Monday, June 23, 2008

Beauty—a Hint of a Greater Reality

What quality can a waterfall, a sunset, or a mountain have that makes feelings of awe appropriate? Naturalists will say that the mountain’s craggy surface thrusting upward toward the clouds is merely the result of tectonic mechanics—the random geologic forces beneath the crust of the earth. A waterfall is nothing more than gravity’s inevitable effect on flowing liquid at the point where the river channel ends at a precipice. But how do they explain the lofty feelings these natural geologic phenomena evoke? Such feelings make no sense in a totally naturalistic universe. Something more is involved here than gravity and geology.

The mountain may be a work of art. That is, a creator may have purposefully willed its form to evoke in us a specific effect. To most viewers, mountains evoke feelings of sublimity, of upward aspiration, of majesty, of awe, of mystical reaching toward the heavens. Perhaps the mountain was created to be a dim hint of a greater reality that exists in a supernatural realm above our own. The beauty we experience in nature and express in art may be echoes from beyond nature telling us that something more than what we see here exists and what we see here is merely a lesser image of it.

Yes, we know all about the other side of nature—death, decay, pain, heartache, cancers, grief, heart attacks, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes. These woes are terrible, but they are only temporary blights on reality, not reality itself.

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