After last week’s exhaustion, today something really simple and unobjectionable. Whatever God made did not have to have always existed. I don’t see anybody objecting to this, and accordingly only have one small note. What’s that you say? What about questions of the eternity of the universe? Well, that’s next week! Stick around.
1 IT remains for us to prove from the foregoing that it is not necessary for created things to have been from eternity.
2 Because if it be necessary for the universe of creatures, or any particular creature whatsoever, to be, it must have this necessity either of itself or from another. But it cannot have it of itself. For it was proved above that every being must be from the first being. Now that which has being, not from itself, cannot possibly have necessity of being from itself: since what must necessarily be, cannot possibly not be; and consequently that which of itself has necessary being, has of itself the impossibility of not being; and therefore it follows that it is not a non-being; wherefore it is a being.
3 If, however, this necessity of a creature is from something else, it must be from a cause that is extrinsic; because whatever we may take that is within the creature, has being from another.
Now an extrinsic cause is either efficient or final. From the efficient cause, however, it follows that the effect is necessarily, when it is necessary for the agent to act: for it is through the agent’s action that the effect depends on the efficient cause. Accordingly if it is not necessary for the agent to act in order that the effect be produced, neither is it absolutely necessary for the effect to be.
Now God does not act of necessity in producing creatures, as we have proved above. Wherefore it is not absolutely necessary for the creature to be, as regards necessity dependent on the efficient cause.
Likewise neither is it necessary as regards the necessity that depends on the final cause. For things directed to an end do not derive necessity from the end, except in so far as without them the end either cannot be,–as preservation of life without food,–or cannot be so well,–as a journey without a horse.
Now the end of God’s will, from which things came into being, can be nothing else but His goodness, as we proved in the First Book. And this does not depend on creatures, neither as to its being,–since it is per se necessary being,–nor as to well-being,–since it is by itself good simply; all of which were proved above. Therefore it is not absolutely necessary for the creature to be: and consequently neither is it necessary to suppose that the creature has been always.
Notes Quick reminder that cause is four: formal, material, efficient, and final. A clay pot has material cause of clay, form of pot, efficient cause of the potter’s hands, and the goal of being a pot.
4 Again. That which proceeds from a will is not absolutely necessary, except perhaps when it is necessary for the will to will it. Now God, as proved above, brought things into being, not by a necessity of His nature, but by His will: nor does He necessarily will creatures to be, as we proved in the First Book. Therefore it is not absolutely necessary for the creature to be: and therefore neither is it necessary that it should have been always.
5 Moreover. It has been proved above that God does not act by an action that is outside Him, as though it went out from Him and terminated in a creature, like heating which goes out from fire and terminates in wood. But His will is His action; and things are in the way in which God wills them to be. Now it is not necessary that God will the creature always to have been; since neither is it necessary that God will a thing to be at all, as we proved in the First Book. Therefore it is not necessary that creatures should have been always.
6 Again. A thing does not proceed necessarily from a voluntary agent except by reason of something due. But God does not produce the creature by reason of any debt, if we consider the production of all creatures absolutely, as we have shown above. Therefore God does not necessarily produce the creature. Neither therefore is it necessary, because God is eternal, that He should have produced the creature from eternity.
7 Further. It has been proved that absolute necessity in created things results, not from a relation to a principle that is of itself necessary to be, namely God, but from a relation to other causes which are not of themselves necessary to be. Now the necessity resulting from a relation which is not of itself necessary to be, does not necessitate that something should have been always: for if something runs it follows that it is in motion, but it is not necessary for it to have been always in motion, because the running itself is not necessary. Therefore nothing necessitates that creatures should always have been.
This is enormously long, and I was tempted to cut some of the less important material, but decided to keep it all because the progression would be damaged too much by its removal. The main point of this, roughly, is that, given the “system” set up by God, some things must exist necessarily. Physicists are well advised to read this, for it proves an understanding of being and necessity is fundamentally important for their field. Stick to the end with paragraph 15, too, for wisdom about final causes.
1 Now though all things depend on God’s will as their first cause, which is not necessitated in operating except by the supposition of His purpose, nevertheless absolute necessity is not therefore excluded from things, so that we be obliged to assert that all things are contingent:–which some one might think to be the case, for the reason that they have arisen from their cause, not of absolute necessity: since in things a contingent effect is wont to be one that does not necessarily result from a cause. Because there are some created things which it is simply and absolutely necessary must be.
2 For it is simply and absolutely necessary that those things be in which there is no possibility of not being. Now some things are so brought by God into being, that there is in their nature a potentiality to non-being. This happens through their matter being in potentiality to another form. Wherefore those things, wherein either there is no matter, or, if there is, it has not the possibility of receiving another form, have not a potentiality to non-being. Hence it is simply and absolutely necessary for them to be.
3 If, however, it be said that things which are from nothing, so far as they are concerned, tend to nothing, and that in consequence there is in all creatures a potentiality to nonbeing:–it is clear that this does not follow. For created things are said to tend to nothing in the same sense as they are from nothing: and this is not otherwise than according to the power of the agent. Wherefore in created things there is not a potentiality to non-being: but there is in the Creator the power to give them being or to cease pouring forth being into them: since He works in producing things, not by a necessity of His nature, but by His will, as we have proved.
4 Again. Since created things come into being through the divine will, it follows that they are such as God willed them to be. Now the fact that God is said to have brought things into being by His will, and not of necessity, does not exclude His having willed certain things to be which are of necessity, and others which are contingently, so that there may be an ordinate diversity in things. Nothing, therefore, prevents certain things produced by the divine will being necessary.
5 Further. It belongs to God’s perfection that He bestowed His likeness on created things, except as regards those things with which created being is incompatible: since it belongs to a perfect agent to produce its like as far as possible. Now to be simply necessary is not incompatible with the notion of created being: for nothing prevents a thing being necessary which nevertheless has a cause of its necessity, for instance, the conclusions of demonstrations. Therefore nothing prevents a certain thing being so produced by God, that nevertheless it is simply necessary for it to be: in fact, this is a proof of the divine perfection.
Notes The key passages thus far (from 1) “there are some created things which it is simply and absolutely necessary must be” and (from 5) “nothing prevents a thing being necessary which nevertheless has a cause of its necessity”. And the example to the latter is lovely, “the conclusions of demonstrations”, which has in itself the proof of itself. Sweet.
6 Moreover. The further distant a thing is from that which is being of itself, namely God, the nearer is it to non-being. Wherefore the nearer a thing is to God, the further is it removed from non-being. Now things that already are, are near to non-being through having a potentiality to non-being. Consequently, those things which are nearest to God, and for that reason most remote from nonbeing, must be such that there is no potentiality to nonbeing in them, so that the order in things be complete: and the like are necessary absolutely. Therefore some created things have being necessarily.
7 Accordingly it must be observed that if the universe of created beings be considered as coming from their first principle, we find that they depend on the will, not on a necessity of their principle, except on a necessity of supposition, as already stated. If, however, they be considered in relation to their proximate principles, they are found to have absolute necessity. For nothing prevents certain principles being produced, not of necessity, and yet, these being supposed, such and such an effect follows of necessity: thus the death of this animal has absolute necessity from the very fact that it is composed of contraries, although it was not absolutely necessary for it to be composed of contraries. In like manner that such and such natures were produced by God, was voluntary: and yet, once they are so constituted, something results or happens that has absolute necessity.
8 In created things, however, necessity is to be taken in various ways in relation to various causes. For since a thing cannot be without its essential principles which are matter and form, that which belongs to a thing by reason of its essential principles must needs have absolute necessity in all things.
Notes Pay attention to this one (8).
9 Now from these principles, in so far as they are principles of being, a threefold absolute necessity is found in things.
First in relation to the being of the thing of which they are the principles. And since matter, as regards what it is, is being in potentiality; and since what can be, can also not be; in relation to their matter certain things are necessarily corruptible; for instance, an animal, through being composed of contraries, and fire, through its matter being susceptive of contraries. But form, as regards what it is, is act, and by it things exist actually. Wherefore from it there results necessity in some things.
This happens either because those things are forms without matter,–and thus there is no potentiality to non-being in them, but by their forms they are always in the act of being, as in the case of separate substances–or because their forms are so perfect as to equal the whole potentiality of their matter, wherefore there remains no potentiality to another form, nor, in consequence, to non-being, as in the case of heavenly bodies.
But in those things wherein the form does not fulfil the whole potentiality of matter, there still remains a potentiality to another form. Wherefore in them there is not necessity of being, but the act of being is, in them, the result of form overcoming matter, as in the case of the elements and things composed of them. Because the form of an element does not reach matter in its whole potentiality: for matter does not receive the form of one element, except by being subjected to the one of two contraries. While the form of a mixed body reaches matter as disposed by a determinate mode of mixture. Now there must be one same subject of contraries, and of all intermediaries resulting from the mixture of the extremes. Wherefore it is evident that all things which either have contraries, or are composed of contraries, are corruptible. And things which are not so, are everlasting: unless they be corrupted accidentally, as forms which are not subsistent, and have being through being in matter.
10 In another way there is absolute necessity in things from their essential principles, by relation to the parts of their matter or form, if it happens that in certain things these principles are not simple. For since the proper matter of man is a mixed body, with a certain temperament and endowed with organs, it is absolutely necessary that a man should have in himself each of the elements, humours, and principal organs. Likewise if man is a rational mortal animal, and this is the nature or form of a man, it is necessary for him to be both animal and rational.
Notes You have to be what you are, or you aren’t what you claim to be. (Humorous; vaguely.)
11 Thirdly, there is absolute necessity in things through the relations of their essential principles to the properties consequent upon their matter or form: thus it is necessary that a saw be hard, since it is of iron, and that a man be capable of learning.
12 But necessity of the agent may regard either the action itself, or the consequent effect. The former kind of necessity is like the necessity of an accident which it owes to the essential principles. For just as other accidents result from the necessity of essential principles, so does action from the necessity of the form whereby the agent actually is: since it acts so far as it is actual.
Yet this happens differently in the action which remains in the agent, such as to understand and to will, and in the action which passes into something else, such as to heat. For in the former kind of action, the form by which the agent becomes actual causes necessity in the action itself, since for its being nothing extrinsic is required as term of the action. Because when the sense is made actual by the sensible species, it is necessary for it to perceive, and in like manner, when the intellect is made actual by the intelligible species. But in the second kind of action, necessity of action results from the form, as regards the power to act: for if fire is hot, it is necessary that it have the power to heat, although it is not necessary that it heat, since it may be hindered by something extrinsic. Nor does it affect the point at issue, whether by its form one agent be sufficient alone for the action, or whether it be necessary to have an assemblage of many agents in order to do the one action; for instance many men to row a boat: since all are as one agent, who is made actual by their being united together in one action.
13 The necessity which results from an efficient or moving cause in the effect or thing moved, depends not only on the agent, but also on a condition of the thing moved and of the recipient of the agent’s action, which recipient either is nowise in potentiality to receive the effect of such an action,–as wool to be made into a saw,–or else its potentiality is hindered by contrary agents, or by contrary dispositions inherent to the movable, or by contrary forms, offering an obstacle that is stronger than the power of the agent in acting; thus iron is not melted by a feeble heat.
14 Hence, in order that the effect follow, it is necessary that there be in the patient potentiality to receive, and in the agent conquest of the patient, so that it be able to transform it to a contrary disposition. And if the effect, resulting in the patient through its conquest by the agent, be contrary to the natural disposition of the patient, there will be necessity of violence, as when a stone is thrown upwards.
But if it be not contrary to the natural disposition of the subject, there will be necessity not of violence, but of the natural order, as in the movement of the heavens, which results from an extrinsic active principle, and nevertheless is not contrary to the natural disposition of the movable subject, wherefore it is not a violent but a natural movement. It is the same in the alteration of lower bodies by the heavenly bodies: for there is a natural inclination in the lower bodies to receive the influence of the higher bodies. It is also thus in the generation of the elements: since the form to be introduced by generation is not contrary to primary matter, which is the subject of generation, although it is contrary to the form to be cast aside, because matter under a contrary form is not the subject of generation.
Accordingly it is clear from what we have said that the necessity resulting from an efficient cause depends, in some things, on the disposition of the agent alone, but in others on the disposition of both agent and patient. If then this disposition, by reason of which the effect follows of necessity, be absolutely necessary in both agent and patient, there will be absolute necessity in the efficient cause: as in those things which act necessarily and always. On the other hand, if it be not absolutely necessary but may be removed, no necessity will result from the efficient cause except on the supposition that both have the disposition required for action: as, for instance, in those things which are sometimes hindered in their operation either through defective power, or through the violence of a contrary: wherefore they do not act always and necessarily, but in the majority of cases.
15 From a final cause there results necessity in things in two ways. In one way, forasmuch as it is first in the intention of the agent. In this respect necessity results from the end in the same way as from the agent: since the agent acts in so far as it intends the end, both in natural and in voluntary actions. For in natural things, the intention of the end belongs to the agent according to the latter’s form, whereby the end is becoming to it: wherefore the natural thing must needs tend to the end according to the virtue of its form: thus a heavy body tends towards the centre according to the measure of its gravity. And in voluntary matters, the will inclines to act for the sake of an end forasmuch as it intends that end: although it is not always inclined to do this or that, which are on account of the end, as much as it desires the end, when the end can be obtained not by this or that alone, but in several ways.
16 In another way necessity results from the end according as this is posterior in being. This is not absolute but conditional necessity: thus we say that it will be necessary for a saw to be made of iron, if it is to do the work of a saw.
Notes Whew! It’s this last paragraph which wraps it all up and is one of the more important ones, especially for science. Here then is the chapter is brief: Saws are contingent, meaning they do not have to be, but the form of a saw is not contingent, and if a saw is to exist, it must necessarily have certain properties.
This is a lot of words, but they aren’t difficult; it reads quickly. I have cut out extra proofs, which can be had at the links. There’s also not much to say about this chapter, except at the end, mostly because I don’t think it will be controversial.
 AGAIN. From what has been said it may be shown that God in the creation of things did not work of necessity, as though He brought things into being as a debt of justice.
 For justice, according to the Philosopher (5 Ethic.), is towards another person to whom it renders his due. But nothing, to which anything may be due, is presupposed to the universal production of things. Therefore the universal production of things could not result from a debt of justice.
 Again. Since the act of justice is to render to each one that which is his own, the act by which a thing becomes one’s own precedes the act of justice, as appears in human affairs: for a man by working has a right to call his own that which, as an act of justice, is rendered to him by the person who pays him. Therefore the act whereby a person first acquires something of his own cannot be an act of justice. Now a created thing begins to have something of its own by creation. Therefore creation does not proceed from a debt of justice.
 Further. No one owes something to another except from the fact that in some way he depends on him or receives something either from him or from a third, on whose account he owes something to the other: for thus a son is a debtor to his father, because he receives being from him; a master to his servant, because he receives from him the service he requires; and every man is a debtor to his neighbour for God’s sake, from Whom we have received all good things. But God is dependent on no one, nor needs He to receive anything from another, as is manifestly clear from what has been said. Therefore it was not on account of a debt of justice that God brought things into being.
Notes Hence, at the very least, Honor your father and mother, love God, and love your neighbor.
 Moreover. In every genus that which is on account of itself precedes that which is on account of another. Consequently that which is simply first of all causes, is a cause on its own account only: whereas that which acts by reason of a debt of justice does not act on its own account only, for it acts on account of the thing to which the debt is due. Therefore God, since He is the first cause and the first agent, did not bring things into being from a debt of justice…
 Hereby is refuted the error of some who strive to prove that God cannot do save what He does, because He cannot do except what He ought to do. For He does not produce things from a debt of justice, as we have proved.
 Nevertheless, although nothing to which anything can be due precedes the universal creation of things, something uncreated precedes it, and this is the principle of creation. This may be considered in two ways. For the divine goodness precedes as the end and first motive of creation, according to Augustine, who says: Because God is good we exist. Also His knowledge and will precede, as by them things are brought into being.
 Accordingly if we consider the divine goodness absolutely, we find nothing due in the creation of things. For in one way a thing is said to be due to someone on account of another person being referred to him, in that it is his duty to refer to himself that which he has received from that person: thus it is due to a benefactor that he be thanked for his kindness, inasmuch as he who has received the kindness owes this to him. But this kind of due has no place in the creation of things: since there is nothing pre-existent to which it can be competent to owe anything to God, nor does any favour of His pre-exist. In another way something is said to be due to a thing in itself: since that which is required for a thing’s perfection is necessarily due to it: thus it is due to a man to have hands or strength, since without these he cannot be perfect. Now God’s goodness needs nothing outside Him for its perfection. Therefore the production of creatures is not due to Him by way of necessity…
 Moreover. It has been proved that God brings things into being neither by necessity of His nature, nor by necessity of His knowledge, nor by necessity of His will, nor by necessity of His justice. Therefore by no manner of necessity is it due to the divine goodness that things be brought into being…
 If, however, we consider the divine ordinance whereby God decided by His intellect and will to bring things into being, then the production of things proceeds from the necessity of the divine ordinance: for it is impossible that God should decide to do a certain thing which afterwards He did not, otherwise His decision would be either changeable or weak. It is therefore necessarily due to His ordinance that it be fulfilled. And yet this due is not enough for the notion of justice properly so called in the creation of things, wherein we can consider nothing but the action of God in creating: and there is no justice properly speaking between one same person and himself, as the Philosopher says (5 Ethic.). Therefore it cannot be said properly that God brought things into being from a debt of justice, for the reason that He ordained by His knowledge and will to produce them.
 If, however, we consider the production of a particular creature, it will be possible to find therein a debt of justice by comparing a subsequent creature to a preceding one. And I say preceding, not only in time but also in nature.
 Accordingly in those divine effects which were to be produced first, we find no due: but in the subsequent production we find a due, yet in a different order. For if those things that are first naturally, are also first in being, those which follow become due on account of those which precede: for given the causes, it is due that they should have actions whereby to produce their effects. On the other hand if those which are first naturally are subsequent in being, then those which are first become due on account of those which come afterwards; thus it is due that medicine precede in order that health may follow. And in either case there is this in common,–that what is due or necessary is claimed by that which is naturally first from that which is naturally subsequent.
 Now the necessity that arises from that which is subsequent in being, and yet is first by nature, is not absolute but conditional necessity: namely, if this must be done, then that must precede. Accordingly with regard to this necessity, a due is found in the production of creatures in three ways.
First, so that the conditional due is on the part of the whole universe of things in relation to each part thereof that is necessary for the perfection of the universe. For if God willed such a universe to be made, it was due that He should make the sun and moon, and suchlike things without which the universe cannot be.
(Notes Don’t get stuck on “sun and moon”. Thomas means the physical things that are without which no universe can be. This is a sort of anthropic argument.)
Secondly, so that the conditional due be in one creature in relation to another: for instance, if God willed the existence of plants and animals, it was due that He should make the heavenly bodies, whereby those things are preserved; and if He willed the existence of man, it behoved Him to make plants and animals and the like, which man needs for perfect existence: although God made both these and other things of His mere will.
Thirdly, so that the conditional due be in each creature in relation to its parts, properties, and accidents, on which the creature depends either for its being, or for some one of its perfections: thus, given that God willed to make man, it was due, on this supposition, that He should unite in him soul and body, and furnish him with senses and other like aids, both within and without. In all of which, if we consider the matter rightly, God is said to be a debtor not to the creature, but to the fulfilment of His purpose. There is also in the universe another kind of necessity whereby a thing is said to be necessary absolutely.
(Notes Analogy: If God wanted to make a triangle, and He first created two sides, He was bound to create the third. As Thomas says next. Remember cause has four components: formal, material, efficient, and final.)
This necessity depends on causes which precede in being, for instance on essential principles, and on efficient or moving causes. But this kind of necessity cannot find place in the first creation of things, as regards efficient causes. For there God alone was the efficient cause, since to create belongs to Him alone, as we have proved above; while in creating, He works not by a necessity of His nature, but by His will, as we have shown above; and those things which are done by the will cannot be necessitated, except only by the supposition of the end, on account of which supposition it is due to the end that those things should be whereby the end is obtained.
On the other hand, with regard to formal and material causes, nothing hinders us from finding absolute necessity even in the first creation of things. For from the very fact that certain bodies were composed of the elements, it was necessary for them to be hot or cold: and from the very fact that a superficies was drawn in the shape of a triangle, it was necessary that it should have three angles equal to two right angles. Now this necessity results from the relation of an effect to its material or formal cause. Wherefore on this account God cannot be said to be a debtor, but rather does the debt of necessity affect the creature.
But in the propagation of things, where the creature is already an efficient cause, an absolute necessity can arise from the created efficient cause: thus the lower bodies are necessarily influenced by the movement of the sun…
 FORASMUCH as it has been proved that the divine power is not limited to certain determined effects, and this because He acts not by a necessity of His nature, but by His intellect and will; lest some one perhaps should think that His intellect or knowledge can only reach to certain effects, and that consequently He acts by a necessity of His knowledge, although not by a necessity of His nature: it remains to be shown that His knowledge or intellect is not confined to any limits in its effects.
 For it was proved above that God comprehends all other things that can proceed from Him, by understanding His essence, in which all such things must necessarily exist by a kind of likeness, even as effects are virtually in their causes. If, then, the divine power is not confined to certain definite effects, as we have shown above, it is necessary to pronounce a like opinion on His intellect.
 Further. We have already proved the infinity of the divine intellect. Now, no matter how many finite things we add together, even though there were an infinite number of finite things, we cannot equal the infinite, for it infinitely exceeds the finite, however great.
Now it is clear that nothing outside God is infinite in its essence: since all else are by the very nature of their essence included under certain definite genera and species. Consequently, however many and however great divine effects be taken, it is always in the divine essence to exceed them: and so it can be the ratio of more. Wherefore the divine intellect, which knows the divine essence perfectly, as we have shown above, surpasses all finitude of effects. Therefore it is not necessarily confined to these or those effects.
Notes Not for the first time Aquinas gets his math right; and recall there are infinities and infinities, one larger than the next. Mathematicians have an idea of a final or largest infinity, and perhaps not uncoincidentally it is strikingly similar to Anselm’s ontological statement “we believe that thou art a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.”
 Again. It was shown above that the divine intellect knows an infinite number of things. Now God brings things into being by the knowledge of His intellect. Therefore the causality of the divine intellect is not confined to a finite number of effects.
Notes Numbering the hairs on your head, or all the quarks in the universe is nothing for God, because these are all finite in number, and anything finite is infinitely far from infinity.
 Moreover. If the causality of the divine intellect were confined to certain effects, as though it produced them of necessity, this would be in reference to the things which it brings into being. But this is impossible; for it was shown above that God understands even those things that never are, nor shall be, nor have been. Therefore God does not work by necessity of His intellect or knowledge.
Notes God has choice, free will.
 Further. God’s knowledge is compared to things produced by Him, as the knowledge of the craftsman to his handiwork. Now every art extends to all the things that can be comprised under the genus subject to that art: thus the art of building extends to all houses. Now the genus subject to the divine art is being: since God by His intellect is the universal principle of being, as we have proved. Therefore the divine intellect extends its causality to whatever is not incompatible with the notion of being: for all such things, considered in themselves, are of a nature to be contained under being. Therefore the divine intellect is not confined to certain determined effects…
Notes Appropriate here to remind us that metaphysics is the subject of being, a subject about which science is necessarily silent.
 IT may also be proved from the foregoing that neither is His will, by which He works, necessitated to produce certain determinate effects.
 For it behoves the will to be proportionate to its object. Now the object of the intellect is a good understood, as stated above. Hence the will has a natural aptitude to extend to whatever the intellect can propose to it under the aspect of good. If, then, the divine intellect is not confined to certain effects, as we have shown, it follows that neither does the divine will produce certain determinate effects of necessity.
 Further. Nothing acting by will produces a thing without willing. Now it was proved above that God wills nothing other than Himself of absolute necessity. Therefore effects proceed from the divine will not of necessity but by its free ordinance.
Notes The same goes for us in N=nothing acting by will produces a thing without willing, of course.