A.N. didn’t taste beef until he was 21 years old. When he did, he had just arrived in America following a childhood spent in his native India. Millions of Hindus abstain from eating their sacred cows. America, he quickly found, was different from his home country. The world’s most technologically advanced nation not only subsisted on Big Macs, it also had Christian evangelicals who asked strangers in college cafeterias if they had been saved by Christ.
Because he stopped believing in God at an early age, A.N. was not severely impacted by his conclusion that the universe is neither created nor governed by a celestial guider. To A.N., critical reasoning, the ability to use one’s own mind to discover facts about the world, is perhaps the most valuable personal skill. He’s grateful that he’s been able to foster that ability in himself.