Awe at Natural Beauty as Defeasible Evidence for the Existence of God

Manuscrito 44 (4):489-517 (2021)
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In this paper, we present an abductive argument for the existence of God from the experience of awe at natural beauty. If God’s creative work is a viable explanation for why we experience awe at natural beauty, and there is no satisfactory naturalistic explanation for the origins of such experiences, then we have defeasible evidence that God exists. To evaluate the argument's tenability, we assess the merits of the two main naturalistic frameworks that can be marshaled to answer the question of why human beings experience awe at natural beauty, Wilson's biophilia hypothesis, and Keltner and Haidt's prototype approach to awe. We show shortcomings of both accounts in explaining the relevant experiences and argue that the reliance of these accounts on an adaptationist reading of our aesthetic appreciation of nature entails a commitment to questionable hidden premises: that affordances themselves can figure in the subject's perceptual experience, and that experiences of awe have adaptive value. We maintain that the argument's “empirical” premise is tenable and conclude with directions for future research regarding the argument's “theological” premise.



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José Eduardo Porcher
Federal University of Santa Maria

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References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Action in Perception.Alva Noë - 2005 - MIT Press.
Action in Perception. [REVIEW]Alva Noë - 2005 - Journal of Philosophy 102 (5):259-272.
The Existence of God.Richard Swinburne - 1991 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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