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De Moor VIII:12: The Formal Cause of Creation, Part 3

Creation is also an Act of God so Free, that it was not necessary that God will to create: and so here obtains, not only the Liberty of Spontaneity, but also of Indifference and of Contradiction, if you attend to the Nature and Essential Attributes of God, abstracted from the determination of the Decree: which is not to be taken in such a way, as if God, after the likeness of men, who are indifferent concerning a certain thing, hesitates for a long time as one doubtful, and is in suspense as one uncertain concerning it, not knowing whether He should incline the one way or the other, until at last He finds a reason that persuaded Him to establish this rather than that. Far be such imperfect deliberation from the altogether perfect God! but, when we say that God created the World by an Act Indifferently Free, we only signify this, that God without injury to any essential Perfections was able not to create the World, and that the Creation of the World does nothing to augment the Perfection or Blessedness of God: although, having been led by an altogether wise reason, from all eternity He decree it, namely, so that He might gloriously manifest His Perfections; which, as He willed Freely, so He executed Most Freely. Of course, 1. whatever things outside of God, if they be, add nothing to the Infinity of divine Perfection; if they be not, they take nothing away: hence there is no connection between the Essence of God and the existence of things produced by Him. 2. Nor is this Liberty of Creation able to be denied, unless you deny at the same time the Independence of God, and His absolute and supreme Dominion and Power over all possible things. 3. Otherwise all Created Things ought also to be thought Necessary, and consequently Independent and Eternal, which is the implication. On the contrary, from the contingency, dependence, and temporary existence of all things except God, in § 4 we have proven the truth of Creation. 4. But if the contrary should obtain, either the World would not be distinct from God, or there would be multiple Gods: both are absurd and altogether false as demonstrated from those things that we proved in Chapter IV, § 23, 25. 5. If God with indifferent Freedom decreed the futurition of the World, then He was compelled by no necessity of nature, either His own or that of the creatures, to create the same. But that Indifferent Freedom of the Decrees was asserted in Chapter VI, § 7: compare what things I have observed there.

Baruch Spinoza

This is to be held against the Atheists and the Philosophers even of our time, among whom Spinoza leads the pack; in refuting whom it is all the less necessary that we spend much labor, since he verily proves nothing at all, although with the appearance of Mathematical Demonstrations he attempts to deceive the simpler, just as the Most Distinguished NIEUWENTYT has most clearly demonstrated throughout his entire treatise, which he called Fundamenta Certitudinis, written in Dutch. For example, Spinoza, who says that Eternal and Infinite Essence is able to be called God or Nature; he, I say, teaches that all things follow by necessity of God’s Nature, so that the Will of God he calls the asylum and refuge of Ignorance, and holds that all things were able to be produced by God in no other way. But, when against this fatal necessity it is objected to him, in what manner from the Idea of Extension such a diversity of Creatures could be shown à priori, which contrariwise bids us to ascend to the Motion most freely introduced to Matter by God, the first Mover? He responds, that Matter is incorrectly defined by Extension; but that it must necessarily be defined as an Attribute that expresses Eternal and infinite Essence or Existence. And thus he is wont to prove his positions, merely by contriving Definitions at will. Although the remaining things, with which he trifles, concerning the subsistence of all things in God, concerning the necessity of all things through the nature of God, etc., he appears to demonstrate with a great display, the whole demonstration at least is resolved ultimately in Definition VI, Part I of Ethics, wherein God is called absolutely infinite Being, that is, substance consisting of infinite attributes, each one of which expresses the eternal and infinite essence. On this Definition rests the whole mass of Spinozism, and he everywhere appeals to that as sufficiently demonstrated; at the same time, should you examine that Definition, it comes only to this: By God I understand absolutely infinite Being, etc.; and so that Definition, which in no way is demonstrated, merely represents to us what Spinoza himself understands concerning God, not what God is: but Spinoza’s Conception is not the norm and measure of truth for the peoples of the world.

It Is Objected, 1. that God, as consummately Good, is especially Communicative of His own. But the Response of our AUTHOR is sufficient to remove this difficulty, which you should see. That is, α. thus the Canon, which properly has regard to Creatures, is transferred to God. β. The Canon is Ethical, rather than Physical. γ. It has a relation to other things existing outside of us, and so it, related to God, supposes the Existence of other things through the divine Will. δ. And, if such a Communication of His own be necessary in God, it is able to be observed from eternity in the divine Persons among themselves and also in the Communication of the divine Essence made by one to the other, which is able to be judged as sufficient for confirming the truth of this Canon even in God’s case.

It Is Objected, 2. that Altogether Perfect Being ought to act in an altogether perfect manner; and so was obliged necessarily to create the World, and was not otherwise able to produce anything. I Respond: α. By Denying the Consequence; because to the altogether perfect manner of acting that agrees with the Altogether Perfect Being have regard Liberty and Independence also and especially, both which are removed by the assertion of the necessity of Creation; but at the same time true Deity is denied. β. From the assertion of the omnimodal necessity of all things through the Perfection of the divine work, either Sin is removed from the nature of things, or Sin is actually shown necessarily to follow even from the very Nature of God.

It could yet be Objected, 3. What is most conducive for illustrating the divine Glory, that God ought always to do: but the Creation τοῦ παντὸς, of all, is most conducive for this. I Respond: α. We read in Proverbs 16:4, that God actually acts in such a way that He proposes to Himself the illustration of His own Glory in all things as the end. β. We concede that, with the Will of working outwardly posited, God is obliged to act in a manner consistent with His own glory. γ. We deny that hence it is able to be inferred, that God necessarily works outwardly; because thus divine Glory is only manifested, but in no way does it receive a real increase, just as God’s Sufficiency and perfect Blessedness from eternity show, compared with the nullity and omnimodal neediness of creates, Acts 17:24, 25; Job 22:2, 3; 35:7; Isaiah 40:15, 22.

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

And so we acknowledge no Necessity of Creation unless Hypothetical, flowing from the altogether free determination of the divine Will, which, once made, it immutably follows. This assertion is urged against the Leibnizian patrons of the Best World,[1] lest they incline to much toward Spinozism, in ’t Examen van ’t Ontwerp van Tolerantie, part 9, pages 151, 152, 157, 163-170; compare ’s GRAVEZANDE’S[2]Introductionem ad Philosophiam, book I, chapter XXI, pages 119-131, third edition.

[1] Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716) was a German philosopher and mathematician. He was a proponent of a species of Cartesian Rationalism. Leibniz argues that, because the world was created by omniscient and omnipotent Deity, it must necessarily be the best of all possible worlds; if a better world were conceivable, God All-Wise would have created it. [2] Willem Jacob ’s Gravesande (1688-1742) was a Dutch lawyer and natural philosopher.

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