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[First Things Online; November 6, 2007]
For some time now I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s terrific 2003 book, A Short History of Nearly Everything. (You should interpret “some time” to mean “a pretty long time,” because not only is this a hefty-sized book, it’s about science.) In his introduction Bryson, an entertaining travel writer, explains how he came to write a book about the origins of life, the universe, and everything. He says that when he was in the fourth or fifth grade the cover of his science text showed the earth with a quarter cut away, revealing an interior neatly arranged in colorful layers. Not only did Bryson enjoy the thought of unsuspecting motorists sailing off the edge,