Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Sometimes I wonder why I play the violin.

Most people have useful jobs, such as a doctor or a bricklayer or a mailman or salesman or air conditioner repairman.

But what is the point of playing a musical instrument?

If I were a singer, people would remember the words to my songs, and if they were good words, they could remember a good message from them. But my music has no words, therefore no meaning, good or bad.

But there is absolutely no purpose for playing a musical instrument.
Which is exactly why I do it.

Evolutionists can think up purposes for so many things on Earth: photosynthesis, plate tectonics, hydrogen, DNA, and so on. But they often get hung up on music. The human ear is profoundly complex--years of study cannot fully give a comprehension of exactly how sound waves are transformed into signals in the brain which are interpreted as meaningful sounds. Evolutionists can make a case for the sociological advantage of communication in verbal language. But what about musical sounds, which do not have any symbolic meaning and cannot be identified with any other sense?

I can't think, off the top of my head, of anything else on earth that does not have any other meaning through any other sense besides instrumental music. I suppose you could count the kind of gas that you can only smell and not see or feel (although sophisticated devices may be able to measure their weight). But most objects can be perceived through a combination of senses--sight, touch, smell. Spoken words are only perceived through the ear, but they symbolize things that can be perceived some other way: if I say "chair" you would have the sensual experience of an object with legs and a platform to sit on, perhaps with a smooth or soft feel, and the smell of leather or rubber. And concepts such as "kindness" are equated with physical actions and physical objects, such as giving a glass of water to a thirsty enemy.

If you are aquainted with music, you understand what I mean by the emotional, even physical, response to a certain arrangement of harmonies--that the stimulus is communicating something, but not something clearly defined such as a "chair" or "strawberry" or even "kindness" or "hope." The communication draws us to something unknown.

"Physical pleasures are subdivided into two types. First there are those which fill the whole organism with a conscious sense of enjoyment...as when we eat and drink.... However, there are also pleasures which satisfy no organic need, and relieve no previous discomfort. They merely act, in a mysterious but quite unmistakable way, directly on our senses....Such is the pleasure of music." (Thomas More, Utopia)

C.S. Lewis describes this well in Mere Christianity: "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists....If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world."

In The Great Divorce, Lewis describes an angelic citizen of Heaven talking with a painter visiting there: "'When you painted on earth...it was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too...Light itself was your first love; you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.'"

If the visual arts exist to give humans glimpses of light through what can be seen and felt with several senses (and what can at least attempt to be explained through naturalistic theory), how much more can music, otherwise completely useless as it is, give us a glimpse of something even less humanly explainable?

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