Summary Against Modern Thought: God Does Not Work Contrary To Nature

Summary Against Modern Thought: God Does Not Work Contrary To Nature

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More miracle prep work. Next week is the big week.


1 However, it seems that we should keep in mind that, though God at times does something apart from the order implanted in things, He does nothing contrary to nature.

2 In fact, since God is pure act, whereas all other things have some admixture of potency, God must be related to all else as a mover is to what is moved, and as the active is to what is in potency. Now, considering a thing that is in potency in the natural order to a certain agent, if some impression is made on it by that agent, this is not contrary to nature in an absolute sense, though it may be at times contrary to the particular form which is corrupted by this action. Thus, when fire is generated and air is corrupted by the fiery agent, natural generation and corruption take place. So, whatever is done by God in created things is not contrary to nature, even though it may seem to be opposed to the proper order of a particular nature.

3 Again, since God is the primary agent as we showed above, all things that come after Him are like instruments for Him. But instruments are made for the purpose of subserving the action of the principal agent, while being moved by him. Consequently, the matter and form of an instrument should be such that they are suitable for the action which the principal agent intends. This is why it is not contrary to the nature of an instrument for it to be moved by a principal agent, but, rather, is most fitting for it. Therefore, it is not contrary to nature when created things are moved in any way by God; indeed, they were so made that they might serve Him.

4 Besides, even among corporeal agents it may be observed that the motions that go on in lower bodies, as a result of the action of higher ones, are not violent or contrary to nature, though they may not seem to be in agreement with the natural motion which the lower body has in accord with the particular character of its form, For instance, we do not say that the tidal ebb and flow of the sea is a violent motion, because it results from the influence of a celestial body; even though the natural motion of water is only in one direction, toward the center. Therefore, it is much more impossible to say that whatever is done in any creature by God is violent or contrary to nature.

5 Moreover, the primary measure of the essence and nature of each thing is God; just as He is the first being, which is the cause of being in all things. Now, since a judgment concerning anything is based on its measure, what is natural for anything must be deemed what is in conformity with its measure. So, what is implanted by God in a thing will be natural to it. Therefore, even if something else is impressed on the same thing by God, that is not contrary to nature.

Notes This suggest we could find a way ourselves to turn water into wine, which of course we do, through a complicated chain of cause and event.

6 Furthermore, all creatures are related to God as art products are to an artist, as is clear from the foregoing. Consequently, the whole of nature is like an artifact of the divine artistic mind. But it is not contrary to the essential character of an artist if he should work in a different way on his product, even after he has given it its first form. Neither, then, is it against nature if God does something to natural things in a different way from that to which the course of nature is accustomed.

7 Hence, Augustine says: “God, the creator and founder of all natures, does nothing contrary to nature; for what the source of all measure, number and order in nature does, is natural to each thing” [Contra Faustum, XXVI, 3].


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