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That narcissistic feeling


A sense of wonder
Sherwin Nuland Surgeon
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In recent years, I've met several environmentalists… two in particular, actually a married couple, John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, who have joint appointments at the Divinity School and the Forestry School. And as I talked to them about their great love of the environment, what comes through, without having to delve at all for it, is this great sense of wonder at the universe, at Nature, at what a human being is, at what came before the Big Bang and how it fits with this great reverence that they have for Nature. And both of them are devoutly religious people. They believe in evolution, everything that any scientist believes in. They continue to believe in the power of an eternal God. And I have always had enormous respect for people of deep faith.

My wife is a woman of deep faith. I can understand where that comes from, in her and in other people, of deep faith. Of course, a lot of people of supposed deep faith are hypocrites, unfortunately, which gives a bad name to everybody, but it has to do with this sense of wonder, which to me is completely in Nature, completely in biochemistry and physics… and I don't have to have anything else to explain it.

But in those people, it extends to the wonder of what they conceive of as God.

Sherwin Nuland (1930-2014) was an American surgeon and author who taught bioethics, the history of medicine, and medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. He wrote the book How We Die which made The New York Times bestseller list and won the National Book Award. He also wrote about his own painful coming of age as a son of immigrants in Lost in America: A Journey with My Father. He used to write for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time, and the New York Review of Books.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Grimm

Duration: 2 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2011

Date story went live: 04 November 2011