Monday, 12 September 2016

Beauty and science

Everyone doubts, I think. The strength for me is learning to doubt our doubts, or at least some of them, because they can be fuelled by new information from folk who are, just like us, searching for meaning and truth without having any perfect access to it all.

For a few years, I have also recognised what I often call a couple of "pillars" to help support my faith in times of doubt. The first is the incredible experience for me of the beauty in the world around us. The first words both my children heard as they were born were Welcome to God's world, or something like that. It's breathtakingly beautiful in places, really close up, medium range, and fully zoomed out too. My second pillar has been the experience of God's grace in my life through people who treat me much better than my behaviour or attitude merit. This "Agape" love is pretty indescribable when you experience it. But as much as I still value my two "pillars", we need to be careful, I think, to avoid theologies that go along the lines of "I can't explain something positive, so it's God", the famous God of the gaps problem.

We should remember that so much of what we see God do he chooses to do, according to the Bible, indirectly. Even in my agape love experience, it is unlikely that I could fathom how God loves me in this way without experiencing this same kind of love through others. And let's certainly not go down the "there is no such thing as coincidence" fallacy! But that's probably a post for another day.

For now, I need to think a bit more about the notion of beauty (it's been on my mind for quite some time), because it is obviously unthinkable that the scientific world have no explanation for why we might have evolved to perceive things as desirable even if the pleasure they elicit in us today is of no basic physiological benefit. This neuro-scientist, Anjan Chatterjee, has a good crack at it, and maybe sometime I'll get round to reading his book. I have now removed the embedded video as it was stuck on autoplay. Please enjoy it here.

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