While I consider myself a theatre professional (which is a nicely pretentious term, donchya think?), I also consider myself to be an armchair evolutionary biologist. I am also an atheist, either because of or despite the fact that I am an artist, depending entirely on where you fall in that argument (and since I fall on the nurture side of the nature/nurture battle, I frankly could tell you a thing or two about my childhood in the Deep South …)

ANYWAY. I am an atheist, science enthusiast, and professional artist, so basically a hedonist all around. As such, I read PZ Myers’ blog, Pharyngula, quite regularly, and I’ve read a bit of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. However, while all of these older white male atheists argue about the car crash at the intersection of science, philosophy, religion, and spirituality, they rarely touch on art or culture … aside from bashing the fundies, of course.

So I was surprised to see this crazy new word appear in an article today at Pharyngula, without being surrounded by PZ’s usual Comic Sans for silly effect.


Describes the sensation that a scientist or amateur of science experiences when he/she observes an amazing phenomenon, for which his/her qualifications or knowledge makes them experience it a greater degree of appreciaton and joy than people without that knowledge.

We need a new word is that freethinkers can use instead of having to use the word “Spirituality” to describe this enhanced experience. Some of us cringe when having to use the word “spirituality”, when describing our feelings when describing our connection to nature.

scien•ti•li•ty [scien-tee-lee-tee]
-noun, plural -ties.
1.the quality or fact of being sciential.
2.knowledge-based experience, improved by real, proven, scientific data. Can be euphoric in nature, like a eureka moment.

Use of Scientility in a sentence:
– Scientiliy can happen while appreciating the results of a scientific experiment.
– Observing a rocket launch can be a scientil experience or a patriotic experience.
– A farmer will have a scientual appreciation of a new genetically engineered seed.
– The class was scientilized by the new science teacher.
– Today I feel scientual.
– Have a scientil day!

I feel like Graham Chapman from Monty Python is about to pop out and yell, “Stop that, too silly!”

This sense of …. inspiration, or awe, of scientific discoveries happens to me a lot. The same thing happens when I go see a great piece of theatre (such as “A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light” which I saw this weekend, and which I don’t really want to write about until I hopefully see it again this weekend). I imagine this is what happens when religious or spiritual people get in touch with that bit of their brains, but I wouldn’t know. I’ve only had the experience once, in middle school, when I felt a sense of love and inspiration wash over me as I was trying to puzzle out what god was. That went away, though, when I started getting the same feelings from good interactions with people, or abstract concepts, or on the rare days when I didn’t feel like a loser (it was middle school, after all).

I have been using the term “awe” to describe this experience to people for years, because most people don’t get it outside of the context of religion or spirituality. “Awe” is a nice middle ground — not too crazy, not too secular. It’s the goldilocks of terms.

So I don’t see why some dude named Francois Choquette wants to mess with that. Did get me thinking about the term, though.

I wonder if he’s tried to read this book “Living Without Religion”

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