Are We “Co-Creators” with God?

Unveiling a New Age Idea in the Church

by Patricia Engler on April 18, 2023
Featured in Answers in Depth

What do theistic evolution,1 transhumanism,2 Neo-Marxism,3 New Ageism,4 and the “prosperity gospel” have in common—and what do these common factors have to do with the idea that humans are “co-creators” with God? The answers run deeper than we might expect. For starters, all these beliefs involve elements that contradict biblical doctrines.5 So they all bear a telltale hallmark of false teachings: the lie, first suggested by the serpent in Genesis 3:1, that God’s Word is not completely true. To different extents, some of these beliefs also share another trademark of many false teachings—a version of the serpent’s lie that “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

One way these lies may surface is through the claim that humans are “co-creators” with God. What does this teaching entail? As we investigate the answer, we’ll encounter multiple names of professing believers. The point is not to critique these individuals personally, but to evaluate their teachings in light of Scripture, as New Testament writers did when naming specific teachers.6 With this caveat in mind, let’s look closer at what the co-creator concept means, where it originates, and what kinds of fruit it bears in connection with popular false teachings.7

Humans as Co-Creators

At its core, the created co-creator concept claims that, as creative beings fashioned in our Creator’s image, humans are meant to join God in further creating reality. A recent article promoting this concept notes, “Scholars have interpreted this [created co-creator] model in different ways, based on the nature of human creative action. This action is seen as either subordinate to divine creation action or the human creative action is truly cooperative with divine creative action8 (emphasis added).

So, humans’ job as created co-creators is, in Hefner’s view, to direct evolution to reach new levels.

The latter view that humans are co-creators and not just sub-creators9 appears throughout writings by Philip Hefner, a professing Lutheran theologian and seminary professor who introduced the created co-creator concept in his 1993 book, The Human Factor.10 In this book, Hefner taught that God used evolution to create humans as beings who have freedom to further co-create reality in line with God’s purposes. 11 In Hefner’s words, “liberating the process of evolution towards God’s ends becomes the God-given destiny of human beings.”12 So, humans’ job as created co-creators is, in Hefner’s view, to direct evolution to reach new levels.

A Widespread Message

How popular has the created co-creator concept become? A quick internet search reveals the idea’s significance, with references to humans as co-creators appearing on major Christian websites, in teachings by influential church leaders,13 and in online sermon resources. The term “created co-creator” also generates hundreds of search results across scholarly articles,14 showing that Hefner’s phrase circulates in academic as well as popular spheres. Hefner himself has exerted significant academic influence, working 19 years as editor-in-chief of the Zygon Journal of Religion and Sciences,15 serving as the first Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago,16 and continuing to be cited by theologians who support using technology to advance human evolution.17

Nor are messages echoing Hefner’s ideas limited to Protestant circles. Not only has Pope Francis referred to parents as people who “participate in the creative power of God himself”18 by reproducing offspring,19 but he elsewhere wrote,

Humankind has a mandate to change, to build, to master creation in the positive sense of creating from it and with it. So what is to come doesn’t depend on some unseen mechanism, a future in which humanity is a passive spectator. No: we’re protagonists, we’re—if I can stretch the word—co-creators. When the Lord told us to go forth and multiply, to master the earth, he’s saying: Be creators of your future.20 (Emphasis in original)

Previously, Pope John Paul II also declared,

Revelation21 teaches that men and women are created in the “image and likeness of God” (cf. Gen 1:26) and thus possessed of a special dignity which enables them, by the work of their hands, to reflect God’s own creative activity (cf. Laborem Exercens, 4). In [a] real way, they are meant to be “co-creators” with God, using their knowledge and skill to shape a cosmos in which the divine plan constantly moves towards fulfilment (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 34).22

Clearly, the created co-creator concept is too influential to ignore. Christians must apply biblical critical thinking to this idea, as to any new message. And that begins with checking the message against God’s Word.

Is the “Created Co-Creator” Concept Biblical?

Importantly, Scripture nowhere suggests that humans are God’s co-creators. Advocates for the co-creator concept generally cite the Genesis 1:26–27 doctrines that (1) God made humans in his image, (2) God gave humans dominion over the earth, and (3) God mandated humans to be fruitful and multiply. But a closer look reveals that none of these doctrines truly support the created co-creator concept.

  1. God’s image: Views which interpret God’s image as primarily reflecting a task that humans are called to perform—whether by exercising dominion, expressing creativity, or reproducing offspring—do not arise directly from Scripture. In fact, these views lead to conclusions that contradict clear biblical principles.23 So, there can be no exclusively biblical argument that bearing God’s image means being called to the task of co-creating.
  2. Human dominion: God’s decree for humans to exercise dominion most clearly implies that humans must wisely steward and care for the creatures, resources, and materials which God created (see Genesis 2:15) rather than suggesting we are meant to co-create anything further.24
  3. Being fruitful and multiplying: Claims that procreation represents an act of co-creating with God neglect that God’s design for reproduction does not allow parents to play any conscious role in choosing, designing, or “knitting together” their offspring.25 Neither do parents play a natural, intentional role in creating (or even selecting) the genetic components they do contribute to offspring. Instead, children are in every sense “a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3), a gift from humanity’s sole Creator.

Acknowledging these points does not mean denying that humans are creative as image-bearers, evident in how we use creation’s resources to make things—from music and murals to skyscrapers and spacecrafts—in ways that animals certainly do not. But, as some advocates for the created co-creator concept readily note, we cannot create the way God does.26 We can only manipulate materials God has already created. (In response, some may suggest that humans who invent new names, words, or sentences are creating ex nihilo.27 However, using our preexisting, God-given faculties for thinking, language, and communication to invent new patterns of symbolic, immaterial information drastically differs from speaking new material realities into existence.)

The Bible consistently reflects this truth that humans play no truly cooperative role as creators with God. For instance, one scholar observed that the Hebrew word for create (בָּרָא, bārā') appears almost 50 times in Scripture’s references to God, but only 4 times—none of which involve literal creative acts—in reference to humans.28 Psalm 100:3 (NKJV) further emphasizes that humans are not creators in God’s sense, declaring, “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” The verb tense of has made reiterates that God completed creation,29 as the language in Genesis 2:1–3 repeatedly underscores.

Importantly, completing creation in no way implies that God withdrew from creation.30 God does sustain and direct ongoing processes within his finished creation (like those involved in God’s fashioning specific sunrises or individual babies).31 God does presumably create new materials when performing certain miracles.32 And God will one day create a new heaven and new earth.33 But the Bible remains clear that the world’s creation is not ongoing in the evolutionary sense that co-creation advocates suggest. Ultimately, the view that humans are “created co-creators” does not come from God’s Word.

The Idea’s Unorthodox Origins

So, where does the concept originate? Before answering, a quick caveat is in order: to say a message is false simply because of its origins would be a logical mistake called a genetic fallacy. However, we’ve already seen the co-creator concept is false because it does not align with God’s Word.34 Investigating the concept’s origins will not change its (lack of) truthfulness, but it will reveal how gravely misleading the concept becomes and how it interweaves with other false teachings. With that in mind, let’s look closer at the book which popularized the created co-creator concept.35

In The Human Factor, Hefner began with a commitment, not to God’s Word, but to human interpretations of science. He wrote, “The program represented in this book accepts that theology as explanation is dead unless it learns to integrate within itself elements of scientific understandings that undergird explanation for our time in history.”36

Because observational science does not conflict with Scripture, the scientific understandings which Hefner wants theology to conform with are not scientific facts, but human interpretations of facts based on evolutionary and long-age assumptions. Correspondingly, evolution is Hefner’s starting point, not only for interpreting major topics such as humanity,37 morality,38 technology,39 and religion,40 but also for reinterpreting biblical doctrines including God’s image,41 original sin,42 the nature of Jesus,43 the cross, atonement, salvation, redemption, justification,44 and grace.45

Before briefly surveying some of these revisions, we need to remember what God’s Word teaches. Scripture plainly reveals that God created humans in his image as distinct from animals46 and called his completed creation very good (Genesis 1:31). Adam, the first human, committed the original sin by rebelling against God’s commands, bringing physical death into creation and spiritual death to all humanity. Only Jesus, as God in human flesh, could graciously atone for sin by dying a physical death on behalf of all humans who place their faith in him. Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the way for creation’s original perfection to be restored in the new heaven and earth God will make, where death and suffering will be abolished (Revelation 21:1–4).

In contrast, The Human Factor teaches that death and suffering were necessary parts of an evolutionary process God used to produce humans.47 Because evolutionary origins would make humans continuous with nature, Hefner argues that God’s image applies not only to humans, but also to the entire natural world.48 Having rejected belief in a literal Adam,49 Hefner also rejects belief in literal original sin. Instead, he deems original sin a sensation of guiltiness that humans experience when the “evolutionary instincts” hardwired into our genes conflict with the demands of life in civilized culture.50

Humans, according to this view, do not need grace for having sinned against God. Instead, Hefner reinterprets grace as God’s acceptance of human initiatives to advance evolution, even when those initiatives seem to fail.51 These evolutionary reinterpretations mean that Jesus did not have to literally come as God in human flesh—an idea Hefner calls “egregious”52—to die for humanity’s sin debt.53 Instead, Hefner essentially teaches that Jesus died to show how humans can use altruism to advance evolution.54 Hefner summarized,

Christ’s message is not that he came to pay our debt through his death, but rather that despite our sense of guilt and inadequacy, we have never been outside God’s gracious ambience. The cross and death, far from paying some imagined debt, are instantiations of how life for us is to proceed, a project we are part of. That project is the creation’s moving toward fulfillment according to God’s purposes, a fulfillment that requires our self-giving for the creation, even as Jesus gave himself.55

Clearly, these statements are completely different from, contradictory to, and incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ explicated in God’s Word. Therefore, they qualify as heresy—a term not to be used lightly. Why would a prominent seminary professor teach such a view, especially in a book released by the official publishing house of a major American Protestant denomination? The sentences which immediately follow the above quote suggest the answer: to be “consonant with evolutionary modes of thought.”56

Clearly, these statements are completely different from, contradictory to, and incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ explicated in God’s Word.

These evolution-based heresies are not just a sidebar to the created co-creator concept. Hefner opened his chapter section on “Revising Christological Doctrines” by stating, “This section is the heart of the actual content of the program for the created co-creator. The paradigm set by Jesus, as mythically, ritually, socially, and psychologically sketched here, is proposed as the Christian vision for the created co-creator, the human purpose.”57

In other words, Hefner’s ideas about the goals that humans are meant to accomplish through co-creating rest in the reinterpretations of Jesus quoted above. And these reinterpretations, if accepted, undercut people’s ability to comprehend a saving relationship with Jesus. Hefner acknowledged this consequence, asking, “What is the precise relationship between individuals and Jesus? How does one appropriate unto oneself the Jesus paradigm? These are among the many unanswered questions we leave.”58

Connections to Mainstream Theistic Evolutionism

Already, the created co-creator concept stands out as a case study of how attempts to blend Christianity with evolutionary origins stories lead to beliefs that are inconsistent with Scripture—even to the point of being explicitly heretical. Further illustrating this pattern, Calvin Smith has documented similar evolution-inspired heresies in the theistic evolutionist organization BioLogos.59

Incidentally, BioLogos’ website includes an article with an author bio advertising that the writer (who elsewhere advocates for Hefner’s created co-creator concept60) has coauthored a book with Hefner,61 although this does not guarantee BioLogos endorses Hefner’s ideas. Further overlap, however, is evident in that BioLogos’ current program manager was deeply involved in the Zygon Center for Religion and Science while attending the seminary where Hefner remains listed as professor emeritus.62

While these connections may be merely circumstantial, a more direct link between BioLogos and co-creator teachings involves Ted Peters, an ardent popularizer of Hefner’s created co-creator concept and a proponent (as we’ll see below) of certain New Age elements. Peters rallied the created co-creator concept in his book Playing God63 to argue that human germline editing could be considered part of God’s creating the world through human technology.64 Strikingly, the foreword for Playing God was written by Francis Collins, former director of the National Institute of Health and founder of BioLogos. A lengthy BioLogos article also celebrates Peters directly.65

While such connections do not mean BioLogos supports everything Peters or Hefner have written, these areas of overlap reflect the reality that the created co-creator concept rests in a theistic evolutionary view and engenders similarly unorthodox revisions of Scripture.

Connections to Neo-Marxism

The created co-creator concept illustrates connections not only between evolution and gospel revisions, but also between evolution and Marxism—a link which other resources have documented in depth.

As a reminder of what Marxism entails, Karl Marx viewed history as a story of conflict between oppressed and oppressing classes, represented by exploited workers and wealthy business owners.66 Marx believed such oppression alienated (cut off) humanity from reaching its full potential.67 According to Marx, workers could liberate society by revolting against their oppressors—redeeming humanity from its brokenness and enabling a communist heaven on earth, absent oppression.68

This process would supposedly make humans free to further “create themselves” by working toward their visions for what the world should become. Echoing these ideas, Marx commented that “the entire history of the world is nothing but the creation of man through human labor,”69 and believed that communism would achieve “the complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e., human) being—a return accomplished consciously and embracing the entire wealth of previous development.”70

The Marxian aspiration of humans creating themselves (via sociohistorical conditions) by working toward an ultimate vision of utopia significantly overlaps with the view that humans must co-create themselves by working toward an ultimate vision of eschatology. One of the main differences is that the former view is founded on atheistic evolution, and the latter on theistic evolution. In both cases, humans are called to embrace an active role of becoming. As Peters wrote in Playing God, “The concept of the human being with which we are working here is not a static one. The definition is not fixed. Rather, we are on the way: we are becoming human.”71

Peters asserted that, while the process of “becoming human” will only be completed at the final resurrection,72 humans meanwhile play a co-creative role in modeling the current world after that future vision. In Peters’ words, “Living today out of a vision of God’s future creates a sense of maladjustment to the present. This maladjustment leads to a proleptic form of ethics—that is, taking creative and transformative action in the present stimulated by our vision of the future.”73

Peters supports such views of “human becoming” by citing Karl Rahner,74 who helped influence the “liberation theology” movement.75 Liberation theology relies on Neo-Marxian “critical theories,” which revise Marx’s beliefs about oppression between economic groups to interpret society as being structured around oppression between cultural groups.76 Recently, Peters has also applied such critical theories in an argument that reinterprets Jesus’ death, claiming (contrary to core biblical doctrines77) that sacrifice does not literally atone for sin.78

Positive citations of other theologians informed by these theories pepper both Playing God79 and The Human Factor.80 In fact, Hefner explicitly states that his views in The Human Factor were influenced by what he called “critical thinking,”81 which he defined a page earlier in terms of critical theories.82 Hefner linked critical theories directly to the co-creator concept, stating,

From one point of view, this placement of works and morality [at the heart of Christianity] is a response to the insights deriving from feminist and liberation theologies that move us toward understanding that praxis [the practical application of a theory] is intrinsic to Christian faith.... The research program of the created co-creator theory grounds the praxis orientation profoundly in the most primordial dynamics of the nature that God has created.83

Basically, this quote is getting at the idea that, like liberation theologians say Christians must put Marxian-informed conflict theory into practice by working toward liberating oppressed classes, Christians must put the co-creator concept into practice by working toward “liberating the process of evolution towards God’s ends.”84 Such parallels between the co-creator concept and Marxism do not mean the co-creator concept is Marxism or that all its advocates are Marxists. But the concept is largely consistent with certain Marxist themes and was directly influenced by Neo-Marxian thinking.

Connections to Transhumanism

Both the co-creator concept and Marxism share further significant overlap with another evolution-based belief system: transhumanism.85 As a movement which claims that humans should apply technology to achieve higher levels of human evolution, transhumanism strongly resembles a secular version of the created co-creator concept. Transhumanism, like Marxism, promises “redemption” through human efforts, insisting that working toward a utopian vision of the future can free humanity from its core grievances.86

Thinkers who seek to blend transhumanism with Christianity often cite Hefner’s created co-creator concept, claiming that God intends for us to play a creative role in evolving humanity to reach its full potential.87 Such claims fit well with teachings in The Human Factor, which stated, “Through the action of its culture, therefore, the human being represents a proposal for the further evolution of the created world. Humans have the potential to actualize a radically new phase of evolution.”88

Ultimately, while not every advocate for the co-creator concept supports full-fledged transhumanism,89 the co-creator concept is remarkably consistent with transhumanism and supplies a foundational argument for pro-transhuman theologians.

Connections to New Ageism and the Prosperity Gospel

Strikingly, one of the earliest thinkers recognized for pioneering transhumanist ideas was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955),90 a Jesuit priest, paleontologist, and influential forerunner of the New Age movement.91 As a committed evolutionist, Teilhard de Chardin taught that evolution would, through a process he called “planetization,”92 propel humanity to an “Omega Point” of achieving Godlike consciousness.93,94 Hefner not only speaks of having been influenced by Teilhard de Chardin,95 but also reports that he based his biblical interpretive framework on the beliefs of a dedicated Chardinian, N. Max Wilders.96

Peters too has promoted a Chardin-influenced view of an “Omega Point,”97 and has contributed an article to the website of the Chardinian organization, the Center for Christogenesis.98 Given Peters’ interest in Teilhard de Chardin, and Teilhard de Chardin’s influence on the New Age, it may be no shock that Peters has written a book which—despite advocating for Christian discernment—concludes, “modest dabbling in new age spirituality is probably harmless; it may even be helpful99 (emphasis in original). Adding that “the new age vision is a noble and edifying one,” Peters praises the movement’s future-oriented goals as providing “the driving power to seek growth, evolution and transformation.”100

We see these themes of New Ageism and co-creation united again in the writings of Matthew Fox, a former Dominican priest who became an Episcopal minister after being expelled by the Vatican.101 Fox described humans as “co-creators in an ever-unfolding creation” in his 1991 book, Creation Spirituality.102 Neo-Marxist undercurrents flow throughout this book as well, as Fox calls his teachings “a liberation theology for ‘First World’ peoples,”103 and asserts that “creation spirituality” empowers marginalized groups “to be co-creators of a new historical vision.”104 Echoing the serpent’s lie in Genesis 3:5, Fox also promotes the explicitly New Age teaching that humans can be “like God.” He wrote, “The divinity in us breaks through not only as creators and co-creators but especially as prophets who interfere with injustice while proclaiming freedom for the downtrodden.”105

Further confirming the New Age nature of co-creation ideas, former New Age teacher Doreen Virtue wrote that a turning point in her conversion to Christianity was realizing that Scripture teaches we are not co-creators with God. She wrote in her autobiography, “For four chapters [in the book of Job], God outlines everything He can do that we can’t do. In the most beautifully therapeutic way, reading these chapters burst my illusion that I was a ‘co-creator with God,’ a common phrase in the New Age106 (emphasis added).

In the same book, Virtue references the overlap between New Age-type movements and forms of “prosperity gospel” teachings.107 According to these teachings, humans are godlike beings who can call desired states—namely, healthiness and wealthiness—into existence on our own initiative because God made humans in his image and dwells within believers.108 As Justin Peters has documented, “The origins of the prosperity gospel can be traced back directly to the metaphysical cults, like Christian Science, New Age, New Thought, [and] Gnosticism.”109 Notably, a post on an official social media account of the well-known prosperity gospel teacher Kenneth Copeland reads, “You are a co-creator with God when you speak words of life!”110

Given the connections between New Ageism and the co-creator concept, we should not be surprised to find such co-creator language in prosperity teachings rooted in New Ageism.

Summing Up

In the end, we find that theistic evolution, Neo-Marxism, transhumanism, New Ageism, and the prosperity gospel share strikingly deep connections, illustrated in the thinking of theologians who teach that humans are “co-creators with God.”

In the end, we find that theistic evolution, Neo-Marxism, transhumanism, New Ageism, and the prosperity gospel share strikingly deep connections, illustrated in the thinking of theologians who teach that humans are “co-creators with God.” The created co-creator concept starts with the evolutionary belief that God did not finish creating the world in six days, but left creation open-ended for humans to further advance its evolution. This idea of humans directing evolution to achieve a final vision of “liberation” fits well within both (Neo-)Marxist and transhumanist worldviews, which themselves are founded on evolutionary thinking. Once spiritualized, this kind of utopic, evolutionary outlook flows naturally into New Age thinking, which often views humans as co-creators. The language of co-creation, in turn, arises in certain prosperity gospel teachings which overlap with New Ageism.

These similarities reflect how diverse unbiblical teachings often share a common root in lies as old as Eden, which whisper that God’s Word is not completely true and that humans can make themselves “like God.” By rejecting these lies in the perfect light of Scripture, we can rest in our Creator’s sovereignty, assured that “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3 NKJV).


  1. The belief that God used evolution to create humans.
  2. The belief that humans should evolve themselves into “post-human” beings via technology.
  3. A category of beliefs, influenced by Marxian conflict theory, that society consists solely of oppressed and oppressing classes, and that the former classes must (continuously) overthrow the latter through a type of cultural revolution to liberate humanity from social evils.
  4. Ron Rhodes defines the New Age movement as “a loosely structured network of individuals and organizations who share a common vision of a new age of enlightenment and harmony. ... This worldview centers on monism (all is one), pantheism (all is God), and mysticism (the experience of oneness with the divine)” (Ron Rhodes, “The New Age Movement [Pantheism and Monism]” in World Religions and Cults, vol. 2, eds. Bodie Hodge and Roger Patterson [Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 2016],
  5. More information on why this is the case is available in the resources linked to each topic in the opening sentence above.
  6. E.g., 2 Timothy 2:16–18.
  7. See Matthew 7:15–20.
  8. Braden Molhoek, “The Scope of Human Creative Action: Created Co-creators, Imago Dei and Artificial General Intelligence,” HTS Theological Studies 78, no. 2 (2022): 1–7.
  9. The celebrated Catholic author J. R. R. Tolkien is known for forwarding the view of humans as sub-creators. (See María Del Rincón Yohn, “JRR Tolkien’s Sub-Creation Theory: Literary Creativity as Participation in the Divine Creation,” Church, Communication and Culture 6, no. 1 [2021]: 17–33.) This idea clearly differs from placing humans on (or near) God’s level as genuine co-creators furthering God’s own action of creating the world.
  10. Philip Hefner, The Human Factor: Evolution, Culture, and Religion (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1993), 32. (Augsburg Fortress Press, now called 1517 Media, is the official publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.)
  11. Hefner, The Human Factor, 32.
  12. Hefner, The Human Factor, 250.
  13. One example is Rob Bell, the former megachurch pastor who was extremely influential in the “Progressive Christianity” movement. In episode 19, “Open,” of his popular Nooma video series, Bell stated, “God leaves the world unfinished and invites people to take part in the ongoing creation of the world” (4:44–4:52). Notably, this video repeatedly refers to Genesis as a “poem,” despite clear textual indications that Genesis is a historical narrative. A second example is “prosperity gospel” teacher Kenneth Copeland, as will be discussed in a later section of this article.
  14. The search must include quotation marks to isolate the exact phrasing. Otherwise, searching for the same phrase without quotation marks increases the number of search results from over 600 to 34,600–43,800, depending on pluralization.
  15. Philip Hefner, “Religion-and-Science, the Third Community” Zygon 43, no. 1 (2008).
  16. “Zygon Center for Religion and Science,” Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, accessed March 2023,
  17. E.g., Calvin Mercer, “A Theological Embrace of Transhuman and Posthuman Beings,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 72, no. 2 (2020): 83–89.
  18. Pope Francis, in Angelus at Saint Peter’s Square, October 4, 2015, Dicastery for Communication—Vatican Publishing House,
  19. The view of procreation as co-creation—an idea which a quick internet search will reveal is readily apparent within Protestant circles as well—is addressed in the next section of this article.
  20. Pope Francis, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2020), 4.
  21. Here, revelation would refer to God’s communication through Scripture rather than to the biblical book titled Revelation.
  22. John Paul II, “Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,” November 8, 2004, Dicastery for Communication—Vatican Publishing House,
  23. See Patricia Engler, “God’s Image as the Foundation for Human Rights,” Answers in Genesis, January 25, 2023,
  24. This is evident in other Genesis passages commonly cited as examples of human dominion in practice. For instance, God assigned Adam to name the animals God had already created (Genesis 2:19–20) and to caringly tend the garden God had already planted (Genesis 2:8–15). While Genesis later describes cases of humans expressing creativity by making cultural artifacts from preexisting materials (e.g., Genesis 4:21–22), nowhere in the biblical creation account—either within or outside the context of humanity exercising dominion—does God assign humans the task of creating some part of the material world themselves.
  25. God, however, does all these things—see Psalm 139:13–14.
  26. Advocates for the created co-creator concept may emphasize the term created to note that humans are not on God’s level (e.g., Ted Peters, “Matthew Fox and the Vatican Wolves,” Dialog 28, no. 2 [1989]: 137–142. Note, however, that Peters may still blur the Creator-creature boundary in other ways, such as by arguing that creation will one day “be absorbed into God” [Ted Peters, Anticipating Omega: Science, Faith, and Our Ultimate Future, (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2006), 18]). Still, the term co-creator remains problematic for the reasons addressed above; furthermore, Hefner acknowledges—but does not subsequently deny—the objection that the term “co-creator” implies that humans are somehow on par with God (Hefner, The Human Factor, 236–237).
  27. E.g., Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 104.
  28. Dennis Durst, “Uses of Biblical, Theological, and Religious Rhetoric by Cloning Advocates: A Critique,” Ethics & Medicine 24, no. 1 (2008): 25. (You can examine the list of verses at
  29. The verb “make” (עָשָׂה, ʿāśâ) in this verse appears in the perfect tense, which in Ancient Hebrew indicates a past, completed action.
  30. This point is crucial for responding to an objection which co-creation advocates may raise against those who affirm that God completed creation in six days (e.g., Ted Peters, Playing God: Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom [New York and London: Routledge, 1997], 14, 87).
  31. E.g., see Job 38:12 and Psalm 139:13–14.
  32. For instance, the muscle and bone tissues in miraculous healings of limbs or the additional material food generated during the multiplications of loaves and fishes (e.g., Matthew 10:15–21).
  33. See Revelation 21:1–27.
  34. For why God’s Word is the final standard and non-fallacious authority for truth, see resources including Mike Matthews, “Can We Prove the Bible Is True?” Answers in Genesis, April 1, 2011, and Jason Lisle, The Ultimate Proof of Creation: Resolving the Origins Debate (Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 2009).
  35. Some suggest the idea that humans are co-creators was taught much earlier by Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century mystic (Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for Peoples of the Earth [New York: Harper and Row, 1991], 126).
  36. Hefner, The Human Factor, 219.
  37. E.g., Hefner, The Human Factor, 145, 236–240.
  38. E.g., Hefner, The Human Factor, 178–179.
  39. Hefner, The Human Factor, 154.
  40. E.g., Hefner, The Human Factor, 49–50, 185–187.
  41. Hefner, The Human Factor, 239, 273.
  42. Hefner, The Human Factor, 123–142.
  43. Hefner, The Human Factor, 232–234.
  44. Hefner, The Human Factor, 251–253.
  45. Hefner, The Human Factor, 241–247.
  46. This distinctness is evident not only in God’s unique manner of creating Adam and Eve in comparison to the animals (see Genesis 1:20–27 and 2:19–23) but also in God’s commandments directly after the flood, saying that humans could eat animals but could not kill other humans made in God’s image (Genesis 9:3–6).
  47. Hefner, The Human Factor, 271.
  48. Hefner, The Human Factor, 273.
  49. Hefner, The Human Factor, 68.
  50. Hefner, The Human Factor, 132–133.
  51. Hefner, The Human Factor, 249.
  52. The sentence reads, “Like most moderns (including the author of this book), Eutyches denied the egregious claim that Mary carried God in her womb when she was pregnant with Jesus” (Hefner, The Human Factor, 232–233). Notably, Eutyches’ view deemphasized Jesus’ human nature, whereas “modern,” or “liberal,” theologians’ views tend to deemphasize Jesus’ divine nature.
  53. Hefner, The Human Factor, 240–253.
  54. Hefner, The Human Factor, 245–253 (see especially 249).
  55. Hefner, The Human Factor, 253.
  56. Hefner, The Human Factor, 253.
  57. Hefner, The Human Factor, 251.
  58. Hefner, The Human Factor, 251.
  59. Calvin Smith, “BioLogos: House of Heresy and False Teaching, Part 1,” Answers in Genesis, January 17, 2022,; Calvin Smith, “BioLogos: House of Heresy and False Teaching, Part 2,” Answers in Genesis, January 24, 2022,
  60. Susan Barreto, “Finding Meaning and Purpose as Created Co-Creators,” Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology, December 16, 2013,
  61. Susan Barreto, “What Does AI Mean for the Church and Society?” BioLogos, November 28, 2022,
  62. See;
  63. Peters, Playing God.
  64. One of the most telling quotes reads, “This two-dimensional understanding of creation is codified in the anthropological proposal of Philip Hefner, where he refers to the human being as God’s created cocreator. This line of reasoning would suggest that it is misleading to argue that technological intervention into the cell line of a life form, even a human life form, lies outside the realm of God’s creation” (Peters, Playing God, 123; italics in original; bold emphasis added).
  65. Ted Davis, “On Creating the Cosmos: Excerpts from Ted Peters,” BioLogos, July 17, 2014,
  66. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, trans. Samuel Moore, ed. Fredrich Engels, (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Company, 1910), 12.
  67. Karl Marx, “Estranged Labour,” in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, trans. Martin Milligan (New York: International Publishers, 1964), 106–119.
  68. Marx and Engels, Manifesto, 58; see also Karl Marx, “Private Property and Communism” in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, 132–146. (Although Marx did not consider himself a utopian socialist, he believed the final stage of communism would lead humanity to become fully human, emancipated from all forms of inequality. In this sense, Marx held a utopian vision for communism. See David Lovell, “Marx’s Utopian Legacy,” The European Legacy 9, no. 5 [2004]: 629–640.)
  69. Marx, “Private Property and Communism,” 145.
  70. Marx, “Private Property and Communism,” 135.
  71. Peters, Playing God, 168–169.
  72. Peters, Playing God, 170–171.
  73. Peters, Playing God, 174.
  74. Peters, Playing God, 143.
  75. John Sobrino, “Karl Rahner and Liberation Theology,” The Way 43, no. 4 (2004), 53–66. See also Kenneth A. Briggs, “Catholic Liberals Defend Activism,” New York Times, June 25, 1984, Section A, Page 1,
  76. See Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2020) and Voddie T. Baucham Jr., Fault Lines (Washington, D.C.: Salem Books, 2021).
  77. E.g., see Hebrews 9:11–28.
  78. Peters wrote, “It is not copacetic, in my judgment, to use the term sacrifice to refer to some invisible metaphysical mechanism whereby the shedding of blood triggers a supranatural divine response that effects salvation. No such mechanism exists, even if many religious people believe in a mechanism of sacrifice.... The example of Jesus’s voluntary sacrifice and suffering became a model by which a patriarchal class could demand sacrifice and suffering from its subjects, women in particular. Therefore, the announcement that no such sacrificial mechanism exists should come as liberation for some. What feminist theologians have bared is a tradition wherein the symbols of Jesus’ suffering and death were employed to scapegoat a dominated class” (Ted Peters, “How Does Jesus Save? Part Seven: Final Scapegoat,” Patheos, October 7, 2022,
  79. E.g., positive citations of feminist theologians including Letty Russel (Peters, Playing God, 24, 174) and Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki (Peters, Playing God, 88–91, 160). For examples of Suchocki’s position, see Marjorie Suchocki, “Radical Empiricism: Radical Enough?” American Journal of Theology & Philosophy 13, no. 3 (1992): 171–181. Liberation theology itself is defended most directly on page 24 of Playing God.
  80. E.g., positive citations of Marxist-feminist historian Gerda Lerner (Hefner, The Human Factor, 159; for information on Lerner, see Linda Gordon, “Gerda Lerner, 1920–2013,” Against the Current 163 (2013), available from at and Frankfurt School Neo-Marxist Jurgen Habermas (Hefner, The Human Factor, 150). Hefner also wrote, “A historical survey suggests that the feminist proposals are particularly relevant as critique of the Augustinian position” (Hefner, The Human Factor, 140). See also pages 61–62, 150–152, 231, 246, 273–274 of The Human Factor.
  81. Hefner, The Human Factor, 150–151.
  82. Hefner wrote, “Other approaches include what is sometimes called ideology critique or the hermeneutic of suspicion, which I prefer to describe simply as critical thinking, in the style of the Frankfurt School (Jay 1973). This method is essentially in accord with recent proposals advanced by feminist thinkers and Latin American and African American liberation theologians” (Hefner, The Human Factor, 150; emphasis added).
  83. Hefner, The Human Factor, 273.
  84. The fuller quote states, “If we proceed with care, we may speak of the co-creator’s activity of ‘stretching,’ ‘criticizing,’ or ‘calling forth the new’ as ‘liberation.’ In this usage, liberating the process of evolution towards God’s ends becomes the God-given destiny of human beings” (Hefner, The Human Factor, 150).
  85. E.g., see James Steinhoff, “Transhumanism and Marxism: Philosophical Connections,” Journal of Ethics and Emerging Technologies 24, no. 2 (2014): 1–16. Jeff Noonan responds that “While it is true that transhumanists and Marxists believe that human beings are self-determining [and] self-transforming,” the ultimate goals of these movements are incompatible (Jeff Noonan, “Marxist Transhumanism?” New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry 12, no. 1 [2021]). However, another article in the same journal contends, “It is possible to develop a Marxist transhumanism movement that exceeds the actual individualistic and pro-capitalist prism on transhumanism. Also, we suggest transhumanism can serve to revitalize Marxist materialism in this 21st century and for the future” (Santiago Javier Armesilla Conde, “A Marxist Transhumanism?” New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry 12, no. 1 [2021]). A proposed method of combining transhumanism with Neo-Marxian critical theories is available in Jerry Rosiek, “Critical Race Theory Meets Posthumanism: Lessons from a Study of Racial Resegregation in Public Schools,” Race Ethnicity and Education 22, no. 1 (2019): 73–92.
  86. E.g., see Natasha Vita-More “The Transhumanist Manifesto” (Revised 1998 v.2, 2008 v.3, 2020 v.4, original 1983), accessed March 2023,
  87. E.g., Benedikt Paul Göcke, “Christian Cyborgs: A Plea for a Moderate Transhumanism,” Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers 34, no. 3 (2017): 347–364.
  88. Hefner, The Human Factor, 248.
  89. E.g., Peters has written regarding the transhumanist vision of achieving humanity’s “salvation” via human technological efforts, “There is no way to Christianize such a worldview or ethic. What is reasonable, however, is to augment a religious vision of human transformation with H+ [transhumanistic] plans for technological transformation. ... The public theologian should offer a critique of H+, to be sure. But, not categorical rejection” (Ted Peters, “Religious Transhumanism 9: Christian Transhumanism versus Transhumanist Christianity,” Patheos, April 17, 2022, However, for why a more thorough rejection of transhumanism is biblically appropriate, see Patricia Engler, “Thinking Biblically About Transhumanist Technologies,” Answers in Genesis, January 11, 2023,
  90. Eric Steinhart, “Teilhard de Chardin and Transhumanism,” Journal of Evolution and Technology 20, no. 1 (December 2008): 1–22,
  91. David H. Lane, The Phenomenon of Teilhard: Prophet for a New Age (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1996).
  92. By “planetization,” Teilhard de Chardin referred to a transformative collectivization of global humanity and human consciousness (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, trans. Norman Denny [London: Collins, 1964], 124–139). He linked this collectivization to evolution, stating, “Again, if it be true that Evolution is rebounding on itself through the fact of human totalization, it must, becoming conscious, fasten passionately upon itself: which is to say that Man to progress further, will need to be sustained by a powerful collective faith. ... It is precisely in order to discover and bring into the open this saving and transforming Faith that we must, at this crucial instant, take a positive stand on the spiritualizing and humanizing value of social totalization, and thus reaffirm our sense of the Species on a new plane” (Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, 257).
  93. E.g., Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “By interiorising itself under the influence of the Sense of Evolution, planetisation (as the theory of complexity would lead us to expect) can physically have but one effect: it can only personalise us more and more, eventually ... ‘divinise’ us through access to some Supreme Centre of universal convergence” (Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, 135–136). The point of “divinization” he elsewhere referred to as the Omega point (Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, 122).
  94. Notably, Julian Huxley, the evolutionary biologist who coined the term transhumanism, who served as First Director of UNESCO, and whose brother (Aldous Huxley) exerted significant influence in New Ageism, shared a similar vision of globalization. In the document specifying his original framework for UNESCO, he wrote, “The general philosophy of UNESCO should, it seems, be a scientific world humanism, global in extent and evolutionary in background ... the unifying of traditions in a single common pool of experience, awareness, and purpose is the necessary prerequisite for further major progress in human evolution. Accordingly, although political unification in some sort of world government will be required for the definitive attainment of this stage, unification in the things of the mind is not only also necessary but can pave the way for other types of unification” (Julian Huxley, “UNESCO: Its Purpose and its Philosophy,” Preparatory Commission of UNESCO, 1946, Thus, it is striking that in 1981, a speaker presenting a paper on Teilhard de Chardin at a UNESCO symposium declared, “In conclusion, I would like to observe how appropriate it is for this symposium to be held at UNESCO, for the United Nations is the concrete symbol of and the pragmatic agency for developing the global consciousness that Teilhard described” (Ewert H. Cousins, “Teilhard de Chardin and the Religious Phenomenon,” UNESCO International Symposium on the Occasion of Centenary of the Birth of Teilhard de Chardin, Paris, France, September 10, 1981,
  95. Hefner, The Human Factor, xiv.
  96. Hefner, The Human Factor, 224. (For an example of Wildiers’ promotion of Teilhard de Chardin’s teachings, see N. Max Wildiers, An introduction to Teilhard de Chardin [New York: Harper and Row, 1968].)
  97. Ted Peters, “Redemption as Creation: The Future of Pannenberg’s Future,” in Theology for the Future: The Enduring Promise of Wolfhart Pannenberg, ed. Andrew Hollingsworth (Lanham, Maryland/London: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2021), 159–182.
  98. Ted Peters, “Love and the Dark Energy of Expansion,” Center for Christogenesis, December 26, 2016.
  99. Ted Peters, The Cosmic Self: A Penetrating Look at Today’s New Age Movements (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), 194.
  100. Ted Peters, The Cosmic Self (1991), 194–195.
  101. “About Matthew Fox,” Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox, accessed March 2023,
  102. Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for Peoples of the Earth (New York: Harper and Row, 1991), 8.
  103. Fox, Creation Spirituality, 87.
  104. Fox, Creation Spirituality, 32.
  105. Fox, Creation Spirituality, 58.
  106. Doreen Virtue, Deceived No More: How Jesus Led Me out of the New Age and into His Word (Nashville, Tennessee: Emanate Books, 2020), 18.
  107. Virtue, Deceived No More, xiv–xvi.
  108. For more information, see Justin Peters, “Clouds Without Water” (lecture presented at Answers for Women 2021, Answers.TV, See also Costi Hinn, “Healthy, Wealthy and Lies,” Answers in Genesis, January 1, 2022,
  109. Justin Peters, “Clouds Without Water,” (quote begins at 7:11).
  110. Kenneth Copeland (@CopelandNetwork), “You are a co-creator with God when,” Twitter, January 23, 2018,


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