The Cosmos and the Starry Night
by Terry Glaspey
My essay explores the way that painters throughout the history of art have shown the same kind of fascination with the stars and constellations as that of the scientists. They have explored, through their works of art, the truth expressed in Psalm 19 that “the heavens declare the glory of God.” The transcendent Creator can be seen in the night sky, in magnificent vistas of landscape, and in every leaf and stone. What these artists have seen in nature, and have shared with us through their own creations, is a manifestation of the divine presence that haunts every inch of the cosmos.
Just as the scientist focuses upon studying individual realities to help us understand how they work and function, so the artist focuses upon asking questions about what they mean. Through an examination of more than a dozen magnificent works of art (from Giotto to van Gogh) we see how great art can help us to see and appreciation God’s handiwork with new eyes.
We also explore the evidentiary power of the beauty of the Cosmos and the created world. It is a different kind of evidence than that offered by science or philosophy; and evidence based more on intuition than on proofs. But its beauty can tell us something important about who made this world and about our place in it. The artists call us to pay attention, to see more clearly and fully, and to quiet our hearts and minds before the great artistic creation of the Great Creator.
Terry Glaspey is an adjunct professor of art and theology at Kilns College and the author of numerous books, including the award-winning 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know (Baker, 2015). He holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon and is a frequent lecturer at universities, churches, and conferences on the relationships between the arts, spirituality, theology, and history. Terry blogs at terryglaspey.com