How does God create “the act of existing” out of nothing?
I believe that such an act would violate the absolute distinction between something and nothing, and therefore I would say that it is metaphysically impossible; no more rational than saying the universe popped out of nothing.
That being said I agree with creatio ex nihilo if by that it is meant that God does not create from pre-existing physical materials. But I reject what I would call “the rabbit out of the hat interpretation” of creation. I would not think it logical for a magician to literally create a rabbit from nothing, and I don’t think that by replacing the word magician with the word God, makes it any-more rational to think it possible.
Maybe the phrase, ex nihilo, best expresses the absolute distinction between God and his creation. Creation is essentially created out of God’s power. Creation is nothing without that power because nothing in creation subsists in itself. All things depend on the continuing power of God to keep it in existence, including matter. However, if we think that we contain God’s being in us because we exist on account of his power, we would be falling into the error of pantheism.
Based on what I’ve been reading in Feser’s books Aquinas, prime matter is pure potentiality, and essentially nothing. It cannot exist in nature without a form. Any substance must have a form to actualize its potentiality.
Not sure if this fits in with what you are saying/agreeing with.
Yes it does, albeit a bit different than one might expect. Recall: “God is in everything.” Recall also that God is “infinite.” This means that no part of Him is displacable. He need only supply our senses with configurations of particles, lattices if you will, embed them in continuous space, essentially segregate such configurations from continuous space by our minds, thereby rendering them discrete, then adjusting our senses to sense them as individual things. Essentially: holograms, with infinitely more resolution than humans can muster.
Even so, only Catholics and other serious Christians and Jews and Muslims are required to believe that God created the universe in time out of absolutely nothing. This is a matter of faith, not of science or metaphysics, for neither has or will ever be able to prove that the universe had an absolute beginning in time. But this applies only to " an absolute beginning in time. " It does not apply to " creation ex nihil " per se.
For even if the universe of creatures has existed eternally, all that means is that God would have been eternally creating it ex nihil, including its " act of existing."
So you are perfectly free to reject the " an absolutely beginning in time " part as being a pure data of Faith, but you are not free to reject the " creation ex nihil, " part, including the " act of existing. " .
But if you agree that the universe of creatures exists, then you also have to agree that God brought all creatures into being whole and entire, including their " act of existing, " (which is the innermost actuality of all that they are.) ex nihil. ST Thomas’ Five Ways demonstrate that " creation ex nihil, including the act of existing of creatures " is demanded, if we agree that the universe of creatures and God are two entirely different realities.
Now some people may have trouble understanding how God could do this, creating something out of nothing, whether the universe is eternal or not. But isn’t equally mysterious that God Himself exists, how are either of these possible?
But we do know God exists, because if He didn’t, neither would the universe of creatures exist. But how God creates creatures ex nihil, including their " act of existence, " we don’t know, only God knows that. We only know that it must be so.
Not exactly true. God exists in all things, and innermostly, by His Substance, because He is present by His Substance wherever His Power is manifested ( Catholic Dogma ). However, He is not present as a part the substance of creatures, nor as their " act of existing. " He is present because it is His Power that keeps creatures in existence, that continually actuates their " act of existing. " Pantheism enters in only if we identify as one act, the " act of existing " of creatures and the " act of existing " of God. As long as we keep the two " acts " separate, we are O.K.
Then nothing exists but geometry and numbers? Fantastic, we live in a dream world then, nothings is real, we are not real! This idealism gone wild. No Christian, no reasonable person can agree to that.
Of course the significant difference between a magician and God is that a magician is a contingent thing and God is neither “contingent” nor a “thing” and so the parallel does not work. If God were only a contingent thing, then your parallel might work, but as it stands, it is a faulty parallel.
That is contrary to Catholic Doctrine. No Catholic, no one who believes in a Divine Revelation can hold that. It is also contrary to the truth of our natures, it means that God has lied to us. Is there anything in Scripture or in Catholic Doctrine that says God created a fantasy world? I’m very disappointed that you should take such jibberish seriously.
Every day I am more and more convinced that ordinary people should leave philosophy alone and stick simply to Divine Revelation.
Of course the Act of Existing which is God is not created. But the " act of existing " of creatures is created.
God does not give created beings His being - or a bit of it so as to say that they " share " in God’s own existence. That is Pantheism. It is also a violation of the Principle of Contradiction, for a thing cannot be and not be in the same respect at the same time. So if their being is God’s being, they are not real created beings, they are " One " with God. And that is Pantheism.
As Thomas says in S.T. 1, 45, 4 " God is the cause of created substances, which includes existence. And to be created, means also to be absolutely other than God, even in their " act of existence. "
Again, in 45, 5 he states, " Among all effects the most universal is existence itself…"
and further on he says, " Now God’s proper effect is that which is presupposed to any other, namely existence tout court ( simply ). "
And again in S.C.G., Book 1, ch 26 Thomas says: "… Chapter 26
THAT GOD IS NOT THE FORMAL BEING OF ALL THINGS
 We are now able to refute the error of certain persons who said that God is nothing other than the formal being of each thing.
 This being is divided into the being of substance and the being of accident. Now, we have proved that the divine being is neither the being of substance nor that of accident. God, therefore, cannot be that being by which each thing formally is…" dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles1.htm#26
Or again, in 1 Sentences, Distinction 37, Ques 1, Thomas says : " Solution: I answer that it should be said that God is essentially in all things, not nonetheless so that he is mixed together with things as if he were a part of any thing…" www4.desales.edu/~philtheo/lo…ntd37q1a1.html
So when Thomas says created beings " share " in existence, he means they share in the common note or perfection of existence God has given to each created extent. They are said to " share " or " participate, " not because they share in God’s own Existence, but becuase they each have a limited or imperfect existence, which is the same type of " act " that each other created being has been given, but differing in its perfection, as determined by the limiting potency of their respective forms.
Now since they each have the same perfection, differing only in perfection, none can have caused that perfection. It can only be caused by that Being who is Perfect Existence. But this applies to their entire substances and all that goes into the make up of their substances, includling matter, form, and existence, their whole and entire being. They " share " nothing with God. But they do have a real Realation with God, as effects which are caused by Him.
That is contrary to Catholic Doctrine. " 327 The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms that God "from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body."187 ( CCC ).
Well actually your rebuttal does not work because you haven’t shown me why adding the word eternal to the mix should make it anymore logical. Why am i suppose to think that it is now possible merely because words like eternal and God are thrown about? Like i said, merely replacing the word magician with God still does not make any rational sense of the idea of creating an act of existing from nothing.