Challenging “Good and Evil” Depicted in religious Artwork

One of the most well-known religious texts, the Bible, has impacted how societies of the past and present have defined what is right or wrong, good or evil. According to this text, those faithful to God are rewarded and considered “good” and rewarded with an eternity in heaven, while those unable to establish a relationship with Him are considered “evil” and are forced to suffer in hell forever. The popularity of Christianity has led to an abundance of Christian art that depicts polarities of “good and evil”, from the terror you face if you refuse God to the rewards you will receive if you follow his omnipotent word. For example, Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, The Last Judgment, and The Garden of Earthly Delights provide vivid contrast between what is inherently good (obedience, faith, loyalty) and what is inherently evil (insubordination, sinners, treachery) through landscapes. Writers and artists of all epochs also have sought to explain their beliefs on good and evil through their work, which often relate back to religion. In particular, Epictetus, Lucretius, Henry David Thoreau, and Frederick Nietzsche have explored this and its connection to morality, each differing in opinions depending on defining characteristics of the time in which they lived. Along with these writers, more recent personalities have made statements about good and evil which we have incorporated in order to connect with more modern views of “good and evil." We are allowing these texts and more modern quotations to question the roots of the artwork in which they accompany.

The Original Sin: The Evil in Temptation and Desire Starting with the religious root of the good vs evil moral concept exemplified in the story of Adam and Eve, we seek to show through paintings how man's actions (good and evil) will result in judgment from God when he chooses whether you are worthy for heaven or hell.
“Just as a target is not set up in order to be missed, so evil is no natural part of the world's design” (Epictetus, 232)
If time is not real, then the dividing line between this world and eternity, between suffering and bliss, between good and evil, is also an illusion. – Herman Hesse
Inside each of us, there is the seed of both good and evil. It's a constant struggle as to which one will win. And one cannot exist without the other. - Eric Burdon
“For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to ‘glorify God and enjoy him forever.’” (Thoreau, 74)
"Alas for this mad, melancholy beast: man! What wild fantasies are visited upon this beast, what perversity, paroxysms of hysteria, madness and bestiality of ideas" (Nietzsche)
“These same men, exiled from their country and banished far from the sight of men, stained with some foul crime, beset with every kind of care, live on all the same, and, spite of all, to whatever place they come in their misery, they make sacrifice to the dead, and slaughter black cattle and despatch offerings to the gods of the dead, and in their bitter plight far more keenly turn their hearts to religion” (Lucretius, Book 3 intro)
"In real life, the hardest aspect of the battle between good and evil is determining which is which." - George R.R. Martin
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life" (Matthew 25:46)
“Death, for example, is nothing frightening… but the judgement that death is frightening- now, that is something to be afraid of.” (Epictetus, 223)
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