Much to my delight, this semester I find myself teaching a course on World Religions. During our first class, I posed the question, “What is religion?” to the students, telling them, “You’re smart guys–surely a three word question will be simple to answer.”
We spent the next twenty-five minutes in a deep and quick-moving discussion. For my next trick, I pulled out the short video “Whirlpool” from the excellent website Dust Echoes, and used it to segue into a discussion on symbolism and primal religions (aboriginal, tribal, and native american religions). If you have time, definitely spend some exploring that website.
It’s my assertion that it is precisely from our capacity to Reason that mankind’s artistic and religious sensibilities arise.
Would one survive if you cut it off from the other?
It is no coincidence that most of the art produced over the course of human history–indeed even in the earliest surviving cave paintings–contains religious content or inspirations. Far from being antithetical to rational thought, religion is an inevitable outgrowth of it. Religion is one of the most distinctly human of actions.