Finally, the context of the passage from the Summa Contra Gentiles that Torley cites (Book III, chapter 100, paragraphs 6 and 7) is a discussion of whether, when God causes something to occur in the natural order that would otherwise not occur, what He does is somehow contrary to the natural order. And Aquinas says that it is no more contrary to the natural order than what an artist does when he adds something new to his artwork is contrary to the nature of the artwork. But there is nothing in this that entails that God’s creation of some natural substance is comparable to (say) an artist’s taking a canvas and putting some paint on it. The nature of divine creative acts as such is, yet again, not even at issue here. (Brandon Watson makes another important point about Torley’s reading of this passage.)
I would also add that there are metaphysical concepts underlying what St. Thomas says in these passages – such as “exemplary causation,” “species,” and the like – that must be understood before one can properly understand the passages themselves. And as we have seen, Torley’s grasp of A-T metaphysics is worse than tenuous.
In general, I would urge defenders of ID theory who take umbrage at what I and other A-T philosophers have said in criticism of ID to try seriously to understand what A-T actually says before commenting on it. I would also urge them to stick to the point. The dispute between ID and A-T has – let me repeat yet one more time – nothing essentially to do with Darwinism, and nothing essentially to do with the origin of life or of this or that specific biological phenomenon. Those are separate issues. The dispute has to do instead with whether living things are to be thought of as “natural” objects or as “artifacts,” in Aristotle’s senses of those terms. It has to do with whether one can either properly understand the nature of living things, or get even one inch closer to the God of classical theism, by conceiving (even just for methodological purposes) of the natural world in mechanistic terms (i.e. in terms which exclude from the natural order immanent final causes or formal causes). And it has to do with the serious metaphysical and theological errors A-T philosophers regard as flowing from such a conception of nature, and which I have discussed elsewhere (e.g. here, here, and here).