I appreciate the zombies in this world. That is those folks who drift through life, aimlessly, shoved this way and that by events and people. People who don’t seem to have a constructive urge but who complacently accept whatever is and whatever comes their way. They are people who make me wonder in awe at God’s creation.
Are we each required to have some value, something to offer, some unique niche, some contribution? No. In this man-made economy of capitalism, people are required to at least support themselves, which brings a lot of baggage with it. No one is going to support the free-loader.
God makes his sun to shine on bugs, birds, and everyone whether they are good, bad, or indifferent. Our cats get love, food, water, toilet care, veterinary care, and never do a lick of work in their entire lives. They just mosey around and eat and sleep. If people do this it’s just about more than we can stand.
The animals of the earth live even in harsh conditions without “working.” We can, but should we.
Difference between people and animals
There is one definable difference between animals and humans. Animals can problem solve but they can’t think abstractly like humans do. Animals look at the things they have at hand and think concretely about how to use those things to solve problems. For example, “… a group of crows figured out how to filter food from sand by using mesh wiring.”
Animals are amazing. If you think not, just build a fence you think no animal can get through, and like people crossing the border they go over, under, around, and even through the fence. They’re unstoppable. But I’ve yet to see a pig create a mile long tunnel to bring drugs into the country. Or lure people into taking drugs with the promise of happiness. Those are abstract ideas.
I gave up farming in my teens. Chasing animals and rebuilding fences every day was not something I was keen on. In communications I deal with a lot of concepts and context – abstract ideas. Abstract thinking leads to creativity.
Abstract – key to creativity
Abstract ideas don’t have a “concrete” existence. You can’t put your finger on one like it was food or a wire mesh. The ability to think abstractly is very related to speech capabilities. The more complex the idea represented in speech the more abstract it is. “God” is an example. We can consider abstract thought and higher level creativity to be God-given gifts unique to humans.
For example, people who lose the ability to speak often experience a oneness with the world, but they lose the ability of abstract thought. They regain this ability by re-learning how to speak.
Growing up on a farm you are necessarily very independent. Help isn’t in the next apartment so you learn how to be inventive. You solve problems by using what is at hand. You begin to think abstractly by considering new ways of doing things, and considering which crops are more profitable. Most people in earlier centuries were considered to be more tied to the land and hard work, and abstract thought was less of a common or treasured thing. Those who used their minds more for higher level thinking were more creative. Benjamin Franklin was an example – he was highly creative and inventive in both the world of governing and in science.
Progress drives abstract thought and new products
It’s always thought that when people invent a new product that displaces the old, such as a mechanical harvester to replace picking by hand or scythe, that massive unemployment will result. Inevitably people create new products to sell so commerce and employment go on. People are endlessly creative. They make the world better, and then go on to solve new problems (or make new problems to solve).
Curiosity – Adam and Eve
What I get from the Adam and Eve story is not that they were bad people. Even the Jews don’t interpret it that way – they have many interpretations. What cultural truths were the ancients trying to tell us through this allegory? The forbidden fruit was from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (The Immortal Myth Of Adam And Eve. Torah.com.)
I get that God created us to be endlessly curious and we try new things even if it might be dangerous. We want to know about good and evil, we’re not robots who lack freewill and choice, we’re endlessly curious and learning and making endless choices.
What did curiosity drive Adam and Eve to invent? Clothes. Well, that’s the story anyway. I rather think it was briar patches that did it.
Invitation to participate in creation
We’ve moved on from the world of hunter-gatherers who wandered the Earth and found food wherever it lived or grew. We’ve moved on from 90% of our population being involved in agriculture as it was in the 1800s, to just 10% today. The remaining 90% do other things, often more rewarding things.
The Great Resignation tells us that people want to find their jobs not just tolerable but rewarding. MIT-SLoan Management Review. Forty-two percent of pastors considered leaving the ministry during Covid.
Abstract thinking and creativity are a choice. We’re not doomed or “less than” if we don’t take part in it. It’s a gift. It’s our invitation to take part in creation. Creation Mandate.
“God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” – Genesis 1: 28 (NASB)
The word fruitful means to cause to be, make, bring forth, increase. It probably refers specifically to reproduction, which was a driving theme in ancient times. It doesn’t mean just to work and produce. But the verse says also to subdue the earth and rule over it. I take it to mean more than a mechanical thing. Subduing the earth takes a great deal of creativity and invention.
The satisfaction in creation
Some spend endless hours making beautiful quilts with unique patterns, or children’s clothing and costumes. My wife’s forte is homemaking and I love the decorating she does to make our home awesome.
Some tune cars and tractors to be ever more powerful and faster. Some create better ways of drying corn or keeping pigs within the fences. My brother designs kitchen, bath, and basement remodels and room additions. His talent also goes into designing unique lighting fixtures.
Some write computer programs to solve new problems. Some develop new drugs to cure diseases. Some write novels with unique characters and plots. Some find ways to go to the depths of the ocean or farthest reaches of outer space. Some develop new recipes for food.
We all have a role to play in helping others on this planet. Our curiosity and need to make a contribution drives us. Some bring children into this world and participate intensely in creation.
We create new things. We “cause to be, make, bring forth.”
Each of us has God given gifts, talents, abilities, interests, and aptitudes, and as we live we develop even more. We’re invited to “cause to be …, reproduce, and subdue the earth.” Each of us in some way can make a contribution to humanity, and it doesn’t have to be creative.
I like to put it this way: “Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world a better place.”
The standard of belief and conduct for Christianity is love. Legal standard.
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If I’ve challenged your thinking, I’ve done my job.
Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.