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Artist builds temple for Science

I read this interview with artist Jonathan Keats about his creation of The Atheon, a temple devoted to science. Instead of stained-glass windows there are replications of cosmic microwave background radiation patterns. Keats said his purpose was to challenge people’s dogmas about religion and science, and to envision what a place devoted to science worship might look like. The website describes it as “a secular temple devoted to scientific worship.”  Keats is also known for his Petri Dish God artwork.

I post this mainly because it is an artist exploring science using architecture. I think it is a creative and artistic format in which to tackle the exploration of science. For people who are interested in viewing the science temple, The Atheon is housed in the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley, California.

However, I also feel that I have to editorialize a little on this subject.

I for one do not agree with the idea that science and religion can be compared in the manner that Keats is trying to do. Science is a discipline like Economics or English that works to better understand the world around us. These types of disciplines – Science, Sociology, Civics – are continuously changing as more is learned. Religion is by definition a belief system, usually based on a code of morals and system of behaviors that people have faith in – that is belief without physical proof – and use its teachings to shape their lives. These beliefs are passed down for generations and (mostly) do not change. Science and Religion are two separate systems.

As full disclosure, I am an Atheist. And I concede that Religion and Science have been linked since the middle ages, if not earlier. Religion has been used to explain scientific questions for a long time. Yet all this does not mean that as both systems grow and mature they cannot, and in fact should, branch out into separate entities. As both Religion and Science as subjects of study have evolved, we have found that they answer entirely different questions. In fact, I think that by continuing to draw the parallel between them is in fact polarizing the two subjects, when a belief in a higher power and pursuing scientific endeavors are totally compatible.  

Obviously, this art installation is meant to make people think about their assumption on science, religion, worship, art, what is awe-inspiring, and to be inspired to feel whatever they feel. I would be interested to actually visit the installation and actually see how Keat’s concept has been executed.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

One thought on “Artist builds temple for Science

  1. I just ran across that article on Wired Science myself. I am searching for more connections between science and religion. After reading “Healing the Rift” by Leo Kim, I have finally been able to open my mind to a whole new way of thinking. Leo Kim combines scientific expertise with extensive studies of the powers of the mind, Eastern and Western religious teachings, and spiritual modalities that could help reveal the true nature of our existence. Simply amazing!

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