The Transcendental Treasury of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

Beautiful writing by @Agauger I wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year full of goodness and beauty.


Beautiful writing but still just one big appeal to personal incredulity. “I don’t see how evolution produced this, so evolution could not have produced this”. That’s the whole ID movement in a nutshell, isn’t it? :slightly_smiling_face:


Yes, that is an outstanding essay by Dr. Gauger—and somehow especially appropriate as we begin a new year. The article also stands as an important reminder of why virtually every university has within its College of Arts & Sciences a Department of Philosophy. Truth, Beauty, and Goodness are ubiquitous topics within that academic field while being not so central to scientific research. Truth, Beauty, and Goodness are vitally important to humans. The study of philosophy definitely matters, despite the denigration of a few outspoken, philosophy-detracting scientists like Neil Degrass Tyson and Richard Dawkins.

I would make one very small clarification in response to the essay concerning this paragraph:

In our current society, the idea of transcendent values seems unreal. We are told that everything is subjective — there is no clear standard for beauty. Everything is conditional — my viewpoint versus yours. Displays in art museums now resemble the contents of my closet piled on the floor, or an abandoned parking lot, or something appalling like a crucifix immersed in urine.

This seems to imply (at least potentially) that displays in art museums are always about or related in some way to “standards of beauty.” Yet art is not just about beauty. Much art is about the artist’s observations on reality and his or her perspectives on truth. In fact, if Dr. Gauger were to change the word “beauty” in that paragraph to the word “truth”, I think her point would be made more clearly, and I would entirely agree with her.

Of course, whether or not evolutionary processes can bring about human phenomena like altruism is a huge topic which is not settled with finality within the essay. Indeed, as a Molinist Christ-follower, I have no problems with the idea that God could create a universe with physics and chemistry fully capable of producing evolutionary processes leading to altruism. Yet, I still think Dr. Gauger’s position is well stated and entirely worthy of consideration.

Good writing deeply engages the reader. I believe Dr. Gauger succeeded in that regard. Brilliantly.

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That has long been a major concern of mine as well. One of the reasons I was comfortable with that argument within Dr. Gauger’s essay is that it is presented as the philosophical argument it most certainly is. In contrast, when “Intelligent Design theory” proponents present that argument as if it is compelling scientific evidence for ID, that’s where I find the argument woefully insufficient.

In my view, the ID movement has a long history of confusing scientific arguments with philosophical arguments. I suppose a major reason why I so appreciated Dr. Gauger’s essay was because it focuses on important philosophical issues.

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Yes, I am reading a new book “the Creative Spark” by Agustin Fuentes. It goes in depth about how humans evolved empathy, cooperation, creativity, and innovation over about a million years. I hightly recommend it to @Agauger