Co-creators and Our Aims

What difference does it make whether one thinks that God offers us a distinct aim towards which we aim in each moment or that we ourselves are co-creators with God of our own aims? This may seems like a purely speculative question, something for scholastics. But I believe how we answer this question may shape how to relate to creativity and to God.

The first option has the advantage of clarity in evaluating our actions: did we miss the mark, and by how much? Surely there is a level of evaluation in what we have done, and this indicates that there is a degree of better and worse decisions.

This may be purely satisfactory, but before you decide it is the obvious answer, think about this question: God may surprise us, may make options available to us that we ourselves couldn’t see, but is it ever possible for us to surprise God? That God might once in a while respond to us, ‘Wow, look at that! Definitely wasn’t expecting that, how wonderful!’

In this latter model, creativity is not a deviation from an ideal, either single or multiple, but basically a range of relevant options we are gifted in light of our particular space or location. God says, ‘This is your context. Now make something of it!’ Some options are more beautiful, more healing, more harmonious, but what the option will be is more indeterminate, less objective. This allows for our decisions, at their best, to be really novel. This latter option can include positive aspects of the first option: judgment when actions are outside of the most intense and harmonious possibilities, evaluation of lost opportunities and naming active destruction of other values. Often things are worse than they could have been.

There are plenty of technical arguments for how this can be possible, but I don’t believe those are the types of things that convince us. It is an intuition, a lure, and perhaps a temperament of what degree of ambiguity we can creatively incorporate. Either way, I believe both are legitimate process answers. Can we delightfully surprise God? I hope so!

~Timothy Murphy