Angier (born February 16, 1958) is a science writer for the New
York Times. She is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting
in 1991, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science-Westinghouse
writing prize. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York and Michigan,
Angier attended Barnard College. She joined the New York Times in
1990. Angier lives in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Takoma Park,
MD, with her husband, Washington Post science and medical reporter
Rick Weiss, and their daughter, Katherine. Angier is an outspoken
else I might have thought of [President George W.] Bush's call,
with its assumption that prayer is some sort of miracle Vicks
VapoRub for the national charley horse, it's clear that his hands
were reaching for any hands but mine."
I sent out a casual and nonscientific poll of my own to a wide
cast of acquaintances, friends and colleagues, I was surprised,
but not really, to learn that maybe 60 percent claimed a belief
in a God of some sort, including people I would have bet were
unregenerate skeptics. Others just shrugged. They don't think
about this stuff. It doesn't matter to them. They can't know,
they won't beat themselves up trying to know and for that matter
they don't care if their kids believe or not."
the current climate of religiosity can be stifling to nonbelievers,
and it helps now and then to cry foul. For one thing, some of
the numbers surrounding the deep religiousness of America, and
the rarity of nonbelief, should be held to the fire of skepticism,
as should sweeping statistics of any sort. Yes, Americans are
comparatively more religious than Europeans, but while the vast
majority of them may say generically that they believe in God,
when asked what their religion is, a sizable fraction, 11 percent,
report "no religion," a figure that has more than doubled
since the early 1970's and that amounts to about 26 million people."
[The Nation columnist Katha] Pollitt points out, when one starts
looking beneath the surface of things and adding together the
out-front atheists with the indifferent nonbelievers, you end
up with a much larger group of people than Jews, Muslims, Buddhists
and Unitarians put together."
more irritating consequences of our flagrantly religious society
is the special dispensation that mainstream religions receive.
We all may talk about religion as a powerful social force, but
unlike other similarly powerful institutions, religion is not
to be questioned, criticized or mocked."