Can Artistic Beauty Prove That God Exists?

Grand Canyon, Arizon, USA

Believe it or not, many Christian philosophers would say that yes, the artistic beauty we find throughout the universe points to the fact that God truly does exist.

So how does that work, exactly?

 

A Discontinuous Universe

Some have argued that evolution is too “process-oriented” and orderly to adequately explain the universe.  Darwin’s Theory points to a natural process that should act consistently over time, while the actual world is discontinuous and cannot always fit into Darwin’s little “box.”  Haven’t you ever wondered why monkeys aren’t still evolving to this day?  This is why many scientists have begun to reject evolutionary theory in recent years.  Intelligent Design, on the other hand, which points to God as the Author of the universe, is based on creative innovation, and this explains our world in a much more satisfying way.[1]

 

Our Universe:  A True Work of Art

Interestingly enough, the way these theorists describe the creative innovation of nature is quite similar to the way modern artists describe the creative innovation that must be present for an object to qualify as a work of art.  According to Martin and Jacobus, the presence of artistic form (many distinct parts arranged together in an organized way which implies a strong degree of perceptible unity) suggests that an object was made by an artist, was intended to be art, and is therefore considered to be art.[2]  If logic dictates that the presence of organized structure which gives certain objects aesthetic appeal must be the result of an artist, then it follows that this same logic can be applied to the natural universe.  If the universe is found to contain clear examples of beauty and artistic form, then this strongly suggests that it was purposefully designed that way by a Master Artist.

 

Biblical Evidence for Artistic Beauty in Creation

The Creation accounts which are woven throughout Scripture also point to creativity and beauty being employed in addition to a functional design.  Genesis 1:31 states that God saw all that He had made, and “behold, it was very good.”[3] As outlined above, perfection and “goodness” in form and function is equivalent to aesthetic beauty as we understand it.

 

Logos: Christ the Creator

Dembski also observes that the use of the Greek word logos in John 1:1 (“in the beginning was the Word”) also points to creative choice and design.  The word logos originated from the Greek verb lego, which means “to speak.”  The primitive meaning of lego, however, was “to pick up and gather” or “to select and put together.”  In order to speak, one must intentionally choose a particular set of words and organize them together, and this is likely the way John’s Greek audience would have understood the term.  Dembski also points out that the related Latin verb lego means “to choose or select,” and that this is the –lig included in the Latin word “intelligence.”[4]  The argument can be made, then, that John 1:1 is doing more than telling us that Christ, the Word, was present at Creation.  Its use of the word logos may point to creative and intentional choices which were made by the Creator, which fits nicely with the colorful variety of a world made by artistic design.

 

What Makes Something Beautiful, Anyway?

One of my favorite arguments is the very fact that certain objects strike us as being beautiful or excellent while others do not.  Where did we get our concept of beauty?  Is it completely cultural – something we pick up from our parents?  If this is the case, why do people from all over the world travel to stand and gawk at the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls?  There is obviously a universal agreement that some things are, without question, beautiful.

The idea that one thing can be “better” than another, or “more beautiful” than another, means that some Ultimate Perfection in the universe set the standard by which all other sights and works can be judged.  There must be an Ultimate Beauty in existence for us to have this natural sense that some pieces of art come close to reaching its level of excellence while others have a long way to go.

There is a name for this Ultimate Beauty, of course:  God.

 

Worshipping Through the Enjoyment of Beauty

There will always be those who make arguments against God’s existence, and in the end some measure of faith is always required to believe in God.  As Christians, however, we can point to the natural beauty of the universe and the idea of beauty we often discuss while participating in the arts as evidence that God exists, and gave us this standard of what is beautiful.

And the next time you find yourself stopping to gaze at something truly beautiful, your heart can begin to worship your Perfect Creator in an entirely new way.


 [1] William A. Dembski,  The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest  Questions about Intelligent Design (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 251.

[2] David Martin and Lee Jacobus, The Humanities Through the Arts, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 19-21.

[4] William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology  (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 224-29.

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