If God is completely actual, does that mean

…He is always creating?

This is related to a philosophical discussion I am having with an acquaintance on another forum.

So far, as I understand it, I’ve told him that God is the uncaused cause. He has completely no room for potential, and is completely and utterly actual.

Thus, since He is a Creator, one of His actualities is that in some way or another He is always creating. His reply:

**How does one not change mentally when creating? **Different things to think about and consider between creating a dog, and a fungus. Even if it’s just an image of ‘being there’, it requires an new image of something being there versus not having been there.

Emphasis is my own.

First question: Is there something wrong with my argument? Something seems odd about saying that God is constantly creating. Am I right to say this?

Second: The quote above (bolded part especially).

First question: Is there something wrong with my argument? Something seems odd about saying that God is constantly creating.

I’m replying to him in this way:

I honestly don’t know how it works. I think theologians and philosophers have been wracking their brains over this for millenia.

Myself being an amateur, I might well be wrong. But it seems to me that it must logically follow that if all things have a cause, there must, somewhere, be an uncaused cause. This uncaused cause, which we will call God, must have absolutely no potential to be changed, or else God would be caused by something else and would not be God. Therefore, God must be completely actual. He must therefore always be loving, and always be creating.

Am I right to say this?

I am not following exactly what is the point.
But I think I have been in God’s mind forever, since God was God.
Now, your friend is forgetting something: time and space are created by God.
God Himself does not live in time-space…

God is not merely a cause or a machine. He is a living being with intelligence, and cannot bel limited by a causal loop.

I don’t deny that. But my question is: Given that God is completely actual, and completely unchanging, is He constantly creating, however that might be defined?

If God was completely actual He would have no freedom. To have freedom means to have two (or more) potentialities from which to choose. To have potential is not to be totally actualised.

Who said God is free?

TA:

It is not necessary that God be constantly creating. He could be, but we have no way of either knowing that, or of backing into knowing it through logic. God creates through two activities of his Mind: his Thoughts and his Will, neither of which necessarily have to involve motion as our minds seem to. To say that he is changed as we seem to be, is to fail to understand infinite being. In all modes of change there are two inexorable requirements: first, that the being be composite, and second, that the being be imperfect. Why? Because, nothing can of itself change or move in any respect. (Remember, we are not talking about composite being here.)

"The activity whereby the system of nature is produced must be of a higher order that the activity of movement or change. The originating Cause of being cannot have the same limited type of activity as it gives to its products. Remember, their changeful mode of activity depends upon influence from without, but there is nothing which can change or move the First Cause, for no being other than that Cause exists on the plane of subsistent being. Nor could that cause move or change itself, for no being, whether finite or infinite, alone can cause limitation, change, or movement in itself. It follows that the activity of this Cause is not any form of change or movement. The causal activity superior to all change must therefore be ever present in, and identical with, the very nature of the First Cause. The causation of the universe must thus represent a permanent and changeless natural activity of God as distinct from a transient or departmental change of state.The first change in matter, as well as all subsequent changes, is therefore caused by a being which itself is changeless. Movement ultimately owes its origin to a Prime Mover.himself unchanged, whom we call God.

"Mutability is not an absolute perfection. On the contrary, the possibility of loss or gain denotes the absence of perfection. Change is the transitory stage of beings while they are actualizing or ceasing to actualize their capacities in conjunction with influences from their environment. Changeability spells incompleteness and dependence. Being as such does not necessarily involve change; indeed, change can only occur in composite being, which is limited and dependent.

"By definition, therefore, change cannot be absolute and can have no place in ultimate being. Infinity admits no variation. God the Primary Being is thus unique in his superiority to change.He has the perfection of which change implies the lack. In the activity of Deity “there is no change, nor shadow of vicissitude…” [SUP]2[/SUP]
[SUP]2[/SUP] James i 17.
The Teaching of the Catholic Church, Ch. III “The One God,” p. 97.
Whatever God is, he is changelessly. The meaning of Eternity shows that God as Subsistent Creator has never been other than he is. His free creative act is itself necessarily eternal. Infinite Being consists of no composite parts; it is complete in itself as one being. Understanding it any other way is anthropomorphizing it. It is the failure of your opponent to understand it without having to anthropomorphize it.

God bless,
jd

I agree with all of this. I doubt none of it.

But I think what I mean when I say He is constantly creating is he is constantly creating He doesn’t rest. He does not stop creating. If He were to stop creating, He would have the potential to stop, no? And therefore He would not be God, since God has no further potential.

Therefore, if God is completely actual, He is constant. If He is constant and also a Creator, He is constantly a Creator. What do Creators do? They “create”, whatever this means in the context of God. Therefore, God is constantly creating.

I think…:confused:

Although I do believe you are correct: my friend is trying to think of God in finite, human terms, which simply will not do.

Of course God is free. See Scotus or Ockham. A human being has some degree of freedom. God is greater than that, and therefore has more freedom.

Who said that God is completely actual? (yes, I know Aquinas) It seems like a dud idea. Freedom is better than actuality. What is so good about being fully actual??

Aquinas said that God is completely actual and he got this idea from Aristotle.
Aristotle actually had a decent philosophical argument why God (the Prime Mover) had to be actual and hee correctly concluded that an actual Prime Mover is a deist God. It’s not that Aristotle did not like the idea of a theist God (I have no idea what he liked or not), it is that, starting from the argument that leads to a Purely Actual Prime Mover, a deist God is the only logical possibility.

True Aristotelean Thomists should be deists. If they are not, they simply do not understand the nature of Aristotle’s arguments.

TA:

Yes, but, God does not necessarily have to “create” as in creating new worlds, or new universes. God’s creative tendency also has to do with what we call sustaining. In sustaining, God is continually expanding the s-gaps. He is continually reconfiguring the entire space-framework. All finite things must keep their proper flows, i.e., growth, local motion, coming-to-be, expansion of creatures, expansion of the universe in its totality, the recycling of expired creatures, etc., etc.

He doesn’t get “new” ideas then act on them like creatures embedded in time do. Creation may be the continuous release of an eternal algorithm.

God bless,
jd

Hello, Belorg:

Good point. However God does not have to be absolutely Deist. (See my preceding post.) The first motion of an Infinite Prime Mover does not have to end, i.e., reach a finality, as ours do. A Prime Mover’s primary motion would be more akin to a perpetual movement, in my opinion. I think this is what St. Thomas is saying.

Deist activity is an anthropomorphism. We humans strike a billiard ball, stop, and the billiard ball keeps rolling seemingly by itself (only to be ultimately stopped by the friction of the billiard table and the air). This is Deism; and that’s why it is wrong.

God bless,
jd

It’s not that the first motion of the Prime Mover does not have to end, it is that the first motion of a Prime Mover cannot possibly end

Deist activity is an anthropomorphism. We humans strike a billiard ball, stop, and the billiard ball keeps rolling seemingly by itself (only to be ultimately stopped by the friction of the billiard table and the air). This is Deism; and that’s why it is wrong.

God bless,
jd

And the Prime Mover keeps pushing the billiard ball for eternity. Sure, but in practice, there is no significant difference between this Prime Mover and a deist PM. The idea is that, with an ‘antropomorph’ Diest God, the ball would rool on forever once pushed, and in the Thomist variaty, the PM cannot stop pushing, but th end result is the same: every motion in both cases is unalterable from eternity.

BTW, the idea that motion requires some sort of sustainer is one of those things that Aristotle was completely wrong about. It is demonstrably false. I reality a billiard ball, once in motion, will never stop unless an outside force stops it.

Because then God would have the freedom to contradict goodness. God cannot be completely all-good and all-loving if He has the freedom to be evil and malicious.

Also, it would contradict a very important point: where would the universe have come from? Aquinas’s “uncaused cause” must be a completely unpotential and actual Being - that is, the Prime Mover must be Being Itself.

starting from the argument that leads to a Purely Actual Prime Mover, a deist God is the only logical possibility.

It’s not that the first motion of the Prime Mover does not have to end, it is that the first motion of a Prime Mover cannot possibly end

What makes you say that it has to end for another action to begin? If this actual Being exists outside of Time, God does not necessarily need to “stop” in order to “do something else”.

I await JDaniel’s answer to this.

Well, I never assumed that. I would think the expansion of the universe would be outlet enough. :expressionless:

God’s creative tendency also has to do with what we call sustaining. In sustaining, God is continually expanding the s-gaps. He is continually reconfiguring the entire space-framework. All finite things must keep their proper flows, i.e., growth, local motion, coming-to-be, expansion of creatures, expansion of the universe in its totality, the recycling of expired creatures, etc., etc.

Fascinating idea. Sort of like being a metaphysical maintenance man? I like it.

Erm… how do you logically deduce God does such a thing and doesn’t create new worlds or universes?

He doesn’t get “new” ideas then act on them like creatures embedded in time do. Creation may be the continuous release of an eternal algorithm.

God bless,
jd

Does this have anything to do with the law of entropy? :confused:

I have AFAIK never claimed that God has to stop in order to do something else.
All I am claimng is that God cannot possibly stop whatever He is doing.The reason for this is very simple: to stop doing something is a change, and God is supposed to be changeless.

Actually, yes, you are making this case. You claim God must be the God of Deism - one that is always moving along a straight line of action, never interacting with His creation in any way that might be construed as Christian (or the kind found in any other religion).

However, who are you to say that God cannot interact with humans, make the Milky Way galaxy, expand the Universe, and judge the living and the dead all “at the same time”?

It’s difficult to understand how God can do so many things all at once and translate those into time and space. But God is not bound by time nor space. Only things with potentiality are.

Therefore, it’s perfectly possible He could have been creating the Universe while He was talking to Adam and Eve while He was guiding Moses through the desert while He was dying on the Cross while He was taking flesh in the hands of that preacher in Lanciano. It’s just very difficult, if not impossible, to envision how such simultaneous actions could happen.

Belorg:

I don’t find that to be an absolute necessity of the logic. Although, since God’s activity is His thought and His will - and I’m sure He does not sleep - I don’t see any reason why what you say should not be so.

And the Prime Mover keeps pushing the billiard ball for eternity. Sure, but in practice, there is no significant difference between this Prime Mover and a deist PM. The idea is that, with an ‘antropomorph’ Diest God, the ball would roll on forever once pushed, and in the Thomist variaty, the PM cannot stop pushing, but th end result is the same: every motion in both cases is unalterable from eternity.

There is no doubt of a similarity between the two. In my opinion, the Deist theology is that God sets everything in motion, then it all remains in motion while He never gives it a second look, or a nudge. The Theist insists that, in remaining coterminous with His creation, God can, and does, influence it if and when He wishes.

BTW, the idea that motion requires some sort of sustainer is one of those things that Aristotle was completely wrong about. It is demonstrably false. I reality a billiard ball, once in motion, will never stop unless an outside force stops it.

The billiard ball notion is an analogy, and a poor one at that. That is not the sort of motion Aquinas and Aristotle had in mind. The kind of motion they had in mind was a series of motion. But instead of the series being esseentially non-subordinated, as in a billiard ball striking another billiard ball, then, another, then another, until all of the balls rather swiftly come to rest, they were talking about an essentially subordinated series, a series that does not shortly come to rest but continues ad infinitum. The only way such a series can come to full stop, is if God were to annihilate it. An example would be biological matter. Biological matter never comes to complete rest. As a creature passes away, its matter is converted, used and passed on by other creatures, in a never ending series. Upon the universe’s achievement of absolute entropy, that series may, finally, come to an end.

So, you see, Aquinas and Aristotle were patently correct! Your statement that “a billiard ball, once set in motion, never stops,” is non-demonstrable, at least in this universe. There nowhere exists a place where nothing else exists but your billiard ball. There’s the quantum foam, and there are fields, such a gravity. There is no place where pure Newtonian motion can be demonstrated, although, if there were, it could be. But, that would be a place where absolutely nothing else exists except the billiard ball.

God bless,
jd

TA:

Interesting, isn’t it?

Fascinating idea. Sort of like being a metaphysical maintenance man? I like it.

If you don’t mind, I may borrow that phrase.

Erm… how do you logically deduce God does such a thing and doesn’t create new worlds or universes?

I don’t. There is no reason why ours must be the only universe. The problem boils down to “Man.” From all aspects of it, it seems as though the Earth and Man are extraordinarily special. I may be wrong, but nowhere that I know of in Revelation, are we informed of any other similar situation. I think we can be sure that if life exists on other worlds, they are so distant from us, and one another, that we’ll probably never know these postulated neighbors.

Does this have anything to do with the law of entropy? :confused:

Entropy is an area of mist. We are told, in Revelation, that ultimately we will be re-united with our bodies and exist again in an Eden-like realm. For this reason we are enjoined by our Church to be good stewards of both, our bodies and our Earth. They may not be precisely replicated, but, they will be close enough to duplication that we will instantly recognize our own souls and the realm of Earth, which may be lifted up out of the lower level it currently resides in. This is my speculation based upon my not-too-in-depth-reading of these things.

God bless,
jd

Belorg:

Excellent observation, my man! To stop what He is doing is identical with annihilation. The Church believes that God will not annihilate anything He has brought into being.

God bless,
jd

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.