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Atheon Temple To Science Open For Worship Soon

The Atheon Temple of Science is an art project conceived by Jonathon Keats. Using a grant from UC Berkeley's Chancellor's Community Partnership fund, he created the Atheon in downtown Berkeley office building.

Four millennia after Abraham fathered Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and 150,000 years after hominids introduced burial rituals to the Mediterranean, religion has finally been rendered wholly compatible with science. Beginning on September 27, 2008, a two-story downtown Berkeley building dubbed "the Atheon" will provide a spiritual home for rational people in California, and guidance to acolytes worldwide.

Establishment of an Atheon has been a high priority in the scientific community for the past several years, rivaling even enthusiasm for the new Large Hadron Collider. "When you listen to people like Nobel-laureate cosmologist Steven Weinberg, or Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, you hear a lot of talk about how god-based religion is out-of-date," says conceptual artist Jonathon Keats. "The leading minds believe that science can and should provide a spiritually satisfying replacement. But until recently no one bothered to consider what form that alternative might take."

The temporary facility features stained glass windows showing the cosmic microwave background radiation using NASA's new WMAP satellite data.


(Atheon stained glass cosmic background radiation)

"The cosmic microwave background is the sky's natural stained glass, our origin story imprinted on the cosmos," explains Mr. Keats. "And now it's visible to us for the first time, glowing through the windows of the Atheon."

Worshippers have their path to contemplation smoothed by special music, featuring three cosmic voices asking "Why is There Something Rather than Nothing?" Audio files provided by University of Virginia astronomer Mark Whittle provide backup.

Religion and science have been intertwined in science fiction for a long time. A unique view of science and worship can be found in Neal Stephenson's new novel Anathem. In the story, "avouts" are scientifically-inclined men and women who voluntarily accept a life of monastic contemplation of scientific truths. They also have "maths" or cloistered villages and a vast cathedral called a "mynster" forming the body of the necessary multi-millennial clock; rituals are conducted with scientific liturgy and music.

In a sense the clock was the entire Mynster, and its basement. When most people spoke of "the clock," though, they meant its four dials which were mounted high on the walls of the Praesidium - the Mynster's central tower...

The chancel, the heart of the Mynster, had an octagonal floor plan (as theors were more apt to put it, it had the symmetry group of the eight roots of unity). Its eight walls were dense traceries, some of stone, others of carved wood...

Today's liturgy was something to do with developments in finite group theorics that had taken place about thirteen hundred years ago...

The Hylean Anathem now existed in thousands of different versions, since every composer among the avout was likely to take a crack at it during his or her lifetime... The most ancient versions were monophonic, meaning each voice sang the same note. The one used at Saunt Edhar was polyphonic: different voices singing different melodies that were woven together in harmonious fashion...

From The Atheon via io9.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/15/2008)

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