Negating something in creation

When I make something, I impart some pattern conceived in advance to something existing substantially. The ink and the paper (or their equivalents) are already there and I just give them a new accidental arrangement; the ingredients are already on the counter and I just put them closer to each other and heat them up.

In divine creation, we keep this sense of the pattern or idea being in God but we need to negate the substantiality of things. We understand the procession of the divine idea to things, but we can’t also forget about the procession of substantiality. It is not enough to posit an intentional pre-existence of things in God: this is mere design or divine tinkering. We need to posit a physical pre-existence of things in God.

I’m not sure what I’m saying here. But this isn’t a crazy line of analysis in the Thomist tradition. It seems to be the standard way of, for example, viewing eternity in relation to things since John of St. Thomas.


  1. raquinas said,

    October 26, 2013 at 10:22 am


    I am very interested in this topic. Could you point me to work(s) of JST or others after him where this issue (eternity in relating to creation and the pre-existence of the physical (not just the formal) in God?

    • October 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      See Cursus Theologicus, q. X esp. articles 2 and 3. There is a thesis from a Laval Thomist on this too avilable at scribd too and in the old Laval journals, “Measure in the Eternity of God and Created Durations” on page 2 here.

      Dekoninck wrote an unpublished (and even unsigned) essay on this called “The One” that I read a few years ago and have since lost track of. I looked through the whole archive trying to find it again.

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