Because I am a smug bastard who thinks she knows all the answers.
Because I am a smug bastard who thinks she knows only two or three of the answers, and one of those answers is almost certainly wrong.
Because I am hard-hearted and closed-minded.
Because I am hard-headed and weak-willed.
Because I have had nine root canals but have never had open-heart surgery.
Because the sky looks too big under every possible lighting condition.
Because when I looked at a head louse from my daughter’s scalp under a microscope, I could see, through the parasite’s translucent, rice-white abdomen, a dark column of my daughter’s blood.
Because on a sunny day, the rose window at Chartres cathedral shines with the vividness of an image composed at night, by the brain’s secondary visual cortex.
Because everything in life manages to make sense while still leaving room for perpetual misunderstanding.
Because the river of life has been flowing on Earth for almost 4 billion years
And here I am, dunking in a toe, a hand, splashing water on my face,
Complaining all the while, to anybody who might listen,
You know, I never learned how to swim.
Natalie Angier’s latest book is The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science. She won a 1991 Pulitzer Prize for her stories in The New York Times on scientific topics and numerous other writing awards. She was a 2003 recipient of FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award and titled her acceptance speech “Raising a Healthy God-free Child in a Hopelessly God-struck Nation.”