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32580 By the grace of God

God provided humans with the ability to recognize and appreciate beauty, distinguishing it from ugliness. Only with this ability can people give God proper credit for inventing human beards, lion manes, peacock feathers, salamander spots, crustacean coloration, ultraviolet colour patterns in deep sea fish (where there is no ultraviolet light), and the hot-pink spiny dragon millipede discovered in Greater Mekong.2 All these creatures could conceivably serve their purposes and be ugly, but instead they seem to have been uniquely adorned by a Master Artist.


Researchers have not yet found a Meta program in this universe that guides clouds of space dust into raw functional, let alone variously aesthetic, forms. After all, what does the impersonal universe care about beauty? A Creator God who appreciates beauty and wants others to appreciate His handiwork must be responsible for the origin of aesthetic features. Men have beards--some thick, some sparse--because it pleased God to adorn them so. As such God Caused Beauty. Aesthetics is the study of beauty, more often associated today with art. However, the discipline itself, and the philosophical apologetics from the concept are extended into every sphere of imagination, sensibility, and taste.


Essentially, the foundational argument would suggest that given the universal reality that the concept of "beauty" exists (even if it is in "the eye of the beholder") there is an ultimate "standard" by which beauty is judged. Determining the aesthetic value of anything requires rational judgment, even though that judgment is unique to each individual.  Each rational judgment must rely on one's ability to discriminate at a sensory or emotional level.


This examination makes a judgment regarding whether something is beautiful, sublime, disgusting, fun, cute, silly, entertaining, pretentious, discordant, harmonious, boring, humorous, or tragic. And, of course, since such ability exists only in the mental acuity of imaginative appreciation, then the Source of such ability must also be both rational and emotional. The vast differences between individual tastes and between cultures, both in time and in location, speak to the enormity of such possibilities and to the unfathomable wonder of the hunger for "beauty" in every human being.


That such a hunger exists only in the human being is a wonder in itself! The flower is not impressed with its own majesty; it merely exists with no conscious awareness. The chimpanzee does not gaze longingly on the enigma of the Mona Lisa, nor do the stars muse on the heavens they themselves grace.


In fact, all humanity eschews destruction and random chaos as "ugly" and attempts to mask death with various levels of cosmetic disguises, and this speaks to the realization that some sights and sounds are not beautiful, and thus there must be a standard of perfect beauty.   


   


           Evidence for Creation


           Evidence for God


           Design and Purpose


           God Caused Justice


Morality involves the study of the universal recognition that "good" is better than "evil," which logically requires the existence of an ultimate Judge. That is, since all humanity accepts the knowledge that some events and standards are better than others—even though cultures may differ on what those events or standards may be—there must be an ultimate Source of such thinking, even if the absolute standard has become distorted over time.


The Moral Law, or Law of Human Nature, is not simply a fact about human behaviour in the same way as the Law of Gravitation is, or may be, simply a fact about how heavy objects behave. On the other hand, it is not a mere fancy, for we cannot get rid of the idea, and most of the things we say and think about men would be reduced to nonsense if we did. And it is not simple a statement about how we should like men to behave for our own convenience; for the behaviour we call bad or unfair is not exactly the same as the behaviour we find inconvenient, and may even be the opposite. Consequently, the rule of Right and Wrong, or Law of Human Nature, or whatever you call it, must somehow or other be a real thing—a thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves.


We find then that we do not exist on our own, that we are under a law, and that somebody or something wants us to behave in a certain way. Therefore, this somebody or something is directing the universe, and as a result, we sense an internal law that urges us to do right and makes us feel responsible and uncomfortable when we do wrong.  We have to assume this entity is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know, because after all, the only other thing we know is matter and you can hardly imagine a bit of matter giving instructions.


The simple, intuitive point of the argument from conscience is that everyone in the world knows, deep down, that he is absolutely obligated to be and do good, and this absolute obligation could come only from God. Thus, everyone knows God, however obscurely, by this moral intuition, which we usually call conscience. Conscience is the voice of God in the soul.


Like all arguments for the existence of God, this one proves only a small part of what we know God to be by divine revelation. However, this part is significantly more than the arguments from nature reveal about God because this argument has richer data, a richer starting point. Here we have inside information, so to speak: the very will of God speaking, however obscurely and whisperingly, however poorly heard, admitted, and heeded, in the depths of our souls. The arguments from nature begin with data that are like an author's books; the argument from conscience begins with data that are more like talking with the author directly, live. The only possible source of absolute authority is a perfect will.


Before beginning, we should define and clarify the key term conscience. The modern meaning tends to indicate a mere feeling that I did something wrong or am about to do something wrong. The traditional meaning in Catholic theology is the knowledge of what is right and wrong: intellect applied to morality. The meaning of conscience in the argument is knowledge and not just a feeling; but it is intuitive knowledge rather than rational or analytical knowledge, and it is first of all the knowledge that I must always do right and never wrong, the knowledge of my absolute obligation to goodness, all goodness: justice and charity and virtue and holiness; only in the second place is it the knowledge of which things are right and which things are wrong. This second-place knowledge is knowledge of moral facts, while the first-place knowledge is knowledge of my personal moral obligation, knowledge of the moral law itself and its binding authority over my life. That knowledge forms the basis for the argument from conscience.


If anyone claims he simply does not have that knowledge, if anyone says he simply doesn't see it, then the argument will not work for him. The question remains, however, whether he honestly doesn't see it and really has no conscience (or a radically defective conscience) or whether he is repressing the knowledge he really has. Divine revelation tells us that he is repressing the knowledge (Rom 1:18b; 2:15). In that case, what is needed before the rational, philosophical argument is some honest introspection to see the data. The data, conscience, is like a bag of gold buried in my backyard. If someone tells me it is there and that this proves some rich man buried it, I must first dig and find the treasure before I can infer anything more about the cause of the treasure's existence. Before conscience can prove God to anyone, that person must admit the presence of the treasure of conscience in the backyard of his soul, the very basic of a belief in God.


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