Melanie Elyse Brewster
The present article explores scholarship regarding links between atheism, gender, and sexuality. A review and analysis of available theory and research is presented through a social scientific lens. Specifically, research suggesting that more men than women identify as atheist is contextualized through reviews of gender role socialization, structural location, personality, and evolutionary theories. Ties between atheism, women’s issues, and feminism are also discussed. Moreover, data about atheism and religiosity amongst lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) groups is presented. Findings regarding rates of atheist identification and sexual orientation indicate that atheism may be higher among LGBTQ individuals than heterosexually identified people; such research is discussed in the context of anti-LGBTQ religious stigmatization and oppression. Lastly, in an effort to deconstruct ‘coming out’ as atheist identity development processes, parallels between LGBTQ and atheist movements are examined and critiqued. Directions for future research are proposed.
This article discusses the relationship between cinema and atheism, and draws out some of the analogies used to describe the role of cinema in modernity (particularly similarities between Plato’s cave and the cinema experience and images of cinema as ‘dream-like’). It examines the work of Soviet film-maker Dziga Vertov in particular, and looks at his use of anti-religious and atheist themes. The article suggests that while little attention has been paid to the topic of cinema and atheism, there is a rich seam of thinking to be mined here, and there exist unresolved questions about the ‘religious’ dimensions of cinema itself that go far beyond the force of the odd parodic or documentary atheist film.
This essay begins by contextualizing atheism in the larger history of literature, locating the first sustained uses of unbelief as a literary theme in the Western world during the first half of the nineteenth century. Schweizer then goes on to clarify fundamental terminological issues such as the distinction between atheism, Satanism, and misotheism, as well as that between implicit and explicit literary atheism. Next follow four case studies of literary atheism, as Schweizer outlines the functions and characteristics of atheism in Büchner’s Danton’s Death, Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, Camus’s The Plague, and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. Schweizer concludes that the role of atheism in literature has morphed from being a touchstone for radical and existential moral questions in earlier fiction to serving as a vehicle for metafictional humour and ironic self-inspection in contemporary writing.
J. Sage Elwell
This essay begins with the observation that there was a time when art was religious and yet today contemporary art is overwhelmingly atheistic. To understand how and why art and religion split, this essay looks to the Renaissance as a pivotal moment in art history when the arts turned from religious obligation to artistic exploration. Specifically, this essay focuses on the impact that economic changes, the progress of science, and the rise of humanism in fifteenth and sixteenth century Europe had on the divorce of art from religion. These factors—patronage, a scientific worldview, and a humanistic philosophy—constitute a threefold force that moved art away from religion, and importantly, continues to function as a wedge between the two.