That God is the first and perfect artist is attested by the beauty of creation. The fact that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” establishes the metaphysical foundation for all of the arts (painting, writing, composition, sculpting, dance, etc.) and for human creativity. Beauty enriches our lives and brings a sense of wonder to the human soul.
Beauty is the revelation of radiance, splendor and glory at all levels. It is part of what might be called the cultural trinity of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Professors George Stanciu and Robert Augros attest to this when they write that “All of the most eminent physicists of the twentieth century agree that beauty is the primary standard for scientific truth” (Robert Augros and George Stanciu, The New Story of Science, Lake Bluff, Ill. : Regnery Gateway, 1984, pg. 39).
Every normal human being is drawn to beauty wither in deepest space – seeing the star filled night sky or the pictures from the Hubble Telescope to the incredible Horsehead nebula in the constellation Orion; on the human level the timeless beauty of seeing a sunset, smelling the fragrance of spring flowers, tasting an exquisite meal, watching a baby at her mother’s breast or listening to the sound of a rushing mountain stream; on the microscopic level one sees the beauty and reality of a DNA strand or the wonder of the atom.
In the culture of poverty, life is seen as ultimately dark, hideous and repulsive. There is no objective or transcendent beauty; like her counterparts, truth and good, beauty is relative, seen as in the “eyes of the beholder.”
We see ugliness manifest in the drabness of the buildings and cities built in the Soviet empire and in the decaying buildings, graffiti walls and streets of America’s inner cities. We see it in the dark, sometimes morbid, eroticized gothic fashion, in the lyrics of punk-rock and rap music, and the drug subculture of modern and postmodern youth. The culture of poverty crushes the human spirit, coarsens and degrades society and leads to hedonism, opulence, cruelty, addictions and eventually to a culture of death. It brings a sense of purposelessness, hopelessness, misery, despair, poverty, gloom, sorrow and death.
On the other hand, the biblical worldview sees the universe as ultimately beautiful and elevates the heart, the mind, and the human spirit. When people recognize beauty, they experience joy, pleasure, and perfect delight pleasure; they exalt the creator of the beauty. They are encouraged to mimic the First Artist by creating beautiful music, poetry, dance and rhythm, cloth, paintings and lyrics.
The founder of Food for the Hungry, an international relief and development organization, used to say that relief workers should take flower seeds into refugee camps. Why would he say that? Flowers bring beauty, life and hope into a situation that needs all three thing. They can stir the heart and imagination to want to live.
-Darrow L. Miller
This Development Principle #4 is excerpted from a larger group of principles that we believe are necessary for the development of healthy cultures and societies.