QUESTION 71: THE WORK OF THE FIFTH DAY
We must next consider the work of the fifth day.
Objection 1: It would seem that this work is not fittingly described. For the
waters produce that which the power of water suffices to produce. But the
power of water does not suffice for the production of every kind of
fishes and birds since we find that many of them are generated from seed.
Therefore the words, "Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature
having life, and the fowl that may fly over the earth," do not fittingly
describe this work.
Objection 2: Further, fishes and birds are not produced from water only, but
earth seems to predominate over water in their composition, as is shown
by the fact that their bodies tend naturally to the earth and rest upon
it. It is not, then, fittingly that fishes and birds are produced from
Objection 3: Further, fishes move in the waters, and birds in the air. If,
then, fishes are produced from the waters, birds ought to be produced
from the air, and not from the waters.
Objection 4: Further, not all fishes creep through the waters, for some, as
seals, have feet and walk on land. Therefore the production of fishes is
not sufficiently described by the words, "Let the waters bring forth the
creeping creature having life."
Objection 5: Further, land animals are more perfect than birds and fishes
which appears from the fact that they have more distinct limbs, and
generation of a higher order. For they bring forth living beings, whereas
birds and fishes bring forth eggs. But the more perfect has precedence in
the order of nature. Therefore fishes and birds ought not to have been
produced on the fifth day, before land animals.
On the contrary, Suffices the authority of Scripture.
I answer that, As said above, (Question , Article ), the order of the work of
adornment corresponds to the order of the work of distinction. Hence, as
among the three days assigned to the work of distinction, the middle, or
second, day is devoted to the work of distinction of water, which is the
intermediate body, so in the three days of the work of adornment, the
middle day, which is the fifth, is assigned to the adornment of the
intermediate body, by the production of birds and fishes. As, then, Moses
makes mention of the lights and the light on the fourth day, to show that
the fourth day corresponds to the first day on which he had said that the
light was made, so on this fifth day he mentions the waters and the
firmament of heaven to show that the fifth day corresponds to the second.
It must, however, be observed that Augustine differs from other writers
in his opinion about the production of fishes and birds, as he differs
about the production of plants. For while others say that fishes and
birds were produced on the fifth day actually, he holds that the nature
of the waters produced them on that day potentially.
Reply to Objection 1: It was laid down by Avicenna that animals of all kinds can
be generated by various minglings of the elements, and naturally, without
any kind of seed. This, however, seems repugnant to the fact that nature
produces its effects by determinate means, and consequently, those things
that are naturally generated from seed cannot be generated naturally in
any other way. It ought, then, rather to be said that in the natural
generation of all animals that are generated from seed, the active
principle lies in the formative power of the seed, but that in the case
of animals generated from putrefaction, the formative power of is the
influence of the heavenly bodies. The material principle, however, in
the generation of either kind of animals, is either some element, or
something compounded of the elements. But at the first beginning of the
world the active principle was the Word of God, which produced animals
from material elements, either in act, as some holy writers say, or
virtually, as Augustine teaches. Not as though the power possessed by
water or earth of producing all animals resides in the earth and the
water themselves, as Avicenna held, but in the power originally given to
the elements of producing them from elemental matter by the power of seed
or the influence of the stars.
Reply to Objection 2: The bodies of birds and fishes may be considered from two
points of view. If considered in themselves, it will be evident that the
earthly element must predominate, since the element that is least active,
namely, the earth, must be the most abundant in quantity in order that
the mingling may be duly tempered in the body of the animal. But if
considered as by nature constituted to move with certain specific
motions, thus they have some special affinity with the bodies in which
they move; and hence the words in which their generation is described.
Reply to Objection 3: The air, as not being so apparent to the senses, is not
enumerated by itself, but with other things: partly with the water,
because the lower region of the air is thickened by watery exhalations;
partly with the heaven as to the higher region. But birds move in the
lower part of the air, and so are said to fly "beneath the firmament,"
even if the firmament be taken to mean the region of clouds. Hence the
production of birds is ascribed to the water.
Reply to Objection 4: Nature passes from one extreme to another through the
medium; and therefore there are creatures of intermediate type between
the animals of the air and those of the water, having something in common
with both; and they are reckoned as belonging to that class to which they
are most allied, through the characters possessed in common with that
class, rather than with the other. But in order to include among fishes
all such intermediate forms as have special characters like to theirs,
the words, "Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature having
life," are followed by these: "God created great whales," etc.
Reply to Objection 5: The order in which the production of these animals is given
has reference to the order of those bodies which they are set to adorn,
rather than to the superiority of the animals themselves. Moreover, in
generation also the more perfect is reached through the less perfect.