Thomas Aquinas – On Creation and Time

  • Book excerpt
  • 1600 words
  • Level: university

This discussion on creation and time, from the Summa contra Gentiles of Thomas Aquinas, contrasts and compares in interesting ways with the modern understanding of the origin of the universe as described in the “Big Bang” theory (in which neither matter, nor time, nor space exist prior to the “bang”). For example, St. Thomas argues that the act of creation is not a change of one thing that exists into another thing. Rather, appealing to both reason and to St. Basil, St. Thomas argues that both material things and time itself were formed when God created the universe, a process which St. Thomas argues was instantaneous. He says, “And so it is that holy Scripture proclaims the creation of things to have been effected in an indivisible instant; for it is written: ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth’ (Gen. 1:1). And Basil explains that this beginning is ‘the beginning of time’.”

This excerpt has been selected by the Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science (, which is edited by the Advanced School for Interdisciplinary Research, operating at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome, and directed by Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti.

Click here for Thomas’s discussion, from

Click here for Thomas’s discussion, from a preview from Google Books of an abridged version of the Summa contra Gentiles.