belongs to them.

I answer that, To be created is, in a manner, to be made, as was shown above (I:44:2 ad 2-3). Now, to be made is directed to the being of a thing. Hence to be made and to be created properly belong to whatever being belongs; which, indeed, belongs properly to subsisting things, whether they are simple things, as in the case of separate substances, or composite, as in the case of material substances. For being belongs to that which has being—that is, to what subsists in its own being. But forms and accidents and the like are called beings, not as if they themselves were, but because something is by them; as whiteness is called a being, inasmuch as its subject is white by it. Hence, according to the Philosopher (Metaph. vii, text 2) accident is more properly said to be "of a being" than "a being." Therefore, as accidents and forms and the like non-subsisting things are to be said to co-exist rather than to exist, so they ought to be called rather "concreated" than "created" things; whereas, properly speaking, created things are subsisting beings.

Reply to Objection 1. In the proposition "the first of created things is being," the word "being" does not refer to the subject of creation, but to the proper concept of the object of creation. For a created thing is called created because it is a being, not because it is "this" being, since creation is the emanation of all being from the Universal Being, as was said above (Article 1). We use a similar way of speaking when we say that "the first visible thing is color," although, strictly speaking, the thing colored is what is seen.

Reply to Objection 2. Creation does not mean the building up of a composite thing from pre-existing principles; but it means that the "composite" is created so that it is brought into being at the same time with all its principles.

Reply to Objection 3. This reason does not prove that matter alone is created, but that matter does not exist except by creation; for creation is the production of the whole being, and not only matter.

Article 5. Whether it belongs to God alone to create?

Objection 1. It would seem that it does not belong to God alone to create, because, according to the Philosopher (De Anima ii, text 34), what is perfect can make its own likeness. But immaterial creatures are more perfect than material creatures, which nevertheless can make their own likeness, for fire generates fire, and man begets man. Therefore an immaterial substance can make a substance like to itself. But immaterial substance can be made only by creation, since it has no matter from which to be made. Therefore a creature can create.

Objection 2. Further, the greater the resistance is on the part of the thing made, so much the greater power is required in the maker. But a "contrary" resists more than "nothing." Therefore it requires more power to make (something) from its contrary, which nevertheless a creature can do, than to make a thing from nothing. Much more therefore can a creature do this.

Objection 3. Further, the power of the maker is considered according to the measure of what is made. But created being is finite, as we proved above when treating of the infinity of God (I:7:2-4). Therefore only a finite power is needed to produce a creature by creation. But to have a finite power is not contrary to the nature of a creature. Therefore it is not impossible for a creature to create.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 8) that neither good nor bad angels can create anything. Much less therefore can any other creatures.

I answer that, It sufficiently appears at the first glance, according to what precedes (Article 1), that to create can be the action of God alone. For the more universal effects must be reduced to the more universal and prior causes. Now among all effects the most universal is being itself: and hence it must be the proper effect of the first and most universal cause, and that is God. Hence also it is said (De Causis prop., iii) that "neither intelligence nor the soul gives us being, except inasmuch as it works by divine operation." Now to produce being absolutely, not as this or that being, belongs to creation. Hence it is manifest that creation is the proper act of God alone.

It happens, however, that something participates the proper action of another, not by its own power, but instrumentally, inasmuch as it acts by the power of another; as air can heat and ignite by the power of fire. And so some have supposed that although creation is the proper act of the universal cause, still some inferior cause acting by the power of the first cause, can create. And thus Avicenna asserted that the first separate substance created by God created another after itself, and the substance of the world and its soul; and that the substance of the world creates the matter of inferior bodies. And in the same manner the Master says (Sent. iv, D, 5) that God can communicate to a creature the power of creating, so that the latter can create ministerially, not by its own power.

But such a thing cannot be, because the secondary instrumental cause does not participate the action of the superior cause, except inasmuch as by something proper to itself it acts dispositively to the effect of the principal agent. If therefore it effects nothing, according to what is proper to itself, it is used to no purpose; nor would there be any need of certain instruments for certain actions. Thus we see that a saw, in cutting wood, which it does by the property of its own form, produces the form of a bench, which is the proper effect of the principal agent. Now the proper effect of God creating is what is presupposed to all other effects, and that is absolute being. Hence nothing else can act dispositively and instrumentally to this effect, since creation is not from anything presupposed, which can be disposed by the action of the instrumental agent. So therefore it is impossible for any creature to create, either by its own power or instrumentally—that is, ministerially.

And above all it is absurd to suppose that a body can create, for no body acts except by touching or moving; and thus it requires in its action some pre-existing thing, which can be touched or moved, which is contrary to the very idea of creation.

Reply to Objection 1. A perfect thing participating any nature, makes a likeness to itself, not by absolutely producing that nature, but by applying it to something else. For an individual man cannot be the cause of human nature absolutely, because he would then be the cause of himself; but he is the cause of human nature being in the man begotten; and thus he presupposes in his action a determinate matter whereby he is an individual man. But as an individual man participates human nature, so every created being participates, so to speak, the nature of being; for God alone is His own being, as we have said above (I:7:2). Therefore no created being can produce a being absolutely, except forasmuch as it causes "being" in "this": and so it is necessary to presuppose that whereby a thing is this thing, before the action whereby it makes its own likeness. But in an immaterial substance it is not possible to presuppose anything whereby it is this thing; because it is what it is by its form, whereby it has being, since it is a subsisting form. Therefore an immaterial substance cannot produce another immaterial substance like to itself as regards its being, but only as regards some added perfection; as we may say that a superior angel illuminates an inferior, as Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. iv, x). In this way even in heaven there is paternity, as the Apostle says (Ephesians 3:15): "From whom all paternity in heaven and on earth is named." From which evidently appears that no created being can cause anything, unless something is presupposed; which is against the very idea of creation.

Reply to Objection 2. A thing is made from its contrary indirectly (Phys. i, text 43), but directly from the subject which is in potentiality. And so the contrary resists the agent, inasmuch as it impedes the potentiality from the act which the agent intends to induce, as fire intends to reduce the matter of water to an act like to itself, but is impeded by the form and contrary dispositions, whereby the potentiality (of the water) is restrained from being reduced to act; and the more the potentiality is restrained, the more power is required in the agent to reduce the matter to act. Hence a much greater power is required in the agent when no potentiality pre-exists. Thus therefore it appears that it is an act of much greater power to make a thing from nothing, than from its contrary.

Reply to Objection 3. The power of the maker is reckoned not only from the substance of the thing made, but also from the mode of its being made; for a greater heat heats not only more, but quicker. Therefore although to create a finite effect does not show an infinite power, yet to create it from nothing does show an infinite power: which appears from what has been said (Reply to Objection 2). For if a greater power is required in the agent in proportion to the distance of the potentiality from the act, it follows that the power of that which produces something from no presupposed potentiality is infinite, because there is no proportion between "no potentiality" and the potentiality presupposed by the power of a natural agent, as there is no proportion between "not being" and "being." And because no creature has simply an infinite power, any more than it has an infinite being, as was proved above (I:7:2), it follows that no creature can create.

Article 6. Whether to create is proper to any person?

Objection 1. It would seem that to create is proper to some Person. For what comes first is the cause of what is after; and what is perfect is the cause of what is imperfect. But the procession of the divine Person is prior to the procession of the creature: and is more perfect, because the divine Person proceeds in perfect similitude of its principle; whereas the creature proceeds in imperfect similitude. Therefore the processions of the divine Persons are the cause of the processions of things, and so to create belongs to a Person.

Objection 2. Further, the divine Persons are distinguished from each other only by their processions and relations. Therefore whatever difference is attributed to the divine Persons belongs to them according to the processions and relations of the Persons. But the causation of creatures is diversely attributed to the divine Persons; for in the Creed, to the Father is attributed that "He is the Creator of all things visible and invisible"; to the Son is attributed that by Him "all things were made"; and to the Holy Ghost is attributed that He is "Lord and Life-giver." Therefore the causation of creatures belongs to the Persons according to processions and relations.

Objection 3. Further, if it be said that the causation of the creature flows from some essential attribute appropriated to some one Person, this does not appear to be sufficient; because every divine effect is caused by every essential attribute—viz. by power, goodness and wisdom—and thus does not belong to one more than to another. Therefore any determinate mode of causation ought not to be attributed to one Person more than to another, unless they are distinguished in creating according to relations and processions.

On the contrary, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. ii) that all things caused are the common work of the whole Godhead.

I answer that, To create is, properly speaking, to cause or produce the being of things. And as every agent produces its like, the principle of action can be considered from the effect of the action; for it must be fire that generates fire. And therefore to create belongs to God according to His being, that is, His essence, which is common to the three Persons. Hence to create is not proper to any one Person, but is common to the whole Trinity.

Nevertheless the divine Persons, according to the nature of their procession, have a causality respecting the creation of things. For as was said above (I:14:8; I:19:4), when treating of the knowledge and will of God, God is the cause of things by His intellect and will, just as the craftsman is cause of the things made by his craft. Now the craftsman works through the word conceived in his mind, and through the love of his will regarding some object. Hence also God the Father made the creature through His Word, which is His Son; and through His Love, which is the Holy Ghost. And so the processions of the Persons are the type of the productions of creatures inasmuch as they include the essential attributes, knowledge and will.

Reply to Objection 1. The processions of the divine Persons are the cause of creation, as above explained.

Reply to Objection 2. As the divine nature, although common to the three Persons, still belongs to them in a kind of order, inasmuch as the Son receives the divine nature from the Father, and the Holy Ghost from both: so also likewise the power of creation, whilst common to the three Persons, belongs to them in a kind of order. For the Son receives it from the Father, and the Holy Ghost from both. Hence to be the Creator is attributed to the Father as to Him Who does not receive the power of creation from another. And of the Son it is said (John 1:3), "Through Him all things were made," inasmuch as He has the same power, but from another; for this preposition "through" usually denotes a mediate cause, or "a principle from a principle." But to the Holy Ghost, Who has the same power from both, is attributed that by His sway He governs, and quickens what is created by the Father through the Son. Again, the reason for this particular appropriation may be taken from the common notion of the appropriation of the essential attributes. For, as above stated (I:39:8 ad 3), to the Father is appropriated power which is chiefly shown in creation, and therefore it is attributed to Him to be the Creator. To the Son is appropriated wisdom, through which the intellectual agent acts; and therefore it is said: "Through Whom all things were made." And to the Holy Ghost is appropriated goodness, to which belong both government, which brings things to their proper end, and the giving of life—for life consists in a certain interior movement; and the first mover is the end, and goodness.

Reply to Objection 3. Although every effect of God proceeds from each attribute, each effect is reduced to that attribute with which it is naturally connected; thus the order of things is reduced to "wisdom," and the justification of the sinner to "mercy" and "goodness" poured out super-abundantly. But creation, which is the production of the very substance of a thing, is reduced to "power."

Article 7. Whether in creatures is necessarily found a trace of the Trinity?

Objection 1. It would seem that in creatures there is not necessarily found a trace of the Trinity. For anything can be traced through its traces. But the trinity of persons cannot be traced from the creatures, as was above stated (I:32:1. Therefore there is no trace of the Trinity in creatures.

Objection 2. Further, whatever is in creatures is created. Therefore if the trace of the Trinity is found in creatures according to some of their properties, and if everything created has a trace of the Trinity, it follows that we can find a trace of the Trinity in each of these (properties): and so on to infinitude.

Objection 3. Further, the effect represents only its own cause. But the causality of creatures belongs to the common nature, and not to the relations whereby the Persons are distinguished and numbered. Therefore in the creature is to be found a trace not of the Trinity but of the unity of essence.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. vi, 10), that "the trace of the Trinity appears in creatures."

I answer that, Every effect in some degree represents its cause, but diversely. For some effects represent only the causality of the cause, but not its form; as smoke represents fire. Such a representation is called a "trace": for a trace shows that someone has passed by but not who it is. Other effects represent the cause as regards the similitude of its form, as fire generated represents fire generating; and a statue of Mercury represents Mercury; and this is called the representation of "image." Now the processions of the divine Persons are referred to the acts of intellect and will, as was said above (Article 27). For the Son proceeds as the word of the intellect; and the Holy Ghost proceeds as love of the will. Therefore in rational creatures, possessing intellect and will, there is found the representation of the Trinity by way of image, inasmuch as there is found in them the word conceived, and the love proceeding.

But in all creatures there is found the trace of the Trinity, inasmuch as in every creature are found some things which are necessarily reduced to the divine Persons as to their cause. For every creature subsists in its own being, and has a form, whereby it is determined to a species, and has relation to something else. Therefore as it is a created substance, it represents the cause and principle; and so in that manner it shows the Person of the Father, Who is the "principle from no principle." According as it has a form and species, it represents the Word as the form of the thing made by art is from the conception of the craftsman. According as it has relation of order, it represents the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as He is love, because the order of the effect to something else is from the will of the Creator. And therefore Augustine says (De Trin. vi 10) that the trace of the Trinity is found in every creature, according "as it is one individual," and according "as it is formed by a species," and according as it "has a certain relation of order." And to these also are reduced those three, "number," "weight," and "measure," mentioned in the Book of Wisdom (9:21). For "measure" refers to the substance of the thing limited by its principles, "number" refers to the species, "weight" refers to the order. And to these three are reduced the other three mentioned by Augustine (De Nat. Boni iii), "mode," "species," and "order," and also those he mentions (QQ. 83, qu. 18): "that which exists; whereby it is distinguished; whereby it agrees." For a thing exists by its substance, is distinct by its form, and agrees by its order. Other similar expressions may be easily reduced to the above.

Reply to Objection 1. The representation of the trace is to be referred to the appropriations: in which manner we are able to arrive at a knowledge of the trinity of the divine persons from creatures, as we have said (I:32:1.

Reply to Objection 2. A creature properly speaking is a thing self-subsisting; and in such are the three above-mentioned things to be found. Nor is it necessary that these three things should be found in all that exists in the creature; but only to a subsisting being is the trace ascribed in regard to those three things.

Reply to Objection 3. The processions of the persons are also in some way the cause and type of creation; as appears from the above (Article 6).

Article 8. Whether creation is mingled with works of nature and art?

Objection 1. It would seem that creation is mingled in works of nature and art. For in every operation of nature and art some form is produced. But it is not produced from anything, since matter has no part in it. Therefore it is produced from nothing; and thus in every operation of nature and art there is creation.

Objection 2. Further, the effect is not more powerful than its cause. But in natural things the only agent is the accidental form, which is an active or a passive form. Therefore the substantial form is not produced by the operation of nature; and therefore it must be produced by creation.

Objection 3. Further, in nature like begets like. But some things are found generated in nature by a thing unlike to them; as is evident in animals generated through putrefaction. Therefore the form of these is not from nature, but by creation; and the same reason applies to other things.

Objection 4. Further, what is not created, is not a creature. If therefore in nature's productions there were not creation, it would follow that nature's productions are not creatures; which is heretical.

On the contrary, Augustine (Super Gen. v, 6,14,15) distinguishes the work of propagation, which is a work of nature, from the work of creation.

I answer that, The doubt on this subject arises from the forms which, some said, do not come into existence by the action of nature, but previously exist in matter; for they asserted that forms are latent. This arose from ignorance concerning matter, and from not knowing how to distinguish between potentiality and act. For because forms pre-exist in matter, "in potentiality," they asserted that they pre-exist "simply." Others, however, said that the forms were given or caused by a separate agent by way of creation; and accordingly, that to each operation of nature is joined creation. But this opinion arose from ignorance concerning form. For they failed to consider that the form of the natural body is not subsisting, but is that by which a thing is. And therefore, since to be made and to be created belong properly to a subsisting thing alone, as shown above (Article 4), it does not belong to forms to be made or to be created, but to be "concreated." What, indeed, is properly made by the natural agent is the "composite," which is made from matter.

Hence in the works of nature creation does not enter, but is presupposed to the work of nature.

Reply to Objection 1. Forms begin to be actual when the composite things are made, not as though they were made "directly," but only "indirectly."

Reply to Objection 2. The active qualities in nature act by virtue of substantial forms: and therefore the natural agent not only produces its like according to quality, but according to species.

Reply to Objection 3. For the generation of imperfect animals, a universal agent suffices, and this is to be found in the celestial power to which they are assimilated, not in species, but according to a kind of analogy. Nor is it necessary to say that their forms are created by a separate agent. However, for the generation of perfect animals the universal agent does not suffice, but a proper agent is required, in the shape of a univocal generator.

Reply to Objection 4. The operation of nature takes place only on the presupposition of created principles; and thus the products of nature are called creatures.

The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ


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