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De Moor VIII:23: The Time of Creation, Part 5b

But these Days ought not to be converted into a Single Moment.  At this point, mistakes are made in more than one way.  There are those that impiously, as our AUTHOR says, thinking that all things were made according to and through the Natural Laws of Motion, change the six Days of Moses into Months, Years, or much longer periods.  Where Descartes is not to be passed over altogether unmentioned, whom VRIESIUS mentions in his Exercitationibus Rationalibus XXIII, § 11-13, as one “who in the third and forth part of the Principles of his Philosophy discourses with such confidence concerning this world’s mechanical structure and also origin, that he was hardly able to do it with greater confidence, even if he had been present to the creator God in His counsels.  That alone does he leave to God in the formation of Heaven and Earth, namely, the division of Matter (concerning the origin of which he expends no pains) through motion introduced into particles, and the diversimodal motion of them through the preservation of the same quantity of motion.  Which few things appear to be sufficient for this, that from those, as causes, all effects that appear in this world arise according to the Laws of nature.  All the way to this point, that he does not think other principia of things, simpler, or easier to understand, or even more probable, are able to be conceived:”  Principiis Philosophiæ, part III, § 47.  Only the origin of that sort of World according to the Laws of Nature would require a much greater length of time than six days; as in a great many other things also the history of the Cartesian Creation is found to stand opposed to the Mosaic Creation, for example, in the pre-existence of fluid heavens for many ages before the formation of the Earth; in the present face of the Earth rising through various calamities, after the Earth had previously pertained to the number of Stars; while, nevertheless, Moses relates that the formation and embellishment of our Earth once preceded the Creation of the Heavenly stars.  In the meantime, it is to be acknowledged, that Descartes initially declares that he, for the better explanation of natural things, is merely going to narrate hypotheses, concerning which one may believe them not to be true.  But, that this was the crafty plan of Descartes, VRIESIUS observes, Exercitationibus Rationalibus XXIII, § 13, who was foreseeing clearly enough, that no one of sound mind was readily going to admit his hypothesis concerning the origin of the World as true.  Hence he first acknowledges, that he only mentions the fabricated hypotheses.  But thus, says VRIESIUS in the same place, after he has accustomed the mind of his reader by the more lengthy advance to his swirling ideas, those things, now made more familiar, were able to appear first less ridiculous to the reader; next, at least possible; then, not altogether improbable; finally, perfectly true; indeed, even such that they, unless we were willing to consider God as not consummately good and truthful, were to be received into the number of mathematical demonstrations; since he supposes the things that he wrote concerning the World to be able to be understood in hardly any other way than he had explained them, Principiis IV, Article CCVI:  compare also VAN MASTRICHT, Gangræna Novitatum Cartesianarum, posterior Section, chapter XIX, § 2-6, 13-16, pages 340-343, 347-350.  The Curators of the Leiden Academy proscribed on January 16, 1676, this assertion, that the World arose from certain principia as seeds:  on which occasion HEIDANUS[1] undertook to explain the opinion of Descartes concerning this matter, Consideratien, etc., pages 91-94.  The Cartesian plan of a swirling World is hissed away in Itinere per Mundum Caresii,[2] pages 213 and following, and also in the Refutatione subjoined to duplicis defensionis Systematis Mundi Cartesii, pages 78 and following.

Thomas Burnet

Thomas Burnet is also to be marked with a heavier censure, who in his Archaiologia Philosophica too confidently asserts, that the Mosaic History concerning the first Creation is a mere parable, accommodated to the rude capacities of the Jews, in the narrative of which Moses does not treat of Physics, but Ethics, who attempts to lead the Jewish people to the Worship of God, and to tear up the roots of Idolatry from their souls:  to which end he narrates at length the Creation of the Heavenly Luminaries for our use, lest the Sun, Moon, and the rest of the heavenly host be considered divine beings; with which same goal Moses devised, that in the space of six distinct Days the work of Creation was perfected and God rested on the seventh, so that He might direct the Israelites to the worship of the Sabbath.  While in his Telluris Theoria Sacra he imagines the rise of the first Earth from a dark and sublunary Chaos, but by the longest possible steps, indeed, through innumerable and indefinite ages after the coming of Matter into existence, thus after the creation of the order of the Angels, after the rise of the spheres of the fixed stars, and the birth of the planets from those, with the nets drawn together.  On these things, so that we might discharge them in a few words, we note:  1.  That if the history of the Six Days of Creation were parabolic, all Genesis, indeed, the whole Sacred History, could be converted into an allegory, and altogether nothing remain certain in the Sacred History.  2.  If Moses invented a history of Creation of this sort only for Ethical uses, he made sport, not only of the Israelites, but also of all posterity, neither was he a faithful servant in all God’s house, but a cunning imposter, contrary to Hebrews 3:5.  Thus all Sacred Scripture has deceived, which everywhere supposes and confirms the historical verity of the Mosaic narrative concerning Creation and the remaining things pertaining to the state of Integrity, all which Burnet maintains are to be considered as parabolic.  3.  God Himself (if one might speak so) thus officiously lied in Exodus 20:11, where in express words He acknowledges and confirms the verity of the History of the Mosaic Creation.  4.  With good reason does SPANHEIM, Elencho Controversiarum, opera, tome 3, column 1008, grant to Burnet that it is to be considered, whether concerning his hypotheses it should be said, that to devise such thing is not to admit those things that have been divinely revealed, because they exceed our capacity; and to wish to estimate that first and greatest of all the Works of the Omnipotent God, the Creation, by the measuring rod of our reason, and to measure immense things with our little human ruler, with the Author of Job so many times intervening, Job 15; 26; 28; 38; 39, and here and there Moses, David, the Prophets, John, and Paul:  compare MEYER, Oratione de Origine Universi, pages 75-81; WALCH’S Miscellanea Sacra, book I, Exercitation VI, § 7, pages 151-153; BUDDEUS’ Historiam ecclesiasticam Veteris Testamenti, period I, section I, § 2, tome I, pages 55b, 56; L. BOOM in Nederlandsche Bibliotheek, part 4, note II, Mengelst., § 3-10, pages 322-326.  Which, concerning the opinion of Leibniz about the first and second Creation, and against that, warns ANE DRYFHOUT[3] in Specimine de Providentia Dei Speciali; read there in chapter I, § 10, pages 68, 70, chapter II, § 2, page 77, § 5, pages 85-87.

On the other hand, there are those that convert the Mosaic Hexameron into One indivisible Moment, wherein the work of Creation was perfected, and thus they, no less than Burnet, have a necessity to pretend, that the Mosaic narrative was accommodated to our capacity contrary to the actual happening, or is to be considered as merely Allegorical.  Thus PHILO JUDÆUS, who in book I Allegoriarum Legis, page 41, thinks that to understand the Mosaic history of Creation literally, as if it happened in this way historically, is of rustic simplicity:  Εὔηθες πάνυ τὸ οἴεσθαι ἓξ ἡμέραις, ἢ καθόλου χρόνῳ κόσμον γεγονέναι, to think that the world was created in six days, or in time at all, is quite simple-minded.  The same opinion concerning the creation of all things in a Single Moment ἀχρόνως/instantaneously pleased various Fathers, as in favor of the same are cited CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, ORIGEN, ATHANSIUS, and AUGUSTINE; who are followed by Cajetan, Bodin,[4] and others:  as if Scripture by times of speaking separated those things that God did not separate by times of working:  see WALCH’S Miscellanea Sacra, book III, Exercitation II, chapter III, section II, § 4, page 553; and PETAVIUS, Dogmatibus Theologicis, tome 3, book 1, de Opificio Sex Dierum, chapter V.  In favor of this opinion against Moses SCULTETUS, in his Medulla Patrum, page 1316, also cites HILARY:  but whether this is able to be taken out of the words of HILARY on Psalm 118 or 119, letter י, chapter VI, opera, column 299, and book XII de Trinitate, chapter XL, column 1133, there is reason to doubt.  We set in opposition:

1.  The same things that we brought in above against the Allegorical understanding of the simple and historical Mosaic narrative.  2.  Against an instantaneous Creation we add, α.  That Moses in his simple and historical narrative expressly mentions Six Days, to each of which he not only ascribes Morning and Evening, but also the individual Days he attributes specific Worlds, produced at that time by Creation.  β.  In Genesis 1:2, the Earth is said to have been without form and void, with Darkness upon the face of the deep; which would not at all be able to be said, if all things had been perfected in a Single Moment.  γ.  In no way would the example of divine Labor on six Days, and of Rest on the seventh following, have been able to be proposed to the Israelites for imitation in Exodus 20:11, if all things had been produced in a Single Moment.  δ.  And if all things were not made successively, what then, I ask, will be the reason for the successive Order that Moses has observed in narrating the Creation of all things.  ε.  AUGUSTINE himself is not confident in this opinion concerning instantaneous Creation, and feels it to be infirm, book IV de Genesi ad litteram, chapter XXVIII, opera, tome 3, part 1, column 133.

They Object, α.  That saying in Genesis 2:4, ὅτε ἐγένετο ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν,[5] when it was made in the day God made the heaven and the earth,‎בְּהִבָּֽרְאָ֑ם בְּי֗וֹם עֲשׂ֛וֹת יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶ֥רֶץ וְשָׁמָֽיִם׃, when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made the earth and the heavens.  Τὸ μὲν γὰρ ὅτε ἐγένετο, ἀόριστον ἐκφορὰν καὶ ἄχρονον μηνύει, for that saying, when it was made, indicates an indefinite utterance, and without tense, says Clement of Alexandria in WALCH, in the place cited.

Responses:  1.  That ὅτε ἐγένετο, when it was made, ‎בְּהִבָּרְאָם, when they were created, is indeed an expression indefinitely set forth, but which does not therefore signify that the subject matter is ἄχρονον, without tense:  for it is expressly related to a time, when is added ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς, etc., in which day God made, etc.  2.  Not even in this manner is it indicated that the World was created in a single day, which is expressly repugnant to the immediately preceding narration in Genesis 1.  3.  Therefore, these expressions immediately conjoined to to be created, and on which day God made, etc., direct us to think of that article of time, of that determinate time, longer or shorter, in which God created the World; which time was defined previously to have been the course of Six Days.

They Object, β.  on behalf of an instantaneous Creation, Ecclesiasticus 18:1, ὁ ζῶν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἔκτισεν τὰ πάντα κοινῇ, He that liveth for ever hath created all things in common.

Responses:  1.  It is Apocryphal.  2.  If you translate that κοινῇ by simultaneously, and refer it to time; it is able to be understood of the first hexameron, in which one incredibly brief period, if you consider the magnitude and multitude of the works of Creation, God will then be said to have produced all things.  3.  It appears to be more agreeable to the Greek term κοινῇ, that we explain that, not of συγκαιρίᾳ or the same article and moment of time, in which all things were created; but of a συλλογῇ/summary of the created works, which all will be said to have been produced by God without exception, but not in a single moment.  The opposition demonstrates this, since the Author brings together God the Creator, who lives forever and ever, and created things, all which together unto the last one, with no exception, were produced by God in time.  Therefore, there was no need for AUGUSTINE to contort himself so here, book V de Genesi ad litteram, chapter III, book VI, chapter V and following.

Finally, it is asked, whether, although the Six Days of Creation be acknowledged, the Works were produced in a Moment of the individual Days; just as the Scholastics change the Six Days into Six Moments, which opinion MARESIUS says has been embraced by almost all contemporary Theologians, both Papists, and Protestants, and for which Maresius himself fiercely contends against the followers of Descartes, and especially against Wittich, both in the notis on his Systemate Theologico, locus V, § 10, and in his Dissertatione de Abusu Philosophiæ Cartesianæ in rebus theologicis et fidei, § 50 and following, and in the Vindiciis illius Dissertationis, § 49, and in the Vindiciis Vindiciarum, § 38, and also in the Tetradecade Assertionum theologicarum, § 12, Sylloge Disputationum, part II, page 242.  Yet Maresius is able to be judged to have conducted this cause too hotly, neither does this quarrel appear to be free from all logomachy; which one may see from the drawn out examination of the same, both in Maresius, and in FRANCIS TURRETIN, Theologiæ Elencticæ, locus V, question V, § 5 and following, but also in VAN MASTRICHT, Gangræna Novitatum Cartesianarum, posterior Section, chapter XIX, § 7-12, pages 343-347; although in other respects both these abide in the same opinion with Maresius.  The hypothesis of Descartes, concerning which above, concerning Matter through Motion introduced spontaneously producing all the effects that we discern in the World, although a much longer tract of time would be required for that; struck learned Men with horror, whence it was able to be that they thought that they should recede from this opinion as far as possible.

Yet, not without good reason does our AUTHOR at this point withdraw to a certain extent from Maresius and others; which AUTHOR, among others, BARTHOLOMEUS VAN VELSEN follows, Philosophicis Scripturis, chapter XI, § 12, part I, page 165, and sets in opposition, α.  the Simplicity of the Mosaic narrative, which to the labor of God ascribes, not Six indivisible Moments, but just so many Days; relates after each Day that its Works were Completed, and finally adds that God rested on the seventh.  β.  The reason for the separation and refining of Bodies, which without Motion of the parts, necessarily implying Succession of time, is no more able to be conceived in the production of Animals, etc., than in the Separation of Waters and Dry Land, etc.  In the Separation of the Waters and Dry Land, and likewise of the Upper and Lower Waters, a change of place obtains, which is not able to happen without successive Motion.  Trees produced by the land are not able to be conceived to have had their height in one indivisible Moment.  It appears that the same is to be said to have obtained concerning the Bodies of Animals and Men.  And also concerning the gathering of fiery particles into the Sun or other Stars.  Hence our AUTHOR was greatly doubting, whether it is better to say, that the First Creation was indeed made in an Instant, that is, of the Corporeal Mass and of Spirits, and thus all Immediate Creation, which always obtains in the formation of Spirits; but that out of the Unformed Mass by a Second Creation the individual Bodies were produced successively, not with respect to God, creating by the Command of His Will, but with respect to the thing willed, the nature of which so implies Successive Motion, that, without contradiction, its fabric does not appear to be able to be said to have happened in an indivisible Moment:  through Six Νυχθήμερα/night-days, and most swiftly indeed at the command of God, if we have regard to the Multitude and Magnitude of the Works; so that those Six Νυχθήμερα/night-days, with respect to the Magnitude and Multitude of the Works produced within that space, are able to be called an exceedingly brief space and truly physical Moment, while Scripture nowhere asserts that all the Works of the individual Days were produced in a Mathematical Moment.

At the same time, it is to be ingenuously acknowledged, 1.  that Maresius and others, being about to explain their opinion more distinctly, α.  Do not assign only One Moment to all the Works of whatever Day taken together, but individual Moments to to individual Works, so that between the production of one Work and another some hours are able to intervene.  β.  That they say, they do not so much understand a Mathematical Moment, or indivisible Point; but a Physical Moment, that is, the briefest possible that time is able to be granted.  γ.  That they respond not at all boorishly to the argument concerning the Six Days of Labor and Seventh of Rest; that thus only to the individual Days of the Hexameron are distinct Labors assigned, from the production of which God rested on the Seventh Day, but that hence it is not inferred that God was occupied in the production of these Works through the entire Νυχθήμερα/night-days:  otherwise, if God had spent the whole First Day in creating Light, that work would have at length been completed near the beginning of the following Night, which is absurd.  δ.  With respect to the requisite successive Motion, they appeal to so many Miracles performed without delay, a rod converted into a serpent,[6] waters turned into blood[7] or wine,[8] loaves multiplied,[9] lepers cleansed,[10] etc.:  yet in the Separation of the Waters they admit successive Motion, through which they began to flow together into their own hollows, but in a moment through the impressing of the Divine Command upon them:  but more our AUTHOR does not maintain.

2.  Let us speak, therefore, for the composing of this quarrel:  α.  Maresius and others incorrectly make the Second Creation in every way like unto the First; while in actuality a distinction obtains between production of out absolutely Nothing, between which and Existence a middle moment is not able to be conceived, and between production out of Unsuitable Matter, which requires successive Motion, so that it might assume the peculiar forms determined by God, especially if, as in the case of most bodies, a change in place is also added.  β.  We are not willing to conclude, that God spent the entire day in the individual Works of the Days, in such a way that not even an hour was able to be left over after the production of the work:  we quite willingly leave that undetermined, in such away that nevertheless according to the variety of the Works a greater or lesser part of each Day appears to have been spent, before the works of that Day were finished at the Command of God.  γ.  On the manner of the Miracles, the working of which is contemplated according to a sort of Second Creation, the Motion in the separation and embellishment of Bodies was accelerated miraculously and beyond belief, even if each Work did not obtain its completion in an indivisible Moment.

With respect to the Arguments of MARESIUS and others, They Object:

α.  The Testimonies of Scripture, Genesis 1:3; Psalm 33:9; Romans 4:17, from which it is evident, that at the beck and command of God things immediately came into existence, and no delay of time came between the command and its execution; and so God was in need of no more time for the production of things, than to command them to be; whence AMBROSE, book I Hexaëmeri, chapter IX, opera, tome I, column 14, on the words, Let there be LightHe does not then say that the operation followed, but He completed the business with the word:  whence beautifully that saying of David, He spake, and it was done, because the effect completed the word.  Our AUTHOR rightly Responds, thus is noted only, 1.  the Swiftness, 2.  the Sufficiency of the Divine Will alone without any great effort required.  3.  Hence the same expression is used concerning the successive Works of Providence, Psalm 147:15, 16; Job 37:6; Psalm 105:31, 34; 107:25; at the same time, everyone understands, for example, that a gap in time is required, so that snow and rains might fall from the heavens to the earth.

β.  If the Resurrection is going to happen ἐν ἀτόμῳ, ἐν ῥιπῇ ὀφθαλμοῦ, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, 1 Corinthians 15:52, why not Creation also?  Indeed, God was much more easily able to have created all things ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου, in a moment of time, than Satan was able to show Christ all the kingdoms of the world ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου, in a moment of time, Luke 4:5.  Response:  1.  In neither place is a completely indivisible Mathematical Moment understood.  2.  It is not only asked, what was God able to do; but what at the same time was God willing to do, ad is read actually to have done.  3.  But these passages are not sufficiently apt for this, that from them it might be apodictically concluded, in what manner the act of the Creator God might be in this circumstance.

γ.  The Power of God has to be acknowledged, and that is more conspicuous in this way.  Our AUTHOR rightly responds, that from the Power of God alone no argument prevails; and that God had sufficiently shown that in the incredibly swift successive adornment of all things.  Certainly no consequence is able to be drawn from possibility to actuality, and so it is not sought from the ability of divine Power, but from its actual exercise.  Neither does divine Power extend itself to contradictories, so that God might produce those things, which by their nature undoubtedly require Motion and Succession, without all Motion and succession; but there must be by divine Power an acceleration beyond our conception.

[1] Abraham Heidanus (1597-1678) was a Dutch Reformed minister and Cocceian theologian.  He served as professor of theology at Leiden from 1648 to 1676, but he was ultimately dismissed for his Cartesianism.

[2] Iter per mundum Cartesii, a fictional and satirical portrayal of a journey through the world of Descartes, was written by the French Jesuit, Gabriel Daniel (1649-1728).

[3] Ane Drijfhout (1742-1822) was a Dutch Reformed pastor and theologian, learned in science and philosophy.

[4] Jean Bodin (c. 1530-1596) was a French jurist, serving as a member of the Parlement of Paris and Professor of Law at Toulouse.  Although a nominal Roman Catholic, he was critical of Papal claims of authority over civil government.  Among his other works on history, politics, and demonology is found his Theatrum Universæ Naturæ, his statement on natural philosophy.

[5] Thus the Septuagint.

[6] Exodus 4:3; 7:10-12.

[7] Exodus 4:9; 7:17-25.

[8] John 2:1-11.

[9] Matthew 14:15-21; 15:32-38; Mark 6:35-44; 8:1-9; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:5-13.

[10] Matthew 8:2-4; 10:8; 11:5; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 7:22; 17:12-19.

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2 comentários

Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
7 days ago

Westminster Confession of Faith 4:1: It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,1 for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness,2 in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.3 

1 Heb. 1:2; John 1:2,3; Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; Job 33:4.

2 Rom. 1:20; Jer. 10:12; Ps. 104:24; Ps. 33:5,6.

3 Heb. 11:3; Col. 1:16; Acts 17:24.


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
7 days ago
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