From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Sun Jun 17 2007 - 13:50:40 EDT

At 06:14 PM 6/16/2007, wrote:

>" must be fundamentally gratuitous to our existence in
>order for us to be able to recognize it as design. OTOH, when you
>accept the prior knowledge of the designer (from the life of Christ,
>etc.), then you can infer intelligence in the originator of the
>universe. .." ~ Phil

@ I agree with your position will offer these excerpts to expand on
what you wrote:

"I say, what would life be without the effulgent beauty of being? And
yet, the overflowing presence of this beauty is a mystery that can
never be explained on any materialistic basis. ..

Not only is there no reason for the universe to be so beautiful,
there is no reason why a species should suddenly pop out of a
recently dead universe and have the ability to apprehend the beauty
that courses through its every artery and capillary -- or every
branch, stem and itsy bitsy green leafy lovely.

Why? And not only is this species able to appreciate beauty, but it
is driven to create beauty in all its forms -- visual, auditory,
tactile, linguistic, mathematical, scientific. Why is that? Why this
appetite for beauty? It seems so unnecessary. Why are women so much
more excruciatingly beautiful than they need to be to get the
Darwinian job done? Ouch! Why beauty to the point of pain?

...I posed the non-obvious question -- at least it wasn't obvious to
me .. -- of whether the beauty that surrounds and abides in us is
discovered or just projected.

In other words, the universe has been in existence for what, 14
billion "years," right? During its first 10 billion years there was
no life and therefore no consciousness -- or so they say, as little
sense as that makes. Biological life has only existed for 3.85
billion years, and human consciousness in any meaningful sense only
emerged 40,000 years ago next Tuesday.

So if we truly believe that this was a dead and unconscious universe
prior to 4 billion years ago, we can't really say that it had any
qualities at all, let alone something as complex as beauty. After
all, beauty -- along with every other quality -- is a perception of a
nervous system. Therefore, it is very difficult to say which is
weirder: that a dead and unconscious universe suddenly produced a
creature with an ability to apprehend, and a drive to create, beauty;
or, alternatively, that the beauty was already there, just waiting to
be unpacked and appreciated. And if the latter, I again ask: how and why?

For beauty is always a function of wholeness. That is, the beauty of
a beautiful object inheres in its wholeness, harmony and radiance. A
work of art cannot be reduced to its parts without losing sight of
the artistic vision that organizes the parts and reveals their
beauty. Thus, we would have to affirm that wholeness is a prior
condition of beauty. But... assuming the cosmos is full of beauty --
which it is -- is the wholeness already there, or is it only in us?
Are these "beautiful wholes" a function of our nervous system, or
does the universe just effortlessly crank them out?

It's not just the material beauty of the earth and heavens; how about
all the incredibly beautiful animals? It's easy to understand how one
reptile will be "attracted" to another for the purposes of reproduction ...

But animals of one species do not find those of another species
beautiful or attractive, unless they are very, very confused. Rather,
they are generally either indifferent to them or frightened of them.
They certainly don't find them beautiful. .. No deer thinks to
itself, "wow, what a majestic mane on that lion!," or "those beady
little eyes ...are kind of a turn-off." No. For animals, it's either
1) have sex with it, 2) eat it, 4) ignore it, or 4) run away from it.

But in the case of humans, we find our fellow animals to be
beautiful. We even collect them and put them in zoos so that we can
admire them. Again I ask: are these animals actually beautiful? Or is
it just a trick of our nervous system?

If the former, why were these animals beautiful with no
self-conscious being to appreciate them until 40,000 years ago? And
if the latter, what possible evolutionary reason is there for humans
to be hung up on the beauty of other animals for reasons totally
unrelated to our reproductive fitness?

It's not just the obvious things, like sunsets, mountains, oceans and
thunderstorms that are beautiful to us. How about a long and happy
marriage. Why is that a beautiful thing, while divorce is felt to be
ugly (not to cast moral aspersions or deny that it is sometimes
necessary)? Marriage is a kind of "frame" that serves a similar
function as the frame around a painting -- after all, without a frame
to define it and set it apart, you can't have a work of art.

Balthasar writes that marriage is "a kind of bracket that both
transcends and contains all an individual's cravings to 'break out'
of its bonds and to assert himself. Marriage is that indissoluble
reality which confronts with an iron hand all existence's tendencies
to disintegrate, and compels the faltering person to grow, beyond
himself, into real love by modeling his life on the form enjoined.
When they make their promises, the spouses are not relying on
themselves -- the shifting songs of their own freedom -- but rather
on the form that chooses them because they have chosen it, the form
to which they have committed themselves in their act as persons.... "

Spouses "entrust themselves foremost to a form with which they can
wholly identify themselves even in the deepest aspects of their
personality because this form extends through all the levels of life
-- from its biological roots up to the very heights of grace and of
life in the holy spirit." Paradoxically, freedom "is discovered
within the form itself, and the life of a married person can
henceforth be understood only in terms of this interior mystery,
which mystery is no longer accessible from the sphere of the general."

"...both Truth and Beauty -- and the freedom to discover them -- are
a function of wholeness.

Indeed, wholeness is the cosmic prerequisite of the possibility of
truth or beauty. And as a matter of fact... it is also a precondition
of Darwinian evolution. That is to say, natural selection rests on
the assumption that there exist prior "wholes" -- whole organisms --
for it to operate on. There is no materialistic philosophy that can
account for wholeness, or true unity in diversity.

Therefore...the point of this post: love, truth, beauty, and freedom
are not effects of existence. Rather, they are causes of existence.
Thus, to say, for example, "God is Love," is not a mythological or
speculative statement. Rather, it is a scientific statement. No, it
is beyond that -- it is a metaphysical certitude upon which the
foundation of science rests...."

.... parts cannot exist in the absence of the whole -- nor time in
the absence of eternity, the many in the absence of the One, or
beauty without a Creator.

Or, in the words of Rabbi Kushner, "the end is seeing for even one
moment that the apparent multiplicity is in reality a unity."

But a dynamic unity in diversity in which the one is a necessary
condition of the other -- and whence the end of all our exploring /
Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first
time (Eliot).

Full commentary here:

~ Janice ... offering even more: "...In the scientistic flight from
the center to the periphery, one becomes lost in details which cannot
be integrated in a holistic way. This "downward pull" puts an end to
ideational life, as the resultant fragmentation leads to an obsession
with parts, and with it, an inability to intuit the whole.
Hyper-specialization leads to a kind of cognitive deformity, as the
world shrinks in proportion to our quantification of it. As a
pathetic compensation, modern man is puffed up with the vanity of
being able to describe some minute portion of the world, but this is
merely postmodern provincialism of the most naive sort. In the end,
the separation of knowledge from religion is the separation of facts
and knowledge from the metaphysics that explains them and gives them
meaning. .." Continue:

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Received on Sun Jun 17 13:57:16 2007

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