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Lewis on Human Creativity

·2 mins

‘“Creation” as applied to human authorship . . . seems to me an entirely misleading term. We make ἐξὑποκειμένων [with regard to what lies at hand], i.e. we rearrange elements He has provided. There is not a vestige of real creativity de novo [entirely new] in us. Try to imagine a new primary color, a third sex, a fourth dimension, or even a monster which does not consist of bits of existing animals stuck together! Nothing happens. And that surely is why our works (as you said) never mean to others quite what we intended: because we are recombining elements made by Him and already containing His meanings. Because of those divine meanings in our materials it is impossible we should ever know the whole meaning of our own works, and the meaning we never intended may be the best and truest one. Writing a book is much less like creation than it is like planting a garden or begetting a child: in all three cases we are only entering as one cause into a causal stream which works, so to speak, in its own way. I would not wish it to be otherwise. If one could really create in the strict sense, would one not find one had created a sort of Hell?’

Letter to Sister Penelope, February 20, 1943

If science is “thinking God’s thoughts after Him,”1 then surely there is some glory, if not purely scientific in thinking the thoughts of a great man after him?

A post I wrote in 2010 called Artist vs Designer

  1. “I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God.” A quote spuriously(?) attributed to Johannes Kepler. ↩︎