Creation contains an astonishing abundance and variety of beauty that constantly surprises and delights us. Every individual tree is a work of art, yet trees come in an immense variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. Each day we’re barraged not just by beautiful sights of cedars, oaks, and firs, but by sundry smells of wildflowers and ripening fruit, or the sweet sounds of songbirds and rustling wind. The deeper we explore our world, the more beauty we find.
How did all this come to be? Understanding creation isn’t just about explaining matter or the complex moving parts of living things, but “added beauty.” Experience tells us that beauty doesn’t come by accident—it offers no obvious survival benefit, and many existing natural laws promote deterioration and decay. So what created and sustains the earth’s beauty?
Of course, people might object that beauty is partly subjective, which is why it is not possible to give an exact score for the degree of beauty in an object. However, many aspects of beauty are objective, universally recognized by design experts who readily identify features that contribute to beauty, such as patterns, curves, borders, brightness, contrast, purity, and smoothness. Every architect, for instance, can prove that the United States Capitol Building has objective beauty because it has many beautiful features that are combined to produce a beautiful overall effect. This beauty is real, not an accident, and it points to a designer.
Only a designer can add beauty for the sake of beauty.
The designed beauty of creation is so exquisite that the best of human technology struggles to replicate the quality of creation’s beauty. The petals of man-made flowers, for instance, are rough and not natural looking, especially the closer you examine them. The best man-made works of art struggle to compare with a simple flower. Jesus pointed out that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like a single flower of the field (Matthew 6:29).
A key feature of intelligent design is that only a designer can add beauty for the sake of beauty. An architect embellishes his buildings, and a car designer embellishes his cars, both for the sake of beauty. The Capitol Building shows strong evidence for design because the beautiful features are there for beauty’s sake. In contrast, evolution has no random mechanism to explain how beauty could evolve for beauty’s sake. The atheist Steve Jones once wrote that evolution does its job and no more. This is why added beauty in creation is evidence for a Creator.
The beauty of nature is one of those things we tend to take for granted. But when we stop and think about why something is beautiful, we can appreciate the wisdom and goodness of the Creator. Let’s consider some of the beautiful aspects of creation in detail.
The Color Scheme of Creation
The One who originally created beauty in nature accomplished much more than any human artist or architect could. The Creator made from nothing the paint, canvas, and stone with which He worked; and He also fashioned the manifold, interconnected natural laws that sustain this beauty!
Consider just one example of creation’s beauty: the general color scheme. All sorts of factors are at play to give us our blue-and-green color scheme, which is both restful and coordinated. If we were surrounded by large amounts of red, for instance, it would raise our blood pressure and not be restful at all. However, neither earth nor sky is dominated by a red color. Instead, the earth is dominated by green and the sky is dominated by blue, both of which are restful colors. Indeed, if the world’s top-rated interior designer were to judge the color scheme of creation, they would struggle to find any imperfections.
Moreover, it is also clever how God has made the color of the earth contrast with the sky. How strange it would be if both the earth and sky were green, or both the earth and sky were blue! This color scheme is no accident. When God designed chlorophyll for plants, He deliberately made it a green color so as to produce the right color scheme for creation. And when God designed air molecules, He deliberately made them scatter light so that the sky would be blue.
Another important design feature of green is that it is just the right background color for bright flowers. One of the reasons for the beauty of a field of flowers is not just the bright yellows, reds, and blues of the flowers but the fact that they contrast with the green background.
Yet another beautiful feature of the color scheme in creation is that blue is the most uncommon color for wildflowers, trees, and fruit. This gives the most beautiful effect because when blue dominates in the sky, it is best if it is the least common color on the ground.
When you consider the color scheme of creation, it is as if an expert in art has coordinated and planned the colors with great care and attention. The Bible says that God is perfect in knowledge (Job 37:16), so we should not be surprised that the elements and laws of nature work together to produce such a beautiful color scheme. According to naturalistic views, it is a coincidence that the color scheme is so pleasing to mankind. But naturalism has a big problem—there is no random mechanism that could produce such a color scheme and no reason we should even see colors in the first place.
A peacock tail has no clear function other than to display beauty. Such exquisite beauty can be explained only if a designer added it purposefully. No observational evidence supports the alternative theory of sexual selection.
Elaborate Display of Peacock Feathers
Even if a person denies the beautiful design of our planet overall, every one of its parts provides added testimony of exquisite, inexplicable beauty. Experts in every field can recognize them; just ask. You don’t have to get esoteric to prove your point. An obvious example—like the one that troubled Charles Darwin—will do: peacock feathers.
Like so many other birds, peacocks have amazingly bright colors and patterns in their feathers. The colors on their tail feathers are due to a perfectly implemented optical effect called thin-film interference. The feathers have layers of keratin that are so thin that they are comparable with the wavelengths of colored light. So, when white light is reflected by the layers, some colors are removed and the white light changes to a color. The thin-film interference produces a color with a deep lustre that changes with the angle of view (called iridescence). Amazingly, the peacock produces a pattern of different colors due to precise differences in the design of thin-film layers across the feather.
The peacock tail is evidence of design because the feathers have no clear function other than to produce beauty. And the beauty requires a large amount of genetic information. According to the evolutionary theory of sexual selection, the beauty is produced because a series of genetic accidents produced the female peafowl (the peahen) that prefers beautiful features in a mating partner, and at the same time a series of genetic accidents gave the male peafowl (the peacock) the same beautiful traits that the peahen prefers. But the theory has a major problem—there is no observational evidence for it. In fact, observations show that birds like peacocks have a degrading beauty over time.1 This observation is exactly what creation scientists predict.
And there are further problems with the theory of sexual selection. Some features in the peacock tail are so fine it is hard to believe that a peahen can see them, let alone manage to select a mate with these traits. And a further problem is this: Why should the peahen select something beautiful rather than ugly? Some evolutionists claim that peacocks select beauty because it corresponds to health. But how can a peahen recognize beauty? And why should a peahen associate beauty with health?
No wonder Charles Darwin said, “The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick” (in a letter to Asa Gray, April 3, 1860).
A large amount of genetic information is necessary to produce the optical effect in peacock feathers, called thin-film interference. Thin layers of keratin perfectly match the wavelengths of light necessary to produce this deep lustre.
Rhapsody in Birdsong
Birdsong is another example of added beauty. Beauty clearly involves much more than visual delights!
Songbirds do not sing random notes but carefully constructed songs that have musical structure, such as a time signature, key signature, and melody. Musical structure does not happen by chance. To compose a tune with a key signature and time signature means selecting very particular notes with very specific timing. And to produce a melodious tune requires musical creativity and skill. Some birds sing songs with different phrases that complement each other; and some birds even end their songs with an interval that signals the end of a song, such as a major third or major fifth.2
Human composers require many years of training to compose music with such fine detail. Yet birds have no training at music school! The only reasonable explanation for the beauty of birdsong is that it was created by God. He equipped them with not only the physical parts to vocalize song, but also the skill to compose and adapt variations on songs. Birdsong is an aspect of beauty that we often take for granted, especially in an age of noisy entertainment. How we need to appreciate that God has designed birds to fly to our backyards and bring gentle music to our ears! Evolutionists claim that birds sing beautifully to protect territory and that beautiful songs have evolved because beautiful songs are more frightening.3 But why should beauty be frightening? According to evolution, a blackbird finds it frightening when his neighbor sings a melodious tune and this is an advantage to the neighbor! But such thinking has no basis in scientific observation and shows how evolution sometimes toys with bizarre theories to explain beauty.
In the Garden of Eden everything was beautiful. But the Fall of Adam and Eve and the subsequent Curse has changed how beauty is displayed. For example, the predator-prey relationship has meant that most animals need camouflage and so may have lost the original patterns they had before the Fall. Yet the camouflage of both predator and prey displays its own form of beauty that is fitting for a fallen world—that explains why we decorate our homes and clothes with patterns like those of a leopard or zebra.
We don’t know what animal colors looked like before the Fall. But it is interesting to note that creatures that live in protective environments, such as jungles, often have bright colors. Despite the Fall, the creation still has great beauty that points to a Creator.
Appreciation of Beauty
Is beauty even real? Evolutionists are forced to claim it’s an accident, a figment of our imagination. The only reason humans consider this world beautiful, they say, is that our mental capacity to appreciate beauty evolved within this particular world. Yet no one has to teach us that beauty exists. Every child can see it, and extravagant intellectual rationalization is required to suppress the reality of beauty. As we witness about the Creator, we should include the fact that God has made Himself evident for all to see through creation, including beauty (Romans 1:18–20).
Beauty is the work of a loving Creator.
Sadly, belief in evolution can erode people’s God-given ability to appreciate beauty because they reject beauty for beauty’s sake. Charles Darwin admitted that he had lost his natural, childlike appreciation for beauty. He said: “I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music . . . . I retain some taste for fine scenery but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did.”4
In contrast, belief in creation increases a person’s appreciation of beauty because that person knows beauty is the work of a loving Creator. This is what the hymnist George Wade Robinson said of beauty: “Heaven above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green; something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen: birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flow’rs with deeper beauties shine, since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.”
The Message of Creation’s Beauty
The beauty of creation clearly reveals a Creator to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. And beauty is closer to us than we often realize. The famous hymn composer Isaac Watts wrote, “There’s not a plant or flower below but makes thy glories known.”
The beauty of creation also shows that God cares deeply for man. This is why Jesus encouraged His listeners to look at how God has clothed flowers so that they themselves would not worry about their own clothing. When you think of the detailed care that God has put into creating beauty and then remember that men and women are the pinnacle of God’s creation, it confirms how much God must care for every detail of His children’s needs.
The beauty of creation can also remind us of a wonderful promise of Scripture that God takes delight in His children and beautifies them with salvation (Psalm 149:4). In the same way that a pearl starts off as a piece of grit and gets transformed into a beautiful pearl by being clothed with layers of nacre, so God transforms unclean sinners into a beautiful new creation by clothing them in the righteousness of Christ.
A Christian has the wonderful privilege of knowing something of the beauty of God’s kingdom. The Bible says that heaven is the perfection of beauty (Psalm 50:2) and that the Lord is beautiful (Psalm 27:4). Studying the beauty of this earth is good practice for appreciating the perfect beauty of heaven, where there will be endless wonders to behold and endless time to appreciate them.