Atheism Art

 
McMonty
 
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McMonty
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11 February 2012 19:00
 

This idea started when I googled “atheist art”. You see I was expecting to find art. Instead, what you get is a whole bunch of knockoffs of famous religious art that has been disfigured and mutilated. This made me slightly ashamed.

I dont want atheism and reason and humanism to be known just as “people who think religion is wrong”. I think that it brings a lot more to the table than that.

It brings a better understanding of our place in the universe.
It adds significance to altrusim.
It describes the magnificence of the physical universe and the sciences.
It puts love between humans above love for a God.

I want to see atheist art that truly captures the emotion that people feel when they grasp secular concepts and their implications. I dont care what the artist feels so long as they make something original based on their interpretation. It could be happy or sad.

I think that having a better appreciation of things like the emotional aspect of religion and the feelings that people have regarding their deity can help us connect better with theists who miss some of the logical arguments that we put forward. Also, I dont want to see some aspects of art get lost should we eventually more towards a godless society.

I think it would be a great idea to sponsor some artists, possibly both atheist and theist artists, to give their interpretation of atheism.

A collaborative project between an atheist and a theist working on one piece of art could be particularly powerful. Them being forced to work collaboratively on the same artwork could act as an analogy for how theists and atheists are forced to live on the same world together peacefully.

Does anyone have any other ideas on how art and atheism relate?

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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Dennis Campbell
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11 February 2012 19:32
 

Not at all sure how any art that reflected a lack of a belief would work, so what’s to depict?

 
 
SkepticX
 
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11 February 2012 19:57
 
Dennis Campbell - 11 February 2012 06:32 PM

Not at all sure how any art that reflected a lack of a belief would work, so what’s to depict?

Kinda my thoughts as well ... anything not religious/theistic would qualify or suit the bill of art that isn’t theistic (and that most of us who have overwritten our aversion to the term would be okay calling “atheist art”, even if that’s not a characteristic, but rather the absence of one). If we get into things we would like depicted in “atheist art” we’re into things other than atheism, unless we look at precisely those things over which the OP felt shame. The way to overtly depict atheism, to make it a subject, is to depict what would traditionally include a depiction of a god, and omit or otherwise disparage/show disapproval of that depiction. Otherwise you just basically have art that’s not religiously or theistically themed.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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11 February 2012 21:19
 
McMonty - 11 February 2012 06:00 PM

Does anyone have any other ideas on how art and atheism relate?

Welcome, McMonty. Interesting topic and first post. Certainly gets the old neurons firing. I like it, definitely worth considering but seems to bring up blanks. Couldn’t any and all art without religious symbolism be considered Atheist Art? Anything natural is going to be Atheist. Anything abstract is probably going to be Atheist.

One thought, however, that comes to mind is the expression of Atheism in the titles of the work rather than simply in the work itself. For instance, a portrait of a beautiful child without a halo and wings titled “Angel”; a kind, gentle warm mother figure titled “Saint”; a man and woman depicted in a tangled sexual embrace titled “Creation,” a funeral gathering or decomposed body covered in maggots titled “The After-life,” anything really that translates the religious metaphor into a depiction of realism. A blank canvass titled Atheist.

Or, a re-creation of religious art missing the central religious figure such as “The Crucifixion” scene without Jesus on the cross, “The Last Supper” with an empty space in the middle. This could be the collaborative effort you mentioned, the theist paints the picture and the Atheist just has to sit back and watch.

Actually, the possibilities are only limited by the imagination: spaghetti and meatballs splattered all over Adam and Eve and the Garden to represent The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Moses cavorting nude around a Golden Calf or Moses sitting on some rocks carving out the stone tablets while looking down on the torch-lit pagans dancing around the calf, etc, the whole idea being to redepict the stories into a new literalism. A street of houses all lit up with Christmas lights and one undecorated one in the middle, although maybe representing a non-Christian of another religion, that’s a form of Atheism of one religion to another.

How about this? Here’s a work of “Atheist Art.”

∫[0,x] e^(-t²)dt = x - x^3 / 3 + x^5 / 10 - x^7 / 42 + x^9 / 216 - ...

Other than that, I can’t come up with anything else at the moment, but no doubt you got me scratching my head.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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11 February 2012 21:42
 

Interesting. I suppose creative processes differ. I work in all sorts of mediums and themes but have no idea how (or if) to depict atheism as you describe.

I would suggest that a lot of art actually does though. Essentially anything that is a careful and realistic depiction of something non-religious. More so if it captures something particularly enigmatic to science. Check out paulcadden.com

For me, art really rises above theological debate and provincialism over world views. Some of the greatest art is obviously religiously themed. But the political incarnation of religion cannot claim province over a work of art. Hard as they try. The abstruse dialogue between artist and audience is private and privileged. No one can dictate to anyone else what to derive and appreciate. This is probably why I shrink from the idea of atheist art. I might be inspired by my own godless theology while working the clay but its simply not my prerogative to decide what will be taken away. The satirical and ironic mind of the appreciator will foil all attempts to be too literal.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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11 February 2012 21:56
 

Given that atheism is a lack not a presence, what images(?) might capture what many but not all atheists do endorse, some kind of humanism, secularism, science, critical thinking…...something like that?

 
 
saralynn
 
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11 February 2012 22:46
 

Answerer: Welcome, McMonty. Interesting topic and first post. Certainly gets the old neurons firing. I like it, definitely worth considering but seems to bring up blanks. Couldn’t any and all art without religious symbolism be considered Atheist Art? Anything natural is going to be Atheist. Anything abstract is probably going to be Atheist.

Just because something does not have a religious theme does not mean it should be defined as Atheist Art. 

Actually, I don’t know of any artists whose work emphasizes atheism as a theme.  If I were to do an atheist picture, it might depict Jesus holding a man down by his ankles, while the man is reaching toward the stars.  Or maybe Jesus dying on the cross and his blood dripping into a man’s eyes and fillin up his brain. Okay…. a woman is bent over with a a huge crucifix, a star of David, and a cresent moon on the back of her neck and she is struggling to look up at the stars, but can’t hold her head up.  Or maybe a face with a crucifix covering the eyes. 

Obviously, I associate atheism with eyes and stars.

Weirdly, I also associate theism with eyes and stars, but, of course, the pictures would be different.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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11 February 2012 22:51
 
saralynn - 11 February 2012 09:46 PM

Answerer: Welcome, McMonty. Interesting topic and first post. Certainly gets the old neurons firing. I like it, definitely worth considering but seems to bring up blanks. Couldn’t any and all art without religious symbolism be considered Atheist Art? Anything natural is going to be Atheist. Anything abstract is probably going to be Atheist.

Just because something does not have a religious theme does not mean it should be defined as Atheist Art. 

Actually, I don’t know of any artists whose work emphasizes atheism as a theme.  If I were to do an atheist picture, it might depict Jesus holding a man down by his ankles, while the man is reaching toward the stars.  Or maybe Jesus dying on the cross and his blood dripping into a man’s eyes and fillin up his brain. Okay…. a woman is bent over with a a huge crucifix, a star of David, and a cresent moon on the back of her neck and she is struggling to look up at the stars, but can’t hold her head up.  Or maybe a face with a crucifix covering the eyes. 

Obviously, I associate atheism with eyes and stars.

Weirdly, I also associate theism with eyes and stars, but, of course, the pictures would be different.

Atheism defined as something in opposition to theism is therefore dependent on theism.  That has no future.  Secular humanism, whatever, is a better label.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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11 February 2012 23:15
 
Dennis Campbell - 11 February 2012 09:51 PM
saralynn - 11 February 2012 09:46 PM

Answerer: Welcome, McMonty. Interesting topic and first post. Certainly gets the old neurons firing. I like it, definitely worth considering but seems to bring up blanks. Couldn’t any and all art without religious symbolism be considered Atheist Art? Anything natural is going to be Atheist. Anything abstract is probably going to be Atheist.

Just because something does not have a religious theme does not mean it should be defined as Atheist Art.


Atheism defined as something in opposition to theism is therefore dependent on theism.  That has no future.  Secular humanism, whatever, is a better label.

Right, it can’t be without a religious theme, that’s everything else. It has to be with without a religious theme, religious art without a religious theme.

 
 
McMonty
 
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12 February 2012 01:25
 
Answerer - 11 February 2012 08:19 PM

Welcome, McMonty. Interesting topic and first post. Certainly gets the old neurons firing. I like it, definitely worth considering but seems to bring up blanks. Couldn’t any and all art without religious symbolism be considered Atheist Art? Anything natural is going to be Atheist. Anything abstract is probably going to be Atheist.

Hi Answerer. Thanks for your reply. This makes complete sense. As atheism is a null-hypothesis rather than a belief, it is hard to really consider how atheism can be a theme. Part of the idea of this project is to show that atheism is not necessarily devoid of emotion or feeling or spirituality. One of the purposes of art is to evoke emotion and feeling in someone. If some people are religious because of a feeling or emotion that they get while praying, part of our arguments for atheism could value from being able to prove that atheist art can also evoke the same emotion. This proves that the way that they feel has nothing to do with God so much as neurochemistry. People shouldn’t have to give up their spirituality to become an atheist. I believe that emotions such as awe, humility, and respect can be conveyed just as much without the reliance on a religious theme.

Answerer - 11 February 2012 08:19 PM

One thought, however, that comes to mind is the expression of Atheism in the titles of the work rather than simply in the work itself. For instance, a portrait of a beautiful child without a halo and wings titled “Angel”; a kind, gentle warm mother figure titled “Saint”; a man and woman depicted in a tangled sexual embrace titled “Creation,” a funeral gathering or decomposed body covered in maggots titled “The After-life,” anything really that translates the religious metaphor into a depiction of realism. A blank canvass titled Atheist.

Or, a re-creation of religious art missing the central religious figure such as “The Crucifixion” scene without Jesus on the cross, “The Last Supper” with an empty space in the middle. This could be the collaborative effort you mentioned, the theist paints the picture and the Atheist just has to sit back and watch.

Actually, the possibilities are only limited by the imagination: spaghetti and meatballs splattered all over Adam and Eve and the Garden to represent The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Moses cavorting nude around a Golden Calf or Moses sitting on some rocks carving out the stone tablets while looking down on the torch-lit pagans dancing around the calf, etc, the whole idea being to redepict the stories into a new literalism. A street of houses all lit up with Christmas lights and one undecorated one in the middle, although maybe representing a non-Christian of another religion, that’s a form of Atheism of one religion to another.

How about this? Here’s a work of “Atheist Art.”

∫[0,x] e^(-t²)dt = x - x^3 / 3 + x^5 / 10 - x^7 / 42 + x^9 / 216 - ...

Other than that, I can’t come up with anything else at the moment, but no doubt you got me scratching my head.

As for these ideas- They sound great! I especially like “The undecorated Christmas house” and “The afterlife”. The afterlife in particular would be great at conveying the fear of death that some of people probably experience when they convert. Provocative and emotional. As for the power series expansion of a gaussian, despite how awesome it is I would unfortunately expect most who actually understand the equation to already be an atheist.

 
McMonty
 
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12 February 2012 01:33
 
saralynn - 11 February 2012 09:46 PM

Answerer: Welcome, McMonty. Interesting topic and first post. Certainly gets the old neurons firing. I like it, definitely worth considering but seems to bring up blanks. Couldn’t any and all art without religious symbolism be considered Atheist Art? Anything natural is going to be Atheist. Anything abstract is probably going to be Atheist.

Just because something does not have a religious theme does not mean it should be defined as Atheist Art. 

Actually, I don’t know of any artists whose work emphasizes atheism as a theme.  If I were to do an atheist picture, it might depict Jesus holding a man down by his ankles, while the man is reaching toward the stars.  Or maybe Jesus dying on the cross and his blood dripping into a man’s eyes and fillin up his brain. Okay…. a woman is bent over with a a huge crucifix, a star of David, and a cresent moon on the back of her neck and she is struggling to look up at the stars, but can’t hold her head up.  Or maybe a face with a crucifix covering the eyes. 

Obviously, I associate atheism with eyes and stars.

Weirdly, I also associate theism with eyes and stars, but, of course, the pictures would be different.

These are also great ideas! I like the cross covering the eyes. I would guess that you associate the stars with knowledge or truth and eyes with awareness of something. Religion blocks one’s awareness of truth so the cross blocks the stars.

Dennis Campbell - 11 February 2012 08:56 PM

Given that atheism is a lack not a presence, what images(?) might capture what many but not all atheists do endorse, some kind of humanism, secularism, science, critical thinking…...something like that?

I would love to see some art about humanism. I think there is a lot of potential to do art focused around altruistic actions and other charitable actions. I am not sure if you heard about reddit’s r/atheism charity drive a while ago but things like that just makes me feel happy. When people do good things not because a higher power told them to but just because they wanted to do good things, it gives me faith in humanity.

[ Edited: 12 February 2012 01:38 by McMonty]
 
can zen
 
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12 February 2012 15:00
 
Volted - 12 February 2012 11:35 AM

I was nearly moved to tears by this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akek6cFRZfY
Peace,
George.

Wow!

 
 
atheos85
 
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21 February 2012 20:04
 

I like the idea of an art based project. I think that making “atheist” art would be either hard to express or apparently rude (like my avatar). Why cant it just be art. Maybe an intended theme for a project but not specifically “atheism”. If all the world was to wake up and realize there was no god; then, we wouldn’t be atheist anymore. We would just be people. Mr. Harris said ,in a video I watched, that you don’t have to say that your a non-racist if your not. This was used as an example of why we shouldn’t have to refer to ourselves as atheists. Your either a religious person or just a person. You shouldn’t have to claim your art as non-theist either. Don’t restrict the fields we’re in because it may be in the same field as the religious. If you want to paint an angel paint an angel. You aren’t suddenly titled a pagan if you paint Zeus or any other mythical symbol. Art has no boundaries. What would make it stand out is that it would be from a secular group ;and the beauty that you can portray without mysterious beliefs could be demonstrated and shared with a skeptical audience. We aren’t the sub-culture of the world. People need to know that you aren’t sacrificing beauty and love and uplifting emotion from your lives to claim that you don’t believe in the gods of society.

 
 
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21 February 2012 20:17
 
can zen - 12 February 2012 02:00 PM
Volted - 12 February 2012 11:35 AM

I was nearly moved to tears by this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akek6cFRZfY
Peace,
George.

Wow!

Yeah, Wow!! That was great. There’s more than enough awe and wonder and beauty in the universe without the need to impose religious nonsense.