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Hi All

It seems to me that the believer and non-believer both value beauty but are attracted to appreciate it differently. Where the atheist seeks to understand its parts, the believer is drawn to the higher wholeness for which beauty is an indication. Richard Feynman describes the atheist's attraction to beauty and Simone Weil describes the attraction of the true believer. It is rare to read two excerpts together that are completely different yet reveal so much human psychology through their difference. They are worth pondering toogether IMO.
"Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere". I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part... What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?" ~ Richard P. Feynman
"Beauty is the only finality here below. As Kant said very aptly, it is a finality which involves no objective. A beautiful thing involves no good except itself, in its totality, as it appears to us. We are drawn toward it without knowing what to ask of it. It offers its own existence. We do not desire something else, we possess it, and yet we still desire something. We do not know in the least what it is. We want to get behind beauty, but it is only a surface. It is like a mirror that sends us back our own desire for goodness. It is a sphinx, an enigma, a mystery which is painfully tantalizing. We should like to feed upon it, but it is only something to look at; it appears only from a certain distance. The great trouble in human life is that looking and eating are two different operations. Only beyond the sky, in the country inhabited by God, are they one and the same operation. ... It may be that vice, depravity and crime are nearly always ... in their essence, attempts to eat beauty, to eat what we should only look at." Simone Weil
Putting these quotes together allows me to experience the external attraction of the mechanics of science as one thing and the inner reality that beauty draws us to as another. A lot of the battle between science and religion is that this difference in direction is not recognized. It is believeed that for example that the more scientific knowledge is revealed, the attraction to what lies beyond beauty must necessarily diminish. They are not seen as complimentary and that one can further the other in a realistic perspective. The attraction to the intellectual appreciation of universal mechnanics is completely different from the attraction to the living good that exists as the source of creation

Feynman said: "What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it."

But is this true? If we become obsessed with the trees, can we remember the life of the forest? When we kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, doesn't our curiousity kill the process itself and it is in the process where the truth resides. Everything I've seen suggests that the obsession with science at the expense of the human need for higher meaning behind beauty has only fed corrupted collective egotism furthering expressions of selfish force and power.

Simone Weil was one of those rare individuals who had a brilliant scientific mind but an even greater inner transcendent understanding and could appreciate the value of science serving man rather than man serving science. IMO it is sad that this attitude must be an exception rather than the norm.
"I believe that one identical thought is to be found--expressed very precisely and with only slight differences of modality-- in. . .Pythagoras, Plato, and the Greek Stoics. . .in the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita; in the Chinese Taoist writings and. . .Buddhism. . .in the dogmas of the Christian faith and in the writings of the greatest Christian mystics. . .I believe that this thought is the truth, and that it today requires a modern and Western form of expression. That is to say, it should be expressed through the only approximately good thing we can call our own, namely science. This is all the less difficult because it is itself the origin of science." Simone Weil....Simone Pétrement, Simone Weil: A Life, Random House, 1976, p. 488
Anyone understanding what she has written knows that there is no conflict between religion and science. Beauty is a motivation for two different attractions and two different ways to proceed in our quest to "understand." It seems to me that it is only through our ignorance that the essence of religion and science as they appreciate beauty, come into opposition.

"An atheist may be simply one whose faith and love are concentrated on the impersonal aspects of God." Simone Weil