Sunday, March 23, 2008

Creativity . . . the purpose of the universe?

In other posts (here, here and here), I have written specifically about the importance of creativity. Today, I want to try again. As the title declares, the questions I want to ask are:

  • Is creativity the purpose of the universe?
  • Is creativity our purpose?
  • Is the universe fundamentally creative?
  • If so, are we?

In this post I will share quotes from two writers, who I believe would have a wonderful time talking and exploring together, even though their they come from very different perspectives. I will share quotes from Dr. Stuart Kauffman and Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik.

Dr. Kauffman is director of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics at the University of Calgary and is a professor in the departments of Biological Sciences and Physics and Astronomy at the university. More can be found out here.

The YU website has a short bio of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik here. The last line simply says, "was the most influential figure associated with the spread of Torah in America, and he was singularly known as “the Rav.”

While I enjoy the holistic view of Dr. Kauffman, I must admit that I find the Rav's view more inviting and a more tangible invitation to create on my own and to turn my day-to-day life into one filled with meaning and creativity.

Stuart Kauffman from Reinventing the Sacred draft (a book to be released in May)

Thus, beyond the new science that glimmers a new world view, we have a new view of God, not as transcendent, not as an agent, but as the very creativity of the universe itself. This God brings with it a sense of oneness, unity, with all of life, and our planet — it expands our consciousness and naturally seems to lead to an enhanced potential global ethic of wonder, awe, responsibility within the bounded limits of our capacity, for all of life and its home, the Earth, and beyond as we explore the Solar System.

The third, rather astonishing theme that is emerging in this new world view is that the biosphere and human culture are ceaselessly creative in ways that are fundamentally unpredictable and presumably non-algorithmic or machine like.

I want God to mean the vast ceaseless creativity of the only universe we know of, ours. What do we gain by using the God word? I suspect a great deal, for the word carries with it awe and reverence. If we can transfer that awe and reverence, not to the transcendental Abrahamic God of my Israelite tribe long ago, but to the stunning reality that confronts us, we will grant permission for a renewed spirituality, and awe, reverence and responsibility for all that lives, for the planet.

Stuart Kauffman -- Investigations

'Forever Creative' -- "In this chapter I have been trying to say, argue, articulate the possibility that a biosphere is profoundly generative--somehow fundamentally always creative. The cornerstone of this dawning new conviction lies in the belief I now hold with some confidence that we cannot finitely prestate the configuration space of a biosphere." 135

Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik -- Halakhic Man

“Only man is capable of creative interpretation (hiddush), something which is beyond the power of angels, for since the Holy One, blessed be He, created them in a state of perfection, they need not and, therefore, cannot develop and progress. But this is not the case with man, for he progresses and his intellect gains ever-increasing strength. . . . The essence of the Torah is intellectual creativity. 82

Halakhic man is a man who longs to create, to bring into being something new, something original. The study of Torah, by definition, means gleaning new, creative insights from the Torah (hiddushei Torah). 99

Man’s task is to “fashion, engrave, attach, and create,” and transform the emptiness in being into a perfect and holy existence, bearing the imprint of the divine name. 101

If a man wishes to attain the rank of holiness, he must become a creator of world. If a man never creates, never brings into being anything new. anything original, then he cannot be holy unto his God. 108

The most fundamental principle of all is that man must create himself. It is this idea that Judaism introduced into the world. 109

And halakhic man, whose voluntaristic nature we have established earlier, is, indeed, a free man. He creates an ideal world, renews his own being and transforms himself into a man of God, dreams about the complete realization of the Halakhah in the very core of the world, and looks forward to the kingdom of God “contracting” itself and appearing in the midst of concrete and empirical reality. 137

If we accept that the universe is this abundant and creative realm -- then doesn't it make simple sense that that type of abundant creativity is key to each of us, to the human universe. Therefore, as one investigates ideas, theories, even religions--this notion of creativity and abundance and its nurturing, advocating, encouraging and teaching is fundamental.

What creates the opportunity for more creativity, more diversity, more abundance, more LIFE? This creativity is not simply poetry (the favorite of many philosophers, e.g Heidegger) or art, but the creativity in all of Life's areas -- creatively exploring new opportunities for growth.

With creativity, diversity, novelty as fundamental goods--freedom is another key -- because without freedom, we would not have the opportunity to explore new possibilities, new opportunities, new horizons.

I think the most important thing to remember is that this is how the universe works -- when we block this creativity, this newness, we run counter to life; we block our own creativity, we block the fundamental direction, urge, push of Life.

What are some of the keys to making this happen? Language -- language helps create new possibility, new ways of thinking and seeing by finding/creating the right word(s). Environment -- a rich (though not chaotic) environment creates new opportunities.

Moment to moment to moment -- looking for creativity, opportunity, possibility, growth.

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