Science is Beautiful

I’m getting kind of tired of people scoffing at the idea that science can make things more beautiful. For some reason, many people seem to think that knowing about something makes it less beautiful. I call bullshit, and it’s very easy to demonstrate my position.

Would the people who think understanding the world develops dullness think the same about people? Do people grow less beautiful the more you get to know them? You see a girl. She’s pretty, but doesn’t necessarily stand out. But as you talk to her and get to know her, does her beauty grow or diminish? In my experience, it’s nearly always the former; the exceptions are those rare occasions when you actually have a pretty ugly and hateful person. Ann Coulter comes to mind.

Why would it be any different for a flower, or a rainbow, or the night school, or the sunrise? Or any of the other endless examples of beautiful phenomena that we encounter everyday. It seems to me that looking staring at a sunrise without really wondering how it works is missing much of the experience. While it’s not necessarily a shallow experience, it’s certainly not as full as it could be.

It’s more meaningful to me to look at something that I have some understanding of and wonder at it. The feelings are intensified through knowledge, not dulled.

Maybe for some people, it’s the opposite. Maybe they view the world fundamentally different. That wouldn’t be terribly surprising. If that’s who they are, that’s reality, and there’s no use denying it. But I really would like you to stop scoffing at my own way, and to assume that you have it all figured out. If there is one thing that true understanding cultivates more than anything else, it’s the humility that you really know very little at all.

That’s something we can all learn from.

Looking at the ‘verse

Cailin has written a great description of what it’s like to look up (and around) at the awesome beauty of the Universe we live in:

These are the moments that fill me with the greatest pleasure and wonder, my appreciation for my own existence swells within me and I feel my eyes glaze with tears of joy and sorrow.

I once read a comment by someone made when viewing a beautiful sunset.  They said, ‘How can anyone look at something so beautiful and think there is no god?’  I didn’t say anything, but I was thinking, ‘Why would I want to pollute something so wonderful with something so ugly?’

Via The Friendly Atheist.