The Metaphysics of Creation: Secondary Causality, Modern Science

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When it comes to God’s creation of and interaction with the universe, it has sometimes been suggested that Christian revelation tells us nothing about the world and its origins, restricting itself to questions of value and not to matters of fact.1 Thomas Aquinas, by contrast, argued that a false account of creation implies false opinions about God.2 Aquinas consistently held that there were a number of truths about the creation of the universe that are central to Christian revelation: first, the truth that the world causally depends on God for its existence and all of its operations. Given the way in which Aquinas conceives of this dependence, this first truth implies that the universe is guided by God’s intelligent ordering or providence. The second truth is that God created the world with no constraints of any kind, including the necessity of creating from pre-existing matter, the necessity of employing causal intermediaries, or a necessity imposed by his reasons (such that he was not free to do otherwise). The third is that the universe was created in time: that is, having a definite beginning in the finite past. Of these three central truths about creation, Aquinas held that only the third is a revealed truth strictly inaccessible to human philosophical discovery, whereas the first and second are truths for which we can give conclusive, independent philosophical demonstrations even though they are also taught by Scripture. Beginning with his theological motivations, I will explain Aquinas’s commitments in regard to God’s creation, the universe’s dependence upon God, and its beginning in time.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe New Cambridge Companion to Aquinas
EditorsEleonore Stump, Thomas Joseph White
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781009043595
ISBN (Print)9781316517222, 9781009044332
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameCambridge Companions to Philosophy


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