Chipping away represents God’s vision. Michelangelo believed that his creative power reflect divine inspiration. Late in life he received the moniker il divino (“the divine one”), though he was more modest than his fans:
"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection." MichelangeloI’m convinced the Creator knows what art--and especially the art of negation, of saying creative Nos--can look like. God, the supreme Artist, sees our lives as works of art. And this is true artistry since we’re not simply blocks of marble for God to sculpt.
To shift artists, the nineteenth century master painter, Vincent Van Gogh once wrote his brother, Theo, about God’s amazing skill.
“Christ… is more of an artist than the artists; he works in the living spirit and the living flesh; he makes human beings instead of statues.” Van Gogh
It’s definitely more difficult to work with living beings—and to use us in the process of chipping away. We resist the chisel. And yet, you might even say that God’s chipping away becomes part of the healing of lives.
Saying No through chiseling away at possibilities appears to be God’s method. Scientific discoveries have confirmed that this is the way God has created the masterpiece we call our universe. In forming the world, God also chiseled away. The entire universe has come into existence through a gigantic quantity of No’s.
Since the 1960s, an astounding set of discoveries reveal that the universe has certain, very specific conditions, which allow for the emergence of conscious, moral creatures. Using anthropos, the Greek word for “human being” (as in anthropology), it’s called the Anthropic Principle, which states that the cosmos is fitted from the beginning for the emergence of life in general and intelligent life in particular. In fact, about thirty discrete, precisely calibrated parameters—such as the expansion rate of the universe, the mass of the universe, the strength of the strong nuclear force, and the ratio of antiprotons to protons—all were needed to produce the universe. Otherwise, it simply would not exist. (Watch this video for a related discovery.) Oxford physicist Roger Penrose has described just one such parameter, the “phase-space volume,” with a number almost impossible to write—a “1” followed by 10123 “0s.” That’s amazingly precise and signifies an almost innumerably amount of No’s.
In other words, the Creator chipped away at an enormous number of possibilities to create this world. God said No many times to create the Yes’s of life. It looks like the creation of beauty, intelligence, goodness depends on what is rejected even more than what is selected.
And here’s what I figure: if chipping away through the art of negation is good enough for God and the universe, it’s good enough for you and for me, and our lives.