Reading Ludwig Ott's Fundamental’s of Catholic Dogma, (Herder, 6th Ed., 1964), I find that the creation prima and creation secunda are discussed, very briefly but giving the references in the Summa, under the de fide dogma that states, “All that exists outside God, was, in its whole substance, produced out of nothing by God. (De fide.)
I do not see that the distinction of creation into a prima and secunda is de fide, as long as one holds, and can demonstrate that “all that exists outside God, was, in its whole substance, produced out of nothing by God.” The distinction of prima and secunda, as it was developed by theologians after St. Thomas, has to do with the agency of secondary causes and the relation of matter, which is the principle of potency, to its matching form or act. I will quote some relevant passages from the Summa, those given by Ludwig Ott on page 79-80 of Fundamentals.
“Some have maintained that creatures proceeded from God by degrees, in such a way that the first creature proceeded from Him immediately, and in its turn produced another, and so on, until the production of corporeal creatures. But this position is untenable, since the first production of corporeal creatures is by creation, by which matter itself is produced; for in the act of coming into being the imperfect must be made before the perfect; and it is impossible that anything should be created save by God alone.” (ST, I, q.65, a3, I answer…)
Here is a reference to the first production of corporeal creatures. But the context precludes any first and second creation. The article is to answer, “Whether corporeal creatures were produced by God through the medium of the angels?” Be it noted that the first sentence is a plain refutation of the main idea of the ideology of evolution! It also would apply to the Gnostic idea of creation by emanation. But what I would point out here is that St. Thomas, in his focus on creation by some medium, jumps from creation by God, which issues immediately (no processes involved), in the total form of the corporeal creature, because the form must precede, - come before the functioning. In the corporeal creature, all the processes proceed from the act and directional form of the being. All acts, both formal, i.e, substantial and accidental, must, of necessity, proceed from the form. So here, when St. Thomas jumps, as it were, from the creation of matter, to what looks very like a description of his embryology, or to any accidental change in the Order of Generation, wherein all motion proceeds from an imperfect to a more perfect degree, (not kind) of being. I think all will come more clear in the following words of the same passage: And keep in mind that St. Thomas always thinks hierarchically, that is vertically and therefore to a great degree, statically. I omit much of the foregoing words, since the Summa is readily available to all. St. Thomas continues: “In proof thereof, it must be borne in mind that the higher the cause, the more numerous the objects to which its causation extends….thus the thing that underlies primarily all things, belongs properly to the causality of the supreme cause.”
Comment: This is a direct reference to what St. Thomas elsewhere names as God’s concursus or primary causality absolutely necessary to maintain all things in existence throughout time; and also to concur with the active agency of all secondary causes. As the first of all secondary causes, the body of the universe – whose matter – as the Prime Matter of the Scholastics, provided the materials for the composite beings of the plant kinds on Day Three, the celestial bodies on Day Four, the marine and bird kinds on Day Five, and the animal and human kinds (one human kind) on Day Six. With these historical facts in mind, let us allow St. Thomas to continue:
“Therefore no secondary cause can produce anything – unless there is presupposed in the thing produced – something that is caused by a higher cause. But creation is the production of a thing in its entire substance, nothing being presupposed either uncreated or created.”
Comment: We can see here the absolute importance for the Six Days and their literal interpretation. It was God alone who could do what He is revealed as doing on each of the Six Days. Let us look briefly at the “Work” of each day. (This is my Catholic cosmology, faithful, I hope, to Thomistic Principles, but reducing the 4 ancient elements to the Prime Matter of the Body of the Universe – whose form is spherical – defined by the 10 spheres of St. Thomas, and hierarchical, defined by the grades of perfection in the Hierarchy of Being that constitutes reality.)
Day One: The universe appears at the Word of God. The earth is invisible beneath the waters and only without form as being unadorned. Darkness is divided by the creation making of Light and there is evening and morning, One Day. Day Two sees the distinction of the waters into those above and those below. Day Three: The distinction of land and seas with the adornment of the land with the entire plant kingdom and its many diverse kinds. Most importantly, it is here that God directly created (ex nihilo) the substantial form of each plant kind (yet to be definitively described by the science of Taxonomy). I think it is here that the artificial distinction of creation prima and creation secunda is made. I do not like it and do not find it at all accurate, useful or theologically necessary. What actually happened, according to the text of Genesis One, was that God commanded the earth to bring forth each plant kind. This could only happen by God’s word of command. And it signifies, I suggest, a creative act of making, using earth (those appropriate elements) to fit each plant kind or substantial form. This is something only God could do. That is why it was both a creation ex nihilo and a making – the first and perhaps the original endowment/empowerment of the earth to do this and to continue to do it throughout time in the transmission of the substantial form in the Order of Generation.
It is thus only within the literal time-frame of each of the Six Days – that God is most accurately or appropriately said to have created ex nihilo – all things in their whole substance. Their substance, as composite beings, necessarily includes both matter and form. The matter, in the case of all the corporeal beings, - plant, animal and man – was new in each case because the elements, drawn from earth, were specific to each kind. This fact is being demonstrated by the work of the Protestant Creationists – (work Catholics should be doing but continue in their criminal failure to do). These same principles apply to the “work” of God on Days Four, Five and Six. I hold that on Day One, God created the molecule of water, H20 – but obviously gave to it the very versatile powers it exhibits throughout space (place) and time. (See the book Universal Water, by Wes Marin, and the use of its information by Robert Sungenis in his monumental Galileo Was Wrong!) On Day 4, I beg Catholic scientists not to speak of processes, as of hydrogen and helium - somehow migrating into the sun.
PLEASE! That is evolutionary thinking. God created/made the sun (moon and stars) with/in their whole substance, i.e. atomic structure. On Day Four, God made the lights in the firmament…”God made two great lights….and He set them in the firmament of heaven..” (Genesis 1:14-18.) I would not call this a second creation - but rather distinguish between creating and making, because all that God did during the Six Days is both First, for all time, and the first use of a secondary cause, though strictly speaking, God did not use anything in the sense of needing a previously created material, as in the case of human making. (Man in no sense creates.) Only God has created and continues only to maintain all things in existence and to concur in all secondary agencies. I suppose it is something of a choice here.