The Emperor’s New God

Can art replace religion and teach us how to live?

The Emperor’s New God is the most ancient of all, its source the motivation of the human spirit. As far as we know, we are the only creatures that believe in an afterlife and create art. Faith and creativity both spring from the same cause: the profound and insatiable feeling of discontentment that is a unique attribute of our species.

We, alone among animals, know we are going to die. Not even our nearest relatives, the Neanderthals, were aware of time passing in the way that we are. There is no evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead in a manner that indicates they believed in an after life, a state of eternal bliss that existed beyond the transience of their current state. Our awareness of time passing has enabled us to outwit all other animals, develop remarkable technologies and even hold death itself, for a while, at bay.

But our awareness of our mortality comes at a price. We never feel we are living as fully and completely as we would like to be. We wish f

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