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.