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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vacation Apologetics - The Earth Showeth Forth His Handiwork

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to tour Bryce Canyon National Park.  The park's many scenic points are awe-inspiring, but the best way to experience it is directly via a hike. Your perspective really changes looking up at the colorful hoodoos of so many different and seemingly impossibly intricate shapes.

We decided in the one day we had there, that we would walk the recommended Queen's Garden/Navajo trail combined hike. It's a 3 mile loop that allows one to get an up-close view of some of the more amazing areas of the park. When looking at all the incredible beauty surrounding you and the many geologic factors that must come together to create such landscapes, I couldn't help but think how amazing God is to provide us with such magnificent splendor, but I also thought about how the fact that beauty exists also argues for the existence of God.

Philosopher Peter Williams offers a great overview of the arguments for the existence of God from the aesthetic (beauty).  First, the concept of beauty in some cases seems to be objective, as Williams notes when quoting J.P. Moreland. I cannot think of any situation where a person would look at the landscape of Bryce Canyon and feel it was anything other than beautiful. The fact that such beauty exists is in no way tied to survival, yet we all recognize it. If there is such a thing a true beauty, then it would need to stem from something that transcends humanity – much like true morality must transcend human opinion.

Secondly, Williams notes that the fact that we can recognize beauty is a key to understanding our need for finding the true beauty of a relationship with God.  We long for and chase after the beautiful – and the beautiful things of this world only satisfy temporarily. What we really yearn for is the perfect beauty of a relationship with God. As Williams writes "That there is a deep need for God within the human heart was recognised by the biblical songwriter who wrote that 'As a deer longs for streams of cool water, so I long for you, O God.'"1

Williams' argument is nuanced and should be read.  However, I do believe that when God created the world, He was more than a utilitarian workman, making sure everything was developed to only work together.  He cared about beauty.  Jesus said as much in Matthew 6: "Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these."  Part of God's initial blessing on Adam and Eve was that they explore and learn about the beauty of His creation.  And the fact that we can see the beautiful shows that we are created imago dei - in His image.


1. Williams, Peter "Aesthetic Arguments for the Existence of God" Quodlibet Journal: Volume 3 Number 3, Summer 2001

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