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CHAPTER LThat God has a particular Knowledge of all things

EVERY agent that acts by understanding has a knowledge of what it does, reaching to the particular nature of the thing produced; because the knowledge of the maker determines the form of the thing made. But God is cause of things by His understanding, seeing that in Him to be and to understand are one. But everything acts inasmuch as it is in actuality. God therefore knows in particular, as distinct from other things, whatever He causes to be.100100Since the Creator is an understanding, He understands whatever He gives being to; and giving being to each thing in particular, He understands each in particular.

3. The collocation of things, distinct and separate, cannot be by chance, for it is in regular order. This collocation of things, then, distinct and separate from one another, must be due to the intention of some cause. It cannot be due to the intention of any cause that acts by physical necessity, because physical nature is determined to one line of acton. Thus of no agent, that acts by physical necessity, can the intention reach to many distinct effects, inasmuch as they are distinct.101101This merely means that physical causes act without any definite intention on their part of any particular results to follow from their action. Electrical tension in the air tends to discharge itself in the form of lightning, but not to kill this particular man under the tree, although it does kill. The volcanic nisus prompts to an eruption, but not to the destruction of such and such a city that is built over the volcano. So far as physical agencies are concerned, the lava, or flaming gas, takes its determined path, neither making for the city, as such, nor avoiding it, as such. The distinct arrangement and collocation 36of things must proceed from the intention of some knowing cause.102102St. Thomas does not use the word collocatio. His repeated phrase is distinctio rerum, which I have rendered ‘distinct arrangement and collocation,’ first, because such is really the meaning, and, secondly, because this argument has attracted attention, and been acknowledged to have weight, in respect of what is called the ‘primitive collocation’ of the materials of the universe, a collocation impossible to explain by any physical causation, and pointing evidently to some ordering and disposing Intelligence. Indeed it seems the proper function of intellect to remark the distinction of things. It belongs therefore to the First Cause, which of itself is distinct from all others, to intend the distinct and separate collocation of all the materials of the Universe.

4. Whatever God knows, He knows most perfectly: for there is in Him all perfection (Chap. XXVIII). Now what is known only in general is not known perfectly: the main points of the thing are not known, the finishing touches of its perfection, whereby its proper being is completely realised and brought out. Such mere general knowledge is rather a perfectible than a perfect knowledge of a thing. If therefore God in knowing His essence knows all things in their universality, He must also have a particular knowledge of things.

8. Whoever knows any nature, knows whether that nature be communicable: for he would not know perfectly the nature of ‘animal,’ who did not know that it was communicable to many. But the divine nature is communicable by likeness. God therefore knows in how many ways anything may exist like unto His essence. Hence arises the diversity of types, inasmuch as they imitate in divers ways the divine essence. God therefore has a knowledge of things according to their several particular types.103103This is an important principle, often laid down as follows: — God knows His own nature in all the various modes in which that nature can be copied outside Himself In knowing this, He knows the ideal order, every detail and all inter-relations of details in any possible universe. This is called the knowledge of simple understanding, inasmuch as it is the knowledge of all creatable creatures and their ongoings, antecedent to and apart from the creation and actual existence of any: this knowledge however dwells only in the ideal order of possibilities, and may therefore be called general and universal, though not abstract, inasmuch as it deals with types of individual things, but not with particular existences in rerum natura as actually existing, but only as potentialities. God further knows things outside Himself as they actually and individually exist, inasmuch as all things are of His causation and creation, and exist and act under His will and power. He knows them by insight of Himself, not as He is a mere nature, but as He is a nature willing to create on these particular lines. This knowledge of the universe as the universe actually is for all time, is called the knowledge of vision. For these two knowledges see Chap. LXVI. The knowledge of simple understanding is not abstract, inasmuch as God knows, not only types of species, but types of different individuals possible in each species; and all these several types He knows, not by so many several ideas, but in the one act by which He knows Himself.

This also we are taught by the authority of canonical Scripture. God saw all things that he had made, and they were very good (Gen. i, 31). Nor is there any creature invisible in his sight, but all things are naked and open to his eyes (Heb. iv, 13).


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