More on names: the Atheon

If you follow news in the realms of science, art, or museums you may have heard of the Atheon. It’s a temple of science on Berkley, California. Where else? The architecture features stained glass depictions of NASA images of cosmic radiation and someone has composed a piece of supposedly liturgical music for it, which you can listen to here, but only if you put your headphones on and turn your volume all the way up to 11.

I don’t have any problem with the idea of a spiritual approach to or view of or sense about science. My problem is the name: the Atheon. Sure, it sounds cool, but the name defines itself by what it isn’t. It’s Latin or Greek for the opposite of Pantheon. It is lacks God or gods, but what, I wonder, does it have to offer us. I’m not suggesting there’s nothing compelling or potentially good about the basic idea of a temple to science, but why not give it a name that suggests what it is. Why not just call it the Temple of Science? Or the Temple of Logic or of Knowledge or something? Or if they’re dead set on sounding like Romans, why not the Scienthon or some shit?

It points to the same flaw I notice in many of the attempts to replace religion with science. Richard Dawkins, for instance, the world’s foremost jerk atheist, defines his belief in science very often in terms of his diebelief in religion.

This is a problem we Reform Jews are familiar with. We are fond of saying that we don’t pray three times daily or that we don’t count the Omer or whatever. Isn’t more satisfying to tell that world what you do do?

2 Responses to More on names: the Atheon

  1. David September 16, 2008 at 1:54 pm #

    Dude.

    It’s an art exhibit at the Jewish museum in my alma mater. Quit whining.

  2. davidamwilensky September 16, 2008 at 5:43 pm #

    I know what it is. Jonathon Keats is a current obsession of mine so I’ve done some reading around the interwebs about it.

    Though it’s merely a conceptual art installation for the time being, Keats is intrigued and seemingly half-serious about a future American in which there’s an atheon in every city in America. So I think it’s totally appropriate to give thought to the name of this hypothetical institution.