procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Friday, February 02, 2007

arguing from aesthetics

some apologists would try and argue the existence of God from aesthetics.
'how can you say there is no God, when you look at this beautiful photo?!'
some more cynical types would say that that is a stupid argument.
'there's a beautiful photo. why bring God into it?'
c.s. lewis is one apologist who argues from the premise of longing: we all long for something more, there must be something more. as the writer of ecclesiastes said: God has put eternity into the hearts of men (or something like that) (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ).

i think, when one surveys the unquestionable beauty on this earth, one has two choices.
  1. look beyond. in the same way as a signpost points you beyond that point, to consider the enormity of the universe, the complexity, even the simplicity, and, if appropriate, whatever/whoever created the whole scene.
  2. look at yourself. the reflection in the water, of so great a mountain, should remind us of our own reflection. who we are, where we fit, the impossibilty, or design, of your playing a role within eternity.

but aesthetics, as an apologetic for theism, on the way to Christianity, can be only a halfway house on the way to a halfway house. without the full host of where creation fits in to God's plan for salvation, this is ahollow argument.

(although i do believe a brief faustian world tour of contrasts - showing both the beauty and the depravity of creation, both the purpose and the corruption, may well be a valid use of aesthetics as an apologetic)

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Blogger samgirl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:50 pm  
Blogger samgirl said...

that was me..and this is what I'd written:

samgirl said...

I find it hard to formulate a comment because of the sheer intellectuality of your posts :)... but hey, here goes simple me...

I for one often look at wonders of God's Creation (a lovely sunset, a beautiful landscape) and ponder why people do not believe in God when they should clearly see!! however I guess that's where "blindness" comes in.

On this topic - I think this Romans 1 passage sheds an interesting light:

1: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

10:53 pm  
Blogger Hayley said...

I guess aesthetics, like any 'other' way of knowing God other-than the gospel way of revelation - it raises questions but cannot answer them.

A picture may show us beauty and wonder and our human minds may attribute them to a divine being who is himself beautiful, creative and powerful.

BUT as much as our human minds might ponder never can we reach reasonable conclusions on our own nor can pondering draw us into a relationship with this God of beauty or bring assurance that there really is such a being.

Thank God for revealing himself to us in Jesus - we can be assured of our relationship with God our Father, who we have not seen.

12:40 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

thanks ladies for your comments.
i guess as well one could look at something like a city (as did max weber) and be spun out, watching the intricacies and interactions and order to it all.
ecclesiastes 1:4-5 got me started thinking about this:

A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.

we find beauty in so many different things - in nature, in man-made structures; in life, even in death there is surely beauty to be found.

it is all a matter of perspective, that that perspective should lead us to, or away from God is entirely up to him.

10:24 am  
Blogger byron said...

Nice photo. :-)

8:03 pm  

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