Wired.com: How did the Atheon begin?
Jonathon Keats: I heard about the Beyond Belief conference in 2006. Richard Dawkins was there, and Steven Weinberg, and Neil Degrasse Tyson. They were trying to figure out what science might do to provide an alternative to religion. There wasn't a consensus, but there was momentum towards the idea that science could do everything religion could, that it could be everything religion had been.
What would the form be, I wondered, of a church to science? What would happen within that church, in the most literal terms? And what would the fallout be if religion became scientific, and science a surrogate for religion?
Wired.com: Do you actually take the worship of the science seriously, or is it a parody?
Keats: I hope not. If it's interpreted as one, I will have failed. It's not a parody any more than a thought experiment is a parody.
Wired.com: Are you promoting science as a religion?
Keats: No. I'm just the cheapest labor available to myself, so I end up enacting this. I need to do it earnestly, to make the Atheon work as well as possible — but I'm just as interested in the question of what religion becomes as science, and vice versa. I certainly don't have answers, but I do have questions.