Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hiking the Transcendent Trail

    While hiking after a northern Michigan snowstorm, I was reminded why Christian theologians (as well as philosophers such as Plato) have developed an argument for the existence of God that builds from the presence of beauty in the world.  The formal argument reads something like this:

"There are compelling reasons for considering beauty to exist in a way that transcends its material manifestations. According to materialism, nothing exists in a way that transcends its material manifestations. Although one can make plausible evolutionary explanations for finding beauty in potential sexual partners and in healthy animals that might be food or predators, the experience of beauty is much wider than these categories and includes visions of things for which there can be no direct evolutionary advantage (like clouds seen from aeroplanes, or images from telescopes). According to classical theism, beauty is a quality of God and therefore exists in a way that transcends its material manifestations. Therefore, to the extent that premise (1) is accepted, theism is more plausible than materialism."
   Saturday, I found the visuals to go with this argument while hiking with my boys along the Boardman River in Traverse City, MI.  For a couple hours, I was immersed in the stunningly unnecessary beauty of creation.    
     The idea that all of reality can be reduced to nothing but atoms in motion may pass some kind of muster in a philosophy classroom, but not in midst of the raw beauty of nature.  Yes, there is ugliness too.  I get that. In fact, in a materialist universe of blind forces and chance, I understand gratuitous evil and decay.  
     But what do we do with gratuitous beauty?  What do we do when sticks, frozen water, dead chlorophyll sacks, dirt and a distant star take our breath away?  We enjoy it, and remember that our existence is greater than the sum of the details. Thank God.

1 comment:

  1. No, Hume dysteological-from imperfections- argument still gainsays it.Carneades keel hauls it with his argument,in effect, that all teleology begs the question of intent-vitalism. And Lamberth's teleonomic/atelic argument keel hauls it by noting that as science finds no intent behind natural cause and explanations, God cannot fully be Himself and thus cannot exist.Thus to apply this argument would be to contradict science instead of complementing it!
    And ti's an argument from personal incredulity and from ignorace to posit Him behind the beautiful. Beauty, ugliness, order, chaos, natural laws, regularity inhere in the Cosmos. Indeed, He'd have to depend on them instead of the other way round in order to act so that they not He is the primary cause and ultimate explanation,despite Aquinas and Leibniz respectively.
    Google lamberth's naturalistc arguments about God to see this and more in detail! I've other Carneades blogs.