In Aristotle’s Metaphysics, he discusses what he believes to be the theory of origin. One must differentiate Aristotle’s theory with that of creation. The word “creation” implies a biblical idea. Aristotle was not familiar with the biblical text and therefore did not understand the concept of “creation” in the biblical sense. Rather he was more interested in the “origin” of the world.
Aristotle believes that before the concept of time there were three kinds of substances, two of them being physical and one being the unmovable. The three substances can be described as one being the “sensible eternal”, the second being the “sensible perishable” and the third substance being the immovable. To further this theory the sensible perishable can be seen as matter, the sensible eternal as potential, and the immovable can be seen as that which is Metaphysical and belongs to another science. According to Aristotle, the immovable is God. It is the immovable that sets the sensible perishable into motion and therefore turns the potential into the actual.
This theory is Aristotle’s belief that something can not come out of nothing. Aristotle says, “How will there be movement, if there is no actually existing cause?…The seeds must act on the earth and the semen on the menstrual blood”. What he is saying is that something must be set into motion by something else. There is always a cause to an effect. One relies on the other. Therefore, before origin there must have been an “immovable mover”, that being God.
Aristotle believes that there are four kinds of changes: What, Place, Quality and Quantity. For example, a pen is by definition the object, it has a position and takes up space, it exists for a period of time and has shape and size. These external characteristics can and will change. According to Aristotle, everything changes. Therefore the pen has potential to move, to change color and size. When it changes from a state of how it is perceived, otherwise known as potential, to a state of what it can be, it has reached a state of actuality.
According to Aristotle, this theory can be applied to the origin of the world. Once the world was set in motion, it was given potential for that which moves is constantly changing and therefore has potential. Aristotle says that change is eternal. Since the world is constantly changing, it is eternal, meaning it had a beginning but has no end. For this reason God is infinite because God lacks potential. As the immovable mover, it has no beginning and therefore has no end. This makes God the infinite being.
Aristotle believes in the theory of origin. The world is the sensible perishable put into motion by the immovable mover. He therefore means that everything in the sensible world has a cause and effect. He says, “Nothing is moved at random, but there must always be something present to move it”. It is for this reason that creation can not come out of nothing. Creation was set in motion by God and is therefore finite and eternal in the sense that it was created and therefore had a beginning but has no end.