“ ‘And God saw that it was good.’ [Genesis 1]
It is not to the eyes of God that things made by Him afford pleasure, nor is His approbation of beautiful objects such as it is with us; but, beauty is that which is brought to perfection according to the principle of art and which contributes to the usefulness of its end. He, therefore, who proposed to Himself a clear aim for His works, having recourse to His own artistic principles, approved them individually as fulfilling His aim.” (St Basil, The Fathers of the Church: Exegetic Homilies, p 53)
According to St. Basil, the goodness or beauty of anything is determined by its original purpose in God’s creation or plan. The more perfectly something fulfills God’s original intention for it determines whether God sees it as good/beautiful. God, not being a creature like us, does not have physical eyes, so God does not “see” things as we do. God “sees” things in terms of their fulfilling the aim He originally had for the object. This is why God sees even our spiritual struggles as good and beautiful – as even if we struggle, we are moving toward being human as God intended us to be.
St. Basil says God is an artist following the artistic principle that values creating things which serve a purpose. Beauty is thus related to purpose, to truth. It is not purely subjective, but can be measured. Everything which God created is purposeful, even if we do not know the purpose.
In this thinking, we can come to understand how scientists in revealing the purpose of anything in the universe are helping us to interpret and see the true beauty of God’s creation!
And, as the purpose of each created thing is understood, as each mystery is fathomed, we also are learning about the Creator. God is being made known through His creation. One thing which continues to amaze is the depth and mystery of God as Creator.