This was from an earlier post:
*Do you think sunsets were any less beautiful before humans were around to witness it?
I said: "Well, since colors do not exist in objects themselves, but in the eye's processing of light wavelengths, I think a good case could be made, on the basis of naturalism being true, that they probably weren't very beautiful. Take the colors out of them, and what are you left with?"
I was then told: "Since stars ~do~ emit radiation the subsequent sunset would still be beautiful regardless of whether a human is there to see it.
I want to have another "go" at this. This falls into the intersection between science and philosophy. Objects do not, in and of themselves, possess the quality of color. Color occurs when light bounces off of surfaces. But, my understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) is that current scientific theory says that the color still does not actually exist until eyes exist which translate the light-waves into what we see as colors.
I came across this at Ed Feser's blog:
"If we want to redefine the “red” of a fire engine in terms of how its surface reflects photons at certain wavelengths, we can say that the fire engine is red. But if by “red” we mean the way red “looks” to us when we perceive it, then nothing like that exists in the fire engine, which is (if we think of color in these commonsense terms) intrinsically “colorless.” And so on for sounds, tastes, and all the rest. Color, odor, taste, sound, and the like – again, as common sense understands them (rather than as redefined for purposes of physics) – are reinterpreted by mechanism as projections of the mind, existing only in consciousness. This is the origin of the “qualia problem,” and the puzzle now becomes how to relate these “qualia” or “phenomenal properties” to the intrinsically colorless, odorless, tasteless particles that make up the brain just as much as they do external material objects." -- Edward Feser, here.
#1. To the extent that the beauty of a sunset is in its dazzling display of colors, unless there is an entity around that is producing the sensation of color in its mind, the sunset is not, arguably, beautiful in and of itself. (Some Christian philosophers dispute this notion that the sensation of color exists only in the mind.)
#2. Beauty is a concept. Concepts reside in the mind. Without a mind to conceptualize beauty, it is an incoherent concept. Beauty cannot exist where there are no minds.
So, in response to the atheist jab, "do you think sunsets were any less beautiful before humans were around to witness it?", my answer would be that the atheist must answer "yes", because a) the essential beauty of a sunset lies in the colors projected, and colors are produced inside the mind (according to current scientific theory), and b) because beauty is a mental concept, and according to atheists, minds did not exist prior to the emergence of life.
* * *
We depend on mind to conceive of reality --including past reality -- to a greater extent than we tend to realize.
To the theist, the universe has never been without Mind, because a supervening Mind created it and sustains it. Because the Creator saw his creation, and saw that it was good, the theist can argue that sunsets have always been beautiful because they were created by a Creator who is himself beautiful; they were created "for his pleasure", and the Creator always beholds ("sees") his creation.
But, to the atheist, there was a time when mind was not, and sunsets were not beautiful.