Editor’s Note: Some of our posts on Rational Creatures will be cross-posts from writers’ existing blogs – this is one of those. Erin Myers blogs about her cancer diagnosis, but also anything and everything else. Her writing is full of truth, humor, and sarcasm, and it’s always a treat to read. Here she is. – Chelsea

“Nature, Mr Allnut, is what we are put on this earth to rise above.”

– Katherine Hepburn as Rose Sayers in The African Queen

I am wrestling with what to believe in. When I write, I usually try to find a focus point, but this mess of a post, veering dangerously close to a freshman year dorm room conversation, is a reflection of the churning in my head right now, so here it is.

Those in my life who are religious and believe in a higher power sometimes wonder what comforts there are for those who don’t believe in God.

One comfort is that you can’t take science – or nature – personally. If there’s no God, you never feel betrayed by God. Does a leaf feel betrayed when it falls to the ground to glow red for a few days, then rot? Does a mouse feel betrayed when a snake swallows it? On the other hand, a beaver builds a dam to live in, a bird builds a nest – even animals and maybe plants look at nature and go, yeah, but I can improve on this – I don’t have to just lay here and get et, I can run! I don’t have to starve or freeze to death: I can build a nest.

We like to think that part of what makes us human is that we see how things are and try to make them how they should be – with potentially wondrous or disastrous results – but although our brains give us more power to change things than plants or animals, it’s really just survival, isn’t it? All life does it.

I love the paradox of that line from the African Queen. It’s inspiring to “rise above nature”, but rising above nature IS nature.

Read more at The View from the 21st Floor

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