Dr. Richard Swinburne sneaking in God with the popular Argument From Beauty, and my Poop Defense

I’d like to do a second post today to address something Republican Presidential Candidate Ron DeSantis said on Fox News the other day. Let’s argue this way:

  • God has reason, apparently overriding reason, for making, not merely any orderly world (which we have been considering so far) but a beautiful world—at any rate to the extent to which it lies outside the control of creatures. (And he has reason too, I would suggest, even in whatever respects the world does lie within the control of creatures, to give them experience of beauty to develop, and perhaps also some ugliness to annihilate.) So God has reason to make a basically beautiful world, although also reason to leave some of the beauty or ugliness of the world within the power of creatures to determine; but he would seem to have overriding reason not to make a basically ugly world beyond the powers of creatures to improve. Hence, if there is a God there is more reason to expect a basically beautiful world than a basically ugly one. A priori, however, there is no particular reason for expecting a basically beautiful rather than a basically ugly world. In consequence, if the world is beautiful, that fact would be evidence for God’s existence. For, in this case, if we let k be ‘there is an orderly physical universe’, e be ‘there is a beautiful universe’, and h be ‘there is a God’, P(e/h.k) will be greater than P(e/k). … Few, however, would deny that our universe (apart from its animal and human inhabitants, and aspects subject to their immediate control) has that beauty. Poets and painters and ordinary men down the centuries have long admired the beauty of the orderly procession of the heavenly bodies, the scattering of the galaxies through the heavens (in some ways random, in some ways orderly), and the rocks, sea, and wind interacting on earth, ‘The spacious firmament on high, and all the blue ethereal sky’, the water lapping against ‘the old eternal rocks’, and the plants of the jungle and of temperate climates, contrasting with the desert and the Arctic wastes. Who in his senses would deny that here is beauty in abundance? If we confine ourselves to the argument from the beauty of the inanimate and plant worlds, the argument surely works.” (Dr.  Richard Swineburne)

Unfortunately for Swinburne, what one person finds highly aesthetically pleasing and/or arousing may for another person be inert (like objectophilia) or repulsive (like a scat fetish).  This is because experiencing beauty tells us a way in which, to use a common ancient Greek term, we are ek-static or outside of ourself, encountering ourself in the Other.  For instance, if I find a woman arousing or a book boring, these are experienced like real characteristics of the Other, but we know they aren’t because clearly the next person need not be aroused by the woman or bored by the book.  Homer characterized this when he said “the gods don’t appear to everyone in their fullness.”

It is of the essence of the religious right to want to make over the world in their image of what is Beautiful (proselytize) , so for example it is not enough for Republican 2024 Presidential Candidate Ron DeSantis to win, but ultimately to erase the woke and the left:

What is particularly scary about the End Times conservative Christians is that we now have a world where we are scientifically advanced enough to destroy ourselves, so it only takes one religiously charged misguided leader who believes he or she is God’s specially chosen one to end everything.