Belief Because of Beauty

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-7-51-05-amDoes beauty lead us to God?  The worship songs of the Bible certainly seem to say so. The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)  Imagine standing in a field at night, taking in the immensity of the starry sky.  Perhaps you don’t need to imagine that much, most of us have experienced such a thing. We “feel small” in the face of such an experience of beautiful immensity. That smallness is akin to what we might feel before an immense God. it is easy to travel the distance between that numinous experience to belief that God must be.

Does experience of beauty serve as an evidence for God?  The philosopher Peter Kreeft calls this the “aesthetic argument” for the existence of God. He expresses it, perhaps with some cheek, as:  “the music of Bach exists.  Therefore God exists.”  And so not just natural beauty serves as a signpost along the way to God. The beauty of human creations can also do so. Of course, like all arguments and evidences for God, they do not convince all. But because beauty hits us so deeply, it may be the most unsettling for those who would rather not believe. In a recent book on Bach, author Michael Marissen examines the composer’s own deep devotion to God. Marrissen admits that he himself is an agnostic, but adds that when in the presence of Bach’s music he can never be a “comfortable agnostic.”

Religions are all the same? Not so, said Prince

 

Prince (1958 – 2016)

“What’s that?  All religions come from the same place?”                             Prince (1958 – 2016),  musician, pop legend, philosopher of religion???

 

Wisdom can come from anywhere.  Such as it is with music legend Prince, who died yesterday. Prince was very deservedly hailed as a musical genius and cultural icon.  I remember Diamonds and Pearls and the Love Symbol Album dropping when I was but a lad and being amazed.  He was also incredibly sexually explicit in many respects.  Religiously, he was a Jehovah’s witness – a heterodox sect far outside the mainstream of Christian Faith.  So on those two points I wouldn’t encourage anyone to follow him. But even someone who may be wrong about so much may have incredible insight.

In an interview give a few years ago , he was challenged on the contradiction between his sexually charged career and his strange but seemingly sincere religious life.  Joel Miller at the time picked up on an interesting moment in the interview and it’s worth reflecting again upon it. Prince pushes back on the interviewer and asks:

“First of all, do you see a difference in religions?”

The interviewer gives a typically post-modern response:  I say no, suggesting all religions are based on the same idea and then corrupted by their human leaders.   This is such a common sentiment that it is almost boring to hear. It may be considered disrespectful or even less “spiritual” to acknowledge difference. “It’s all the same” is the refrain of the spiritual-not-religious mindset. Even though some may sincerely believe in it, I wonder how many have actually thought it through

Prince is apparently unhappy with the answer. Before he dodges the entire issue and changes the conversation, he lays down a simple statement:

“If one religion believes Christ is the king, and another doesn’t, then there’s a difference in religions.”

Maybe Prince was just trying to deflect the pressure she was placing on his incongruous life. And certainly the Christ described by his JW beliefs is not the accurate New Testament Jesus. But there’s a great nugget of truth in his words. If one religion says something is A and the next says it is Not A, then they can’t both be right.  They can both be wrong. Or one of them can be right and the other wrong.

So, yesterday the world lost one of its greatest guitarists and music legends.  And, even though he may have been confused on any number of other issues, someone who could think clearly on at least one point.

 

 

(HT:  Joel J. Miller)

 

A pretty good argument for the Resurrection!

The man had style as well as wisdom.  That's for sure.

The man had style as well as wisdom. That’s for sure.

I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.  Chuck Colson (1931-2012)

 

Wish Fulfillment?

cinderella

Sigmund Freud famously saw belief in God as a distorted wish fulfillment. We desire love and security and therefore imagine a heavenly father who loves and protects. He even coined the term wunscherfüllung in The Interpretation of Dreams. To become mature and psychologically healthy one would need to jettison such wish fulfillment and see the world as it really was.  Freud argued for the end of any belief in God (The Future of an Illusion) in order to reach such maturity. Despite almost almost all of Freud’s ideas now being rejected as pseudo-science, this idea lingers. Belief is naive denial or the casting of our dreams up into the sky, so the critique goes.

But who exactly is the one seeking fulfillment of their wishes?  The believer or the unbeliever?

The God revealed in the Bible and in Christ is certainly one who can satisfy all need for love and security. But is it more or less of a comfort to deny Him?

The God who offers love and forgiveness for all who come to Him is also the One to whom every life will be held accountable. He is also the source of all life and everything is upheld by the word of his power. Perhaps in our self-autonomy and desire to be in control a new kind of wish emerges.  That there is no God to whom we ought to thank for each breath. And no God who will judge our lives.

Isn’t unbelief a greater example of wish fulfillment?