Friday, 5 August 2016

Creation, Subcreation and Co-creation

The matter of human creativity - and whether it is 'a good thing' has profound implications for religious thinking, including Christianity.

There is a divide in religious thinking concerning the extent to which Men can or should participate in creation.


At one - common among major religions - extreme; creation is a 'finished work', and Men cannot make any substantive difference to that fact. Reality is already complete, static, perfect. All creation is/ was a matter of god or the gods.

In such a world, Man's role in life is passive - he should (for example) obey the rules of creation, should worship the creator, should be grateful for having been created etc. But Man as a species, and each Man as an individual, does not have any essential - nor even important - role in creation.

Man may create something to god's glory - but it doesn't really matter either way; because, with respect to creation, Man is utterly dispensable: a mere recipient.


If a value is accorded to Man's creative work, then matters become much more complex: indeed an utterly different kind of reality (and nature of god) is implied: that is how important the concept of creativity is to religion!

A view assigns to Man a destiny as sub-creator. It is intended/ desired, supposed that Man will be a creator himself (and from-himself - not merely as a conduit for divine action) within the already-existing context of creation. So - there is creation as it exists when the Man begins work, and there is potentially a larger and more complex reality which exists as a consequence of that Man's work - and this later state is conceived to be better than the former. It is each Man's job potentially to contribute to that better future.

By including creation among Man's roles, an element of real Time has been introduced - along with an element of Evolution. Reality is being seen as not a finished static thing, but as a dynamic process, perpetually unfolding as creation proceeds.

This implies that reality is not and never has been perfect - and probably never can be; which idea  strikes at the heart of some conceptualisations of the nature of god (in terms of his completeness, perfections and infinites). Because a god that asks for Man's 'help' in creation is a very different kind of god than one who creates everything in eternal perfection and coherence - and who requires of Man only that he praise the creation and live in harmony with it.


This may be the root of that clash between the most-creative Men and religion - their deep-seated conviction that Man is not superfluous and that each Man potentially has something of specific and reality-changing value to contribute; the demand that Man has something substantive to do in his life. (In contrast with the perceived inadequacy of an eternity of passive, superfluous worship, obedience and gratitude.)

Naturally, this attitude is regarded as pride-driven by those who deny the need or possibility of subcreation, and may indeed be such - but whether it is necessarily pride-driven, depends on one's concept of creation and the possibility (or not) of genuine subcreation.

A philosophy of life which takes seriously the role of Man as subcreator is one which necessarily  extends to considering man as co-creator - because any real subcreation becomes a part of created reality; so any Man who subcreates makes some contribution to the totality of creation and is therefore co-creator with god (albeit within the context of god's original and primary creation; and himself being created and using created materials).

This affects our understanding of the nature of God; because a god who made us to be subcreators and then co-creators is a god who apparently sees us as potential 'friends' rather than 'subjects' - on-a-level of sorts, a god who seems to want us to have an increasingly-equal relationship with him.

And this is a long way from the utterly remote, all knowing/ all powerful god of some religious conceptions: and the fact that such gods always seem to regard active subcreation by Men as an activity always unnecessary, and usually harmful.