Quam Quidem Imitationem De Deo

How much in our creative endeavors do we end up imitating God? One of the most notable aspects of creation is that it allows us, in some form, to imitate God. This imitation allows us to understand at least in some limited way, how it is that God creates through our own efforts. We can, for example, learn how it is to optimize within constraints, so as to better understand the trade-offs that are involved in creation and how it is to be creative with limited resources. Similarly, in our creative efforts we can better understand how it is that our creation can seem to take a life on their own, and that other people will not always react to our creations the way that we would wish, and that this hinders our ability to control the way that our creations are seen and are experienced by those around us. A great many of the results of our creation are unintended, and this can mean that what we create will not always do what we would wish it to do.

One of the more notable aspects of creativity, though, is the sad reality that creative people are not often people whose lives are worthy of praise and emulation. While for all of His creativity God is a being who likes this done decently and in order, one of the foremost traits of creative people is the disordered way in which they live their lives. It does not take very long at all before one finds out frequently that the writers and musicians and painters and technological innovators that one likes and whose work one appreciates are not often people whose lives we can endorse. Given the sad reality that people who want to be creative are frequently encouraged to break the rules of what is viewed of as possible and are praised for being daring and looking with contempt on the ordinary and the respectable, it is not surprising that people would not be able to distinguish between the benefits that can result from creating new technologies and developing new approaches to familiar genres and the serious and lasting problems that result from living immoral and ungodly lives.

To what extent can we be creative while maintaining a godly standard of behavior? After all, God is creative without engaging in sin. There is no hint in divine creativity that the spreading of the heavens and speaking the universe and its components into existence in any way leads to a disordered moral and spiritual nature. The creation of the new heavens and new earth, far beyond the level of creativity that is available to mankind, does not come with holding God’s laws and ways in contempt. Rather, such a universe is only available to those who follow God and live according to His ways, as it is written in numerous places like Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Revelation. Those who seek to imitate the creativity of God without imitating and cultivating the moral character of God and Jesus Christ do not bring glory or lasting benefit to themselves or to others, but rather bring judgment upon themselves for viewing their own thoughts and ways as more important than God’s ways, and viewing themselves as gods in their own mind.

It is likely that the tendency of creative people to be disordered has led creativity itself to have a checkered history throughout the history of the world. In many places and times there have been people whose creativity has been impressive in some aspects, but equally often such times of creativity failed for one reason or another. Some ages are tolerant of the disorder that is caused by creative people, but when that creativity costs too much to the well-being of society, innovation frequently gets viewed as a bad thing rather than a good thing. While it is hard for us to see such times coming to the West, they have come before and very well may come again. We may find ourselves in a day and age where imitatio imperii becomes the order of the day, where we try to copy as best as we can the glories of the past, and where the glory of the present seems but a shadow of what once was. There is no inevitability when it comes to moral progress or any other kind of progress, and it would be wise for us to remember this.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Musings, On Creativity and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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