An Earth-honoring religious path rooted in science

Noble Ancestors

We have our real ancestors–blood relations, going all the way back to single-celled organisms if we go back far enough. 

But there are also those now dead whom we admire for their exemplary qualities: their courage, their intelligence, their wisdom. While they won’t have followed an Atheopagan path (as we’re just getting started), they still loom large in our memories.

I think of these “Noble Ancestors” as the equivalent of Atheopagan “saints”: they were once real people, and they exemplify various qualities we admire. In fact, I have been known to refer to “Saint Carl (Sagan)”, “Saint Galileo”, “Saint Nelson (Mandela)”, “Saint Stephen (Hawking)”, “Saint Charles (Darwin)” etc., with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but serious about the respect I feel for these historical figures.

Of course, who these figures are varies from person to person. We are certainly not going to have an Atheopagan pantheon of “saints”–you have to choose your own, if you so choose! But I know of a number of Atheopagans who honor such figures on their Focuses, and contemplate their examples as a part of their practices.

Reflecting on these “saints” helps us to understand: we CAN live exemplary lives. We can be brave, and kind, and honest, and curious, and joyous, and critically thinking, and committed to the truth. These extraordinary humans were, nonetheless, just human. Their examples reveal the extent of the possible, and illumine the way forward to a better world.

So think about it. If this concept resonates for you, consider putting an image of your Noble Ancestor(s) on your Focus. In fact, you can even buy Saints of Science Prayer Candles! (There are several sources for these, so shop around).


  1. I have an online iconostasis with the exact same intention (on my Pinterest account). Must add Carl Sagan. I already have Einstein, of course. And Ada Lovelace.

    Not sure if you saw my post about Saganism on 1 April… I think you’d like it 😊

  2. Not only do we have these giants or “saints” of science to look back on, we also have some truly magnificent temples, some of which are all but forgotten.
    On some chance following of links in Wikipedia or some astronomy blog this past summer, I stumbled upon an entry for the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay Wisconsin. It belongs to the University of Chicago and was built in 1897 by George Ellery Hale. I rushed to get up there before the end of September, when UofC officially mothballed it. It hasn’t produced much in the way of publication level science since the 1990s, but had been maintained for “outreach” and for its collection of glass plate photos. The place is simply magnificent. Stonework and steel and marble throughout the interior. It was built with a sense of splendor and craftsmanship which is simply unheard of in modern installations. (Seriously, the freaking bathroom stalls were marble!)

    The giant 40-inch refractor scope and most of the supporting equipment are original and were still in working order. The best part is the depth of tradition. So many of the greats passed through there in their graduate or post-grad days: Edwin Hubble, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Carl Sagan. I had the privilege of touring the same halls and equipment which remained almost the same as they would have seen on an overnight watch back then.

    I’m not even an atheopagan, but this place held a deep power for me. I would recommend anyone with an appreciation for science and human progress to seek these places out, visit them while you still can, and do what you can to preserve them for future generations.

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