" When one ponders on the tremendous journey of evolution over the past three billion years or so, the prodigious wealth of structures it has engendered, and the extraordinarily effective teleonomic performances of living beings from bacteria to man, one may well find oneself beginning to doubt again whether all this could conceivably be the product of an enormous lottery presided over by natural selection, blindly picking the rare winners from among numbers drawn at random. [Nevertheless,] a detailed review of the accumulated modern evidence [shows] that this conception alone is compatible with the facts. "
" …I came to understand that while many of us might default to measuring our lives by summary statistics, such as number of people presided over, number of awards, or dollars accumulated in a bank, and so on, the only metrics that will truly matter to my life are the individuals whom I have been able to help, one by one, to become better people. "
" Well,” I said, “you obviously have some power. You chased off those hooligans with rotten fruit. Perhaps you have banana-kinesis? Or you can control garbage? I once knew a Roman goddess, Cloacina, who presided over the city’s sewer system. Perhaps you’re related…?”Meg pouted. I got the impression I might have said something wrong, though I couldn’t imagine what. "
" By the Middles Ages it was a sin to have sex with a child. If an adult were guilty of such a sin, one remedy was to declare the child a witch. The child thus became an offender who "beguiled" the adult with the power of the Evil One. Understanding this process puts a new light on the burning of witches. A Catholic bishop in Wurttemberg in the seventeenth century writes, for example, of his sadness at having presided over the burning of three hundred young girls that year and of his wonder if the church were making a mistake. "