Creativity and faith

From Eugene Peterson:

Creativity is difficult. When you are being creative, you’re living by faith. You don’t know what’s next because the created, by definition, is what’s never been before. So you’re living at the edge of something in which you’re not very confident. You might fail: in fact, you almost certainly will fail a good part of the time. All the creative persons I know throw away most of the stuff they do.

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5 thoughts on “Creativity and faith

  1. So true,

    I find intriguing scientists that deny faith, when the fact is that it is a crucial component when doing scientific research.


  2. John,

    Long time follower of your blog – great stuff! But this post got me puzzled.

    I don’t have the book nor the inclination to seek it just to understand the context of your quote – but looking at it cold, it seems like a great example of ‘non sequitur’. What has creativity has to do with faith, again? Creativity has to do with restlessness and curiosity and inquisitiveness. Please explain a bit more.

    I have the same question for Omar – what has faith got to do with repeatability and measurement? Faith in ‘tertium non datur’?


  3. Thanks, Florin. I suppose whether this is a non sequitur depends on how you think of faith. If you think of faith as a something non-rational or even irrational, then it is a non sequitur. But if you think of faith as an extrapolation from reason, it makes more sense.

    To create something new you have to take a risk. You have to have some assurance that your effort will be worthwhile. This assurance can be based on previous experience, but as they say in investment fine print, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Paint-by-number kits don’t require faith. You know exactly what the end result will look like. No risk, no creative reward.

  4. Dear Florin,

    (For me) there’s nothing irrational in human behavior. Everything can be traced down to genes and biology, a very scientific area I believe. Having faith is an important emotion (an state of mind) that allows us to focus in what we believe is the correct way to do. Pretty much the contrary of doubt.

    I’m pretty sure Einstein’s law of relativity was polemic until it was proved. Einstein didn’t even have the mathematical ability to prove it, so in the mean time he had to focus, and wait for the best. That’s faith for me.

    That state of mind apply to many things though, The feeling a mother has for their children, the love a tribe have for their gods, etc. When you are facing with the unknown you need some mental sanity protection. Faith is an universal feeling, even for those with no fancy scientific method.


  5. “If you’re only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never can learn anything. You become a crotchety misanthrope convinced that nonsense is ruling the world.” – Carl Sagan

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