It took the universe 13.7 billion years to produce this amazing book.
–John Mather, on the cover of Michael Dowd’s Thank God for Evolution
It took the universe 13.7 billion years to produce this amazing chair.
It took the universe 13.7 billion years to produce this amazing pen.
It took the universe 13.7 billion years to produce that amazing
rhododendron outside my window and the winter wren overflowing
in that rhododendron, that amazing, bubbling winter wren, overflowing,
not to mention my ears, which hear it, and my eyes, which see it.
It seems that life is almost indecently eager to evolve eyes,
Richard Dawkins says. The compound eye of an insect or a prawn,
he says, or camera eyes like ours or a squid’s, or parabolic reflector eyes,
like those of a limpet. This is all going somewhere, in other words.
It’s cumulative. It’s purposeful. It’s always coming to a point.
It takes an entire universe to make an apple pie, Carl Sagan says.
It takes an entire universe to make a banana split, with whip cream
and a cherry on top. It takes an entire universe to make a crazy cake,
the way Mom used to, before she died. No eggs. Just thumb three wells
into the cocoa and the flour, then pour oil into one well, vinegar
into the second, and vanilla into the third. Stir, bake, let cool, and frost
with vanilla frosting. Oh, how I loved it! I couldn’t stop eating.
Stars had to explode to produce all the ingredients. Eons for the wheat.
Think of the skies above the fields and the color of the skies.
Think of the winter wren: 2/3rds of its body is devoted to the production
of song. It’s such a tiny thing, it weighs barely an ounce, but inside
that feathery body the bones hollow and the lungs expand
and the melody and purity of that song keep bubbling and pouring out.
Amazing. The wren is merely a space, an emptiness,
through which song is produced. It is otherwise hardly even there.