Been reading a lot of atheist stuff lately. I think Harry inspired me initially, and then I found a number of sites which I follow, though my favourites are




On Sunday past, I found myself at a Christmas concert that ended with the Hallelujah Chorus (what else), which led me to think about the nature of art, of worship, and of transcendence. Great art engenders transcendence, or aims to. So what’s the purpose, I wondered, of music like The Messiah in a world without God? What motivates artists to create work of that magnitude? What might lie behind the creation of such work without a religious tradition to engender it?


2 thoughts on “…thinking…

  1. It’s an interesting question. I don’t think it’s that difficult to think of examples of great non-religious art; works from, say, King Lear to Guernica which are at least not primarily religious.

    But whether there’s some specific quality typical of religious art which isn’t found in secular art… well, I don’t know. My inclination, you won’t be surprised to hear, is to think that irreligious artists will find some alternative route to the same place.

  2. Of course you’re right. But mine was a question of origins. King Lear is agnostic, but What you’re saying is only part of what I had in mind when I wrote it. I’m thinking more globally, perhaps. Anthropologically, the connection between artistic expression and religious worship is strong. I’m wondering (1) whether they are two sides of the same coin, and (2) what would inspire the attainment of the transcendent in an atheistic paradigm.

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