Awe at natural beauty as defeasible evidence for the existence of god



Awe, God, Biophilia, Perception, Natural beauty


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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Biografia do Autor

José Eduardo Porcher, Federal University of Santa Maria

PhD in Philosophy from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. Post-doctoral researcher in the Graduate Program in Philosophy at the Federal University of Santa Maria (RS)

Daniel de Luca Noronha, Jesuit Faculty of Philosophy and Theology

PhD in Philosophy from the Federal University of Minas Gerais. Professor at the Jesuit Faculty of Philosophy and Theology - FAJE, Belo Horizonte (MG).


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Como Citar

PORCHER, J. E. .; NORONHA, D. de L. Awe at natural beauty as defeasible evidence for the existence of god. Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofia, Campinas, SP, v. 44, n. 4, p. 489–517, 2022. Disponível em: Acesso em: 6 out. 2022.