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Metaphysical Thoughts: Part 2, Chapter 10.
Concerning Creation.

    It has already been said that God has created the world. We shall only attempt here, therefore, to explain what is meant by the term creation, after which some opinions on the subject will be carefully examined. We will begin at the beginning.

What creation is.
    We say, therefore, that creation is an operation in which no causes except an efficient one concur. Or, a created object is one which presupposes for its existence nothing except God.

The ordinary definition is rejected.
    It should be noted
1. that we have here omitted those words which philosophers insert in their definition, viz., ex nihilo, as if nothing were some matter from which things are produced. Because they are accustomed to speak in this way, and to think always of something preceding the given objects, they are not able, in speaking of creation, to omit this particle ex. The same thing is true concerning matter. Because all bodies are seen in some position, and surrounded by other objects, when they are asked where matter is, they reply, that it is in some imaginary space. Therefore, it is clear that they do not consider nothing as a mere negation of all reality, but believe or imagine it to be a something real.

The term properly explained.
    2. It should be noted also, that I said in creation no causes concur except one efficient one. I might have said that creation negates or excludes all causes except this one. I did not choose to do this, however, lest I should be compelled to respond to those who ask whether God had no predetermined end in Himself for the sake of which He created the world. To make the definition clearer I added that the created object presupposes nothing except God. For, if God had predetermined some end it evidently was not independent of Him, for there is nothing apart from God by which His decrees are influenced or changed.

Accidents and modes were not created.
    3. It follows from this definition that accidents and modes were not created, for they presuppose some created substance beside God.

Time or duration did not exist before creation.
    4. Finally, it should be noted that before creation time or duration did not exist, nor can they even be imagined. For time is a measure of duration, or rather it is only a form of thought. Therefore, it not only presupposes the created world, but it depends especially upon human thought. Moreover, duration is limited by the existence of created objects, and hence began when the world began. I say limited by the existence of created objects for eternity alone relates to God as we have shown sufficiently above. Hence, duration presupposes that the world has been created or at least that it exists.

    It is evident that they who think duration and time existed before the world was created, are laboring under the same prejudice as they who conceive of space apart from matter. So much for the definition of creation.

The work of creating and preserving the world are the same.
    There is no need to repeat what is given in Axiom 10, Part 1. viz., that no more power is needed to create than to preserve the world. God's work in creating and preserving the world is the same.

    Having recalled this point, we proceed to inquire first, what is created and what uncreated, and second, whether what is created has existed from eternity.

What things are created.
    To the first inquiry we respond briefly, that everything has been created whose essence is clearly conceived even without existence, and yet is conceived per se; as e.g., matter of which we have a clear and a distinct concept when we conceive it under the attribute extension, whether we think that it exists or not.

How God's knowledge differs from on ours.
    But perhaps some one may say that we have clear and distinct knowledge even when the object does not exist, and yet attribute this knowledge to God. To this we reply that we do not say that God's knowledge is like ours, limited by nature, but is pure activity involving existence, as we have shown over and over. For we have shown that God's understanding and will cannot be distinguished from His power or from His essence which involves existence.

Nothing independent of God is co-eternal with Him.
    Since everything, the essence of which does not involve existence, has been created in its existing form and continually conserved by the power of God, we will not pause to refute the opinion of those who think that the world as chaos, or as matter devoid of form, is co-eternal with God, and so far independent of Him. Therefore we pass on to the second point, and ask whether what has been created could have existed from eternity.

What is meant by the expression from eternity.
    In order to understand the point just raised we must consider the expression from eternity. For we wish to signify by these words something different from the eternity of God. By this expression we now mean duration from the beginning of duration, or such a duration that although numbers were multiplied through thousands of years, and this product again by millions of millions, we would still be unable to express its magnitude.

The world cannot have existed from eternity.
    It is evident that such duration is impossible; for if the world could have begun at any fixed time then its duration were too short to satisfy these conditions. Therefore, the world cannot have endured from such a beginning to the present. But perhaps you say since God is omnipotent nothing is impossible, and He could have given to the world a duration than which no longer can be conceived. We reply that God, because He is omnipotent, would never have given such a duration to the world. For the very character of duration is that it can always be conceived as greater or less, as in the case of number. You may insist, however, that God has existed from eternity, and since He has perdured all this time there is a duration given, so great that no greater is conceivable. But in this way a duration composed of parts is attributed to God, which idea has been refuted sufficiently when we demonstrated that eternity, not duration, belongs to God. Would that men might remember this! For then they could easily extricate themselves from many arguments and absurdities, and would turn with the greatest delight to the blessed contemplation of God. Nevertheless we proceed to respond to the arguments of those who attempt to show the possibility of such an infinite duration from some fixed time in the past.

Because God is eternal, it does not follow that the things he has created have existed from eternity.
    In the first place it is said that the thing produced must be co-existent with its cause. And since God has existed from eternity the effects of His being ought to be eternal. This argument is supported by reference to the Son of God, who has existed with the Father from eternity. It is evident that they confuse eternity with duration, and only attribute to God a duration from eternity. This is shown, too, in the example cited. The same eternity which they attribute to the Son of God they think can be attributed to created objects. They imagine time and duration to have been instituted before the world began, and think of duration apart from created objects as some think of eternity as independent of God. That both opinions are wrong is now evident. So we respond that it is not true that God was able to communicate His eternity to the world. Neither was the Son of God created, but was eternal like the Father. When we say that the Father had begotten the Son from eternity we only mean that the Father has always shared His eternity with the Son.

If God acts from necessity he is not infinite in virtue.
    In the second place it is argued that when God acts from choice, He is not less powerful than when He acts from necessity. But if God acts from necessity, since He is infinite in virtue, He must have created the world from eternity. It is easy to reply to this argument if we consider its basis. For these same good men presume that they may hold conflicting ideas concerning a being of infinite virtue. They conceive of God, a being of infinite virtue, as acting both from necessity and from choice. But we deny that God, if He acts from necessity, is a being of infinite virtue. Which action is justified, indeed, and must of necessity be conceded even by those same men when we have shown that a perfect being must be free, and can only be conceived as unitary. Should they reply that it is possible to suppose that God acting from necessity is still infinite in His virtue, we would reply that we are not at liberty to suppose this, any more than we are at liberty to suppose a square circle in order to conclude that all lines drawn from the center to the circumference are not equal. And this, we repeat, is sufficiently proven from what has been said above. We have proven that there is no duration that may not be conceived as greater or less or even double as great. If God acts from free choice it may be created as greater or less. But if God acts from necessity this by no means follows. Under the latter supposition only those things which follow from His nature can be realized, not an infinite number of hypothetical results. Therefore, it may be argued in a few words: If God should create a duration so great that no greater could be given He necessarily diminishes His own power. And this is impossible for His essence and His power are one and the same thing. Therefore, etc., and further, if God acts from necessity, He must have created a duration, than which no greater can be conceived. But had God created such a duration He would not have been of infinite virtue. For we are always able to conceive of a duration greater than the one given. Therefore, if God acts from the necessity of His nature He is not of infinite virtue.

Whence we have a concept of a duration greater than any actually given.
    A point which may be a difficulty to some here presents itself, viz., that although the world has only been created some five thousand years, if our chronology is correct, we are nevertheless able to conceive of a much greater duration, and this notwithstanding we have said above that duration depends upon created objects. The difficulty will disappear if we remember that our ideas of duration arise not only as we contemplate created objects, but from reflection upon God's infinite power, in creating them. For we do not think of objects existing per se, but only through the infinite power of God. Vid. Prop. 12, Pt. 1. and Coroll.

    Finally lest we consume too much time with these futile arguments, but two things need to be kept in mind:

(1) The distinction between duration and eternity, and

(2) that the former without created objects, and the latter without God are non-intelligible. These things being kept in mind it is easy to answer all these arguments. So we need delay no longer upon this point.

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