God, Truth, Love and Creativity

Truth is right order, love is right relationship. Joined in creative action, truth and love are goodness and thus God. This is the theology of creativism.

The meaning of truth

We may agree that there is no personal god setting our agenda, no deity or deities to lean on or fear, but there is an all-pervasive ultimate reality that underpins our lives, mysterious, powerful, without discernible limits, with goodness at its core. This is an understanding of God that suits the 21st century. At the heart of this goodness or God is truth. In this context, truth means that things are in right order. In the material world, truth is fitness or right fit, or the condition of everything being in balance. Thus truth lies in the laws of nature and in concrete everyday things such as the make-up of a table or a computer algorithm. In terms of human behaviour, truth may be seen in virtues – honesty, justice, humility, temperance and so on. Throughout all the changeabilities of time and space, truth has a core which is constant, enduring, and ultimately real.

The meaning of love

If truth is the bedrock of goodness, love is the quality that gives goodness its urge to move, to be dynamic. Goodness as love means that things are in right relationship. Like truth, love appears throughout the material world: in the fact that hydrogen has a propensity to combine with oxygen (to make water), and that plants reach for the sun (to photosynthesise). Love in human behaviour is traditionally defined in four ways – kinship, friendship, sexual attraction and spiritual devotedness – but more broadly it can also encompass virtues such as compassion, generosity, mercy and forbearance. In the present context it has the broadest meaning possible: in its most simple terms it is “drawing together” whether conditionally or unconditionally.

The meaning of creativity

When things are in right order and they feel in harmony with each other, or somehow draw together, the resulting action or state is creativity in operation. Creativity is generally assumed to be good though in fact it may be neutral, as action is neutral; and it may even be seen as bad if it serves bad ends. However, creativity is overall the push factor that underpins not only our existence but every new piece of the universal jigsaw that slots into place, every minute of every day. Truth (right order) and love (right relationship) constantly join in the ongoing process of creation; there are right foods for example, which we choose to eat, and so we enjoy good health. Creativity thus becomes an endpoint and centrepoint of theology, for without creativity we cannot explain action, which is the essence of our whole lives and the life of the Universe itself.

Interdependent three in one

The essence of truth, love and creativity is relationship, which is fundamental to everything. Truth and love are interdependent and preconditions of each other. Love as connection must exist before all the parts inherent in right order fall properly into place; conversely, truth as right order must exist before the parts will realise their mutual attraction and spring into creativity. This creativity itself cannot occur without the foundation in truth and love: first the rightness that makes it possible, then the joint or combined will that puts it into effect. Truth, love and creativity have echoes in science, for example physicist David Bohm’s concept of implicate order, where it is not things alone that give rise to the physical world, but the relationship between these things. Truth, love and creativity have parallels in religion too, notably the Holy Trinity with its God the Father (truth), Son (love) and Holy Spirit (creativity perpetuated on Earth).

Secular and spiritual faces of goodness

Goodness can be seen as just a construct of humanism. In other words we can live as good people just because we are committed to the wellbeing of humankind. But we can go further if we choose to, embracing goodness as a spiritual act. The discussion in this essay has staked a claim for a theology of goodness, where ultimate goodness (God) is part of the overall ultimate reality which underpins our lives. Some people prefer to be connected to this dimension beyond the everyday, others don’t. The end result, if it is a life well lived, is still the same. However, for those of us inclined to faith and spirituality, there is now a challenge. We have to learn to live comfortably with the concept of goodness replacing traditional concepts of the divine. Fortunately, we have free will and the capability, if we choose, to update our thinking.

And now, for a poet’s perspective, read Lichen

The old mantra “God is love” needs to be discarded, for it is too glib and shallow. Instead, we need to think more carefully. If we do that we can start to see God, the ultimate goodness, as right order (truth) together with right relationship (love), joined in creative action. These three aspects of the divine are interdependent. God seen this way is alive, part of us and with us, everywhere and every minute of every day. Thus creativism has roots in Christian thought while also having a broad consistency with other religions and with humanism.

Suggested further reading

Benedict XVI, Pope. 2009. Caritas in Veritate: Encyclical Letter of the Supreme Pontiff to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Men and Women Religious, the Lay Faithful and All People of Good Will on Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth. Vatican: Catholic Church. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_en.html

Bennett, Juliet. 2014. Adventures With Ideas: Truth, Beauty and the Paradoxes of Life. http://www.julietbennett.com

Bourgeault, Cynthia. 2013. The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity. Boston: Shambhala.

Gandhi, Mohandas K. 1955. Truth Is God: Gleanings from the Writings of Mahatma Gandhi Bearing on God, God-Realization and the Godly Way. Compiled by R. K. Prabhu. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House. http://www.gandhistudycentre.org/pdf/truth.pdf

Kaufman, Gordon D. 2004. In the Beginning… Creativity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.