Fandango’s provocative question ends up as three questions. They are:
1. Are there limits to human creativity?
2. Is it possible for humans to create something completely novel and new that is based on nothing that previously existed?
3. Or is human creativity just rearranging and building on previous ideas?
His inspiration appears to have been biblical from Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun.
In his first question, I want to change creativity to achievement. But that’s just me. I have three answers to that question. They are yes, no, and I don’t know. Yes, because there must be limits, but I can’t tell you what they are. No because in my lifetime, I have seen so much done by humans, achievement seems limitless. I don’t know because the question is theoretical and fenced by definitions and terminology.
For the second question I have to say it is not possible for humans to create something from nothing (I deal with this all the time regarding the origin of the universe). In fact, I’m not sure nothing is even possible. We may discover something we did not know existed, but that is not creating it. I love reading about creative hacks for common household items (or figuring out some myself). Is a new way of using something common not creative? Vaccines are a creative way to use the human body’s natural immune system to combat disease. But we did not create it. Discovery, yes.
In the third question I again object to the word creativity. Rearranging and building are creative endeavors. Discovering new ways of using anything is what has been done. In fact, I find the way the question is posed to be creatively demeaning of the human spirit.
As far as the claim nothing new under the sun goes, for Solomon there may not have been. But Earth is not all that is under the sun, right? Who knows what else may be discovered away from our planet and how that may be achieved by humans?
Look both ways for answers but mind the eternal gaps.