Saturday, May 9, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 40: More from Thomas Aquinas


In this post we further discuss Thomas Aquinas on creation, and on the simplicity of God.

With regard to (God as) First Principle, we looked at Part 1, Question 45 of the Summa: "The Mode Of Emanation Of Things From The First Principle" (i.e., creation). Specifically, in part 36 of the analysis, we looked at Aquinas's claim that to create is to make something from nothing. This came up within the context of researching whether or not Gumb (representing evil Freemasons) is performing an act of creation, and it was determined that if we go by Aquinas, Gumb is not creating. Confirmation for this conclusion is contained in Aquinas's Compendium of Theology , Part 1, number 69 (Regan translation): "In Creating Things, God Does Not Presuppose Matter":

"[G]od, in creating things, does not need pre-existing matter out of which to make things. For no efficient cause antecedently needs for its activity what its own activity produces."[a]

Gumb is using pre-existing pieces of skin to make his 'suit' of skin.

Then next in number 70, Aquinas says "Creating Belongs Only To God":

"It is also clear that it belongs only to God to be the creator. For creating belongs to the cause that does not presuppose another, more universal cause, as I have said. But this belongs only to God. Therefore, only he is the creator."[b]

We have also discussed Aquinas's principle of God's simplicity, in the Summa Part 1 Question 3, "Of The Simplicity Of God". We quoted at length from the seventh article of this question. We can obtain somewhat of a summary of Aquinas's concept of God's simplicity by, again, looking at the Compendium of Theology. From Part 1 number 9 (Regan):

"There needs to be something prior to anything composite, since components are by nature prior to the composite. Therefore, the first of all beings cannot be composite. We also see in the order of existing things that simple things are superior to composite things. For example, the elements are by nature prior to mixed material substances, and fire, which is the subtlest element, is prior to other elements. And heavenly bodies, which are constituted in greater simplicity because they are free of every contrariety, are prior to all the elements. Therefore, we conclude that the first of all beings is altogether simple."[c]

a. Thomas Aquinas. Compendium of Theology. Trans. with introduction Richard J. Regan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. p. 54.
b. Ibid., p. 54.
c. Ibid., p. 22.


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