Tom Pittman's WebLog

(or something like that)

2005 September 20 -- Good, Beautiful, True

Regular readers of my postings are aware that WIRED magazine has left off being a magazine for geeks, and even abandonned its former aim at geek wannabes. Now it's just a vehicle for selling high-priced ad pages to luxury product vendors. The technical gas tank is empty, and it's just running on fumes.

In this month's issue there is an article discussing an opera about the Bomb. There is nothing technical in this article, mostly it's about the politics of the composer. Toward the end, however, there is an interesting paragraph about Edward Teller, father of the H-bomb, and an incidental character in the opera. He quotes three questions his teacher Werner Heisenberg asked in the 20s -- "One: What is good? Two: What is beautiful? Three: What is true?" -- and then goes on to divide these topics up and apportion them respectively to politicians, artists, and scientists. The stated implication is that scientists should pursue truth wherever it leads and ignore the moral implications, leaving that to the politicians.

To its credit, post-modernism sees through the bankruptcy of this division, an unstated implication of this article and the opera. Teller says (the opera quotes from his memoirs), "I have no hope of clearing my conscience. The things we are working on are so terrible that no amount of protesting or fiddling with politics will save our souls." How true!

Good is not the province of politics -- half the country today can find no good in the current sitting President, and the other half felt the same about his predecessor -- Good is the province of God. God alone makes us good.

Truth is not the province of science -- just look at the mess Darwinists (and often their opponents also) make of truth in the name of science -- Truth is the province of God. God alone makes us honest.

Beauty is not the province of artists -- just look at the opera that is the focus of this article: artists have long since given up on bringing us beauty; now they only seek to annoy -- Beauty is the province of God. God alone makes what is lovely.

Too bad the author of this article missed that fundamental insight.