A Beautiful God

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 23 2012 @ 8:38pm


Bruce Epperly meditates on our experience of beauty within this "glorious universe," seeing "our meaning-making and moments of self-transcendence as part of a gentle providence working through cells and souls":

Alfred North Whitehead once noted the irrationality of certain scientists having as their purpose the quest to prove that the universe has no purpose.  The very continuity of the evolutionary process suggests that if we are purposive and intentional beings, then this a sense of purpose must be present in simpler as well as more complex organisms than ourselves.  Whitehead, known for his creative work in both mathematics and cosmology, also asserted that the teleology of the universe is aimed at the production of beauty, that is, complexity, diversity, novelty, and intensity of experience.

While scientists cannot prove the existence of what my fellow process theologian Patricia Adams Farmer describes as a “Beautiful God,” the world can be seen as a dynamic and emerging theater of divine beauty, wonder, and glory.  The possibility of artistic, creative, imaginative, and adventurous creatures like ourselves was present in the very beginnings of life (the big birth of the universe) and emerged through the interplay of intentionality and chance, novelty and order, purpose and randomness over the immense journey of the universe.  The character of the evolutionary process was not predetermined but had a variety of possible pathways, emerging as a result of the interplay of wisdom and chance, one of which was the birth of homo sapiens and its ongoing evolution.

(Photo by Flickr user PG Palmer (AU))