Why does this subject have to be so controversial??
All the confusion seem to come from either low income or poor skill. There is an EASY answer with common sense..
The photographer points the camera sets the settings and presses the shutter and makes ALL the decisions artistically.
The camera records the image..
So the better the photographer is the better the image is artistically..
and the better the camera is the higher quality photos you are able to record....
Why is this so hard to grasp?
Well because people are used to think that money are answer for everything.
You have expensive camera and even more expensive lens? Well it HAS TO do great shots, they simply think you are paying for convenience. I am already used to situation where people do not understand why I always carry DSLR when their shots done with compacts are (sometimes) very similar and compacts are much smaller much lighter and of course easier to use. They also don't understand why ALL the shots are not superb and why I always do a selection before uploading them, so they can download them. Of course I'm still learning how to use camera well in lot of situations and of course even the best camera sometimes misses focus.
Once I was on a trip and friend of mine was very interested in my camera ... well until the moment she discovered that with that lens she cannot zoom at all. "What is it good for when you cannot zoom?" I tried to explain and then shook her head because she couldn't understand the cost and size of this lens when it can't do what she wants.
Even more they shook their heads when I tell them, that every photo needs to be postprocessed (let's say only exported to jpg), they are used to do things conveniently. (And I'm not even mentioning panorama stitching or portrait retouching and time spent on this)