Richard Dawkins and those like him, for example, Lawrence Krauss, find “extraordinary beautiful” the idea that something (the universe) came out of nothing, an extraordinary, and, granted, highly imaginative idea of what we all thought was once the bedrock of science: every effect must have a cause. There is indeed something mystically beautiful about such a way out though. Whether it is a way out for atheists is another matter.
Scientists, like poets, believe that there is harmony between beauty and truth; so, if a theory is beautiful, it could, they say, very well be true. In Greek philosophy we see the same idea in the “music of the spheres.”
John Keat’s poem “Ode to a Grecian Urn” is familiar to many, especially the last lines: ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’
Keats’ point is that the only beauty is true. That idea was the leitmotif of the “Art for art sake” (L’art pour l’art) movement of romantics and symbolists (all atheists/agnostics) of 18-19th century Europe, which is now becoming more popular with atheists like Dawkins and Kraus.
Keats’ idea that the only beauty is truth is not only popular with atheists, but also with theologians. Here is a poetic plaudit for the Catholic priesthood:
“The clergy eminently carries the inscriptions of the authority of God, the holiness of God, the light of God: three beautiful jewels in the priestly crown, joined together by the counsel of God and placed on His anointed, His priests and his Church, as were the first priests, saints and doctors of the Church; God preserving the same order, authority, holiness and teaching, and uniting these three perfections in the priestly orders, in honour of the imitation of the Holy Trinity wherein we adore the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, divinely united in one essence. You shouldn’t only say this is beautiful, but also that it is true; and it is true because it is beautiful.” (Il ne faut pas dire seulement que cela est beau, mais aussi que cela est vrai et vrai parce qu’il est beau). (Ode to a Grecian priesthood:Beauty is truth and truth is beauty).
The Bible teaches that beauty is not synonymous with truth. Indeed, it may lead one away from it, and indeed did – in the Garden. The truth was to obey God: “Don’t eat the beautiful fruit of the tree.” Ultimately, according to Voltaire, life boils down to each tending their garden.”Il faut cultiver son jardin.”
Must go pick some veggies from my beautiful garden. I love getting something for nothing, well almost nothing.