Friday, January 06, 2006

Writing Creativity and Revelation Theory

Author, Alton Gansky has a couple of interesting posts at his blog,, that I liked on writing creativity. I found the latest on how technology sometimes gets in the way of the modern writer particularly apropos. And it got me thinking which is a pretty dangerous (and hopefully not too boring) thing.

I have some pretty bizarre concepts rumbling around in my head that I'll try to share here over time. But one relates to this idea of creative spark. I think it was Edison who said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." But to my mind without that inspiration or creative spark, you're just another sweaty guy.

My concept revolves around the thought... that you could replace the word "inspiration" or the words "creative spark" with "revelation". As in revelation from God. The Conservation Laws(energy, matter, mass, etc) tell us in some sense that everything that's here on Earth has always been in some form and will always continue to be. I'm inclined to think that that includes ideas as well. Because the Law of Trying to Plot out a Novel says that there are no more original ideas; they've all been thought of before by somebody somewhere.

But I think that maybe the one exception to this is revelation, where God shows us something about Himself. And since he exists outside the context of the Earth, this supernaturally "violates" the above principles by giving us something that wasn't previously here, something we couldn't have come up with in a million years without him planting that thought in our heads.

Here's where the punchline for my theory, which I acknowledged as bizarre, comes in. I think that maybe every truly original idea or invention responsible for each major advance in human history therefore must have been the result of revelation. Everything else is just a recombination or variation on a theme.

I know this opens a huge can of worms (and certainly flies in the face of true humanism), and we can discuss all the implications and ramifications of this theory if true. Why would God do this? Who does He decide to reveal things to and why? Why would He or has He revealed something to someone who doesn't even believe that He exists? Just to name a few. But I'm not sure whether the theory can actually be proven or disproven conclusively, so don't come in too dogmatically on either side.

Anyway, you philosophically-minded Realm dwellers give me your takes. I've got to get off the computer and find my doodling pencil.


Scot said...

You know, I had the same idea years ago. 8-)

This is a very interesting topic you raise. I've got some thoughts, though they may not make any sense.
I think there a few distinctions among "new" things.
1)Creation - A supernatural violation of the Laws of Conservation in which something that did not exist, now does. We use this term very loosely, for example, "He created a work of art". Actually, he combined and manipulated things that already existed into a new form.
2)Discovery - To find something that was previously unknown. This is "new" only to those to which it was previously hidden. The Americas were not a new land to the natives, but only to the Europeans. Newton's laws existed before he understood or described them. Inventions are just the output of discoveries of the properties of existing items combined in a certain way. It was either Edison or Bell who said their inventions were just copies of what was already in nature
3)Originality - I contend that this is just a mathematical problem. It is a combination of variables. But, God has created enough things with enough variables that there is nearly an infinite number of possible combinations such that we can still be original. We can always find some new combination. Ex. I bet I'm the first person to consider the effects of subjecting dryer lint to freezing temperatures while singing Irish folk tunes. Original, but who cares?
I think writers, inventors, or explorers are successful when they present something compelling. An idea or thing may be original, but not compelling (like my lint experiement). Or, it can be ancient (the Americas), but compelling to Europeans upon discovery.
So, I think I am disagreeing with you when you seemingly seperate recombinations or variations from inventions that advanced humans. The inventions were still just combinations of existing things, or discovery of things already existing, but they were compelling. That's where revelation may come in, though. In order for something to be truly compelling on a world scale, it may take a revelation from God of himself or his creation. But even if it is not a revelation from God, it is a revelation of God which makes it compelling. Cloning may not be a revelation from God, but it is compelling because it reveals more about God's creations. As we understand God better, I would think we would be more likely to discover something compelling which may seem "new" and life/world changing.
Sorry for the length and if this didn't make sense. It sorta does to me. But it is midnight. It may not make sense tomorrow.

P&S said...

You make some interesting points. Particularly, with the discussion of what "creation" really means.

I've read that Tolkien theorized that man's desire to create was one of the chief ways that he was made in God's image.

Tolkien called what man was able to do at times "sub-creation". This was part of his passion for all the world-building in LOTR. He had a deep desire to sub-create.

Your example of cloning is also intriguing. Others have theorized that this may be part of the secret knowledge mentioned in the Bible that God says man is not to have. And that malevolent supernatural beings (devil, demons, aliens, etc) may have imparted this knowledge to man.

I think the idea is likened unto giving a baby a high-powered rifle. He just can't handle the power.

I probably only disagree with you saying that you disagree with me. I'm not sure you really do. I think there may only be a difference in terminology or semantics.

Like your addition of the word "compelling" to originality. I might argue that in my mind originality already emcompasses this. Or that true originality is by definition compelling.

Also, on the surface, there does seem to be a difference between a revelation of God or from God like in the example above of other supernatural beings imparting knowledge. But I think this presupposes that God is knowable by these entities apart from his revealing things to them.

It's possible that in some cases he may just reveal things to man indirectly rather than directly.

And I realize my use the the phrase "major advance in human history" is somewhat vague. A major advance to me might not be a major advance to you and vice versa.

Scot said...

Maybe you're right! Maybe we're both geniuses. Nothing can stop us now...HOOHAAHAAHAA! Unless it's those pesky kids and their dog.

P&S said...

ZOINKS!!! Maybe you're right. In my Blogger profile, I am the one-half diabolical genius.

And there's nothing I like better than a Scooby Doo reference unless it's a Pinky and the Brain reference.