Wednesday, January 27, 2010

God and Beauty; Part One

Excerpt from The God Question: In Invitation to a Life of Meaning by J.P Moreland (2009)

According to Christianity, the world is not the way it was intended to be. More specifically, death, disease, suffering, and other forms of evil are not part of God’s ideal blueprint for the world. But in spite of evil, the world is still overwhelmingly filled with good thing. In fact, the widespread presence of gratuitous beauty—beauty that seems to serve no additional function besides just being beautiful—is powerful evidence for a Grand Artist.

Artists skillfully bring parts of a statue or painting together to form symmetry, elegance, and so forth. They effectively use just the right color coordination or the proper harmony of notes and sounds to create beautiful things. But these features and more characterize the world far, far beyond the meager ability of humans to imitate them. In fact, design and beauty should not be discussed in the abstract. The power and force of beauty comes from carefully attending to specific cases of it: a butterfly, the way a baby is formed in the womb, sunset over Maui, the Alps, the fish that fill the oceans. The world is teeming with overwhelming beauty.

…If God does not exist, then the best atheistic account of how everything got here would be a strictly scientific account told in terms of chemistry and physics. But science can only tell a story of what is the case. It can say nothing about what ought to be the case; this cannot even use the category of intrinsic goodness or value, much less offer an explanation of how it is intrinsically valuable, good, beautiful, wise, and so forth. So if God exists, we have a powerful explanation of how subsequent beauty could come to characterize our universe. But if God does not exist, we have no story of how this could be. (pp.71-72 emphasis added)

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