Abundant and evident beauty points to the existence and glory of God. The aesthetic argument for God shares similarities with the teleological argument (order and intelligent design by the supreme Creator). We often quote Psalm 19:1 in that “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork” with reference to the teleological argument and rightly so. When we look up and see a small section of the magnitude and order of the universe it causes us to consider the Creator. The understatement of understatements, “He made the stars also” (Genesis 1:16b) draws our attention to the Creator’s omnipotence.
But there is another dimension that displays the glory of God. Why do we enjoy star gazing? Why the elation whilst outside in picturesque surroundings? We may ponder how they came into being though we instantaneously recognise that the heavens are axiomatically beautiful. A building might be built for practical purposes and be aesthetically dull. Another building may be aesthetically astounding though not user friendly. Some buildings contain both qualities. We often use the ABC argument, art points to the Artist, buildings point to the Builder and the creation points to the Creator and forget that the creation was made by the original Artist.
When was the last time you went for a walk in the mountains and valleys and you heard someone remark that the mountains were ugly or the valleys were unattractive, that the trees were unsightly, and the sky was unlovely?
The beauty of creation is such that we paint, sketch, and photograph it and some even worship the creation rather than the Creator. We travel great distances to see created beauty. Another facet or beauty is the variety of beauty therein. Again that reveals the capability and qualities of the Creator. Verbally we praise the beauty of the day, such as “Oh what a beautiful day, Oh what a glorious morning” because of the aesthetic quality of the creation. It would be yet more fitting and seemly to praise the Creator whose infinite sunsets and daily panoramic masterpieces we attempt to capture and replicate in various forms of art.
Sadly, we live in a society that over emphasises the value of aesthetic human beauty which results in idolatry. Supermodels are likened to goddesses. They are photographed and then worshipped by countless admirers. There is nothing wrong with recognising and appreciating human beauty. There is a problem when it becomes an obsession so that people are venerated and idolised based entirely on their outward appearance and that becomes a measure of self- worth.
Beauty inside and out
We are aware of that inherent shallowness hence the expression that someone is beautiful ‘inside and out’ meaning that they are attractive and virtuous. Rebekah was mentioned as very beautiful to behold (Genesis 24:16; 26:7), yet she did not hesitate to provide water for Laban’s camels which considering the vast quantity of gallons they drink following a long journey, would be a physically demanding and non- glamorous act of kindness and hospitality. Abigail was a woman of beautiful appearance, yet it was much to her credit that she saved those in Carmel from being killed by humbling herself through no fault of her own, for her husband’s foolish actions (1 Samuel 25). She quickly prepared an enormous quantity of sustenance for David’s men.
Yet that quality of being beautiful on the inside also demonstrates our innate awareness and the necessity of morality, and in turn points towards the moral argument for the existence of God. How could anyone be considered good, just, or kind, unless they have a conception of what good, just, or kind means? If there were no God, then there would never be an objective standard for morality or justice to determine right from wrong.
An overemphasis on idolising beauty often results in either the heavens or humans being worshipped, and we fail to give glory to the Creator. That is not excusable (Romans 1:20). We can respond by ascribing greatness to our God and extolling His multiple attributes, character, and wisdom. We can thank Him for the gift of life and for the beauty of the world which He made and sustains.