I was sitting on a bench with a cup of coffee in Golden, Colorado’s historic district, a short run of blocks dressed up as a small, thriving western town. The funny thing about so many western towns is that, no matter how nice, clean, groomed, and styled they are, the natural landscape is still usually the star of their show, and that’s how Golden is.

As I sat there with my coffee, I noticed people pulling up in cars, parking, and walking to a local church. I don’t know what sort of church. I guess it was a Sunday, which explains why they were headed to church, and I was drinking coffee on a bench in another state, rather than hauling myself from bike shop to bike shop talking about the durable charms of titanium and the invaluable value of custom bike building.

I will not cast aspersions on the indeterminate religion of these possibly fine people. For all I know they are an animist sect who had only just returned from a session of guttural chanting high on a local peak.

What I will say, is that it’s hard to imagine the need to worship anything inside, when the outside is so clearly the fount of glory. “Why even build a church there?” is what I’m saying.

You might know by now that I’m not a believer, or at the very least, that I am not a believer in humanity’s ability to conjure magic, certainly not inside. I don’t care how beautiful the stained glass is.

I’m a dirtvangelist and this is my testimony.

People are quick to criticize a so-called “religion of science” now (note: beginning of straw man argument), as though science isn’t probing at all the same questions and hasn’t always been. I think religionists might just be jealous that science is finding more answers. In fact, science and religion were the same thing once upon a time, and a lot of ancient animists understood more about nature’s interconnectedness, in real terms, than today’s evolved religions, who seem to view humanity as separate from and more special than the natural world.

The priests were the scientists, mathematicians, and astronomers, until those who felt they were qualified to judge the magic of nature decided that preserving the mystery, and their power, was more important than moving humankind along the curve of understanding. They’re the ones who took us indoors and tried to dazzle us with their own brand of magic.

Sorry. Not buying it. The rabbit was always in the hat.

No. Give me the park bench on a Sunday morning, a mild stimulant, and a view of topography heaved up into the sky by a sliding piece of the Earth’s crust or toppling glacier. The sound of water sluicing through rocks deposited in a river by that same glacier. The sweep of moist wind that carries ocean salt from thousands of miles away. I’ll just sit and contemplate and know absolutely how small I am, what an ephemeral thrash of dust my body is, and how insufficient my thinking and best ideas are when arrayed against the mountains on a morning like that.