Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beauty is Certainly Not Just Skin Deep

Recently, I've reading scientists and theologians on their understandings of the nature of beauty. The similarities--or at least, complementarities--are striking. For this post, I'll just set two quotes side-by-side, first from the eighteenth century pastor and theologian, Jonathan Edwards, and then from the twentieth century scientist, Henri Poincaré:

"For as God is infinitely the greatest being, so he is allowed to be infinitely the most beautiful and excellent: and all the beauty to be found throughout the whole creation is but the reflection of the diffused beams of that Being who hath an infinite fullness of brightness and glory."

"The scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so. He studies it because he takes pleasure in it; and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing and life would not be worth living…. I mean the intimate beauty which comes from the harmonious order of its parts and which a pure intelligence can grasp."