Creation's beauty as revelation : toward a creational theology of natural beauty
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The thesis provides an account of how natural beauty functions as revelation and contributes to theology. The central claim is that natural beauty ‘images’ aspects of God’s nature and intentions within Creation’s artistic ‘text’—admittedly, most fully from within a Christian perspective, but already potentially in any experience of beauty. Chapter One presents an approach to ‘creational theology’—a methodological understanding of how God can be known through the aesthetic rationality shared between Creation and humanity. This understanding of creational theology outlines a relationship between God and created beauty that is developed progressively with each chapter. Chapter Two addresses the created side of this relationship by characterizing the phenomenon of physical, sensory, ‘perceptual beauty.’ This perceptual beauty relates to God as a created framework through which God can express aspects of his nature. Chapter Three describes how such expression is apprehended in natural beauty, namely through a Polanyian epistemic vision and symbolic practice, which engages beautiful images within Creation’s art. Chapter Four applies this Christian vision and symbolic practice, adapting John Ruskin’s concept of ‘typical beauty.’ Through this typological approach, beautiful forms artistically image aspects of God’s nature and intentions. Extensions of Ruskin’s approach also allow for further development of a creational theology of natural beauty—that is, a theology underscoring the powerful interrelations of God, beauty, and humanity, and the need to respond to beauty as a phenomenality of God for his creatures.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2021-05-20
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 20th May 2021, pending formal approval
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