The ethical view of the universe involves us at last in so many cruel and absurd contradictions, when the last vestiges of faith, hope, charity, and even of reason itself, seem ready to perish, that I have come to suspect that the aim of creations cannot be ethical at all. I would fondly believe that its object is purely spectacular; a spectacle for awe, love, adoration, or hate, if you like, but in this view – and in this view alone – never for despair! Those visions, delicious or poignant, are a moral end in themselves. The rest is our affair – the laughter, the tears, the tenderness, the indignation, the high tranquility of a steeled heart, the detached curiosity of a subtle mind – that's our affair! And the unwearied self-forgetful attention to every phase of the living universe reflected in our consciousness may be our appointed task on this earth. A task in which fate has perhaps engaged nothing of us except our conscience, gifted with a voice in order to bear true testimony to the visible wonder, the haunting terror, the infinite passion and the illimitable serenity; to the supreme law and the the abiding mystery of the sublime spectacle.From Conrad's Memoirs, published in 1912. This was then a common notion: that creation is something like a great work of art, and our main role is to observe and appreciate it. For all I know it may still be a fairly common view, although I don't see much of this sort of speculation in the things I read. This attitude even made it into the creation myth of the great believer Tolkien, whose world sprang from a work of music composed by God and performed by angels, made even more powerful and beautiful by the attempt of Satan and his rebel angels to sabotage the performance.
Conrad's theology helps to explain his notion of the purpose of novel writing:
And what is a novel if not a conviction of our fellow men's existence strong enough to take upon itself a form of imagined life clearer than reality and whose accumulated verisimilitude of selected episodes puts to shame the pride of documentary history?