Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Light of Beauty

Intellectually, naturalists may say that a gloriously colorful and fragrant orchid is merely a function of a mechanistic universe, but when they gaze at such a flower, it has the same emotional impact on most of them as it does on believers. Here is the reason: Beauty is a reality so much stronger than naturalistic philosophy that it simply storms past their intellect and acts directly on their emotions. It’s likely that most naturalists have not thought through their position to its logical conclusion: the mechanical workings, the chugging, pulsating engine of nature fueling itself on itself, producing nothing important, designed for no purpose, but running on aimlessly until it finally peters out.

Naturalists don’t realize that they cannot remain consistent and yet believe in beauty. Consistency would tell them that beauty cannot be explained in terms of pragmatic functions and is, therefore, at odds with their core beliefs. Naturalism reduces everything in nature down to a mechanical function. Beauty is far more than the mechanics that keep nature running. But for those unfortunate enough to have a strong commitment to both consistency and naturalistic philosophy, the light of beauty can no longer shine.

Naturalists may regard beauty as an illusion, but it is an illusion they cannot ignore. It is perhaps the only thing in their mechanistic universe that can divert their minds from the tragic reality of the ultimate oblivion of all things, including themselves.

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