"For what it may be worth, I'll say that a wide lobe of my own brain finds it hard to believe that the maker of anything so vast and still so mysterious as our universe — and of who knows what beyond it — is permanently concerned with how I behave in relation to my diet (so long as I'm not a cannibal or a cruel killer of other edible creatures) or how I use my genitals for anything besides excretion (so long as those organs don't do willful damage to another creature, above all to a child) or how I wear my hair (so long as it doesn't propagate disease-bearing vermin) or with a good deal else that concerns and even distresses many religious people. I can understand a person's or community's strict observance of certain codes for the purposes of discipline and tribal identity; but to attribute the establishment of such codes to the eternal and inalterable will of God seems to me a deeply questionable, if not absurd, choice.

"As for his firm expectations of me, I strongly suspect that God cares how I treat the planet Earth, its nonhuman inhabitants, its atmosphere, and eventually outer space. Above all, the Creator intends that I honor the bodies and minds of my fellow human beings — whomever and from wherever — and that I must likewise alleviate, as unintrusively as possible, any harm they suffer from others or from nature itself; and I must attempt to repair any harm that I may have done to others. I believe I know that my own grave wrongs have involved a self-absorbed indifference to the feelings and the mental stability of other human beings. Those errors have generally occurred in relations that involved erotic desire; and I've spent a fair amount of tie, even now when paraplegia has severely curbed my scope, in contemplating those wrongs with real regret."