TO BELIEVE OR NOT TO BELIEVE
EVOLUTION OF A RELUCTANT ATHEIST
This is a story about a little girl named Judy.
One of her earliest memories is of a nightly ritual. As she lay in bed awaiting sleep, she tried to understand the meaning of the word “forever.” She knew when she died she went to heaven or hell for forever. She tried to picture, imagine, and reach to the end of forever. But forever was forever. It did not end. It kept being there. It would not finish. It tumbled over and over into eternity, a word she did not know. She kept pushing for an end. But there was no end. How could there be an end to forever? Trying to find forever was a feat she never accomplished. Her quest ended in sleep.
The book is also a story of the grown-up quest of the little girl. If there be no end, was there a beginning? When and what and where and why and how was the beginning? The nuns in Sunday School taught her God was the answer. In childhood that simple explanation was enough.
Now, as an adult, she searches for all the answers to the questions of the beginning and the end.
With scientific truths but in laymen words and bountiful pictures, the first chapter outlines the beginnings of our natural world. Enjoy the evidence.
A scientific journey from Earth’s beginnings to Homo sapiens beginnings:
The birth of planet Earth occurred four and one half billion years ago. At 550 million years ago the Cambrian Explosion caused the birth of the major groups of animals in the fossil record―Mollusks (animals with soft bodies and hard shells such as snails, oysters, and mussels); Arthropods (animals with jointed limbs and hard external skeletons such as insects, spiders, and crustaceans); and Chordates (animals with backbones such as fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals). At seven million years ago our primate forebears split into simians/apes or hominins/menlike. The Homo genus did not appear until 200,00 years ago and Homo sapiens not until 50,000 BCE.
Samplings from Chapter Three and Four
In the first person the little girl tells the story of her history on her mother’s side.
I jump forward about 199,800 years from the first-known generic progenitors of Homo sapiens to my first-known, actual ancestor—great-great-great-great-grandmother Norse. I don’t know her first name, but I have her picture, taken in 1866 when she was 100 years old, and also the chair she sat in at the time of her portrait. She died in 1868 at the age of 102. From these statistics I calculated Grandmother Norse was born in 1766, nine years prior to the start of the American Revolution.
The chapter includes my subsequent grandmothers and the exploits of my mother and my mother’s sister. Both feminists. My aunt’s story ends in tragedy while my mother’s ends with her marriage to my father on New Year’s Eve, 1935.
The little girl’s father’s forebears are from Ireland and Scotland. Great-great grandfather Patrick Morrison arrives in Lynn, Massachusetts at age thirty-two in 1848. He marries twice, has thirteen children and his very last daughter, born when he was fifty-nine, is my father’s mother. My father is the second child of a close family of five.
After four chapters Judy’s story begins. Follow her “coming of age” experiences in the forties and fifties. At age thirty-two, she embraces atheism, but only from the security of the closet. In the last section of the book, she spends ten years searching for the truth to the beginnings of life, be it God or evolution. This book is her answer to the when, what, where, why, and how of our beginnings.