How Matter Was Given Being – The Nature Of Matter

Holy Scripture uses the words He created to express the act of giving existence to the primordial matter of the world and its creation. In the beginning, it informs us, God created heaven and earth. The verb created used in connection with God signifies not only that He shaped and fashioned matter or gave it form, but also that He gave it being, that He produced it from nothing, and that He created it from what did not exist. Concerning}g man, thee verb means that God molded and fashioned man and gave man quality and form.

This is quite correct. If there is evidence that God does not lack infinite and absolute power, if He is indeed almighty, there is strong evidence that He possesses both the ability and the power to cause being and to create, and that it is not at all incongruous for God to create something out of what does not exist, to make objects from nothing. It would be inconsistent if we were to confess that God is almighty, but deny Him the power, the necessary creative qualities, to enable Him to make something from what is not in being, from the non-existent.

Those who think that everything does not come from nothing, think that God is not almighty and that it is not He who created everything from the non-existent. They suppose that God does not of Himself think of the non-existence of beings, because had He thought of it, He would have been able both to create and to make these beings. Therefore, because He is almighty, God, by the power which He possesses, creates whatever He wishes and converts His thoughts into facts. He gives being and existence outside Himself to the thoughts which He has eternally in His Spirit.

God thinks of what is non-existent. God can cause the non­existent to exist. These two propositions are true when they refer to God. The first describes His perfect wisdom, the second, His perfect power. A third proposition, that it is God’s will to create the non-existent and to preserve it forever, expresses the beneficent will of God toward that which comes into being. It describes His perfectly absolute and infinite goodness.

Whosoever confesses and accepts and believes that God thinks of the non-existent, confesses and believes that God thinks of Himself, that He is mindful of His individual self, His perfect existence, His perfect being and nature. If God has no knowledge of Himself, how will He know the non-existent nothing? If He has no knowledge of what exists, how will He know the non-existent?

Therefore, in His thoughts as perfect being, God thinks of the non-existent, that which is likely and able to come into being. Because He thinks of both the existent and of the non­existent, He is all-wise. He who believes that God thinks of the non-existent, believes in an all-wise God who possesses knowledge of the existent and of the non-existent, knowledge of the necessary and of the possible, and knowledge of the perfect. This means that He possesses absolute and perfect knowledge. It follows, then, that to believe that God can and does think of the non-existent as existing, is to confess that God is all-wise.

Belief in an all-wise God is belief in a God who is capable of infinite thought and thinks of the non-existent. If through the Spirit whom He possesses, God is able to think of all that is non-existent, it may be logically inferred that He is able to convert His thought into fact whenever He desires, and that He is able to preserve and maintain that which He has created, for all eternity. There are, then, three propositions which are confessed by the pious Christian:

  1. God thinks of the non-existent;
  2. God makes the non-existent exist;
  3. God preserves and sustains that which has been created by Him from the non-existent.

These truths are bound together so closely that he who confesses the first, is compelled to confess the remaining two. Similarly, he who rejects the first, is compelled to reject the other two.

Whoever denies the truth of the first proposition, denies that God is all-wise, almighty, and all-good. Whoever confesses the truth of the first proposition, confesses that God is all-wise, almighty, and all-good. If God is not all-wise, almighty, and all-good, He is not God, for God the heavenly Father is a perfect being – all-wise, almighty, and all-good. Those who profess belief in a God who does not think of the non-existent, and who consequently cannot make the non-existent exist, or maintain it forever, confess a God who lacks complete wisdom, full power, and the benevolent will to support eternally that which has been created and has come into being.

Therefore, the statements noted previously are true, and correspond to the three special qualities which the perfect nature of God possesses:

  1. God thinks, and He thinks of the non-existent – ­therefore, He is omniscient;
  2. God causes the non-existent to exist – therefore, He is omnipotent;
  3. God wills and desires to eternally maintain that which has been created – therefore, He is all-good.

Through creation, the three supreme qualities of God have been manifested: His perfect and absolute wisdom and knowledge; His perfect and absolute power; and His perfect and absolute goodness. For creation to be the handiwork of God, it must depict and proclaim the divine qualities of God: absolute and perfect wisdom, power, and goodness. Furthermore, creation must be the consequence of the three activities of the pantokrator God:

  1. Causing being and existence;
  2. Creating the world;
  3. Sustaining the world.

As the handiwork of God, creation must be in harmony with the divine plan in His mind. It must be made to conform to the eternal ideal world in the mind of God, for this is the criterion for the actual world and for the work of creation that has been given being outside God. To begin with, it is the activity of God in causing being that is revealed outside Him at the time when the non-existent began to exist. This is the activity by which the matter of the world is given substance (hypostasis). But what is the matter of the world?

We call everything that is used in the construction of an artifact, matter. Thus, if we wish to build a house, we require all the components of which the house is built. We need stones, tiles, timber, mortar, concrete, metal, and all the other things necessary for the building. All these are called, collectively, the matter for the house. When the matter for the house is assembled and ready for its construction, we possess the stones, tiles, mortar, concrete, metal, and all else that is used in building a house or is essential for its construction. Just as whatever is used in the building of a house is called the matter for the house, so also whatever is used in the construction and creation of the world is called the matter of the world.

Since the world consists of a large number of beings, each being is both a single, individual existence, and one of a combination of parts in the general existence and structure of the world. In the primordial matter of the world, the existence of all beings also is contained. There may be found the beginning and substances (hypostases) of potential beings, of beings not yet in actual existence, or – according to Aristotle – not yet in their complete and final state. That which exists potentially is one thing; that which exists actually is another.

That which exists potentially is called the potential sub­stance (hypostasis), and may become an actual being after it assumes the nature and characteristics which accompany it. That which exists actually or in reality, together with the nature and characteristics by which it is known and seen, is called the actual or existing substance (hypostasis), even though it formerly was unobserved and unknown.

The construction of a dwelling may be employed to – illustrate the preceding observations. The matter from which a house is constructed is the potential creation or potential house. When the matter has been fitted together and has received kind and form, and comprises the house, it then constitutes the actual creation, the house which exists in reality or actuality.

Initially, the matter of the world, when God granted it being, together with its substance (hypostasis), was the potential world or potential creation. The world and creation were not in real, actual, or complete existence as they are presently, following their endowment with kind and form.

The activity of God in causing being makes the matter which is the potential creation or potential world – the matter without order, without quality, without kind or form, and unfinished – and from this the whole has been fashioned and has come into being, the visible and the invisible world. Because the matter was potentially the world, it had in itself everything necessary for the construction of the world.

The creation of matter is perfect in this respect, because in it were created every seed, every substance (hypostasis) of every creature and the source of its coming into being, the elements for its formation, the means for it to attain its destiny, and the means for its maintenance and preservation. This is the first and greatest miracle of God’s almighty power. For the creation of the world truly is the greatest miracle, beyond human comprehension.

Once this matter was created, in it everything was created that on God’s part could be created for the making of a perfect world, an icon of the eternal world in God’s mind. For this ideal world is both the criterion and the measure of the actual world. After God conceived of a perfect world, He planned a perfect world and fashioned a perfect world – a world that reflects and expresses His all-wise mind and His almighty benevolent will, a world that is perfect – through a supremely perfect plan, eternally conceived in the intelligence and Spirit of God.

When God caused being, nothing more or nothing less came into existence, but exactly that which is suitable for the foundation and ordering of the world and for its perpetuation. Hence perfection lies in the act of God in causing being.

When the matter of the world receives substance (hypostasis) and existence from what did not exist, through the activity of God in causing being, it does not return to nonexistence again. This is because a return to naught and nonexistence for any being runs counter to general creation and to the plan of God by which everything that came into being came into existence.

The return to non-existence by any being is a denial of the perfect wisdom of God, and of His almighty power and total goodness. It is the contradiction of the concept of the existence of a perfect God who in wisdom creates all things. God creates beings and leads them toward their finest goal, and because He is perfect, He does not suffer one of them to return to non-existence, which would be the antithesis of His progressive activity.

God foreknows the non-existent as existing. God makes the non-existent exist. God preserves and brings to perfection what has been made, and leads it to its destiny. Thus nothing is brought to naught; there is no going back to nothing, but rather there is progress and perfection for that which has come into being.

Those who conjecture and believe in the annihilation of the world, are complete atheists, for they believe in chance and fate as if these were God. Annihilation, however, does not and cannot exist in creation. As long as creation exists, and that is eternally, neither the smallest particle of matter nor the tiniest drop of water – not a single fragment of the world – can lose its existence. Nothing can be reduced to non-existence. Nothing can become non-existent.

When God once and for all created what was essential for all creatures, He created nothing more, because there is no need for or lack of anything. Moreover, because He created nothing superfluous, there is nothing for Him to bring into existence later, because everything that He has made is very good and exactly suitable for the attainment of the goal of creation.

Consequently, God neither brings into being, nor reduces to nothing, nor annihilates anything of that which has been made and created. Neither a drop of water, nor a spark of fire, nor the’ smallest grain of sand, nor the tiniest particle of matter can be lost in the waste of annihilation in time. They cannot suffer a return to nothing. And while everything now in the world wears out and deteriorates with relative wear and deterioration, yet nothing is annihilated or proceeds to nonexistence.

The non-existent, once it has come into being and received existence, does not return to non-existence, to nothing. Therefore, the primordial matter of the world is imperishable, as matter of the elementary existence of many substances (hypostases) in the sum total of beings of which the world – both the visible and the invisible world – is made.

However, because the primordial matter of the world, in which God’s activity in causing being is revealed, is the potential world, it is not now the actual world, but is the basis for the making of the world, for the formation of many beings according to the plan for the world formed in the mind of God. This matter lacks the form, kind, and quality of the world. For this reason it is invisible and unseen, for it lacks the form and nature of the world which still remains in God’s thoughts and has not yet been revealed. It will be revealed, however, in the activity of God in creating the world, for by it the former shapeless, formless matter will receive form, kind, composition, and nature, and will appear as the world, as the sum total of beings set in order and operating by rule.

In its first state, the matter continues as imperishable, admitting of no decay or any change or regression. This is because it remains still uncompounded, and so it also is in­dissoluble; it remains free from any mixture or complication, being the sum total of simple particles and substances (hypostases).

This is the potential world which, when shaped by God, will become the world of reality, according to the universal law of progress and of bringing all created things to perfection, from the less perfect to the more perfect, out of non-existence into existence, and out of imperfect existence into perfect existence. Therefore, the matter, in that it is imperfect being, was intended to be perfect being, and to be fashioned into the perfect world.

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