He was four years old when his father told him that every day, all day long, the Earth spins around on its axis. Like a top, he said.
Since it wasn’t story time — he and his father were visiting the Natural History museum — he understood that he was meant to believe this extraordinary bit of information.
As his father explained it, this motion of the Earth accounted for the passage of Day and Night: Day being when the planet faced the Sun and Night when it had turned its back on that star and let the moon reflect the solar beams.
The Earth. Spinning. Just like a basketball player might set a ball spinning on the tip of his finger.
It could not be true.
“Dad, the ground isn’t moving.”
“It doesn’t feel like it’s moving,” his father said,”but it is.”
Was his body was lying to him?
Beneath his feet, the ground was perfectly still. The walls of the museum around them betrayed no subtle swaying. The visitors mooching about the exhibit hall walked upright and confident.
He looked at his father’s face, studied it closely, and finally, shrugged. He concluded that he would accept this ridiculous idea, not because it had any particular merit, but because it was the accepted way to account for Day and Night. As such, it was like any other story. And this was how he understood faith — a patently fabulous story accepted as a means of grasping the world, making it seem less alien and incomprehensible, bringing it down to human-sized understanding.
Still, faith did not sit well with him.
Not from the very start.