I am reading an article by Bryan Appleyard in ‘Culture’ provided by the Sunday Times. Titled ‘He is risen’ the article explains how Christianity is refusing to die in art, literature and film despite atheist ‘taste-makers’.
It is from the 2nd November, I had it lying around the house unread for a week until I glanced at the front page and the image caught my eye.
In favour of religion, Appleyard talks of the trouble religion faces in the modern age. Regarding the harsh reception religious art receives from an ever-more atheist audience, he states:
This embarrassment at-even outright loathing of- religious art is, historically, bizarre.
From the earliest examples we have found, made between 40,000 and 100,000 years ago, works of art have been almost entirely religious.
Indeed, historical art has deep religious influences. Amazing works of art created by incredibly talented, religious individuals. But, every age has produced amazing talents, these talents will always crop up, religious or not. Religion has provided a path of influence for such talents finding a direction to go in. Does it prove religious belief is superior? No. Will there be equally inspirational works of art created without faith being a key ingredient? Yes.
Also, Appleyard describes the militant atheist movement by Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris for the disinterest in religiously inspired art:
Barbarically intolerant and staggeringly ignorant, born of a view of religion derived from the extreme minority pursuits of American and Middle Eastern fundamentalism.
I would be more inclined to label American and Middle Eastern fundamentalism as ‘Barbarically intolerant and staggeringly ignorant’. For some reason the atheist voice is too often seen as aggressive. An in-your-face approach. Not flying a plane into a skyscraper, not protesting outside of a wedding or funeral. Atheists debating with words. Logically.
Now that is ignorance. This link shows what true barbaric intolerance looks like. 1,700 year old statues destroyed in seconds.
Many quotations are used such as this by Tarkovsky:
Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony, but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world.
This I agree with. Where would the motivation come from in an already perfect world? Many forms of art have been dedicated to a God over past millennia, so it could be said that art would be just as good, but as a form of appreciation and dedication instead of striving for a perfection that was not present.
In my opinion, art is becoming less and less religious because religion is. It may be due to the campaigns of Dawkins and Harris, speeding up this trend.
‘Happily, as the brute hostility of militant atheism subsides and artists look for more expansive meanings, this strange phase might be ending.’
Not true, and exaggerated. Can anyone really associate atheism with terms like ‘brute hostility’? It just shows religious believers really do ignore the negatives and big up the positives, such as art. A two page article attacking atheism for the decline of religious artwork, two lines of this are dedicated to religious fundamentalism. This fundamentalism has beheaded aid workers, kidnapped schoolgirls, invaded countries. But apparently atheism is barbarically intolerant and staggeringly ignorant, because art is changing.
Ironically, religion presents more of a threat to religious artwork and any form of architecture, too. Old and new, religious or not. Atheism may deter people from creating works with religious influence, but they will certainly be the first to try and preserve, not destroy, existing pieces.