I was in my class tonight with a leading Christian apologist teaching and he was speaking about God’s revelation in beauty. Now readers of my blog know that this is a strong point of mine. I am getting more and more concerned with even Christians who speak of beauty as if it’s in the eye of the beholder.
I raised my hand and brought up that point and how that this is the case with Christians. I told him that I had been one who has argued for a long time that beauty is objective and used aesthetic arguments. I asked him if he would comment on that. His reply went further than I thought it would, but I believe it could likely be true.
He told the class as a whole, as this was during class, that he believed that we would not be able to reach the next generation unless we convinced them that beauty is objective. Indeed, it seems when I meet people who argue that it isn’t, that the same arguments they give me for not believing it, I could turn and apply to morality and we’d have moral relativism.
Objective beauty is just one thing we know. I was calling my mother after class who is in no way a philosopher and even when I described the interaction in class, I had to say “Hello?” as she was quiet on the phone and she just said “I just have no idea what you just said to me.”
So I explained it. I said that it simply means that something is beautiful rather you believe it or not. For instance, if you go outside and see a beautiful sunset tomorrow evening, then that sunset is beautiful whether or not anyone else thinks it is. Her reply was simply to say “Of course.”
Why bring that up? Because to the common person, it is that obvious. There is no reason to doubt it. We all know that we would rather go see the Mona Lisa than go see a pile of cow manure. We all know that it is nicer to hear a symphony played than it is to hear the sound of nails on a chalkboard. We all know that we would rather have food that tastes good as opposed to food that’s been in the garbage dump for weeks.
If there is no objective beauty, why do we even have critics? Why have critics of plays and movies and TV shows unless we think there is a way they are supposed to be? Why have critics of art unless there really is a standard art should seek to meet? Why do we have fashion magazines about beauty unless women are trying to reach for some idea of beauty?
Friends. I will say this as clearly as I can. If nothing is objectively beautiful, then nothing is beautiful. Not even God. You are just ascribing beauty to it, but that beauty does not really exist in the object. In a way, you are denying reality. If nothing is beautiful, then let us go on and say it.
Nietzsche was one who was consistent with this at least. So many atheists try the same game with morality and say nothing is really moral but that we need to establish a system anyway. Nietzsche would denounce that and say “Let’s not beat around the bush. There’s no morality and there’s no sense making one.”
Friends. We need to recover beauty for this generation. Not only in an apologetic sense, but I think especially of so many young ladies I see who are beautiful and they don’t see it. Could it be that they don’t see it because they don’t realize what beauty really is and how they match it?
And could it be because they don’t see the beautiful as it is? They don’t realize that God is the source of all beauty?
For the future of our world, let us reclaim beauty.