“From Natural Beauty to God”
I will be exploring the link between the aesthetic experience provided by natural beauty and belief in God. Can natural beauty be, to borrow Eleonore Stump’s phrase, a road to God? Can natural beauty be considered evidence for the existence of a Creator and Designer of the cosmos or perhaps even of the theistic God? Can it confer justification for belief in God or perhaps provide us with knowledge of Him? What can the cognitive science of religion and scientific investigations about the origins of aesthetic experiences tell us about the role that natural beauty can play in the formation of religious beliefs?
I will be examining two non-inferential models of how natural beauty can produce warranted religious beliefs: the one proposed by Alvin Plantinga (according to which natural beauty can activate the cognitive faculty that produces belief in God) and the one put forward by Ryan West and Adam Pelser, who, following William Alston’s model of perceptual belief in God and Stephen Evans’ notion of “natural signs”, attempt to show how we can have “indirect perception” of God through natural beauty.
That the road to God from beauty described by these models has a clear phenomenological component doesn’t mean, however, that good arguments for the existence of God cannot be developed from premises about the beauty that we contemplate around us and in the universe. As a result, I will be exploring the prospects for the formulation of arguments from beauty that parallel the fine-tuning arguments developed by Robin Collins and Richard Swinburne. I will attempt to show how such arguments render the atheistic multiverse hypothesis for the fine-tuning of the universe even more implausible.