Light was God’s first creation, and God saw that it was good. This goodness, says St. Basil, is a kind of absolute beauty—not the beauty of harmonious proportions, but the beauty of pure joy, much like the beauty of God.
“And God saw that the light was good” (Genesis 1:4). How can we praise light enough, after the Creator himself has given testimony to its goodness? Even among us, the word “good” or “beautiful” (the words are the same in Greek) refers to the judgment of the eyes, incapable of raising itself to the idea that the senses have already received.
But if beauty in bodies comes from the symmetry of the parts, and the harmonious appearance of the colors, how can we keep this idea of beauty in a simple and uniform essence like light? Wouldn’t the symmetry in light be shown less in its parts than in the pleasure and delight at the sight of it? The beauty of gold is also like this: it owes its beauty not to the happy arrangement of its parts, but only to its beautiful color, which has a charm that attracts the eyes.
In the same way, the evening star is the most beautiful of the stars, not because the parts of which it is made form a harmonious whole, but because of the unalloyed and beautiful brightness that meets our eyes.
Furthermore, when God proclaimed that the light was good or beautiful, it was not because it was charming to the eye, but because of its future advantages— because at that time there were not yet any eyes to judge its beauty.
–St. Basil, Hexameron, 2.7
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