Monday, January 01, 2007

Q65 A4: Whether the forms of bodies are from the angels?

No. Corporeal forms are not from the angels but from God because all contrary opinions seem to have a common error (they all, in fact, seek for a cause of forms as though the form were of itself brought into being) whereas, as Aristotle (Metaph. vii, text. 26,27,28), proves, what is, properly speaking, made, is the "composite."

Thus material forms come, not by emanation, but by motion.

We must not look for the cause of corporeal forms in any immaterial form, but in something that is composite, as this fire is generated by that fire. Corporeal forms, therefore, are caused, not as emanations from some immaterial form, but by matter being brought from potentiality into act by some composite agent.

But since the composite agent, which is a body, is moved by a created spiritual substance, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 4,5), it follows further that even corporeal forms are derived from spiritual substances, not emanating from them, but as the term of their movement. And, further still, the species of the angelic intellect, which are, as it were, the seminal types of corporeal forms, must be referred to God as the first cause.

But in the first production of corporeal creatures no transmutation from potentiality to act can have taken place, and accordingly, the corporeal forms that bodies had when first produced came immediately from God, whose bidding alone matter obeys, as its own proper cause.

According to the Platonists, the order of forms corresponds to the order of those separate substances; for example, that there is a single separate substance, which is horse and the cause of all horses, whilst above this is separate life, or "per se" life, as they term it, which is the cause of all life, and that above this again is that which they call being itself, which is the cause of all being.

Avicenna, however, and certain others, have maintained that the forms of corporeal things do not subsist "per se" in matter, but in the intellect only. Thus they say that from forms existing in the intellect of spiritual creatures (called "intelligences" by them, but "angels" by us) proceed all the forms of corporeal matter, as the form of his handiwork proceeds from the forms in the mind of the craftsman. This theory seems to be the same as that of certain heretics of modern times, who say that God indeed created all things, but that the devil formed corporeal matter, and differentiated it into species.

Q65 A3: Whether corporeal creatures were produced by God through the medium of the angels?

No. Corporeal creatures were produced immediately by God because in the act of coming into being the imperfect must be made before the perfect: and it is impossible that anything should be created, save by God alone.

No secondary cause can produce anything, unless there is presupposed in the thing produced something that is caused by a higher cause. But creation is the production of a thing in its entire substance, nothing being presupposed either uncreated or created. Hence it remains that nothing can create except God alone, Who is the first cause.

Therefore, in order to show that all bodies were created immediately by God, Moses said: "In the beginning God created heaven and earth."

Q65 A2: Whether corporeal things were made on account of God's goodness?

Yes. The Divine goodness is the end of all corporeal things because the entire universe, with all its parts, is ordained towards God as its end, inasmuch as it imitates, as it were, and shows forth the Divine goodness, to the glory of God.

Reasonable creatures, however, have in some special and higher manner God as their end, since they can attain to Him by their own operations, by knowing and loving Him.

Origen laid down [Peri Archon ii.] that corporeal creatures were not made according to God's original purpose, but in punishment of the sin of spiritual creatures. For he maintained that God in the beginning made spiritual creatures only, and all of equal nature; but that of these by the use of free-will some turned to God, and, according to the measure of their conversion, were given an higher or a lower rank, retaining their simplicity; while others turned from God, and became bound to different kinds of bodies according to the degree of their turning away.

But this position is erroneous. In the first place, because it is contrary to Scripture, which, after narrating the production of each kind of corporeal creatures, subjoins, "God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1), as if to say that everything was brought into being for the reason that it was good for it to be. But according to Origen's opinion, the corporeal creature was made, not because it was good that it should be, but that the evil in another might be punished.

Q65 A1: Whether corporeal creatures are from God?

Yes. There must be one principle of being from which all things in whatever way existing have their being, whether they are invisible and spiritual, or visible and corporeal because being is found to be common to all things, however otherwise different.

Q65: The work of creation of corporeal creatures

  1. Are corporeal creatures from God?
  2. Were they created on account of God's goodness?
  3. Were they created by God through the medium of the angels?
  4. Are the forms of bodies from the angels or immediately from God?