Deviation Actions

GlendonMellow's avatar


Science-Chess Accommodating Religion

"I'm thinking scientific accommodation of religion is akin to letting someone take your King's Rook off the board because you're winning."

This painting was originally created due to the above Twitter tweet I made, inspired by the writing of Jerry Coyne, Ophelia Benson, PZ Myers, Mike Haubrich, Stephanie Zvan, Jason Thibeault, Russell Blackford and Richard Dawkins. This painting is an homage to your writing, and the other atheists out there unafraid to speak up (I am sure I have left many out). Mike liked it enough to add it to his rotating quotes, and that got me thinking about how I would visualize it.

Since I began blogging my art, I have struggled with themes of secularism and atheism without being cartoonish or overly mocking. Science and my surreal riffs are fun and fascinating for me, but atheist painting concepts have been a challenge.

I am having a contest at my blog to figure out the pieces, and possibly win a signed print.
Image details
Image size
2550x3510px 4.37 MB
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
PavlinaPia's avatar
That is a nice one. I really like it :)
WH1T3-N0153's avatar
Couldn't agree with the quote more. :thumbsup:
GlendonMellow's avatar
Thanks for your support!
GlendonMellow's avatar
(for solutions to what the pieces are intended to represent, please check here:
[link] )

If I understand what you are saying Fuiron, you are basically saying NOMA? Non-overlapping Magisteria, Gould's concept that science and religion cover different areas of life and do not cross paths?

Well, respectfully, I disagree. All religions make scientifically-testable statements, and are in many cases proven wrong in their assertions. If the theist then retreats to saying they are a metaphor, well, that's lovely. I like to learn from many books I read, but I don't worship the characters in them.

Hunger for power is part of the problem and you are correct, that hunger is there in secular institutions as well. What unsettles me about many aspects of faith, is that it claims to answer in immutable, "holy" words many of the causes of our world and yet cannot stand up to scrutiny. Faith is a way of giving up and not asking questions.

What do you think? Did I understand your question?
Fuiron's avatar
Thanks for sharing the answers! I am glad I have at least come close to some of them, and I am surprised about others!

No, I am not suggesting that Religion and Science answer different questions. For me, the material is the spiritual. However, I believe they ask the same questions with different meanings.

It is my personal experience...

I see religion as a means for an individual to understand the world--every religion has a manual on how to behave and how to view one's place in the Universe. I will agree that many of them have faulty, or even unreasonable, assumptions about the world. That cannot be avoided, since the writers of these manuals had little to no understanding of the Universe.

However, I think it is unfair to say that religion is an entirely useless, dangerous thing. The belief in God(s), for instance, leads to the idea of order. The minute one discovers that "order" and "purpose" (in the natural world) can exist without intelligence is not the minute one gives up on seeing morality, law, government, and all manner of other things that supposedly come from God(s). If anything, in light of this realization, religion should gain strength.

If God(s) is not intelligent (that is, human in order and thought) but is rather an "order" that exists outside human concerns and within the Universe, then suddenly, the Universe can be viewed as fair and balanced, even "kind". No being receives unfair advantage, and all have an equal chance at success and happiness, so long as they follow the natural laws by which one may succeed (laws that are not in any book but in reality). Humanity is free to view the Universe in poetic, beautiful ways, and use the term "God" as metaphor for the "order", much as certain scientists and philosophers have throughout history, to the great confusion and annoyance of those that hold a more human view of God(s).

As you know, this is not what happened, or is likely to happen now. Religion did not follow as fast as philosophy and science, in its denial of intelligence where spiritual (the inner workings of reality, in this case) matters are concerned--the question of why was answered by explaining priesthoods. Because, if anyone can apply reason to finding out what "God wants" people to do so they can be happy, then priests are out of a job. Indeed, with the denial of intelligence behind the workings of the Universe, most religious leaders would lose political influence, money, and in some cases, followers.

Religion is a cultural creation, and is to be respected as a rich source of metaphor for the inner workings of the Universe, including human nature. Also, we should be happy for everything we have, and have a chance to have. As I see it, praising idols (all Gods are ultimately fashioned by human hands and minds) helps one to understand these things, whether one is a physics professor or a janitor, through making the Universe closer to human experience, much in the same way that Newton's Laws do not necessarily describe all of gravity's reality, but do provide a useful model which any person may understand and apply.

I say this because there is evidence of religions that do not have a petty human god, or a background of politically-driven declarations from tyrants. Instead, they possess a rich mythology driven by metaphors for the Universe and for the humans' place in it. Given time and advances in science and technology, such religions thrive and mutate into ever more benevolent forms--Buddhism has been called a candidate for the religion I described above, though it still has a ways to go.

Perhaps I reduce religion, or ignore some aspect of its inner workings, but it seems to me that religion does not require an intelligent god, or emissaries from him/her/it. It appears to require only that one be willing to view the Universe through a cultural lens, and interpret it in terms of human good. If a religious "truth" relating to the Universe is proven wrong through research, then it is wrong, and to be viewed in the same light as any myth. A friend of mine does not believe that sky and earth are two gods mating, though his beliefs about other things (human's importance, relationship between opposites,etc) are colored by this myth...

(((I myself do not follow any religion, which may make the above statement meaningless, since I may have everything wrong...)))

I do hope you will answer me, and show me any fault of religious thought I have not accounted for in the above explanation of my ideas. I felt it was necessary to explain, at least somewhat, why I do not view religion as useless and dangerous, before I continued on to ask the question of how it can be useless and dangerous. That way, any mistakes that I make in my reasoning are there for you to see, and any new information you offer will be truly new. I am sorry if I have offended you in any way, and I am sorry if I am stupid or clumsy in my thinking—it is my intention to learn better by asking someone who has had more experience.
Fuiron's avatar
As my signature suggests, given authority over people, neither an atheist nor a religious person can keep from making ridiculous and evil decisions. It is because people have used it to gain and keep power, that I consider the Church an enemy of Reason. If not for their hunger for power, the Catholic Church would not burn thinking men as heretics. Religion on its own is not against anything a man of science holds dear. There is no other reason for religion and science to disagree, in my opinion--what would you have to say on this?

Tree digram-looking fellow--evolutionary science.
Syringe--medical experimentation.
Peas--genetic experimentation.
Circled snake--Chemistry
The Atom Cross-section--Atomic science?
The Bulbs--I have no idea. Though, if one must choose a science that suffers due to the church, I would say it is Biology, the little sister of Chemistry, Genetics, and Medicine. The reason for this is because of the organic, and large, appearance of the bulbs. They do not look like molecules, but suggest a hand, or a paw print.
LouFCD's avatar
I've loved this since the first day it was out, Glendon. Now that I've opened a DA account, I can finally tell you that.


GlendonMellow's avatar
Many thanks, LouFCD!

Glad you opened an account! dA is a great community.
LouFCD's avatar
I'm enjoying it so far!
GlendonMellow's avatar
Thanks! Glad you like it!
RocketQueen13's avatar
Coupled with the artists comments it has such a great impact... very well done there!
GlendonMellow's avatar
Thanks very much, RocketQueen13!
RocketQueen13's avatar
You're ever welcome! n__n
Lieju's avatar
I think it's rather like having the other side play chess and the other make up rules while playing it.
GlendonMellow's avatar
oooo, I like that!
Sphenacodon's avatar
Sweet! I like the surreal atmosphere. It's kinda like Magritte (who had a lot of phallic things standing around in his paintings) and Dali.

Okey dokey, before checking out the answers... that's the staff of the bishopry (complete with halo), Mendel's pea-pod, a cladogram (Darwin's original, I presume), a syringe for medicine, uh... the orbits of the planets? An ouroboros? For the rest, I have no clue.
hollowhorizon's avatar
Wow...this made my head explode, but in a good way...the only two I could get were Medelian inheritance and particle/wave duality. Great title too, sets up the whole picture and gets you thinking.
dinodude0091's avatar
Okay, I see most of the symbolism in this piece (Pea pod = genetics, tree = evolution, needle = medicine, etc.), but what does the paw-lookin' thing and the "snake eating it's own tail" represent. Also, that shockwave thing with the dots in the back is molecular physics, right? (it looks like and electron cloud diagram to me)
GlendonMellow's avatar
Make sure you get your answers over to my blog! You're on the right track!
JacquelineRae's avatar
That's awesome! And I love the quote, I may have to put it on my facebook quotes section.

Don't forget about Bertrand Russell. I have a shirt with his teapot on it :) [link]

And Thomas Paine is a good one too. Not only was he an outspoken atheist, but he also pretty much invented capitalism.
GlendonMellow's avatar
Great shirt. Feel free to use the quote too. Russell was pretty amazing, and Paine was certainly a visionary.

It's kind of astounding we're still debating the same tiresome irrational beliefs today.
JacquelineRae's avatar
I posted it last night! :D
DXXXVIII's avatar
Nice picture and nice artist-comment.
Looks a bit like Dali.
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In