ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Music as an Argument for Theism

Updated on December 16, 2010
Source

The existence of Music is an enigma to naturalists. Why would it ever be that vibrations traveling through the air and alighting upon our ear drums could produce such powerful emotions within our hearts? Why should such powerful emotions even exist in the first place?

According to the theory of evolution, traits can be proliferated in one of two ways: first, by increasing the chance of survival for an animal and thus improving the likelihood that the trait is passed on. (The longer an animal lives, the more time it has to reproduce and thus a greater number of longer living offspring with that same trait will be produced). Take for an example a deer that can run faster than other deer. Because he can run faster, he will be more likely to escape predators and thus more likely to survive. The longer the deer survives, the more offspring he will have and thus in the next generation there will be a greater population of fast deer.

The second way in which a gene increases in prevalence is if the gene somehow makes a potential animal suitor more attractive to the opposite sex. The more attractive an animal is, the more likely it is to breed, the more it breeds, the more offspring are produced. A good example of this would be the peacock. The greater the beauty of the plumage, the more potential mates are attracted, thus the peacock with the most brilliant feathers transmits this trait to the next generation and beautiful plumage becomes an increasingly common trait.

The best evolutionary explanation for human musical ability falls into this second category. Surely you will agree with me that rock stars propagate more than the average person. Thus their musical talent is reproduced in a greater percentage of the population in the next generation.

This however is an incomplete and unsatisfactory solution to the presence of music. While it explains the prevalence of music to a degree, it does not explain why human beings ever begin to enjoy music in the first place. If music did not produce the emotions that it does, the ability to produce music would be meaningless. There simply is no naturalistic explanation for how humans ever begin to recognize and enjoy musical patterns.

Some have called music “evolutionary cheesecake”by which they mean that the ability to perceive music is simply a byproduct of having a “highly evolved” mind. I must disagree. There is nothing in the human experience that can even compare to listening to music. Music produces an incredible range of emotions, from happiness, to deep sorrow. The simple sounds produced by instruments can have a profound affect on the human mind. Describing something with such a deep connection to humanity as a byproduct of minds evolved to find ways to survive is absurd.

There simply is no mechanism, no natural explanation and no practical reason for the fact that human beings enjoy varying and patterned vibrations in the air. For that matter, why should human beings enjoy anything not linked with survival? Why should we enjoy sunsets? Why are we filled with awe when we look upon a majestic waterfall? Why does looking at the stars make my heart beat a little faster? Why does the sublime exist at all? Certainly there can be no explanation for this in the natural world. We must conclude that there is something beyond matter and energy in this universe. Naturalism may be able to provide a plausible, if unlikely, explanation for the existence of complex forms in nature. But it cannot account for the transcendent. When faced with the beauty of a Beethoven symphony, or the glory of an early morning sunrise, naturalism has little to say.

Literature Cited:

1. Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Daniel 

      7 years ago

      Interesting. What you're discussing is a subset of what is known as the Argument from Aesthetics. It's not as popular of an argument as other contemporary ones (Cosmological, Teleological, Ontological, etc...) but much has been said about it throughout history.

      http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/williams-aesthet...

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)