In Defense of Stupid Conversions (God Exists!)

The New Atheist gets all grumpy about ‘stupid’ conversions to the faith. Francis Collins – a self-described ‘obnoxious atheist’ and incredible genetic scientist – revealed the end of his own journey to God…

“I turned the corner and saw in front of me this frozen waterfall, a couple of hundred feet high. Actually, a waterfall that had three parts to it — also the symbolic three in one. At that moment, I felt my resistance leave me. And it was a great sense of relief. The next morning, in the dewy grass in the shadow of the Cascades, I fell on my knees and accepted this truth — that God is God, that Christ is his son and that I am giving my life to that belief.”

His brother, Christopher Hitchens, is dying and could use your prayers.

…and was called weak-minded, a cop-out; someone who had clearly not thought out either of his positions, atheistic or theistic. Or Jennifer Fulwier, that beautiful woman who writes over at Conversion Diary. Her atheism ended the moment she looked at her new baby. Or Peter Hitchens, a believer after seeing a painting of heaven and hell. All of them have been snidely called out as subjective, emotional and illogical human beings.

In reality, the majority of conversions to the faith are of this nature – an experience with beauty. Granted, most of these experiences are preceded with some logical venture – Francis Collins was convinced of Darwinism’ inability to explain the Moral Law before his hiking trip. But this isn’t stupid at all. In fact, it’s one of the most logical reasons to admit the existence of God by admitting the existence of beauty; by experiencing beauty.

“A frozen waterfall? What intellectual failure! What pathetic sentimentality!” the atheist might argue. Not so. The atheistic position falls flat in the face of a frozen waterfall.

They're treats if you've ever seen one on the side of a highway.

Now the reason Beauty gets a bad rap – especially as a catalyst for conversion – is because the modern mind conceives it as subjective. How can Beauty lead you to God, if to the next man it may be regarded as ugliness? But as I have attempted to show, the modern mind is just plain stupid. Beauty is objective. Beauty is outside of us. If we close our eyes, our children are still beautiful. It is not defined by us, rather it is something we recognize.

But there is another quality to Beauty, or rather, a quality within a quality (Quality Inception!) that a reader-whom-I-hope-will-not-mind-me-quoting wrote on,

…beauty really hurts. It causes intense longing and a painful desire, sehnsucht. It makes us wonder. It’s both agony and ecstasy. We catch a tiny glimpse of the fulfillment of all desire, and it awakens an even fiercer desire for that object. That’s probably why the saddest things strike us as the most beautiful – because beauty hurts. It’s like fire, as Augustine makes clear: “Thou touched me!—I tasted thee, and now I burn to live within thy peace”…

This is a fact of life I believe everyone can attest to, that beauty makes us long, whether it be framed in our wives, the Shenandoah Valley, or the poetry of The Chronicles of Narnia. Though perhaps I am being presumptuous. Perhaps, by some strange miracle, you’ve never experienced The Longing. Sit then in the quiet with this, and I apologize for ruining your hitherto simple life with soul-tugging pangs of sweet-pain.

YouTube Preview Image

This sudden and breath-taking feeling of ‘something greater’ cannot be discounted as mere sentimental emotion – as the New Atheist might wish – for it is a universal experience. No, this quality within the experience of Beauty is our innate acknowledgment of the infinity of Beauty. The experience of Beauty is often described as lifting our hearts, elevating us, pulling us to something higher, etc. etc.  - what are these phrases but attempts to explain that there is always more Beauty? If Beauty were finite, perhaps we could be simply satisfied with it; sit down with some Mozart and say, “Yep, this is dandy. I feel perfectly satisfied.” We could leave the Pieta, unmoved; walk in a New England Autumn woods and feel no inexplicable desires. But if it is infinite, it would make absolute sense that the experience of Beauty is accompanied with Longing – for an experience of Beauty could only ever speak of greater Beauty to be found. The experience of the infinite would send the heart and mind soaring upwards, for infinity is the always-more.

This innate knowledge of Beauty being infinite (which, by the way, is a fact taken as self-evident by the Ancient philosophers) fits perfectly with the fact that it is objective. If it is objective, that is to say, something that is, not simply something that exists upon the certain construction of nature, or upon ourselves viewing those constructions, then it is outside of nature. Outside of us. Supernatural. You might draw an exquisite piece of art, but you conformed that piece of art to a knowledge of beauty; the art does not bring the beauty into existence. Thus if art did not exist, beauty still would. If the world did not exist, beauty still would.

Beauty is infinite necessarily. Because to judge anything from not very beautiful at all:

to the famously, incredibly beautiful:

…is to admit the existence of a scale. But since there is always possibility of more beauty, as there is always the possibility of a greater number, the scale must be infinite. The most Beautiful Thing Ever would have to be infinitely beautiful. And saying something is infinitely beautiful is saying that something is Beauty itself. (If I am infinitely like a train, I am a train.)

So have the conclusion: If Beauty can indeed be maintained to be an Infinite, Supernatural Existence, then God is Beauty. For there cannot exist two independent infinities. An immovable object and an unstoppable force cannot meet. Another way of saying this is that God is infinitely beautiful, which as I showed in the train example, is the same as saying God is Beauty. This means that St. Francis, upon recieving the stigmata and crying to Our Lord ‘”You are beauty…You are beauty!” was not being poetical in the subjective sense of the term. He was being honest. He was being absolutely, ruthlessly logical.

So when Francis Collins falls to his knees before the sight of a gorgeous, frozen waterfall, it isn’t emotionalism. It isn’t weakness. For all practical purposes, it seems to be basic mathematics. The existence of Beauty declares the existence of God, for Beauty, in it’s infinity is God. Any experience of beauty, whether experienced by the hardcore atheist or the flabby-minded Christian, is an experience of God.

  • Jdmcnichol

    Nicely done. Where, oh where, did you find the impressionist Spider man?

  • enness

    People sometimes quip that heaven sounds boring. But then, there are certain songs so excruciatingly beautiful I think I could literally have them on a perpetual loop and never get tired of it…thanks for the insights.

    • Jeremy Higgens

      Yes, I’m sure spending all of eternity listening to Ravel’s Bolero on a loop will do wonders for your sanity.

  • Donalbain

    I cant help noticicing that you NEVER actually quote any atheists. It is much easier to argue against straw atheists than to actually refer to their words.

    • Anonymous

      How about when Richard Dawkins said people arguing that the complexity of life requires a designer, would still have to explain the complexity of God—thus demonstrating he’s never even skimmed the chapter headings in the Summa (Prima Pars Q1, “On the Simplicity of God”)?

      • Ray

        Look. You can’t just assert that God is simple and claim you have solved Dawkins’s objection.

        You need to provide a simple description of God that is
        1) unambiguous, complete, and literally true
        2) doesn’t contradict anything else you want to say about God
        3) doesn’t contradict anything we know about reality

        Further, if you want to claim God is omnipotent, then the world is exactly as He would want it. This means that all of physics is the logical consequence of any complete description of God’s personality (remember a brief, complete description is a prerequisite for declaring God to be simple).

        So, before you claim the universe was created by a simple and omnipotent God, please show how the Standard model and all physics beyond follows from what you claim to know of God’s ultimate simplicity.

        Barring that, I will call your bluff. Any claim that mind, soul, spirit, or God is simple derives from the same flawed logic that led Plato to claim in Phaedo that the soul is simple and indivisible, and to then analyze in detail the interactions between the various parts of the soul in Republic and Laws.

        • Anonymous

          Black holes are radically simple, the least complicated things in all of physics—their very particles cease to be, crushed into a microcosm of the pre-Big Bang monobloc. But please, O sage, give us your “brief, complete description” of one.

          Ask any designer: simplicity is hard, complexity is easy.

          Unfortunately no description of Being—which is the Christian God—can be “literally true”, because language, being composed of subject and predicate, cannot correctly describe a singularity.

          The Standard model and all of physics follow from our God because the universe exists—and the fact anything exists is the Christian God.

          And I’m calling your bluff: you didn’t know any of that. You caricature Platonism, and even a correct critique of Platonist Realism has nothing to say to Thomist-Aristotelian Mitigated Realism. Plus, your “refutation” consists entirely of “I demand you argue in terms of empiricism”. But that is self-contradictory—empiricism is not empirically knowable.

          • Anonymous

            Speaking of things that aren’t literally true, science is full of them. We talk of “before the Big Bang”, even though the time-like dimension(s) didn’t exist until the Big Bang happened. We talk of things happening inside a black hole, even though time has stopped—and no information can escape the event horizon (which may, given the definition of time used in physics, be the same thing).

          • Ray

            Correction: “time-like dimension(s) didn’t exist until the Big Bang happened.”

            This is not established. It’s true of some possible scenarios (e.g. Hartle Hawking,) but not all of them (e.g. most versions of inflation).

            You also misunderstand relativity — nothing wrong with using “300 years ago” as shorthand for “300 years ago in earth’s (nearly) inertial reference frame”

            The point is not that we need to always speak in literal terms in order to make sense, it is that such a description (at least an explicit model, and a domain of applicability) must be available if needed for clarification. Otherwise, we truly do not know of what we speak.

          • Anonymous

            It is wrong to speak as if comparison is directly possible between two disparate inertial reference frames. Obviously there’s no other way to do it, but it is intrinsically less-than-accurate.

            It is, like speaking about God, true “only by analogy”.

          • Ray

            What on earth are you talking about? A reference frame is just a choice of coordinates. You can just pick one and describe the whole observable universe (say co-moving coordinates), or if switching coordinates is convenient, you can use the appropriate transformations (lorentz transformation in SR, or any diffeomorphism in GR) to convert variables from one to the other.

            Have you actually taken any physics, or are you getting your understanding of physics from apologetics websites and popularizations for the layman?

          • Ray

            Re: Black holes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerr%E2%80%93Newman_metric

            Everything you need to know about a specific instance is given by three numbers: mass, charge, and angular momentum (plus a location). Of course, you’ll need to correct for quantum effects and the existence of objects outside the horizon, but the classical limit is enough to unambiguously specify what you’re talking about. The remainder of the description follows from the correct quantization of gravity, and the low energy behavior can be derived simply from assuming that such a quantization exists.

            On empiricism. I didn’t ask for an empirical link to reality. I asked for a description of what you were talking about. Simple, in my book, means “has a simple description.” Absent that, the claim “God is simple” is pure, unjustified speculation. But, since you mentioned it — no, empiricism is not necessarily contradictory. The premise, “empiricism works” is taken as true at the outset and revised if necessary. The premises themselves are always valid conclusions in any system. Of course, if you want to deny the premise that empiricism works, you can do so, but then you will have a difficult time explaining the success of science, or even justifying the claim that you and I are conversing in English — which would rather defeat the purpose of the exchange.

            On plato/aristotle/aquinas. I could care less to which wooly headed ancient philosopher you want to claim loyalty. They all plagiarize mistakes from Plato.

          • Anonymous

            Better than mistakes from Descartes, Kant, or Hume.

          • Ray

            I already said which mistakes — the claim that mind, or anything like it is simple (A claim which Plato himself refutes every time he analyzes mental processes in terms of their component parts.) Since you mention it though, I will also add that both Plato and Aristotle suffer from a chronic failure to make distinctions between map and territory, which leads to such absurdities as Plato’s theory of forms, and Aristotle’s denial of actual infinites, leading him to posit a theory of motion in terms of the hopelessly imprecise concepts of act and potency rather than differential calculus (which requires the uncountably infinite real line.)

            Also — don’t group Descartes, Kant, and Hume as if they are the same (Descartes and Kant are fatally flawed. Hume is mostly right, although modern exponents of broadly empiricist philosophy like Quine are really what you should be engaging with.)

            well, I’m not sure what your strawman empiricism is supposed to be other than a definition of “logically valid,” and not the standard one at that (conclusions follow from premises under deductive logic.) Something along the lines of “everything that can be known can be learned by empirical reasoning” seems completely unproblematic. The hypothesis is simple, falsifiable, and unfalsified and therefore should be regarded as most probably true via empirical reasoning.

            You’re a fan of Feser aren’t you.

          • Anonymous

            Also, RE: simple, I don’t give a tinker’s damn what “simple” means in your book, that isn’t what it means in philosophy. If you don’t like people using terms in the technical sense of the field in which they’re being used, don’t discuss those fields.

            Do you like people using “theory” in the conversational sense (where it actually means hypothesis), when talking about the Theory of Evolution or the Theory of Relativity (where it means “model to explain observed phenomena”)? Philosophy has its own technical terms, and pretending that they’re not being used in their technical senses is a rather cheap equivocation fallacy.

            Simplicity, in philosophy, means “not compound”, without parts, and specifically within Thomist philosophy “not composed of form and matter”. In this sense, souls and God both are simple.

            And my original point still stands: Dawkins assumed believers had to explain the divine complexity, not because he believed it to have been refuted, but because he’d never even heard of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not; it merely matters that any ostensible divine complexity did not, in fact, pose a difficulty for their position, and if he actually knew anything about the subject he pontificates on, he wouldn’t have said it.

            Wikipedia, by the way, does not share his ignorance.

          • Ray

            You have not demonstrated that Dawkins was unaware of the doctrine of divine simplicity, only that he did not mention it. He gives the reasoning that leads him to suspect a God as conceived by any major religion is a complex thing (if nothing else, by analogy to the only minds that are agreed to exist by both theist and atheist.) He is only obligated to address Aquinas’ objection assuming the objection works. Near as I can tell it doesn’t, and nothing you’ve said to this point constitutes a positive reason to believe it does.

            The bottom line is, empirical reasoning leads us to conclude that it is extremely implausible that any of the world’s major religions owes its existence to the actions of a superhuman personal being of any sort. Scholastic reasoning reaches a different conclusion. However, we are both agreed that empirical reasoning works at least some of the time. I contend that scholasticism is completely useless except as a form of perverse entertainment. Empiricism created modern technological civilization. Scholasticism can’t even mediate between Christianity and Islam. If you wish your line of reasoning to take equal weight to mine then you will need to justify it by empirical reasoning, since it is the only system we both agree is EVER a reliable guide for truth.

          • Ray

            Also, on correct usage of “simple.” Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy seems to consider syntactic simplicity as valid a concept of simplicity as ontological simplicity. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/simplicity/#PriJusSim

            Further, syntactic simplicity (number of free parameters) is the one that is used for theory choice in statistics (where results matter above and beyond propping up the ideology of a dead empire.) Given that Dawkins was purporting to make a scientific rather than philosophical argument, his usage of simple is the more appropriate.

          • Jeremy Higgens

            No, the fact that anything exists is the Great Purple Spotted Magic Wish Granting Unicorn, in his magnificent, all knowing all powerful beneficence.

          • Jeremy Higgens

            “…and the fact anything exists is the Christian God.”

            Therefor I am God.

            As your God, I command thee to sell all your possessions and send all your money to me. Post haste.

        • Anonymous

          Also, why do I have to claim physics follows from God’s simplicity? Are we suddenly pantheists or Paracelsian emanationists, that we must assert “as above, so below”?

          Find me one philosopher who says that a thing’s material properties must follow directly from its relationship with existence. You won’t. But that is the logical equivalent of your assertion about what I must demonstrate. You’d know that, if you knew anything about what Christians think about God.

          Incidentally, you also seem to be unaware that there are two definitions of create—”cause to come into being” and “cause to exist“. Even if the universe had never not existed, its existence would not be logically necessary, because it would still be dependent on the existence of something else. Before anything can exist, there must be such a thing as existence.

          • Ray

            Why physics must follow from God’s nature — I gave my reasoning, and you did not even try to respond to it. Do you want to claim God is omnipotent or not? If so, He either acts in an arbitrary fashion (in which case his existence explains nothing, and therefore may be taken as an unnecessary posit to be shaved away via Ockham’s razor) or his actions follow from his nature, in which case a correct description of physics follows from a correct description of God.

            On your name one philosopher. Your challenge seems worded in such a way to allow you to weasel out, but I’m pretty sure Hume is close enough (bundle theory.) Argument from authority either way.

            As far as logical necessity goes. I’m pretty sure what you said is at best a meaningless tautology and at worst a slippery word game designed to define the empirically improbable into existence.

          • Jeremy Higgens

            “You’d know that, if you knew anything about what Christians think about God.”

            Because all Christians all believe exactly the same thing about God. Sure.

  • Mary MacArthur

    It was a neat surprise to see you quoting Aodhagain, whom I’ve run into on deviantart. Small world!

    • Jay E.

      Who are you on deviantArt? It is a small world. :D ~Aodhagain

  • Jay E.

    Thanks for quoting me, and linking to my entry.

    This post was really well put. I think along the lines of desire, anyone if they examine their reactions to beauty will have to agree it produces a longing for something. You get uncomfortable. You want to try and fully appreciate the beauty before your eyes. It’s something totally “Other” and it produces a kind of frustration, like a tiny glimpse of something through a glass darkly. In the presence of beauty, you are forced to acknowledge the existence of some other that you yourself are seeking. If not, then you would simply smile when you saw something beautiful (isn’t that nice), but not stop and stare (gaping mouth – silent awe, whether you admit it or not). It’s kind of (I guess very much so) erotic. So I think my favorite argument for the existence of God is: therefore there is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, therefore there is a God.

    Keep up these posts on beauty, they’re really good! Plus, as you note, beauty is infinite. Which means you’ll never run out of material to write on it.

  • http://twitter.com/mako_pens MK

    Hi,

    I stumbled onto your blog via ncregister. Interesting stuff; it certainly gives me much to think about. The biggest issue I always have with these types of “beauty is objective” arguments is, how does taste factor into this?

    Say two God-fearing people of good will listen to the same piece of music, or view the same piece of art. One is moved to appreciate the beauty in it; the other is not, and finds the artwork unappealing. Does the second have a malformed conscience? If there is real objective beauty in the artwork, is it a moral defect not to recognize it? Is there an obligation upon those who don’t recognize it to learn to do so?

    For example, the video you posted–I’m afraid I didn’t feel the soul-tugging pangs you mentioned. I’m sure part of it was because I was listening to it on cheap, tinny-sounding laptop speakers. Had I been there live, I’m sure my reaction would be different. Still, I find it difficult to be moved by that style of music. The lack of melody and “meandering” quality leaves me somewhat cold. I can only appreciate it and the talent of the choir singing it from a purely intellectual level. So is there something wrong with me?

    I’m not really expecting a response, and I do agree with your overall point–again, something I need to think more about.

    • Miss Doyle

      MK, I think you could use the word ‘taste’ when we talk about interpretations of beauty as subjective.
      Your examples are perfect to show how we can do this – while beauty is a ‘pointer’ (for want of a better word) upwards to its Creator, as humans we can only harness an interpretation of it, whatever painting is painted, or music composed, we could never give an accurate depiction of true Beauty, our human nature is so limited.
      But we do recognise it when we see it. You have recognised from the music that it has taken skill (a gift from God to reflect his beauty in human terms) to compose – whether you necessarily like it or not is entirely up to you.
      If it does lead your thoughts upwards towards God, that’s great – as long as it doesn’t lead your thoughts ‘downwards’, I think that would be a sign that something hasn’t been created for the right reasons.
      Does that make sense? I’m sure someone else could say this more eloquently than I can – but it is something I think about often – particularly in terms of Church architecture when someone has decided to do a ‘reno’ job on the sanctuary and replaces a Carrera High Altarpiece with a blank wall, and shifts the tabernacle off to the side in what looks like a model of the Sputnik. My test is: does the ‘new’ design assist me in praying? or does it make me distracted? Usually it’s a distraction = because it’s also very ugly.

  • Anon

    You make a lot of logical leaps here buddy. And you build up a whole hell of a lot of straw men.

    A number cannot be infinitely large. Infinity is not a number, it is a mathematical concept. The entire proof you just laid out has been crushed by a basic high-school understanding of mathematics.

    You make a lot of claims (“For there cannot exist two independent infinities”, “…if it is objective… then it is outside of nature… Supernatural…”) that you do not expand upon or clarify at all and are central to your argument and are rather flawed.

    You define beauty as an understanding of “something greater”, yet I would disagree. When I notice beauty in an attractive person or, say, one of the art pieces you mentioned, I am not acknowledging something greater but rather the piece itself. The Mona Lisa is beautiful not because of something greater, but because Leonardo da Vinci was a freaking genius.

    By your own logic, if there exists an infinite beauty, must there not also exist an infinite horror (or whatever word you want to mean the opposite of beauty)? And if there cannot be “two independent infinites”, must the ultimate horror be God as well? Your logic does not hold up to scrutiny.

    Also, you described The Chronicles of Narnia as “poetry”. That’s your greatest offense. My god, man.

    • Anonymous

      You hypostasize a lack—evil is not a thing, merely the absence of one. Thus there is no need for an ultimate horror. However, since we’re on the subject, the absolute singularity that is the Christian God is completely beyond the scope of discursive thought, let alone human understanding. He’s the sort of thing that makes Lovecraft’s Azathoth look like a comforting anthropomorphism. Look up “scandal of divine mercy” if you want to see how God’s very benevolence is, to our puny primate brains, “a thing that should not be”.

      And Beauty is, in ultimate terms, the Good as apprehended by the senses. The Good, in philosophy, is simply identical with Being, with existence—and that is significantly greater than anything that can become aware of it. Marc put it conversationally—that is, badly—but the actual fact is that “beauty” is an indirect communion with being itself. It doesn’t strike you as “great” that the senses of an animal can actually do that?

      Not terribly fond of Narnia myself, but there is definitely a sense of the word poetry that applies—the word “poesy” is even closer. Read Tolkien’s “On Fairy-Stories”, RE: mythopoeia and secondary belief.

      • Jeremy Higgens

        Beauty is not good, it is just the subjective interpretation of our brains that our eyes see. Beauty should be a separate consideration in our mind, but clearly for some reason our monkey brains have evolved to equate the two, even though many a fair face have hidden a foul heart.

        There are many beautiful places that would kill you in very ugly, hard ways should you choose to go there unready and unawares. No, beauty is not Good, it is appreciation for beauty itself, even if it is something that is hard and deadly and murderous, like a black panther or frozen desert landscape.

    • anon

      ultimate horror being the lack of God?

  • Christy Hampton

    Speaking of frozen waterfalls: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

  • Caroline

    I love your blog, Marc.

    Got to admit, one of the reasons I love it is because you remind me of me when I was your age (I can’t believe I’m old enough to say that!) – what I mean is that I miss being a whip-smart super-enthusiastic aesthete who would wake up in the middle of the night with an inspiration about the Nature of Everything and it would be AWESOME (and is still awesome when I read over what I wrote, even today.) And I do believe that such inspirations are valid and valuable. They’re the power of youth.

    I also like some of Anon’s points. If you’re infinitely like a train, you are a train. Not the platonic form of Train. The California Zephyr #4506 is infinitely like a train, but is not Train Itself. Therefore, I think what is infinitely beautiful is a beauty, not Beauty itself. This doesn’t really affect the argument though. An infinitely beautiful thing would be an attribute of God, yes, but not necessarily God’s essence.

    I think this is why John doesn’t say God is Beauty – Oscar Wilde says that. John says God is Love. And Love might be sometimes horrifying – not at all beautiful. Think of kissing a leper’s oozing sores. Or a realistic crucifix. That said, horror is our reaction to a thing – beauty is an attribute to the thing, which exists independent of our reaction to it. The waterfall would still be beautiful if no one saw it. Would a leper still be horrifying? I don’t think so. (Chalk one up for Evil Is Nonbeing!)

    But when Anon says maybe horror (I’d rather call the thing itself “ugliness” and our reaction “horror”) would have to be a part of God, I don’t wholly disagree. The crucifixion was ugly, and horrifying. But anything which Is, (not evil which Is Not) is an attribute of God who is the I Am. So either ugliness is Nonbeing, or Ugliness, like Beauty, is an attribute of God – the way to figure this out is whether Ugliness is Good – whether it increases love. Maybe sometimes?

    Sorry so long.

    • Marc

      it seems I am missing something. Would you mind emailing me? marcjohnpaul@gmail.com
      I am confident I made some logical errors, and I’d like to iron them out (that I might avoid my own 5 o’clock existential crisis as much as I might not spread stupidity across the internet) ( :
      thanks so much, and i totally understand i you don’t have time

  • LT

    Thanks for the post. Just two days ago, I was walking down our tree-lined, Craftsman-style, early-20th-century neighborhood at the peak of fall. My three children ran to every street corner and back ahead of me and my husband. With every new view, every turn, my husband and I witnessed yet another stunning tree, more brilliant leaves decorating the street, sidewalk, and yards, cozier houses with different striking architectural features. My husband and I kept turning to each other and saying, “This is so painfully and achingly beautiful.” I finally stated that there absolutely must be a corner of Heaven that looked just like this, and my husband agreed. It hurts to walk through our neighborhood, especially during fall. (Can’t wait to see what winter brings!) Your post was very timely, and it gave me a deeper appreciation and understanding of God, our earthly experiences, and beauty.

  • Jeremy Higgens

    If beauty is objective then all would agree. They do not. Nor would tastes change.

    But perhaps the meaning of the words objective and subjective has been switched. I wish someone had posted this switch somewhere.

    Most people ignore clouds, seeing them as nothing more then the presage
    of precipitation. But if you spend time studying them you may soon find
    they have their own subtle majestic beauty, their play of light and
    dark, gradual grays and sudden violent dark. But still many see them as
    nothing but harbingers of a wet day pretty rainbows. So so much for that theory.

    I do not find beauty painful. I imagine there must be others that do not.
    I don’t find either painting to be beautiful, although one is less arduous to look on.
    This article seems like unjustified blather.

    It isn’t weakness to enjoy the sight of beauty, but it is weakness to suddenly equate beauty with the assertion of the existence of an omnipotent being, which is exactly what some do. Just as succumbing to a fit of rage and murdering the town poet for his own murder of the English language is weakness.

    You might as well say there are omnipotent magic wish granting purple spotted unicorns, because I saw a pretty cloud. And if you did, most would think you mad including many of those self same Christians who found God hiding in the beauty of a thrice diverted stream of urine.

    Drop another hit of acid and write another essay.

    And, according to your article, if you are infinitely like a cunt, you are a cunt.
    Yes. It doesn’t mean diddly squat but I thought I’d put it in anyways to
    show how an infinite train can travel into an infinite cunt.

  • Jeremy Higgens

    By the way, if beauty was infinite wouldn’t we spend our short lives starting at beautiful things until we died of thirst and starvation?

  • http://mindprod.com roedygreen

    I read some time ago about art appreciation of landscapes. The landscapes judged most beautiful would have been ideal habitats for our ancestors. We see them as beautiful because they are life-sustaining, not from some inherent godly quality.
    A frozen waterfall is beautiful because it signifies a clean, abundant supply of water. Whether it had 3 lobes or 12 is just an accident. You could be be an idiot like Collins and read something magic into any number.

  • http://mindprod.com roedygreen

    Collins is an idiot or more likely a liar. He knows perfectly well how those fantastic shapes come about naturally in waterfalls and in cave stalactites. His brain turns to mush and pretends they were made by God and his cosmic chainsaw. They are beautiful, but show no sign of artifice. They are not ice-sculptures.

    • newenglandsun

      I’m trying to take your argument seriously right now. You state he is a liar or an idiot and your argument is that it’s because he thinks God was the creator of them. How does that logic follow? He still rejects intelligent design by the way.

      • http://mindprod.com roedygreen

        The problem is, he observed something perfectly ordinary, beautiful, but not in the least supernatural. He had studied the science to understand how it formed. There was no sign of artifice. Then he claimed that was evidence for god. That is brain damaged. Whether you believe is god is a different matter. Holding up a perfectly ordinary waterfall as convincing evidence for god is sign of a nervous breakdown. It is the sort of thing someone stoned on acid does.

  • maezeppa

    We atheists don’t dispute beauty or that we exist in an awe-inspiring universe. What we dispute is that this tendency to fall sway to natural beauty as a pretext to return to the religious indoctrinations of our childhood, is a symptom of the brain’s tendency to err.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X