While contemplating how to begin my first blog post, I decided to start with a topic very close to my heart. Unforuntately no, this topic has nothing to do with lemons, or citrus fruits for that matter. Although I do enjoy lemonade, lemon meringue pie and marmalade. It is actually about the beauty of creation. More specifically, the wonder which is completely revealed through nature. Take for instance this photo of a very simple lemon tree. Taken with my humble iPhone, I was able to capture a stunning moment in time. Between the contrast of the light and shadows, the yellows, greens and blues, this photo is quite magical. What makes it even more special, is the memory with which it is connected to. When I see this photo, I remember the garden where the tree was planted. I remember the friend whom I walked with and the conversation we had there. I recall the oranges that we picked and ate on the next tree over. The colours of the trees and flowers, the smell of the fruit, the warmth of the sun, and the fresh air- each played it’s part in the beauty of that afternoon in the garden. Perhaps the greatest gift of creation, is the peace that can come from it. How often do we find ourselves longing to be out at the cabin, fishing on the lake, snowboarding in the mountains or simply getting outside for a walk after work. As humans, we desire this connection to nature, because we often feel rejuvinated or energized afterwards. There is something in the air, something in the water, that makes us feel alive again! For me, this happens when I go to the cabin up north. From the moment I shut the car door and breathe in the fresh air, I feel quite free and calm. I just love going up there because it’s so relaxing- but I think it’s more than that. It’s because I have an interaction with the beauty of creation.
Now, taking a more existential approach to the concept of beauty in creation, I turn to the great Catholic Theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas. Framing his argument ( the 5th way) around the natural world, Aquinas argues that everything has been created with a final purpose from an intellectual designer of the universe; God.
Take for example the small seed which over time, with sufficient water, sunlight and soil, begins to grows and develop. Eventually, this seed transforms into a marvellous oak tree and towers above the rooftops. How is it possible that this tiny and simple seed, has the capacity to become an incredible tree with a complex organization? It now has roots, bark, leaves and branches. It also follows an established routine with the seasons, as leaves begin to change and fall.
Did you ever actually ask yourself, how it is possible for this seed to know how to change into a tree? Why didn’t the tiny seed become a pine tree instead? How was it possible for the seed to differentiate what kind of finality it would have? On the argument of the 5th way, Aquinas writes “… Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God (Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Article 3, Question 2).
It is reasonable then to conclude that this seed, which lacks the capacity for an intellect, cannot direct itself to a final end, without the assistance of another. This other, must have a final plan for the seed, which will be fulfilled in the final oak tree. If we understand this other to be God, then we see that God can cause all things to come into existence, and has their final end in mind when he creates them. It would mean that God is the sole creator of all creation.
However, some may feel skeptical to this argument and attribute it all to chance. Yet, this does not hold when you look at the structures of order vs chaos. We would then have a completely chaotic universe becoming almost perfectly ordered in their structure, function and organization. This is just not a reasonable argument for the finality of created things. Chance does not accurately explain the finality and purpose of our universe.
One of my teachers explained this topic so profoundly when he said that looking outside and observing the great beauty of creation, is like looking into the intellect of God. For if God has designed everything- from the tiny seeds, to complex human beings, then each day we receive the gift of seeing the mind and beauty of God. He has planned and crafted each sunset, flower, snowflake and dew drop! It’s no wonder that we find such peace and beauty in nature. We are coming into contact with the creator of the universe!
” The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament proclaims the works of his hands”