Sunday, 29 April 2012

Question 67 – The Work of Differentiation in Itself

Why this Question Matters.

“And God said, ‘let there be light’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”

The work of the first day of creation involves the creation of light and the separation of light from darkness; in doing this, day and night come to be. But what is this light? Is the creation account here simply a pre-scientific account of the coming to be of photons? Is this an account of the coming to be of only the material world or are there spiritual aspects involved as well? If we recall from the previous question that it was commonly taken that the first four things to be created were the angelic nature, the empyrean heaven, unformed corporeal matter and time, how is light connected with these?

When we read the opening words of Genesis, we must be aware of the different meanings associated with light throughout the scriptures; one might at least turn to the Gospel of John, for example. Amongst the Church Fathers, the majority position was that the account of creation given here is an account of the creation of the material world. But St Augustine interpreted the account in a different way; as the creation of the spiritual natures. In this question, as it leads up to its conclusion in the final article, Aquinas gives equal account to these different approaches, without judging between them.

The Thread of the Argument

A1: If we recognize that the light referred to in the creation account of Genesis may mean more than simply material light, then the question that Aquinas addresses in the first article will seem apposite; can light properly be said to exist in spiritual things?

Aquinas recalls that in our use of language a term may have a primary meaning that is expanded in actual use. So a word such as “vision” primarily refers to an act of the sense of sight but has secondary usages that go way beyond this primary usage. Not only do we extend the use of the word to other senses (“see how hot this iron is”) but even to intellectual vision (“I see what you mean”) and to the beatific vision (“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God”). This analysis applies to the term “light”; its primary meaning attaches to the illumination that facilitates the sense of sight, but its extended meanings apply to whatever provides the illumination for any type of knowing.

So, if “light” is taken in its primary meaning, applying it to spiritual creatures is a metaphor rather than a proper usage; but if we take it in its extended meaning, then it is properly applied to spiritual creatures.

A2: If we now restrict our attention to light considered in its primary meaning as that which facilitates the sense of sight, determining the nature of light is still a fascinating and enduring question. In an amusing parallel to the modern debates over the wave versus particulate nature of light, the objections and the sed contra of this article observe that in some ways light acts like a material body but in other ways it does not.

Aquinas argues that it is quite wrong to think of light as a body; and for this he gives three arguments. In the first place, material bodies occupy space and it is impossible for two material bodies to be superposed, whereas light can be superposed. Secondly, according to the physical understanding of the day, illumination occurs instantaneously and therefore light cannot be the translation of a material body. Finally, if air were a material body, a composite of matter and form, then we would have to think of the passing from light into darkness in terms of the corruption of the body of light into another substance. Why ever would light corrupt simply because of the absence of a source of light?

A3: If light is not a body in the sense of being a material substance, then what is it? Aquinas turns to the Aristotelian understanding of the modes of being laid out in the Categories and argues that light is a quality, one of the accidental categories of being. He makes the analogy between heat and light, observing that heat is a quality derived from the substantial form of fire; it is an accident that follows on necessarily from the being of fire. Likewise light is a quality that follows on from the substantial form of the sun (or from any other self-illuminating body).

In arriving at this conclusion, Aquinas considers and rejects a number of alternative explanations. Light cannot have a merely intentional being (that is, existing only in the mind), as intentional beings cannot cause physical changes in the way that light does. Light is not the substantial form of the sun, as substantial forms cannot be directly perceived in the way that light can be; nor could light then exist in air, as substantial forms make whatever they inform to be what they are.

A4: The first three articles have concluded that we may properly associate light with spiritual creatures, provided that we take the term light in its extended sense, and that if we restrict it to its primary meaning then we must consider light as a quality rather than as a body. However, when we turn to the text of scripture, this position would appear to imply some serious difficulties. If light is a quality, then it is an accident which has to be an accident inhering in some substance; but what is that substance? Scripture has not spoken of it. Similarly, a consideration of the next few days of creation suggests that placing the creation of physical light on the first day is incoherent. For example, light distinguishes day from night; but this is associated with the sun which is not created until the fourth day. Similarly, night and day would appear to be inextricably associated with the firmament, which was made on the second day. Even if one takes light as referring to the creation of spiritual creatures, there is still a problem: in the beginning there was no spiritual darkness to be separated from the light as all the spiritual creatures were created good.

In his answer, Aquinas alludes both to the singular approach of St Augustine to the book of Genesis, in which the opening verses are taken to refer to the creation of spiritual beings, as well as to the majority opinion in which these verses are taken as referring to the creation of the material world. In Augustine’s approach when scripture says that “God created heaven and earth”, this means that God created the spiritual creatures (heaven) and the material creatures (earth). The production of light on the first day then corresponds to the production of the spiritual light that illuminates the minds of the spiritual creatures. The fourth objection is answered by observing that Augustine does not take this sequence of events described in Genesis as a temporal sequence. All the events of the fall of the bad angels take place in the (temporal) instant of creation; the sequence of the narrative represents the ontological priority of the events and not any temporal priority.

To others of the Church Fathers, the account of Genesis omits description of the creation of spiritual creatures for a number of reasons. For them, the account of Genesis is an account of the creation of the material world. In that account, Aquinas argues that the creation of light is appropriate to the first day for two reasons. On the one hand, light is a quality that inheres in all bodies; in particular it must inhere in the primeval matter that comes to be in the first instant of creation. On the other hand, light is what makes manifest the work of creation and therefore it is fitting that such light be present at the beginning of creation.

In answering the first three objections that relate to the creation account as the creation of the material universe, Aquinas takes the position that the unformed matter created on the first day is not unformed in the technical hylomorphic sense. Rather it is created informed by primeval substantial forms that will be replaced by other, more organized, forms later in the days of creation. Therefore it is perfectly consistent to say that the light of creation is a quality of this primeval matter. Similarly, the light of creation can be taken to be the light of the pre-formed sun; the illumination from this is an illumination in a general sense rather than in the specific ways that the actual sun provides. Likewise, one may associate night and day in a specific way with the motion of the firmament but one can also associate it in a general way with the primeval forms that will later become the firmament.

Handy Concepts

  • Words have primary meanings and extended meanings. The word light in its primary meaning can only be applied metaphorically to spiritual creatures; but in its extended meaning it can be properly applied to them.
  • Aquinas, guided by the scientific understanding of the day, concludes that light is not a body but is a quality; the latter being one of the accidental categories of being.
  • Light was created on the first day as light inheres in all created bodies, including the primeval matter of the first day. Also it was fitting that light was present so early in creation in order to manifest the work of creation.
  • The association of light with various forms that were created later in the six days is anticipated by its association with the primeval matter of the first day.


  • The arguments of the second and third articles appear to fall apart in the light of modern physics. However, these two articles are really only used as preliminary lemmas leading up to the main result of this question in the fourth article. It would not appear too difficult to reconstruct the conclusion of the fourth article in the light of modern scientific understanding.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Question 66 - The Ordering of Creation to Diversification

Why this Question Matters.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void…” The opening words of the book of Genesis relate the very first instants of the creation of the universe. But what was created in that first instant that would be ordered by God into the diverse parts of the universe? This is a question of perennial interest to theist and atheist alike, although the former would probably not turn to a commentary by Aquinas on the words of scripture to find the answer! Aquinas’s commitment to hylomorphism means that he will not admit the initial creation to be of something entirely formless, in the technical sense; a striking parallel with modern physical theories in which real matter with form exists from the first instant of creation. Aquinas has more to comment upon than physics though; he considers the traditional Christian understanding of all that came to be in the first instants of creation.  

The Thread of the Argument  

A1: The opening words of the book of Genesis portray God creating heaven and earth. We are told that “the earth was void and empty” (according to the Vulgate) or “the earth was without form and void” (RSV). This passage has always been taken as meaning that that matter was initially created in some sort of formless state and we see God giving form to creation over the next few days of creation. However, when we say that the earth was formless, should this be understood in terms of the hylomorphic composition of form and prime matter? In other words, did God first create prime matter and subsequently give it the form that we know? This is obviously troubling from a metaphysical point of view, but after all in the Eucharist God can hold accidents in being without an underlying subject. (Aquinas will discuss this much later in the summa at IIIa.q77.a1). Why then cannot He create prime matter and hold it in being with no form?

Aquinas’s concern in this article is not only to give an exegesis of the sacred text but also to engage with the differing opinions of the Church Fathers over this passage. Hence this question takes a form slightly unusual in the summa of having two points sed contra instead of the usual one; the range of opinions on this matter is to be given full expression. Likewise, although Aquinas presents a scriptural exegesis consistent with the accounts of the Church Fathers he makes no attempt to adjudicate between answers that are consistent with the sacred text; rather he simply rules out the impossible.

The formless creation of matter can be taken in many ways. Aquinas identifies Augustine as claiming that prime matter was created without form but only in the sense of ontological priority rather than temporal priority. In other words, Augustine does not claim that prime matter existed without form for some time before being in-formed but only that the order of nature is such that prime matter is in some sense prior to the imposition of form. Another position that Aquinas identifies as that of the ancient Greek naturalists was that the first thing created was some sort of proto-element that was later formed into what we see around us now. The problem with this position is that it would reduce all substantial change down to being accidental change. The imposition of a later form would only change the underlying element in a certain way, in contrast to the way a substantial form makes prime matter to exist outright as a being. Aquinas identifies other Church Fathers as taking formlessness in an informal way; that is, as not having attained its final form as described later in the creation account. He goes on to give an exegesis of the scriptural text that shows the way in which the initially created earth lacked its future perfections. Hence Augustine’s position is partly consistent with the other Fathers. (Aquinas will return to this theme in Ia.q69.a1 and Ia.q74.a2).

As Aquinas observes, the parallel with the existence of accidents in the Eucharist is a poor one. As an accident is a form and therefore a kind of actuality, holding them to exist without an underlying subject is exceptional, but does not involve a contradiction. On the other hand, prime matter is pure potentiality without any actuality. Claiming that prime matter can exist without any form is simply a contradiction; God’s power does not extend to the logically impossible.

 A2: So far, when we’ve talked about prime matter we’ve assumed that there is only one type of prime matter. However, medieval science identified the celestial bodies (such as the sun and the planets) as not being convertible with earthly bodies. Indeed, earthly bodies were considered to be combinations of the four elements fire, earth, air and water whereas the celestial bodies were considered to be made out of a fifth element or quintessence; the stuff of celestial bodies could not be transformed into earthly matter or vice versa. Therefore it seems quite reasonable to posit different types of prime matter underlying earthly and celestial bodies.

Surprisingly to the modern mind, Aquinas opts to support the idea that there are two different types of prime matter. In coming to his conclusion he follows Aristotle in identifying that celestial bodies are incorruptible whereas earthly bodies are corruptible. This conclusion is claimed to follow from the empirical observation that the natural movements (i.e. not externally imposed movements) of the celestial bodies involve no contrariety (i.e. movements that oppose each other) whereas those of earthly bodies do. As contrariety and corruptibility are intimately connected, the conclusion follows. Now, if we remember that prime matter is in potentiality to everything that it can be then we will realize that positing only one type of prime matter is going to be troublesome. If prime matter is formed into something incorruptible, then it can never corrupt and become something corruptible; therefore prime matter informed to be incorruptible is not in potentiality to be corruptible things, which is a contradiction. Therefore corruptible and incorruptible things must be formed out of their own respective types of prime matter.

 Aquinas considers and rejects two alternatives: that incorruptible things are in fact in potentiality to corruptible things by reason of the possession of a superior form that contains lesser forms in a virtual fashion that are not actualized; and that the celestial bodies are the matter of heaven informed by a separated substance (such as an angel).  

A3: The fourth article will recall the common teaching that the first four things to be created were the angelic nature, the empyrean heaven, unformed corporeal matter and time. As the angels have already received a lengthy treatment in the summa and the creation of matter has been discussed in the first article, it remains to discuss the empyrean heaven (this article) and time (the next article).

In medieval times the universe was thought of in a way much different to how we consider it to be structured now. Earth was placed physically at the centre of the universe, although one must remember that this central physical position was not considered to make it the most important part of the universe. Medieval people saw themselves as minor players placed in a minor part of the cosmos looking out towards the more important celestial and heavenly places. Amongst these celestial places were the sidereal heaven which was believed to contain the fixed stars and the aqueous heaven which was considered to contain the waters above the firmament. Beyond these was the empyrean heaven, which was considered to be the heaven beyond the fixed stars. Among certain authoritative authors, the empyrean heaven was considered to be the place of the blessed.

When was the empyrean heaven created? As there is only a little scriptural data that might be interpreted as applying to the empyrean heaven, and its interpretation is open to argument, much of this article is taken up in discussing these arguments. However, Aquinas’s solution is disarmingly simple. The state of glory is twofold, spiritual and corporeal; we know that spiritual glory first occurred at the beginning of the world with the choice of the good angels. It seems a fitting symmetry that there also be corporeal glory from the beginning too. If the empyrean heaven is the place of the blessed, then it must then have existed from the beginning of creation.  

A4: Asking when time was created involves some rather crass circularity; but still, we can ask whether time was co-created with the matter of the universe. Indeed, in view of modern cosmological theories, it seem eminently reasonable to assert that matter together with time and space (the latter two being seen as aspects of some underlying unified space-time) were co-created.

We’ve seen (in Ia.q10) that Aquinas takes time as being the measure of change; without some subject changing there can be no time and without time there can be no intelligibility to the notion of change. Aquinas considers time to be something that exists, but only in the sense that the now that we are currently experiencing exists; the past no longer exists, the future is yet to be. So asking about the origin of time is to ask about when we consider that now started to be in the universe.

Aquinas reiterates the traditional teaching that time was co-created with the angelic nature, the empyrean heaven and corporeal matter, adopting this as his own position. The coming to be of the universe involves the coming to be of changing things; there is no initial period of complete stasis. He refers to Augustine’s teaching that the first things to be created were simply angelic nature and unformed matter, omitting time from the list. The explanation of this position is that one can argue that the notion of time is derivative upon that of change and that, even if they must co-exist, one should take the changing subject as ontologically prior to the time that measures change.  

Handy Concepts

  • For a lucid and beautiful description of the way that medieval people thought of the structure of the universe, refer to The Discarded Image by C.S. Lewis. 
  • Although the exegesis of the opening verses of Genesis are amenable to alternative explanations amongst the Fathers of the Church, one can rule out the idea that God initially created prime matter as existing in itself prior to giving the universe final form. 
  • Aquinas argues that because the celestial bodies are incorruptible and earthly bodies corruptible, convertibility is not possible between them and therefore they must be made from different types of prime matter. 
  • The celestial bodies are incorruptible because their natural motions contain no contrariety. Corruptibility of a body requires there to be the possibility of contrary natural motions that tend to oppose one another leading to the corruption of the body. 
  • The empyrean heaven, the place of the blessed beyond the sphere of the fixed stars, was co-created with the angelic nature, unformed corporeal matter and time. 
  • One might identify an ontological amongst the first things to be created, but this priority cannot extend to a priority in time. 


  • In coming to the conclusion, in the second article, that there are two types of prime matter, Aquinas bases his reasoning on the science of his age. In our modern understanding of the cosmos we identify that celestial bodies are made of the same sort of stuff as earthly bodies and thus the argument given by Aquinas collapses. However, leaving the issues of contingent empirical fact aside, it seems a bit surprising that Aquinas does not attempt to meet some of the obvious metaphysical arguments against his position and that the objections stated in the article are a bit insipid.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Question 65 - The Creation of the Material Universe


Aquinas has already talked about creation in Ia.q44-q49. Here he returns to the subject but in the context of a commentary on the creation account contained in the opening pages of the book of Genesis. Such a commentary on the six days of creation, the latter usually designated as the hexaemeron, can be identified as a particular genre of biblical commentary. Aquinas was well aware of the patristic and medieval tradition of writing on the hexaemeron that preceded him, and his account follows the patterns of those who went before him. It’s quite noticeable that although Aquinas frames his account in the context of the philosophical controversies of the time between Neoplatonic and Aristotelian schools, the writing in this section of the summa is much more sharply focused on biblical and patristic exegesis that the sections around it.

One of the things that makes this section of the summa difficult for modern readers to assimilate is that is presupposes knowledge of much medieval science and cosmology. Since the modern scientific revolution has created a world view that is quite different from the medieval world view, it can be difficult to appreciate the force of what is being discussed because it appears obscured by outmoded thought. However, it is worth the effort, and not just for historians of thought, to persevere in the study of this commentary!

Why this Question Matters.

This first question in Aquinas’s treatment of the hexaemeron revisits some old material in new contexts; little that is covered here is not an immediate corollary of earlier teaching. Aquinas’s main concerns appear to be to start his commentary on the creation account in Genesis by looking at some of the most influential mistaken accounts of creation and of the relationship between God and His creatures. Aquinas’s theology is thoroughly rooted in biblical exegesis and he is able to dispose of some mistakes by simply dismissing them as inconsistent with scripture; others require enquiry into the metaphysical background behind the scriptural account.

The Thread of the Argument

A1: Aquinas asks whether material creatures come from God. For anyone who’s been paying attention so far, this must seem like a very odd question. We’ve already seen how God is the first efficient cause of the being of all things and we’ve had a whole “Treatise on Creation” in Ia.q.44-49. Aquinas’s concern here seems to be to set the stage for his account of the hexaemeron but also to explicitly deal with the ancient and tenacious heresy of dualism. There were (and are) many forms of expression of the dualistic heresy; but they all basically boil down to the belief that there are two opposing principles, good and evil, in reality. This is sometimes expressed as a belief in an evil creator God (or demiurge) and a good but distant transcendent God. Aquinas probably has the Manichaeans in sight here; and one must always recall that the young St Augustine was a Manichaean.

If the dualists are right then the creation of the material world is down to the demiurge; as the objections point out, scripture appears to talk of material things in term of corruption and of evil whereas all that (the transcendent) God creates is good.

In answer, Aquinas returns to his philosophy of being; existence is shared by all things that have being and there must be some common first efficient cause of this existence. Therefore one cannot divide off material creation from everything else as having its being from some other cause. God creates everything that has being and holds it in existence.

If one thinks about material things in terms of their corruptibility or of their being sources of evil, then one must remember that all things are good insofar as they exist and that their evils amount to privations of the goods that they are in potentiality to be. Material things do come into and go out of existence, but underlying them is the permanence of prime matter; substantial forms may come and go but prime matter endures underlying these changes.

A2: As with the subject of the first article, asking whether all material creatures were made in order to manifest God’s glory might seem to be going over old material. Indeed it is; but here the focus is on Origen’s teaching that the creation of material creatures was a punishment for the evil choices of spiritual creatures. This is a subject that was raised in Ia.q47.a2 in the context of the diversity of material things; here the context is God’s justice in creating things unequal. The context is set by the third objection: justice would seem to require that God must create every material thing equal unless there was some prior inequality that would justify unequal material creation. The only possible source of such inequality would be the free-will choices of spiritual creatures. Therefore we can conclude that God created material creatures as a result of justice applied to the free-will choices of spiritual creatures who had been created before the material; but not in order to manifest God’s goodness.

Aquinas replies by returning to the theme introduced in Ia.q47.a2. Creatures make up the universe in the way that parts make up a whole and there is an inherent teleology and ordering in the way it is all put together. Each part has its own function; less important parts function for the benefit of more important parts; individual parts function for the benefit of the whole; the whole created universe is ordered towards God; and rational creatures have a special ordering towards God through their knowledge and love. There is inequality amongst material creatures simply because that inequality is required for the orderly functioning of the whole; God’s goodness and mercy are prior to His justice. God’s goodness is what all things are ordered towards as parts of this whole. In his reply to the third objection, Aquinas points out a parallel with a builder making a house: all the parts of the house are ordered towards the end of the house; there is no injustice in the fact that different parts of the house play different functions in the house.

In the body of his answer, Aquinas addresses Origen’s position directly with two arguments. The first argument is simply that Origen’s account cannot be made commensurable with the account of creation in scripture. The second argues that the extreme diversity amongst things in material creation surely cannot correspond to the diversity of erroneous free-will choices made by spiritual creatures.

A3: If we grant that God created all material creatures we can still ask whether He did this directly or through some intermediaries. In particular we can ask whether He created material reality with the angels as intermediaries; either instrumentally or through their own proper powers. The position in view here is that of Neoplatonist systems; in such systems creation spreads out from God as through a hierarchy. God creates the top level of the hierarchy, which in turn creates the next level and so on. With this sort of system in mind it is quite natural to enquire as to the role of the angels in the creation of the material world, as they lie high up in the hierarchy of creation.

We must, of course, note that Aquinas has already dealt with the more general case of creation as a whole in Ia.q45.a5 and this question might be seen as a special case of that one. Here he reiterates the earlier argument; secondary causes certainly act to bring about new states of affairs and new beings but they have to have some something already pre-existing to act upon. As creation considered here is creation ex nihilo, there simply is nothing for any secondary cause to act upon and therefore the act of creation must be attributed to God.

Even though Aquinas rejects a creative role for the angels, either through their own proper powers or acting as instruments of God, he will allow for the fact that they play a central role in the mediation of God’s providence (Ia.q103.a6).

A4: All material bodies are composites of matter and form. The idea of prime matter, some sort of universal substrate underlying all actualized matter, doesn’t seem too foreign to us; indeed some have identified the idea with that of the mass-energy of Einstein’s theory of relativity. But the idea of form is stranger; what are these forms and where do they come from? As angels are forms that subsist in themselves without any matter, is it possible that the forms of material bodies come from them in some way?

Aquinas runs through a brief history of some of the approaches taken to forms throughout history. Platonic and Neoplatonic thought considers forms to be subsistent entities that exist in some realm of their own. For example, in some realm of the forms there is the form of horse that is the formal cause of all real horses; above this, there is the form of animal which is the formal cause of all animals; above this, there is the form of life which is the formal cause of all living things, and so on culminating in the form of existence itself, arguably to be identified with God. In these systems, material bodies participate in the forms in order to be in-formed as what they are.

On the other hand, various Arabic thinkers who attempted to reconcile Neoplatonic thought with that of Aristotle, maintained that the forms of material things exist in some mind or minds; in particular in the minds of the angels. Finally some “modern heretics” (a reference to the Albigensians) maintained that God created all things which were then informed by the devil.

The mistake common to the systems that Aquinas has listed is that they assume a separate existence for material forms. He takes an Aristotelian point of view; in a material body form and matter are not two separate things that come together to make the body, rather they are two principles of the body that always co-exist. You can never find the form of a material body in isolation from its matter; you can never find uninformed prime matter. When something material is created it is created as a composite of matter and form and if it undergoes substantial change it does so by being acted on by an agent that educes a new form from the potentiality of the old composite. The correct way of thinking of the role played by spiritual substances such as angels is that they act as agents that can act on already created material bodies.

Handy Concepts

  • The later Dominican translation of the summa has many very helpful footnotes and appendices that explore the history and set the context for Aquinas’s treatment of the hexaemeron.
  • In following Aquinas’s commentary on the hexaemeron, it can be useful to have a copy of the text of scripture that Aquinas would have followed. This was the Latin Vulgate version of the bible; the Douay-Rheims English version is translated from the Vulgate.
  • God is the first efficient cause of all things and in particular of material creation. Dualistic notions of a creator God subsidiary to a distant transcendent God are incorrect.
  • All God’s creatures, including material things, were made to show forth the glory of God. Inequality amongst God’s creatures can be traced to the different roles that each thing plays in creation as a whole, rather than to any injustice in God.
  • Creation ex nihilo is God’s immediate work; no intermediaries are involved.
  • Material bodies are directly created by God as composites of matter and form. Matter and form are two principles of material things, not things with separate existences that are brought together.


  • In the second article Aquinas argues that the diversity in material creation cannot be accounted for by the diversity amongst erroneous free-will decisions made by spiritual creatures. He argues that the same error would lead to identical material beings. In the light of the modern understanding of cosmology, his choice of the sun as an example is unfortunate. Aquinas considered heavenly bodies to unique in their kinds, so there could only be one sun, for example. Our modern knowledge might be seen to weaken this argument in that there are many examples of replication in the universe; but equally it might be seen to strengthen it because we are aware of much more diversity in material creation.
  • In the fourth article Aquinas rejects the Platonic idea of forms and variations upon it. In particular he rejects the idea that material things participate in their forms, where these forms exist in some separate realm. However, it’s important to remember that he retained some of these ideas and terminology in his own metaphysics. In particular he considered that God is self-subsistent existence and that all other things that exist derive their existence in a secondary way from Him. In this sense, all existing created things participate in God’s existence. Similarly, although he rejects the idea that the forms of material things exist in the minds of the angels, Aquinas does teach that all created things pre-exist in God creative knowledge (Ia.q14.a8).