Tuesday 13 November 2012


Three years ago, I published an article in Opticon1826 entitled “Angels, Putti, Dragons and Fairies: Believing the Impossible” (http://www.opticon1826.com/article/view/opt.070906). The contents of the article were taken up by the media e.g. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/6860351/Angels-cant-fly-scientist-says.html and there was some lively discussion at the time on blogs and websites. All of it was about angels – no-one cared as much about the other types of winged creatures/persons that had been described.

It appears that angels have a special significance for us. We like to have the notion of guardian angels; of angels that link us to Paradise after death; and angels who attend to our Deities. Our images are benign, often reflective in pose, and always with wings that are feathered. Why those images? Well, the uncomfortable answer is that our illustrations of angels originally copied statues of winged deities from Greek mythology (although we would never accept that, would we?).

There are images of bird-winged angels everywhere – in churches, cemeteries, art works, etc. Why, if there is no basis for them? The article in Opticon1826 suggested some reasons but, whether we believe in angels or not, it is extraordinary to think that we accept the ancient conventions on their appearance, yet we have so little information to support this view from the Holy Books of the major western religions.

It is not for me to comment on how angels manifest their presence, but what basis is there for believing they look like this?:

 Why bring make-believe into religion? Faith is surely much too important for that?

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