Evolution’s Problem With Beauty

In some previous posts, I have articulated a few of the reasons I don’t embrace the theory of evolution, that all living creatures evolved from a single cell organism. I find the theory inadequate to explain the incredible complexity of our human bodies as well as the complexity of the living cell.

But the other day, as I was doing yard work, I was struck with another limitation of evolutionary theory: beauty. How does evolutionary theory account for beauty? While mowing the lawn, I noticed that a particular tree in our back yard was blossoming—beautiful white flowers filled the branches. As I was appreciating the incredible beauty on display, I realized that evolutionary theory has no explanation for beauty like this.

From Darwin’s perspective, the basis of evolution is survival of the fittest. In other words, evolution happens solely for functional reasons. An animal is able to survive better because of a mutation—something that gives it a functional advantage.

But if all species are here as a result of evolution, what would explain the presence of beauty? There is nothing about flowers on a tree blooming for a few weeks each year that would make it better suited for survival. What would explain the outward beauty on display in certain human beings? There is nothing about beautiful hair or a beautiful face that makes a person better suited for survival.

In fact, I find that an emphasis on function often leads to a removal of beauty. What happens when a company decides their new facility is going to be “functional”? You can guarantee there will be no money in the budget for beautiful furnishings. What about a car that is built for functionality? Same problem. Don’t plan on much that aesthetically pleasing about it. It would seem to me that after millions of years of evolution, everything would be “functional” but with rare, random glimpses of beauty if any beauty at all.

Maybe I’m missing something here. Perhaps some of you can comment on how evolutionary theory explains the beauty we see all around us. But for me, the beauty on display all around us points to the biblical perspective that God created. Genesis 1 describes how after God created, He often stopped and admired His work, declaring it good. There is a reason for beauty all around us—it points to the glory and wonder of God.

I realize there is much about this sin stained world that doesn’t seem to reflect the beauty and glory of God. But there is enough, in my view, to point to a Creator who loves beauty and who one day will once again make all things beautiful.