The Problem of Beauty

It’s a clue that leads us to the most magnificent of places. /

As a pastor, I’m not supposed to say this, but I’ve often struggled to intellectually reconcile my faith: Can you know for sure that God exists? How do you know that Jesus is the Son of God, God in the flesh? If God exists, how do you know you can trust him?

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to answer those questions. Eventually I realized—perhaps a little late—that you can’t prove that God exists. (You also can’t prove that God doesn’t exist.) But there are a whole lot of clues, a trail of signs you can follow. These clues will not lead to proof, but they still lead to truth. They guide us to assurance that God is—and that he is who he says he is.

One of those clues most meaningful to me is beauty.

When we have faith questions, we talk a lot about the problem of evil: How can there be a good God when there’s so much evil in the world? But I’m more interested in the problem of beauty: How can there not be a good God if there’s so much beauty in the world? The problem with beauty is this: we can’t get away from it, and almost all of it is free. It’s just scattered everywhere.

Think of beautiful things. You can go to a gallery and look at beautiful art. And that’s magnificent. But I more often think about things that aren’t necessarily hanging on a wall: a sunset, a rare flower, a striking gemstone, a colorful fish, a supernova, a new snowflake.

Or think about ordinary beauty that we come across every day: an elegant dress, a boulevard with the sun shining through it, or an interesting building. A haunting song, a thoughtful film, a pecan-crusted salmon dinner. I also think that there is great beauty in sports. There’s ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 17 / March 5, 2015
  1. Editors’ Note
  2. The Good News on Paper

    13 amazing facts about a material used by millions to feed the soul. /

  3. ‘Beauteous Duck’

    The emperor penguin is an animal from which myths are made. /

  4. O Sapientia

    ‘My Ground of Being, always grounding me.’ /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Links to amazing stuff /

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