agathosune altruism Baroque Beauty bees California crucifix Denis Waitley E.O. Wilson eusocial insects Evolution Florence Nightingale Garden of Eden Girl with a Pearl Earring goodness group selection Intelligent Design J.P. Moreland Johannes Vermeer kin selection kinsfolk logic materialism michelangelo Mother Teresa natural selection neo-Darwinian processes Neo-Darwinism News Paris population genetics prejudice The Evidential Power of Beauty Thomas Dubay transcendentals truth

The Transcendental Treasury of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness 



If you wish to domesticate a spirit of gratitude, I’d wish to recommend that you simply spend a while in meditation on fact, magnificence, and goodness. They every characterize presents to us, issues that make life attainable, intelligible, and value dwelling. They’re such important qualities that we name them transcendentals. They transcend our on a regular basis information and level towards a supply that’s at the least succesful of fact, magnificence, and goodness. 

Why can we worth them? 

  1. They’re the foundations on which a life value dwelling is constructed.
  2. They allow discovery, creation, and nurturing of others.
  3. They don’t seem to be wishful considering.
  4. They’re transformative. 
  5. They’re indicators that the world is wealthy, purposeful, and significant.
  6. They’re the product of a designer who is aware of fact, magnificence, and goodness. 

Fact, magnificence, and goodness are summary ideas that nonetheless correspond to our deepest wishes. They don’t seem to be more likely to have advanced by a neo-Darwinian course of. Fairly, from neo-Darwinism I might anticipate an absence of magnificence or a denial of it — an lack of ability to understand it. The similar for fact. What about goodness? If selflessness and generosity are taken as indicators of goodness, ought to we anticipate goodness from the pure world? Let’s maintain that thought, and return to it later. 


In our present society, the thought of transcendent values appears unreal. We’re informed that the whole lot is subjective — there isn’t any clear commonplace for magnificence. Every little thing is conditional — my viewpoint versus yours. Shows in artwork museums now resemble the contents of my closet piled on the ground, or an deserted parking zone, or one thing appalling like a crucifix immersed in urine. 

What occurred? Have we forgotten what magnificence is? In rejecting the previous of the “oppressive white male cultural hegemony” of the Christian West, we now have deserted many lovely issues. I’ve no drawback with together with lovely issues from different civilizations or peoples — simply don’t throw out the treasures of millennia from our tradition. 

Michelangelo’s David is an ideal instance of that magnificence. Bigger than life, standing in a relaxed pose, he appears to breathe. Although made of marble, his pores and skin glows. He’s bodily magnificence exemplified. 

One other instance of magnificence is Vermeer’s basic portray, Woman with a Pearl Earring. The woman is wanting again over her shoulder, her head wrapped in a blue and gold scarf. Her eyes concentrate on us, as if ready for one thing, and a single pearl hangs from the ear we will see. 

A extra sensible variety of magnificence is seen in structure. So, for instance, Gothic cathedrals draw the eyes upward to satisfy the sunshine; Baroque palaces talk extravagant exuberance; and the stately avenues of Paris show a nation’s delight. In America, distinction a white, high-steepled church surrounded by white body homes in New England with the standard, earthy, adobe partitions and low arches of a California mission, or with white-columned plantation homes within the South, with their extensive verandas and excessive ceilings. Every fashion of structure is distinctive, reflecting a special half of the American expertise. 


Have we misplaced sight of fact? In our trendy world every thing is subjective; there isn’t a sense of absolute values, of proper or fallacious, true or false; and life is a maelstrom of private calls for and denials of the rights of others. Civil liberty turns into uncivil riot. No matter an individual wishes, regardless of how removed from the reality, turns into his or her proper. Freedom turns into license. An ethical option to protect life turns into a criminal offense. We’ve got pretend information in all places. Nobody is aware of whom to consider, and decades-old debauchery engaged in by individuals dwelling a lie destroys belief. 

Fact has been on trial for a very long time. 

We will haven’t any belief with out fact. It’s the foundation of a civil society. Fact have to be each spoken and heard if a group is to be stored working and trustworthy, and if individuals’s wants are to be met. Households additionally want fact tempered by love to be able to perform. Academics should base their classes on fact, and enterprise and politics have to be carried out in its mild. 

With out fact we enter right into a world of unreason and illogic. Fact, goal fact, underpins all of arithmetic and science. Logic is an absolute requirement to do both, and the idea of all logic is fact. Think about the next: 

  1. If a press release is true, then it’s true. A factor is itself. It isn’t one thing else.
  2. Contradictory statements can’t each be true in the identical sense on the similar time. It can’t be true that a cat is black and not black on the similar time.
  3. A press release is both true or false. It isn’t one thing within the center. There are not any half-truths. Both it’s raining or it isn’t raining. 

Recognized respectively because the regulation of id, the regulation of non-contradiction, and the regulation of the excluded center, these three legal guidelines type the idea of classical logic. Did you discover the repeated use of the phrase “true”? 

The Christian thinker and apologist J. P. Moreland has this to say concerning the legal guidelines of logic: 

These elementary legal guidelines are true rules governing actuality and thought and are assumed by Scripture. Some declare they’re arbitrary Western constructions, however that is false. The primary legal guidelines of logic govern all actuality and thought and are recognized to be true for no less than two causes: (1) They’re intuitively apparent and self-evident. As soon as one understands a primary regulation of logic, one can see that it’s true. (2) Those that deny them use these rules of their denial, demonstrating that these legal guidelines are unavoidable and that it’s self-refuting to disclaim them.

Prejudice is a type of untruth. When people or teams are denied entry to assets, alternatives, or the prospect to contribute based mostly on who they’re or what views they maintain, they endure unjust discrimination. 

Was there ever a time when fact was the norm? Not since Eden, I assume. 


Magnificence and fact are important, however so is goodness, our final transcendental worth. It’s potential to think about a land the place the reality is all the time scrupulously informed however the place kindness, compassion, and tenderness don’t exist. Such can be a horrible place to stay in. 

Goodness is probably the toughest transcendental to outline. It may be thought of as being wonderful, beneficent, worthwhile, useful, and selfless. This description is apt: 

[Goodness] leads to a life characterised by deeds motivated by righteousness and a want to be a blessing. . . . The Greek phrase translated “goodness,” agathosune, is outlined as “uprightness of heart and life.” Agathosune is goodness for the profit of others, not goodness merely for the sake of being virtuous.

It’s exhausting to seek out unmixed examples of goodness. We usually affiliate it with saints, like Mom Teresa, or with heroes, like Florence Nightingale. Individuals who put their lives in danger to look after victims of plague or who stay easy lives to be able to have extra to offer to the poor may additionally be referred to as good. Individuals who look after the sick, the orphans, widows, prisoners, and homeless individuals exhibit this transcendental worth of goodness. However so does a mom who lovingly cares for her youngsters, or a father who pours himself out for the sake of his household. 

The Query of Altruism

So now, to face the evolutionary query: Did we evolve our appreciation for goodness, fact, and magnificence? Evolutionists used to assume that by sacrificing oneself for one’s shut kin, an individual might make sure the survival of the genes he shared together with his kinsfolk. However in 2010, kin choice, as this concept is understood, was deserted as a mannequin by its writer, E.O. Wilson. The alternative principle, group choice, has fared no higher. As an alternative, it’s now argued that normal pure choice and cautious inhabitants genetics could possibly do the job. 

The traits and conduct of bees and different eusocial bugs might be taken as a mannequin of the evolution of “goodness” in additional primitive creatures. These bugs stay very social lives. But whereas their “altruism” has been extensively studied, no believable path for its improvement by way of evolution has been demonstrated. The sticking factors are the quantity of mutations required for every new altruistic trait and the size of time required for bugs to accumulate these traits and have them unfold all through the inhabitants. 

The query of altruism in people has additionally been studied from an evolutionary standpoint. The most cautious outlining of the issue I’ve come throughout truly targeted on a smaller-scale drawback, the evolution of cooperation. The authors of the research catalogued behaviors which may result in cooperation, wanting as they did so for experimental affirmation in addition to concept. Reciprocity was recognized as a key function. We name it, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”

The drawback is, research like this one present that people exhibit altruistic behaviors, however not why we do. Even when we now have neural areas devoted to this conduct, that doesn’t imply the neural areas or the conduct advanced with out steerage. 

What’s the issue with these arguments? First of all, they assume (1) that the usefulness of the transcendentals is tied to a gene or genes; (2) that there’s some type of survival worth or reproductive worth to recognizing transcendentals or appearing on perceptions of them; and (three) that there’s a minimum of sufficient survival or reproductive profit to get this potential preferentially handed on to succeeding generations. Extra basically, they assume that fact, magnificence and goodness aren’t issues in themselves, however are merely alerts that permit us to make good evolutionary decisions. Taking these assumptions under consideration, I want to see somebody set a rigorous quantity for the extra survival worth of a gaggle resulting from its members’ means to acknowledge fact, magnificence, or goodness, and then get it previous the inhabitants genetics lottery. 

No Match 

Scientific materialism is not any match for magnificence, fact, or goodness. These immaterial transcendentals give which means to our lives. I hope that each one these studying this have had some expertise of goodness, fact, and magnificence of their lives. If in case you have not, search them out as guides to knowledge and as presents given to us to assist make life value dwelling. 

That which you create in magnificence and goodness and fact lives on all the time to return. Don’t spend your life accumulating materials objects that may solely flip to mud and ashes. —Denis Waitley 

Fact, magnificence, and goodness have their being collectively. By fact we’re put in contact with actuality, which we discover is sweet for us and lovely to behold. In our figuring out, loving and delighting, the present of actuality seems to us as one thing infinitely and inexhaustively beneficial and fascinating. —Thomas Dubay 

Picture: Woman with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer [Public domain], by way of Wikimedia Commons.

Editor’s observe: A model of this text seems in Salvo 47. It’s revealed right here with the permission of Ann Gauger. 

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