“The eye of the beholder”…that’s where beauty resides—right? According to many in our post-truth culture, yes. But is that true? Others would argue that objective beauty exists. After all, how else do we explain the widespread, cross-cultural appreciation of sunsets, a roaring ocean, a soaring eagle, etc.? The Argument from Beauty In fact, to Christian philosophers, such as Baylor University philosophy professor Alexander Pruss, beauty helps to prove God’s existence. This is called the “argument from beauty.” It is not as well known as the cosmological or moral arguments. Even so, the structure and premises of this argument share similarities with the better-known moral and fine-tuning arguments.
“The eye of the beholder”…that’s where beauty resides—right? According to many in our post-truth culture, yes. But is that true?
Others would argue that objective beauty exists. After all, how else do we explain the widespread, cross-cultural appreciation of sunsets, a roaring ocean, a soaring eagle, etc.?
The Argument from Beauty
In fact, to Christian philosophers, such as Baylor University philosophy professor Alexander Pruss, beauty helps to prove God’s existence. This is called the “argument from beauty.” It is not as well known as the cosmological or moral arguments. Even so, the structure and premises of this argument share similarities with the better-known moral and fine-tuning arguments.
The Argument from Beauty for God
Similarities Between Arguments from Morality and Beauty
Some atheists explain their unbelief in God by pointing to the existence of evil. But that assertion is inherently self-defeating to the atheistic worldview as calling something “evil” is an acknowledgment that objective moral values exist. Where is the grounding for those values, though? This is called the Moral Argument in Apologetics.
The same line of reasoning applies to the argument from beauty. Just as the first premise of the moral argument asserts that objective moral values exist, the argument from beauty asserts that objective beauty exists. Some things are universally considered beautiful: sunsets, oceans, certain animals, etc. But what is the grounding for that beauty – where does it come from?
Evolutionists seem unable to provide a logically consistent, satisfactory answer to why beauty exists. Some argue, for example, that we are attracted to the lakes and trees of a beautiful landscape because those are necessary survival resources. But that reasoning falls apart when we consider the beauty of a colorful but dangerous snake, an angry ocean, or any of the myriad hazardous but beautiful things in the world.
Similarities Between Arguments from Fine-Tuning and Beauty
The argument from beauty also has similarities with the Fine-Tuning Argument for God. The universe is fine-tuned to permit life. Such precision suggests intentionality and design. Similarly, the beauty of the world seems intentional, created by the ultimate Artist for our appreciation (ever wonder why everything isn’t in black and white?).
The Argument from Beauty: Resources to Consider
Although not as well-known as other arguments for God’s existence, the argument from beauty can be just as compelling. Here are a few resources can help you understand it better:
Beauty and Divine Hiddenness with Doug Groothuis by Apologetics 315 on YouTube
Dr. Doug Groothius, a Christian philosophy professor at Denver Seminary, discusses the argument from beauty during part of this Apologetics 315 episode (9:15 – 24:30). He remarks on the effectiveness of the beauty argument as part of a cumulative case for God’s existence. Dr. Groothius explains the argument in more detail in Chapter 13 of his Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith.
Aesthetic Arguments for the Existence of God by Peter Williams in Quodlibet Journal
Christian philosopher and apologist Peter S. Williams is an Assistant Professor in Communication and Worldviews at NLA University College at Gimlekollen, Kristiansand, Norway. This academic journal article is a detailed explanation of the argument from beauty.
The Argument from Beauty for God’s Existence on Capturing Christianity
Dr. Alexander Pruss is a professor of Philosophy at Baylor University. In 2019, he was invited to the prestigious Wilde Lectures at Oxford University. One of those lectures was about the argument from beauty. Cameron Bertuzzi of the popular YoutTube channel Capturing Christianity received permission to post Dr. Pruss’s lecture.
The Argument from Beauty by Alexander Pruss
For those who want a more succinct and easy-to-read explanation of key components of the argument, this blog post from Dr. Pruss is the perfect resource. Despite his impressive credentials, Pruss’s explanations in this post are accessible to a broad audience. He includes challenges by evolutionists as well as his rebuttals.
Why Beauty is Powerful Evidence for God” with Dr. Philip Tallon on Capturing Christianity
Dr. Philip Tallon is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the School of Christian Thought at Houston Christian University. In this episode of Cameron Bertuzzi’s Capturing Christianity, Dr. Tallon explains why he believes the argument from beauty is one of the most powerful arguments for God’s existence.
Psalm 19:1 asserts that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” The very concept of beauty originates with God. He loved His creation enough to bless us with beautiful things and the aesthetic sense to appreciate them.
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