Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Aquinas on Abiogenesis (Spontaneous Generation)

Share/Bookmark From ST I.105.1 ad 1: Whether God can Move Matter Immediately to the Form.

Reply to Objection 1: An effect is assimilated to the active cause in two ways. First, according to the same species; as man is generated by man, and fire by fire. Secondly, by being virtually contained in the cause; as the form of the effect is virtually contained in its cause: thus animals produced by putrefaction, and plants, and minerals are like the sun and stars, by whose power they are produced. In this way the effect is like its active cause as regards all that over which the power of that cause extends. Now the power of God extends to both matter and form; as we have said above (14.2; 44.2); wherefore if a composite thing be produced, it is likened to God by way of a virtual inclusion; or it is likened to the composite generator by a likeness of species. Therefore just as the composite generator can move matter to a form by generating a composite thing like itself; so also can God. But no other form not existing in matter can do this; because the power of no other separate substance extends over matter. Hence angels and demons operate on visible matter; not by imprinting forms in matter, but by making use of corporeal seeds.

Ad primum ergo dicendum quod effectus aliquis invenitur assimilari causae agenti dupliciter. Uno modo, secundum eandem speciem; ut homo generatur ab homine, et ignis ab igne. Alio modo, secundum virtualem continentiam, prout scilicet forma effectus virtualiter continetur in causa, et sic animalia ex putrefactione generata, et plantae et corpora mineralia assimilantur soli et stellis, quorum virtute generantur. Sic igitur effectus causae agenti similatur secundum totum illud ad quod se extendit virtus agentis. Virtus autem Dei se extendit ad formam et materiam, ut supra habitum est. Unde compositum quod generatur, similatur Deo secundum virtualem continentiam, sicut similatur composito generanti per similitudinem speciei. Unde sicut compositum generans potest movere materiam ad formam generando compositum sibi simile, ita et Deus. Non autem aliqua alia forma non in materia existens, quia materia non continetur in virtute alterius substantiae separatae. Et ideo Daemones et Angeli operantur circa haec visibilia, non quidem imprimendo formas, sed adhibendo corporalia semina.

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