Faith and Philosophy

Volume 32, Issue 3, July 2015

Ryan West, Adam C. Pelser
Pages 293-312

Perceiving God through Natural Beauty

In Perceiving God, William Alston briefly suggests the possibility of perceiving God indirectly through the perception of another object. Following recent work by C. Stephen Evans, we argue that Thomas Reid’s notion of “natural signs” helpfully illuminates how people can perceive God indirectly through natural beauty. First, we explain how some natural signs enable what Alston labels “indirect perception.” Second, we explore how certain emotions make it possible to see both beauty and the excellence of the minds behind beauty. Finally, we explain how aesthetic emotions can involve indirect perception of God via the natural sign of natural beauty.