The Inequality of Creatures Is a Condition for Creation to Give Glory to God

July 11, 2016

St. Thomas Aquinas, who was a noble, towers among the greatest Catholic intellectuals of all time. The Church called him “The Angelic Doctor”


[I]t seems fitting to add some arguments from the Angelic Doctor to justify the existence of inequality among creatures.

In the Summa Theologica he affirms:

“Hence in natural things species seem to be arranged in degrees; as the mixed things are more perfect than the elements, and plants than minerals, and animals than plants, and men than other animals; and in each of these one species is more perfect than others.

“Therefore, as the Divine Wisdom is the cause of the distinction of things for the sake of the perfection of the universe, so is it the cause of inequality. For the universe would not be perfect if only one grade of goodness were found in things.” (I, q. 47, a.2)

In fact, it would not be fitting to God’s perfection to create only one being. For no created being, however excellent it may be imagined, can alone adequately reflect the infinite perfections of God. Thus, creatures are necessarily multiple, and not just multiple, but also necessarily unequal. This is the teaching of the holy Doctor:

“Furthermore, a plurality of goods is better than a single finite good, since they contain the latter and more besides. But all goodness possessed by creatures is finite, falling short of the infinite goodness of God. Hence, the universe of creatures is more perfect if there are many grades of things than if there were but one. Now, it befits the supreme good to make what is best. It was therefore fitting that God should make many grades of creatures.

“Again, the good of the species is greater than the good of the individual, just as the formal exceeds that which is material. Hence, the multiplicity of species adds more to the goodness of the universe than a multiplicity of individuals in one species. It therefore pertains to the perfection of the universe that there be not only many individuals, but that there be also diverse species of things, and, consequently, diverse grades in things.” (Summa Contra Gentiles, bk. 2., chap. 45.)

Genesis The creation of the animals

Inequalities, then, are not defects of the creation. They are excellent qualities of it, in which the infinite and adorable perfection of its Author are mirrored. And God takes pleasure in contemplating them.

“The diversity and inequality in created things are not the result of chance, nor of a diversity of matter, nor of the intervention of certain causes or merits, but of the intention of God Himself, who wills to give the creature such perfection as it is possible for it to have. Accordingly, in the Book of Genesis (1:31) it is said: ‘God saw all the things that He made, and they were very good.’” (Ibid.)

Nobility Book

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Documents V, p. 487.


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