Internal creativity

Rupert Sheldrake thinks science and religion overlap, but he is not an advocate of Intelligent Design. ID assumes a a mechanistic metaphor of the world: “Humans design machines, buildings and works of art. In a similar way the God of mechanistic theology, or the Intelligent Designer, is supposed to have designed the details of living organisms” ( The Science Delusion , 37-8).

The problem, he says, is that living organisms are not machines but “have an internal creativity . . . . Humans have an inherent creativity; and all living organisms may also have an inherent creativity that is expressed in larger or smaller ways. Machines require external designers; organisms do not.” He suggests that the notion of internal creativity is closer to orthodox Christianity than the mechanistic deism of the seventeenth century. In Genesis 1-2, “animals and plants were not portrayed as machines, but as self-reproducing organisms that arose from the earth and the seas.” Earth produces plants (1:11), and also living creatures (1:24). These are acts of “mediate’ creation, since “God did not design or create these plants and animals directly.”

That has two interesting implications: First, that Darwin’s theory is, at least with regard to the inherent creativity of creation, is closer to the biblical picture than the watchmaker theory of a Paley; second, that God’s causation of the world takes the form of gift: He gives being to everything, and that gift of being is the gift of creativity, the gift that involves a capacity to give being to other things.

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