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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Awe Yes!

Picture this in your mind: A cowboy is riding the range at night, and looks up at the starry sky. And keeps looking, pondering the grandeur. Seeing the stars has always had an effect on me as well. (For that matter, sitting on the couch and reading an article, Basement Cat jumps up and wants to be petted. Purrrrrrr. Sometimes I get a mite overwhelmed because her life is in my hands, but she trusts me; it's easy to show kindness and make an animal happy.) How about looking at Niagara Falls in New York, Blue Mountains in Australia, Ngorongoro Crater in Africa — you get the idea. That feeling is awe.

That sense of wonder called "awe" is unique to humans. It makes no sense for evolution, but the biblical worldview explains it.
Pixabay / Night Sky / fancycrave1
Animals don't do it. They just go on about their business, not seeming to notice the glories of creation around them, and definitely not writing symphonies or sonnets. Awe is special to humans, and does not have any evolutionary purpose or explanation. However, the biblical worldview explains it.
Psychologists are noticing that a sense of awe makes you a better person. Why is it a uniquely human trait?

Animals have some of the best views of the world: geese that sly over Mt. Everest, squirrels that gather nuts at the edge of the Grand Canyon, butterflies that travel over the continental United States to Mexico. No adventurer in a wingsuit (video) gets a more thrilling ride than a peregrine falcon gets every day. But we don’t see animals pausing to soak it all in. Birds and whales sing for communication or to attract mates, but we don’t know of any animals that vocalize music in response to the pure beauty and majesty of the earth. None of them write poetry about it. It’s a uniquely human experience to express transcendental thoughts in response to majestic sights and ideas beyond ourselves. We call it awe.

As reported in “News from Eden” (5/20/15), the American Psychological Association has recognized awe as a motivator for altruism. Expanding on that theme, Paul Piff from UC Irvine says that “Seeing awe-inspiring natural sights makes you a better person” (New Scientist). Simple experiments proved to him that “no matter who you are, awe” has the power to make us nicer.
To read the rest, click on "Why Awe Is Uniquely Human".