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Intelligent Design & Creativity

Handmade Paper Bowl in blue with a polymer clay relief sculpture of baby Jesus sleeping among white lilies.
Lily of the Valley, Polymer Clay and Handmade Paper, Sara Joseph

Intelligent design in nature is obvious to unscientific minds like mine and yet disdained by many educated intellectuals.

Wikipedia claims, “It is a modern form of the traditional teleological argument for the existence of God, modified to avoid specifying the nature or identity of the designer.”

In other words, Wikipedia dismissively implies that it is an old argument rehashed in a somewhat weaker, and more evasive, form!

If you are a Christian visual artist, I’ll assume that you hold my view.

Polymer clay relief sculpture detail of baby Jesus sleeping among lilies.
Lily of the Valley, Detail

There is something about engaging in the process of art, grappling with design choices, considering expressive idea options, and agonizing over appropriate color uses, which gives us a different perspective.

The process of making art goes through a predictable cycle.

  • First, there is the thrill of coming up with an intriguing concept, followed by the technical challenge of finding the means to realize it. What medium will best describe our idea—paper, paint, canvas or clay?

  • Then the struggle begins. We creatively tackle our project, working to the best of our ability to express that which we clearly see only in our mind's eye.

  • Invariably, there follows a sense of frustration at our shortcomings before painstakingly arriving at a solution.

  • Our final creation, if we are honest, always falls far short of what we had originally envisioned.

Polymer clay relief sculpture of baby Jesus sleeping among lilies
Lily of the Valley, Detail

Just like a couch potato can never fully comprehend the runner’s high, those who do not engage in the artistic process, can never fully appreciate the challenges of a work of art, or comprehend some of its frustration.

Therefore, when we, as Christian visual artists, look at nature, how can we be neutral about what is so clearly evidence of exquisite design—it's impossible!

We do not need to be told that all our eyes behold is the astounding work of The Designer. Having struggled with applying principles of design in our own inept work, our response to nature's precision and beauty is one of awe!

How can we harbor any doubt that what our eyes feast upon and our hearts and hands long to interpret, is anything but overwhelming evidence of intelligent design? How can we deny that such perfection is only possible because of the creative activity of an intelligent Designer?

What joy then to have the blessed privilege of calling Him "Father"!

Polymer Clay relief sculpture of baby Jesus asleep among lilies.
Lily of the Valley, Detail

Artists are consumed with being unique. They search and study extensively to develop a distinctive style. Galleries encourage this malady by requesting a body of work "with a consistent style!"

Artwork is analyzed endlessly to arrive at varying conclusions about that that style might be. Some artists stay married to their choice of color palettes, subjects, medium... for their entire lifetime. They never experiment, since growth manifests as change. What was once acceptable to a gallery or by a client may now no longer be so, since growth could conflict with the marketed "style".

What a colossal waste of God's gift of art, which was never intended to be cautiously maintained, but nurtured by curiosity, play and experimentation!

Intelligent design evidenced in nature demonstrates uniqueness at every level. It is built into each of us as human beings. Besides the stellar quality of excellence, there is little that is consistent in God's creativity! Instead it is lavishly and flamboyantly varied, providing stimulation to last our creative lifetimes.

The Bible teaches us that we have been "fearfully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:14.

If our fingerprints, the shapes of our ears, and innumerable other features are already unique, why do we strive for individuality in our creative endeavors? Should it not be self evident that all that we create will bear His distinctive stamp and ours, because we ARE unique?

Do we chase after a "style" because we are more prone to imitate rather than create? Perhaps a lack of appreciation of our uniqueness is the culprit. It causes us to consider another’s expression as more valid. It may even be our innate covetous nature that desires another's creative fingerprint rather than our own!!!

Friend, as you consider how totally unique God made you, may you remember this one lesson:

The best thing that you can do as a Christian visual artist is to be yourself.

I'll admit that being yourself makes you vulnerable. In a world that seems to encourage conformity from the cradle to the grave, being unashamedly YOU will feel strange. Yet you cannot begin to plumb the depths of God's plan for your life UNTIL you become comfortable with who He made you to be.

Being yourself best honors and fulfills the purpose that the Intelligent Designer intended for you. It is, like all aspects of life as a Christian, a walk of faith.

The video below awes me by the sheer majesty of God's precision and creativity. Some call the Fibonacci sequence the Fingerprint of God.

Enjoy, be inspired, and be the BEST YOU that you can be!

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