Universal Givens and Responses

Life presents us with certain givens and we make certain responses, some of which are more helpful than others.

This paper summarises my current views on the nature of existence and the ways in which we respond to the things we are presented with in this existence. It also outlines a normative position.

Unless otherwise stated, the word “we” refers to all forms of existence, not just human.


We have certain givens in this existence.

  • A mysterious source that somehow accounts for everything, good and bad alike, that is everywhere and undying, transcending even space and time.

  • A universal order or way things are; though whether this is purposed (“designed”) or not we do not and cannot know.

  • Within this universal order a foundation of truth which is activated from within by will, i.e. the more or less free will of each being or each part of the whole.

  • As part of this truth, a flux of opposites like yin and yang, good and bad.

  • An ongoing process of creation driven by the harmony of truth and will (or truth and love), the conflict and yet interdependence of opposites, and – together with these forces of necessity or logic, a large dose of chance. (Creation is the central fact of all existence).

  • Outcomes or futures that are both predictable and unpredictable.

  • An overall trajectory (“evolution” or “progress” or “civilisation”) which is mixed in character but broadly supportive of ongoing life and wellbeing.


We respond in certain ways.

  • In the absence of certain knowledge of our source, we create our own gods. Most often, though not always, we align them with our ideas of what is good. (An integrated monotheism makes sense but so too does a choice of multiple gods).

  • Good is customarily seen in terms of the varieties of truth and love and their outcome which is ongoing creation. Thus I, for example, speak of Providence, which is the benign (for me) aspect of the Source. (The malign aspect I call the Pit).

  • In addition to gods we elevate certain beings or ideas or ideals to mediate between ourselves and the unknown, or ourselves and the Pit. We also elevate people, for example those whom we call saints.

  • We make our own purpose in life and thus our own meaning. This occurs in many different ways. We aim, for example, for happiness, or self-realisation, or life of virtue, or a life of going with the flow (doing what comes naturally).

  • Faced with uncertainties about how we should behave we develop values, using these values as a basis for codes of behaviour. While these values vary from one society to another and one person to another, there is substantial common ground.

Normative position (creativism)

How should we respond to the givens in life? Religion, philosophy and science (not to mention other disciplines) are full of prescriptions, founded more or less on experience.

At the outset there has to be a whole view of life which accepts it as fundamentally worth living, accepts however its dark side, and commits to making it better. In other words there has to be a wholeness, harmony and balance in our approach to life.

Secondly, we may choose to nail our colours to some particular mast – some religion or philosophy or other defined set of beliefs and principles - but whatever mast it is, most likely it will embody the following life-enhancing behaviours:

· Humility

· Self-care, self-respect, internal consistency or integrity

· Moderation or avoidance of excessive attachment to the essentially ephemeral

· Giving in its many forms – to others as to oneself

· Truthfulness – acceptance and promotion of truth

· Courage and perseverance

· Gratitude which acknowledges the workings of Providence in our lives.

This normative position and its underpinning philosophy I call creativism.

This word or label has two key aspects. Firstly, it emphasises the fact that creative process is central to all existence and all life. Secondly, it affirms the value of that life and seeks to maximise value through the behaviours I have identified – humility, self-care etc. Whatever ultimate good we seek, from a simple comfortable life to ecstatic oneness with God, creativist living will help get us there.

We enter life facing an array of mysteries, with questions around God or divinity, good and evil, fate and chance, and so on. Clear thinking can lead us to certain conclusions, outlined here, which liberate us from the confines of religious, philosophical and other schools of thought. Creation is at the heart of it all – but how? And how can we harness this knowledge to our own advantage in everyday living?

Typically we respond to these problems in certain standard ways. For example we use ideas of goodness as a starting point, erecting these ideas into deities like God or Allah. Similarly we use ideas of good and bad as a basis for codes of behaviour. We assume that good behaviour will bring good outcomes while bad behaviour will bring bad outcomes, even though this may not be until after death. All this is rational to a degree, though maybe not the best approach.

How should we respond? Religion, philosophy and science all have their own ideas. But whether or not we embrace some god or gods, there are ways of behaving that are commonly held to be life-affirming: things like humility, truthfulness, giving, and moderation.

Collectively this response is labelled creativism. It emphasises the centrality of creative process in our lives and seeks to achieve the best outcomes from that process. Creativism is first and foremost about truth and love, which are the core components of that Providence which makes our lives worth living.