The wait for this has, however, been prolonged and I feel compelled to explain why. I am not an artist. I mean, really, I suck rather hard at drawing and painting. It's not quite as bad as my incompetence at Spanish* but pretty close. As such the dilemma I faced was two-fold: first, I needed an idea that would capture some useful part of my feelings and, second, I needed an idea whose execution was within my meager abilities. Developing an idea that satisfied both requirements turned out to be rather difficult. Having said all this, please keep in mind that I am not a skilled artist. The fairly crude drawing below is, really and truly, a better result than I had anticipated. I'd also like to point out that S.S. Stone did not demand that this somehow capture all of my feelings about my faith but, rather, that it capture some aspect of them.
So, without further ado, proof positive that I was not meant to be an artist:
In line with the original request, let me explain this piece. It is drawn with a sharpie and two highlighters** on a page taken from a peer-reviewed journal article. These seemed to be appropriate materials for someone who is an academic. I employed three colors: black, pink, and yellow. As you might guess from the "art" the pink represents excitement and yellow new knowledge or ideas.
The basic aspect of atheism that I am trying to capture here is that it is a collaborative, constructive endeavour. Wisdom and knowledge are not written down in a single book that contains everything you (supposedly) need to know. Instead, wisdom and knowledge are sought for, earned, and ultimately discarded as the world changes and we change with it. Wisdom is not eternal but, instead, must be continually improved and modified as the world around us continually changes. Knowing and understanding become an endless process of creation and exploration that absorbs not just a single person, but an entire community. Like any birth it can be painful, and arguments and conflicts are a part of the search, but ultimately it is worth it as we open our collective eyes to a bright new world.
I placed this "art" on a journal article because I wanted to make the point that the human world of building, of creating, is part and parcel of this process. As a scientist I advance the search for wisdom by doing research, by arguing with my colleagues, and by sharing what I know with my students. As an artist, S.S. Stone advances this search by trying to express the inexpressible. In this exchange of ideas, of feelings, and of creations the members of our one species produce something far greater than any of us individually and the beauty of that leaves me speechless.***
And there you go.
* True story: My college Spanish professor asked me to stop taking Spanish classes I was so bad at it.
** While not in the original post, S.S. Stone did allow the use of magic markers, which are more or less equivalent to the instruments I chose in my view.
*** No mean task, I know.