I was quite young when I realised that I didn’t believe in God. I had always gone to an Anglican Methodist church school, yet they failed to install any sense of belief in me. I remember the church being so bland and plain. Everything was cream with just a few embroidered banners on the high walls of a modern building. Perhaps it was the lack of ornamentation that meant I didn’t feel divine inspiration, but either way, when I was asked at about the age of 11 I said that I didn’t believe in God or Jesus. I guess I just didn’t feel that the Bible stories we heard held any more truth than other moral stories we were told as children.
These days I’m fascinated by history and religion. I try to imagine a dull medieval world in which the common person lived, and then the glorious Technicolor wonder that they must have experienced when seeing an east facing stained glass window in church in the Sunday morning sunshine. It must have inspired a sense of awe.
I didn’t choose to not believe in God, I just absolutely don’t. However, I believe that everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions when it comes to religion, and I don’t feel that being an atheist should mean that I have to be disrespectful to other peoples beliefs. Quite the opposite in fact! Surely, I should be able to look at, learn about, and respect other people’s beliefs, just as I would expect people to respect my own thoughts on the subject. When I make work it’s like thinking out loud for me. I feel inspired by religious art work, particularly medieval religious art work. I borrow and I explore what I come across. I think that, as an atheist, it makes sense to borrow imagery from various religions, just as religions have always found inspiration in the art work of other religions.
As far as I see it, following any religion can have its pros and cons. However, I think that the sense of comfort that religion can supply when faced with bereavement, (or any dire circumstances in fact) is undeniable. It is this aspect of religion in particular that I feel leaves me out in the cold with my atheist beliefs.