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  • Writer's pictureC.A. Cranfill

Aesthetic Argument

I love architecture. I love looking at buildings and the product of mankind's wonderful ingenuity. It is amazing to see the incredible feats and accomplishments that come through engineering and hard work. Structures like the Parthenon or the Great Pyramids of Egypt are absolutely mind boggling. Personally, I feel that they are a wonderful demonstration of beauty. But there are some that wouldn't readily agree with me. For them, architecture doesn't really make the cut. They would rather find themselves in a museum looking at paintings like the Mona Lisa or the Ceiling at the Sistine Chapel. They find beauty portrayed in art. Others might appreciate nature. They find beauty as they walk through the forest: seeing trees, flowers and wildlife. Perhaps you find beauty in something else? There are numerous ways in which we see beauty revealed in our world. And everyone has a different idea of what beauty is. These differences of opinion have often led us to say things like "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.". As a result many dive into conversations about whether or not there exists a way to define objective beauty. Does there exist a universal concept of beauty?

It doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter because any ability to appreciate beauty is actually a favorable argument for the existence of God. In fact, this argument has its place in the five-fold scheme of classical apologetics. It has been commonly known as the Aesthetic Argument or the Beauty Argument. Essentially, the argument is communicating that Beauty has no place in a Materialistic or Natural Worldview. In concepts such as Natural Selection, or Macro Evolution, only things which are conducive or necessary for survival exist. In a scheme such as the survival of the fittest, a species will only evolve into things that help them in their quest for survival. However, beauty is not necessary for survival. Therefore, if beauty exists it creates a problem for natural selection. We must either conclude that beauty is somehow necessary for survival or that natural selection is false. But if we conclude that beauty is in fact, necessary for survival, we are left with another problem. Why are not all things beautiful? Why are there still ugly things? Wouldn't they have been eliminated in the process of natural selection because they are lacking a necessary component for survival, i.e. beauty?

This problem is so significant that that Charles Darwin himself said, "If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection. (1)". In a scenario or theory like natural selection, species would operate on a selfish paradigm. That is to say, that they would evolve and adapt to take advantage of other species. They would not evolve or adapt to be beautiful or pleasing to anything or anyone else.

Therefore, the idea that there is a concept of beauty and that some things are simply beautiful for the sake of being beautiful, is a major difficulty for those that would deny the existence of God. Our ability to admire the complexity of architecture, our appreciation and enjoyment of nature and our creation of beautiful works of art, doesn’t make sense in a world without God. It can only be explained, if we realize that we have a Creator who is Himself the Ultimate Source of Beauty. And as a Lover of Beauty, He has created us with the ability to appreciate and enjoy that beauty.


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