Philosophy of Evolution: The Cosmos

Definitions and Distinctions


Universe, or world, is defined as everything, as distinct from God as the unique, necessary being.16 World can be used equivocally.17 The world, metaphysically, is not absolutely infinite, since it lacks many perfections. The world, as material, does not have infinite extension, first because there is no good argument for the infinity of the universe, and second because infinite extension is philosophically repugnant in its very concept. The world, psycho-socially, is neither the best nor the worst. Leibniz, Cicero, the Stoics and the Pantheists are Optimists, but the world could always be better. Schopenhauer (d. 1860), and Edward Von Hartman (d. 1906) are Pessimists, but their amount of evil is exaggerated.

Material is defined as the world which was created. After creation, material is the world which cosmic evolution and an influx of secondary causes develops and forms.

Creation is the production of something from nothing of self and nothing of the subject. Creation is the production of a thing according to its total substance and entity. This is not like eduction, which presupposes a subject. Creation is the production of a thing or being in so far as it is a contingent being.18

Cosmic evolution is the orderly development of the universe, after creation. Dougherty remarks, "The Creator Who, without any created agent, originally produced mobile being can, without employing any such agent, impede the action of agents of the corporeal universe, heighten or lessen their power, or direct them to other than their connatural objects. All this God can do without undoing the nature of mobile being. It is to be noted that properties flow from the nature of a thing, but they do not constitute its nature or its essence. Consequently, God can suspend actions proper to a being without destroying its essence."19 Klubertanz highlights the equivocal use of "evolution" when he correctly limits his definition evolution to biological change.20

Order is a property of a corporeal substance. St. Thomas sees order in the cosmos as a harmonious union of parts with the whole.21 Order is of prime importance in any philosophy of nature. Order is a datum of fact, real and objective. Precise laws regulate the universe, and give a "rationality" to nature. Order is the principle of unity in the world. Order can be noted by observation from the unity and constancy of things in the universe.

Author:  John Edward Mulvihill, S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.
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