Wednesday, 27 April 2011

My atheist billboard

The Freedom from Religion Foundation has a fast, neat little application to make your own atheist billboard.  Mine's above and you can see more of them here. I learned about it from radio-show host Mike Haubrich.

When thinking about a quote, I thought about how a lot of people will possibly reference science or morality for these quotes (you can see them all here).  As an artist and an atheist, I thought I would try to sum-up some of the feelings I wrote about it in this post two years ago: Gift from God? I don't think so.

In the post, addressing the 'compliment' of artistic ability being a 'gift', I said;
Just because something is hard to understand, just because complicated processes occurred that you did not witness, does not mean it was caused by a benevolent mythical being who hands out aptitudes like Santa with presents...
...That was studying. That was attempts at keen observation. That was making countless mistakes I attempted to learn from. Feedback. Crits and criticisms. Learning from indifference. Trying new materials. Replicating happy accidents. Sharing techniques. 

I received a lot of support in the comments. When I re-posted it at my RedBubble (online store) account, I ended up with concern trolls.

Far too many artists believe in the divine - probably more in New Age nonsense than organized religion, though there are plenty of those types too. "Meant to be" is the cause of many happy accidents to many artists, when in fact, happy accidents have a lot more in common with Richard Dawkins' ratcheting up Mount Improbable: you hang on to the successes, duplicate them as close as you can and eliminate the artistic attempts that fail in your eyes. Developing a skill, technique and style in art has a lot in common with natural selection. 

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow


Thomas Stacey-Holmes said...

I agree! I chose to stand on the fence about religion when I was first developing my craft. It was not until this year that I finally made the decision to get off the fence and stop believing in Myths.

Luckily my once believed "gift from god" was all about generating Myths, so now I'll just continue to share them with the world. Who knows, maybe one of my gods will be worshiped one day! lol

*Here's hoping we have evolved from that behaviour by then! XS

Mike Haubrich said...

I like it!

I always feel disappointed when an artist or an athlete or a musician credits their success to God, when they have work hours learning and perfecting what they do.

You have inspiration, Glendon, in art and in words.

davor said...

Excellent, well-considered choice. I'm glad you brought a uniquely artistic perspective to yours. Is that a brain in the yellow background?

Glendon Mellow said...

Thomas! Careful what you wish for! ;-)

Thanks Mike!

Thanks David! I think it might be. There's a green option that looks similar. Could bea back-lit plant, up close.

smartz said...

You are awesome and brave. Brava!

Tommy Leung said...

This "Gift from God" thing reminds me a lot of when people asked you the question "are you on drugs?" or "what drug are you on?" - I really resent that. About 8 years ago, I used to write a non-sequitur style humour column in my student magazine under the same alias of "The Episiarch" (for those familiar with "Startide Rising" you can imagine what style those columns were like), when I met the editorial team after writing 4 columns for them and when people realise I was "The Episiarch" the first thing that came out of someone's mouth was "What drug are you on?" (I did devote the next column mocking that though, in a round-about, reality-bending way). Actually Wayne Barlowe had a really good response to that in an interview:

Digressing a bit here, but I think mind-altering substance makes you *think* you have a good idea when you actually don't. I'm all for people being free to use whatever substances they want as long as it doesn't harm others, but I work best when I'm straight-edge and sober - drugs just dilute and interfere with that process. Some substances can help you relax, and there are creative people who managed to do well *despite* using them regularly, but don't think they will necessarily boost your creativity. I mean, they *are* called "recreational" drugs for a reason...

Oops, and there I go off the tracks...

Glendon Mellow said...

I love Wayne Barlowe. And yeah, I recognized your handle from the Uplift books, those are some of the most fun sf books ever.

About the drugs thing: I used to get it too. It's a pain. I was considering re-posting this blog post from a few years back - you've inspired me, maybe I will.

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