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Creativity – the Beating Heart of God

August 29, 2017

God has long been described as Creator. “God created the world.”  In this familiar statement,  “created” is a verb in the past tense. But our new understanding of the world, of our universe of reality, is that creation is not just something that happened a long time ago, but has been and is a continuing process. Creativity is an integral process at the very heart of the cosmic evolution that is happening right now, and each one of us is a participant in it.  Listen to how Matthew Fox in his book Creativity describes it:

“With today’s new creation story, we are learning how fully committed to creativity the universe has been for its [13.8 billion] years of existence.  Creativity is its thing; it is about constant birth and rebirth, life, death, and resurrection. Stars do it, galaxies do it, atoms do it, mountains do it, animals do it, birds do it, grasses do it. All of life, it turns out, is busy being creative. To me the creativity that is the heart of the universe is the heart of God.”  John Dominic Crossan’s words are “the beating heart of the Universe.”

Michael Dowd, in his book, Thank God for Evolution, describes how our new understanding of the universe, with its constantly evolving galaxies and stars, and planets, and life on Earth, includes a way of looking at the universe’s creativity in terms of its nestedness.

“The whole of reality is created in a nested sense, and we are a part of the process. Like nested dolls, smaller realities are contained within larger ones – from the infinitely small to the infinitely vast – and every one of them is divinely creative. Each scale of reality is blessed with an ability to bring forth novelty through natural processes of emergence gloriously specific to its unique station within the nested whole. “Divinely creative” expresses, too, that each nested level has the power to bring into being something that never existed before. This is the primary characteristic of God: “Creator.”

“Everything is part of something bigger and is made of smaller components nested within it. Each of these “whole/parts” is creative. Each one of us is such a unit of “whole/parts”. Within, we find organs, tissue, molecules, atoms, subatomic particles. Without, we form families, societies, planets, solar systems, galaxies. At every level, each “whole/parts” unit is creative in ways distinct from the powers that operate at both larger and smaller scales. Nested creativity thus is the source of emergence, of continuing creation by the collective and within each of its parts. At the human scale, we find ourselves smack in the middle of this creative enterprise. Ultimate Reality, or God, is the One and Only Whole (Holy One) that is not part of some larger, more comprehensive reality.

“We now know that stars create almost all of the atoms in the periodic table of elements. Atoms in community give rise to molecules. Molecules assemble into living cells. Out of cells emerge multi-cellular plants, animals, and fungi. Ants, termites, crows, prairie dogs, and human beings generate societies. Societies spawn cultures and technologies. Cultures yield artistic and religious expressions. And the creativity of all of it, at every level, is possible only because of the Ultimate Whole of Reality that I enthusiastically call “God.”

“The importance of nested emergence cannot be overemphasized. Creation is a self-organizing, nested, process of divine creativity – creative wholes that are part of larger creative wholes within still larger wholes. Each level has its own “intelligence,” capabilities that its constituent parts do not have full access to. . . . One of the greatest ironies in the history of Western thought is this: by examining Reality as though it were a machine, humanity discovered that Reality is not a machine. Our mechanistic paradigm opened our collective sensibilities to the presence of a decidedly non-mechanistic Universe that requires our use of non-mechanistic metaphors (e.g., “nested creativity,” “self-organizing Universe”) in order for the Universe to faithfully be made comprehensible . And all this can be accomplished “to the glory of God,” that is, in ways that serve the Whole.”


Loren Bullock
August 29, 2017

Thank God for Evolution, by Michael Dowd pp. 84-86. Viking 2007
Creativity, Where the Divine and Human Meet, by Matthew Fox. Penguin 2004

Note: Dowd, following Arthur Koestler and Ken Wilbur, uses the word holon for the unit of nested “whole/parts” as used above.  A pointed contraction of “holy one.”  Each one of us is a holon.  My heart is a holon.  The planet Earth is a holon.

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