Excerpts from

The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma

by Dr. Ludwig Ott

  1. Book 2: God the Creator
    1. Section 1: The Divine Act of Creation
      1. Chapter 1: The Beginning or the Creation of the World
        1. The Reality of the Divine Creation of the World
          1. The Dogma and the Heretical Counter-Propositions
            1. All that exists outside God was, in its whole substance, produced out of nothing by God. (De fide.)
            2. In philosophical and theological parlance, by Creation is understood: the production of a thing out of nothing … that is, before the act of Creation, neither the thing as such, nor any material substratum, from which it was produced, existed.
            3. The creation of the world out of nothing, according to general Jewish and Christian conviction, is directly expressed in Genesis, “In the beginning God created Heaven and earth.” It must be noted that in this basic text no substratum of creation (materia ex qua) is named. “In the beginning,” without a more detailed definition, means the absolute beginning, that is, that point in time, before which there was nothing side by side with God, and in which the things external to God began to exist. “Heaven and Earth” is the whole universe, that is, all extra-Divine things, the world. The verb bara (= create) can, indeed, also mean produce in the wider sense, but it is used almost exclusively of the Divine Activity; apart from Genesis 1:26-27 [the creation of man], it is never associated with the presence of a material, out of which God produces something.
            4. "And God saith, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that is creeping on the earth.’ And God prepareth the man in His image; in the image of God He prepared him, a male and a female He prepared them." (Genesis 1:26-27)
          2. The Divine World-Idea
            1. The world is the work of the Divine Wisdom. (Sent. certa.)
            2. In opposition to Christian doctrine, materialists propounded the “Accident Theory,” according to which the present world has developed purely mechanically out of a material eternally existing.
            3. Holy Writ teaches that God has made all in wisdom.
            4. “Thou hast made all things in wisdom.” (Psalm 103:24)
            5. "Wisdom stood at His side as a counsellor at the creation of the world." (Proverbs 8:27),
            6. "Thus the created world is the realisation of Divine Ideas." (Genesis 1:26).
            7. The entire universe is the fulfillment of a Divine Plan.
          3. Motive and Purpose of the Creation of the World
            1. Motive for Creation
              1. God was moved by His Goodness to create the world. (De fide.)
              2. The motive which moved God to creation … is, as the Provincial Synod of Cologne declared in 1860, the love of His Absolute Goodness …. This moved Him to reflect His Perfections in other beings by finite images.
              3. According to the testimony of Holy Writ the motive of the Divine Act of Creation lies in God Himself:
              4. “The Lord hath made all things for himself” (Prov. 16:4).
              5. The Fathers testify that God did not create the world because He needed it, but in order to “pour out His benefits” Origen teaches “In the beginning when God created what He wanted to create, i.e., rational creatures, He had no other cause for it but Himself, i.e., His goodness”. Augustine says, “We are because He is good”… St. Thomas teaches: “God does not act for His own profit, but only for His own Goodness.”
            2. Purpose of Creation
              1. The world was created for the Glorification of God. (De fide.)
              2. The objective purpose of creation, i.e. the purpose intrinsic in the work of creation, is primarily the revelation of the Divine Perfections, and the glorification of God which flow from this.
              3. “The heavens show forth the glory of God.” Psa;ms 18:2:
              4. And by me a decree is made, that any people, nation, and language, that doth speak erroneously concerning the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, pieces he is made, and its house is made a dunghill, because that there is no other god who is able thus to deliver.’ Then the king hath caused Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, to prosper in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:58)
              5. Let them all praise the LORD’S name, for his name alone is exalted, majestic above earth and heaven. (Psalms 148:13)
              6. A distinction is made between objective glory (gloria objectiva) and formal glory (gloria formalis). The glorification of God which is made by creatures is called external glory (gloria externa). The former is given to God by all creatures without exception, by their mere existence, in so far as they mirror the Divine Perfections. The latter is rendered to Him with knowledge and with will by rational creatures.
              7. According to the teaching of Holy Scripture,
              8. God is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Final Purpose of all things. (Revalation 1:8)
              9. “I am the Alpha and the Omega : (i.e. the Beginning and the End) saith the Lord God. (Romans 11:36)”
              10. “For of Him, and by Him, and in Him, are all things, to Him be glory for ever.” (Hebrews 2:10)
              11. “For Whom are all things and by Whom are all things.” (Proverbs 16:4)
              12. According to Tertullian, God produced the world out of nothing “as an adornment of His glory” (Apology 17).
            3. A secondary purpose of the creation of the world is the bestowal of good on creatures, especially creatures endowed with reason.
              1. The Vatican Council teaches that God created the world “for the Revelation of His Perfection” (primary purpose) “through the good things which He communicates to creatures” (secondary purpose).
              2. Holy Writ stresses that the created world should serve mankind, but does not regard the happiness of mankind as an end in itself, but as an end subordinated to the glorification of God.
              3. The two aims of creation are inseparably connected with each other, for the glory given to God by creatures who know and love Him, constitutes at the same time the bliss of the rational creature.
          4. The Trinity and Creation
            1. The Three Divine Persons are one single, common Principle of the Creation. (De fide.)
            2. The work of Creation exhibits a certain similarity with the proprietates of the First Person (God the Father). Thus creation is usually referred to the Father by “appropriation.” In Holy Writ the work of Redemption is sometimes attributed to the Father, sometimes to the Son.
            3. Holy Writ stresses the communal character of the operation of the Father and of the Son and founds this on their community of Nature. In relation to Creation God is called a Single Principle, not two or three principles.
            4. Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also. For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed. John 5:19-20)
            5. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? the sayings that I speak to you, from myself I speak not, and the Father who is abiding in me, Himself doth the works; 11believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and if not, because of the works themselves, believe me.
            6. Since the time of St. Augustine the general teaching of theologians is that creatures unendowed with reason are a “Trace of the Trinity” (Vestigium Trinitatis), those gifted with reason are an “Image of the Trinity” (imago Trinitatis) and those endowed with saving grace a “Likeness (similitudo) of the Trinity.”
          5. Freedom of the Divine Act of Creation
            1. God created the world free from exterior compulsion and inner necessity. (De fide.)
            2. The Vatican Council declared that God “with a will free from all necessity” executed the act of Creation The Vatican definition refers primarily to “libertas contradictionis,” which asserts that God had the choice of creating or of not creating.
            3. Holy Script and tradition place the origin of the Creation in the free will of the Creator.
            4. “Whatsoever the Lord pleased He hath done, in heaven, in earth, in the sea and in all the deeps.” Psalms 134:6:
            5. “Because thou hast created all things, and for thy will they were and have been created.” Revelation 4:11:
            6. Libertas Specificationis
              1. “God was free to create this world or any other.” (Sent. certa.)
              2. In 1860 against [the claim that] God was obliged to create the best imaginable of all possible worlds. The world now existing does not possess the highest conceivable measure of perfections. Neither did God owe it to Himself to create the best world, because His perfections and happiness cannot be increased even by the best world. If one were to deny God’s freedom in the choice between this or that world one would limit His Omnipotence, which extends to all that is intrinsically possible.
            7. Lack of Libertas Contrarietatis
              1. God has created a good world. (De fide.)
              2. The Council of Florence declared: “there is no nature bad in itself, as all nature in so far as it is nature, is good: nullamque mali asserit esse naturam, quia omnis natura, in quantum natura est, bona est.”
              3. The biblical foundation is:
              4. “And God saw all the things He had made and they were very good.” Genesis. 1:31
              5. " God could not create a world that was morally bad, as by virtue of His absolute holiness He could not be the Originator of moral evil. (Ecclesiastes 39:21: 1Tomothy 4:4)
              6. Thus God does not possess the freedom of choice between good and evil.
          6. The Temporal Character of the World
            1. The world had a beginning in time. (De fide.)
            2. While pagan philosophy and modern materialism assume the eternity of the world and also of the world-material, the Church teaches that the world has not existed from all eternity, but began to be. The 4th Lateran and the Vatican Councils declared: in the beginning of time (God) founded out of nothing the double order of creatures, spiritual and corporal). In this the eternity of the world is clearly rejected.
            3. Holy Writ clearly testifies that the world once was not and that it began to be.
            4. “And now glorify thou me, O Father, with thyself, with the glory which I had before the world was with thee.” (John 17:5)
            5. “He chose us in Him (Christ) even before the foundation of the world.” (Eph. 1:4)
            6. “In the beginning, O Lord, thou foundest the earth.” (Ps. 101:26)
            7. The eternity of the world cannot be proved by philosophical arguments. As the existence of the world is due to a free act of God’s will, God does not necessarily will that it should always exist. The discoveries of modern atomic physics afford the possibility that in virtue of the disintegration process of the radio-active elements, the age of the earth, and thereby its temporal beginning, may positively be proved.
          7. The Incommunicability of the Creative Power
            1. The Creative Power as Potentia Incommunicata
              1. God alone created the World. (De fide.)
              2. The 4th Lateran Council teaches that the Triune God is “A Single Principle of all things”
              3. Holy Scripture rules out any other origin of the work of creation. A Demiurg ( Demi-God) cannot xist conjointly with Him.
              4. “I am the Lord that made all things, that alone stretch out heavens, that establish the earth”, And in another reading: “Who was with Me?” (Isaiah 44:24)
              5. “He that created all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4: )
              6. The Fathers rejected both the Gnostic teaching, according to which the world was formed through an intermediary being (demiurg) from the eternal material, and the Arian doctrine which contended that the world was created out of nothing by a Logos who was a creature.
            2. The Creative Power as Potentia Incommunicabilis
              1. No creature can, as Principal Cause, from its own power, create something out of nothing. (Sent. communis.)
              2. In contrast to this teaching, individual scholastic theologians expounded the viewpoint that God could equip a creature with the power to create so that it could, by its own power, produce things out of nothing, i.e. that parents, through a power of creation bestowed on them by God, produced the soul of the child out of nothing.
              3. The impossibility of a creature having the power of creation may be established speculatively by reason of the fact that the act of creation demands infinite power in order to overcome the infinite distance between non-being and being, while the power of every creature is finite.
              4. The intrinsic basis of the argument is the fact that every creative cause presupposes a substratum for its activity. Therefore it is impossible for a creature to co-operate as an instrumental cause in the production of a thing out of nothing.