Return to the Source, Return to Creation, continued

In the Christian tradition the thirteenth-century saint and mystic Thomas Aquinas says that “a mistake about creation results in a mistake about God. Here Aquinas relates our very grasp of the Divine to the accuracy of our grasp of nature itself.

Thomas Aquinas. Stained glass window in the Franciscan Monastery in Washington DC. Photo by Lawrence OP on Flickr.

What greater tribute could one give to the work of scientists and others to seek out the truths of nature, the truth of Creation? Aquinas devoted his life to bringing science and faith together. For science, he chose the “pagan” Greek scientist Aristotle newly translated by Muslim scholars.

This was a radical move on Aquinas’s part, and it got him into so much trouble that he was condemned three times by the church before it canonized him a saint. But the devotion of Aquinas to science was complete. He insisted on examining nature to find more about the maker of nature.

Aquinas celebrates the wonder we experience at encountering the universe when he writes: “They shall be drunk with the plenty of your house”–that is, the universe. Perhaps it is the lack of cosmology in our culture that drives us to drink and to seek other ways of “getting high” that are self-defeating. Aquinas believes that each and every creature exists for the perfection of the entire universe.

“What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what’s going on.” – Jacques Cousteau, oceanographer and inventor, quoted in the Christian Science Monitor (21 July 1971) Photograph: Cine Text/Sportsphoto/AllStar.

Aquinas believed in evolution insofar as he saw creation as an ongoing process, and with God deeply and intimately involved:

God’s work whereby God brings things into being must not be taken as the work of a craftsman who makes a box and then leaves it. For God continues to give being…. God indeed “works until now” (Jn. 5.17) by preserving and providing for the creatures God has made.

He believed in interconnectivity and that things exist for the sake of the whole, which for him means for the good of the universe.

The ultimate end of the divine will is the divine goodness, and the nearest thing to that among created things is the good of the whole universe…. Thus, among created things, what God cares for most is the order of the universe.

Individuals and species serve this greater good, the order of the universe: “The principle good in things themselves is the perfection of the universe.” The diversity of Creation contributes substantially to its beauty and its purpose:

“Jungle ecosystem” Photo by Chetan Bisariya on Flickr.

The whole universe together participates in the divine goodness more perfectly, and represents it better, than any single creature whatever.

 Aquinas recognizes the divine presence in all beings and the interrelatedness of all beings when he says:

Every creature participates in some way in the likeness of the divine essence. All things love God. All things are united according to friendship to each other and to God.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 29f. 

See also Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times.

Banner Image: Photo of an Arctic boreal ecosystem from the second season of the planned 10-year, NASA-led Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), monitoring such changing ecosystems in Alaska and northwest Canada. Image credit: NASA/Kate Ramsayer of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Queries for Contemplation

What makes you “drunk on the universe”?  What follows from that?

Can you think of examples of how a mistake about creation results in a mistake about God?

Recommended Reading

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Your Music Your Way Summit

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

7 thoughts on “Return to the Source, Return to Creation, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Words of Thomas Aquinas that “a mistake about creation results in a mistake about God” — are so true, the best example of this is mechanistic theory of life, which gives to many people false dualistic mechanistic-theist view of God like a kind of engineer, who is outside all Nature, designed the machinery of the Universe and pushed the start button. All Mysticism, sacredness and wonder of Nature were no longer in religion with that. And then atheists-materialists reject this incredible view and cut many people of from spirituality even more. Rupert Sheldrake put it clear (Mr. Fox, I find You partly because of him actually!).
    Thank You! Thanks to DM-s team! Have a fantastic day!

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Audrey,
      Thank you for your comment and its mechanistic description of our mechanistic understanding of God – each aspect clicking into the cog of another shortsighted belief. I am wondering if you see the atheists-materialists as the result of of this mechanistic religion, or the victims of it. Western religion has been both advocate and victim of this intellectual, non-experiential, anti-spiritual faith tradition that has orphaned us from our source – keeping generations of people disconnected to the divine.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

      1. Avatar

        Dear Gail Sofia,
        As I understand and as Rupert Sheldrake says, modern atheist-materialist belief system (in relatively recent times, not in ancient Greece, where they were also as atomists) began with Rene Decart, who created Dualism of matter and spirit/consciousness as part of it, he took God, angels and human minds out of “mechanical” Nature, created this split, duality. Split of science and religion as well. God became a machine maker. Then, from this dualistic perspective some people wanted to be just one reality, so, idealists (everything is consciousness) and materialists (everything is matter) have appeared. Materialists said that this realm of God, angels, spirit simply don’t exist, it’s were modern Atheism was started.
        So, yes, they are as a result of birth of mechanistic science and mechanistic-theist view in religion.
        Thank You!

        1. Gail Sofia Ransom

          Dear Audrey,
          Thank you for this rich expansion of the development of modern dualism and atheism. It has enlightened me on several dynamics of the development of western philosophy and religion. Perhaps, then it is a natural progression for the paradigm of oneness to be rising within post-modern thought. It is, I find it a bit exhilarating to be a thoughtful person in this moment as our understanding of living begins to shift.
          Gail Sofia Ransom
          For the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar

    On our visit to the Sacred Valley of Peru, my wife and I encountered Indigenous people who live what Matthew is writing about in this post. We had several shaman rituals that were so powerful. Thank you Matthew for Creation Spirituality and the many ways it is enriching us.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear David,
      Thank you for sharing your experience with the indigenous peoples of Peru. Crossing cultural boundaries and entering into the consciousness of another people’s paradigm of the sacred must have been as transforming as the rituals themselves. The more people can do this, the more our culture can release our wizened ways and open to indigenous wisdom.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: