A few years ago I paid a visit to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History‘s Human Origins exhibition. Our tour guide was Rick Potts, director of the Human Origins Program and curator of anthropology at the Museum. Potts has been involved in activities with BioLogos, and is keen to help Christians understand his research.
The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins follows the history of humankind, starting with creatures that were just beginning to walk upright, and moving right through to the present day. We were shown the development of tools, different types of food, social activities and symbolism. It was fascinating to explore the artifacts and reconstructions of the digs where they had been found, but I also found the experience very moving. Continue reading →
So far my writing about creativity has been very optimistic. But not everything we do is good. There are two ways of looking at human creativity: ‘sacramental’ and ‘dialectical’. In sacramental creativity we are seen as co-creators, because what we do continues God’s act of creation in the world. A dialectical view of creativity concentrates on the fact that human beings are not perfect: we do wrong, and as such are not capable of co-creating with God. What we make is always corrupted in some way. Only through re-creation can we create well, with God’s help. I find the dialectical view more helpful, because it highlights both the responsibility and the vulnerability of being human.
Thomas Merton was concerned about the corruption of creativity in art. Though writing in the 1960’s, much of what he says is no doubt applicable to contemporary art in the 2010’s. The first part of his essay ‘Theology of Creativity’, describes how a modern artist can sometimes be elevated to a priestly role Continue reading →
Scientists are creative people. When I began to work on this project I spoke to a number of Christians working in science about what they thought were the most positive parts of the science-faith dialogue. I had not considered creativity as an important factor in the discussion until I visited the University of Madison-Wisconsin and was introduced to some chemists.
Chemistry doesn’t throw up any burning issues for science and faith as other subjects do: no great ethical debates, no creation-evolution battles, no arguments about the ‘fine-tuning’ of the universe. I find that scientists who have been drawn into these battles often have ideas about things they would rather talk about. Most speak about beauty, awe and wonder, and that is why I have written so much about these topics. When I spoke to a couple of people in the Chemistry department at Madison, however, they both mentioned that they enjoyed the creative process of trying to make sense of things, or solve a problem.
It might be a surprise for some to read that scientists exercise creativity in their work, but when you think about it – why not? Continue reading →