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As a Atheist do you care about types of music you listen to?

I’m also an atheist yet I come across metalcore christian bands that sound really good, and don’t sound like religious bands. I stopped caring about the word “god” being said in music. As fellow atheists have any of you all come across the same situation?

Posted: March 13th 2010

flagellant www

Many years ago, I stopped caring if the word 'god’ occurred in music to which I listened. (Mind you, virtually all hymns are – to my ear – musical and verbal garbage.) What concerns me is whether the music is good or not. I seldom listen to lyrics and, in fact, most of the music I like is orchestral or instrumental. I go to recitals, to concerts, and to operas. (I don’t listen to the lyrics in opera, either; that’s partly because they’re often in foreign languages, partly because I can’t understand the words even if they’re in English, but most of all because I know the plots, characters, and much of the music in many operas.) My favourite composer is Mozart.

In 1995, I had a heart bypass operation and chose to awaken from my anaesthetic to Mozart’s Requiem. This was my reasoning:

  • I am not superstitious, and I had long been an atheist
  • Mozart’s Requiem is one of my favourite pieces of music
  • The work has no religious significance for me whatsoever
  • So, to awaken from life-threatening surgery to 'music for the dead’ was my means of affirming my love of life, of human achievement, and confirming my active, irreligious position.

I wonder if this is the sort of situation you wondered about? ;-) I think it’s a good example of an atheist, former believer, who never – even when contemplating death – considered backsliding.

Posted: March 15th 2010

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SmartLX www

Very, very rarely, if ever. The problem with explicitly Christian music is that the message is the reason for its existence (and the sheer amount of it), and the music itself is just the vehicle. That doesn’t necessarily mean the music is bad, it just has less reason to be exceptional, and thus less of it is.

On the other hand, simple mentions of God in a song don’t hurt it at all. “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys is one of my all-time favourites. The music is beautiful, and despite the central lyric the message has little to do with religion.

It was controversial when it came out, at least amongst the Beach Boys themselves, because pop music at the time never even mentioned God. Artists were that frightened that the religious would take offence. When they worked up the nerve to record and release it, though, it probably dispelled that fear from the whole industry all by itself.

Another interesting case is the Irish choral group Anuna. It arranges and performs all kinds of music, and whether the subject matter of the lyrics is religious has no bearing on the quality of the music (especially when the lyrics are in foreign languages).

Posted: March 14th 2010

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brian thomson www

I don’t find it a big issue. I like progressive rock, which comes in all flavours: Rush are very much on the atheist side with songs like Freewill and Faithless, while some Dream Theater songs have overtly Christian themes.

Then there is the band Yes, which is all over the place; their famous (or notorious) double album Tales from Topographic Oceans is based on Shastric scriptures, apparently, but I don’t mind. Just don’t try to listen to it all in one sitting..!

Posted: March 14th 2010

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Dave Hitt www

If I like the music enough I can ignore the message. I don’t agree with the politics of Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning,” but it’s a great song, so it’s on my playlist. As for religious songs, I love Handel’s “Messiah,” especially the version done by The Roaches, Argent’s “God Gave Rock and Roll To You,” and John Prynne’s “Blow Up Your TV” which advises people to find Jesus on their own. (Christianity wouldn’t be nearly as obnoxious if people followed that advice.)

On the flip side, I don’t like anything that’s preachy about religion or politics, even if I agree with the message. I prefer subtlety to sledge hammers.

Do you scrupulously avoid movies with angels or demons or devils or gods in them? Me neither, so why apply that scrutiny to your music?

I was raised in a cult where every piece of entertainment was minutely examined for the slightest indication of demonic influence. As atheists, embracing the freedom to make our own decisions, why should we worry about such trivia? If you like it, listen to it.

Posted: March 14th 2010

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