There has been no mystery which has intrigued man’s mind more than that of creation. How and even why did all things, the whole world, come into existence? Was it through spontaneous means, or was it predetermined? If it was spontaneous, was there a previously created contributing substance? To cite chaos as the spring from which the world came forth simply precipitates the question as to whether chaos had a quality in itself. If it had, then what was its origin?
If one accepts the alternative, that is, the concept of a predetermined reason, he enters the realm of teleology, or mind as the motivating force of creation. This assumes that creation was a primary idea, an objective to be attained; that it was predetermined.
This conception engenders the idea of an embodied mind residing in a thinking, reasoning entity. The only parallel we have for such a mental capacity is the human mind. Therefore, it is quite understandable that men would think of such an infinite mind as an attribute of a supernatural being.
If such being had the faculty of planning, formulating ideas, it must also have other attributes similar to those of mortals, such as the emotions, passions, and sentiments. Thus the notion of gods was born.
At first these gods were thought of as apotheosized humans; in other words, mortals who had attained a divine status. Later, the gods were conceived as self-generated beings, and eventually the belief in a monotheistic being, as sole God, was promulgated. The sole God, too, was thought to have been self-generated, that nothing had preceded such a deity. These notions aroused polemic theological and ontological discussions; in other words, they centered on the enigma of the phrase, “self-generated.” Did the term generation imply a creation from a pre-existing “something” that was transmuted into deity? Or did it mean the God came into existence from a void, a condition of non-existence? Even if the latter view is accepted, there is the implication that this non-existence is a negative reality. Once again we return to the repetitious question of “Whence came that state or condition which is given the reality of a ‘non-existence’? “If it is realized and if it is named, is it not, therefore, a “thing”?
This brings us to another aspect of creation –the metaphysical. Did the world pass through a nascent state, that is, did it necessarily have a beginning? This question involves the profound subject of causality. Are there actually such things as causes? Or are they but a precept, a mere abstract idea, of human faculties? Aristotle, on his doctrine of causality, set forth four types of causes:
1. The material cause, of which something arises.
2. The formal cause, the pattern or essence which determines the creation of a thing.
3. The efficient cause, or the force or agent producing an effect.
4. The final cause, or purpose.
We will note that the first and third definitions imply a pre-existing condition; in other words, that something was, out of which something else came into existence. In fact, the third definition expounds that this pre-existing state, or force, brought a transition, a change in itself, which then was the effect. The fourth definition strongly suggests determinism, that is, that all being was self-designed to attain a particular ultimate state or condition.
It is not possible that attributing a cause to the world is due to man’s concept that for every positive state there is an opposite one of equal reality? More simply, that non-being exists also? That which is suggests non-existence as an opposite state out of which, it may be imagined, came the substance, the cause of that which has discernible reality. It is difficult to derive from common human experience the idea that there has never been a primary cause of things.
As we look about us, we see what seems to constitute a series of specific causes by which things appear as the effects. However, what we observe as causes are in themselves but effects, too, of preceding changes. Due to our limited faculties of perception, we are unable to see an infinite number of apparent causes. We may presume that such do exist or think that there was an initial, that is, a first cause, a beginning. In drawing on our experience with natural phenomena, we thus imagine that the cosmos had some beginning. To theorize about such beginning is only to return to the original perplexing question, “Whence did it come?”
Ordinarily overlooked is an important doctrine in connection with the subject of creation, and whether there was a beginning –namely, the doctrine of necessity. From a point of ratiocination, necessity is a state wherein a thing cannot be other than it is. Applying this doctrine to the question of cosmos and creation, we must ask ourselves the question: was a beginning necessary?” in other words, could there have been anything other than the cosmos? Nothing is only the negation of what is; it has no reality in itself. There can be nothing apart from what is. Since nothing is non-existent, all else then is by necessity –it must be. Being is positive, active, there is no absolute inertial.