Life first appeared on earth about 3.8 billion years ago. The posts here discuss bits of that history as well as its results in present-day organisms. I’m not a scientist, but gaining some understanding of this epic has become increasingly meaningful as I’ve grown older. It intrigues me, consoles me, excites my imagination, and beckons me to see myself and all living things in its light.
The blog also turns out to be about time. We—I, for sure—can’t grasp the abstraction of a million or a billion years. But filling it in with the story of life’s development—such as the evolution of humans over six million years—gives us images and substance for those eons. Time, I keep thinking, resembles a deity: time can’t be grasped directly, but we know it exists because things change.
Within this broad subject matter, the posts here jump around a good deal. For readers looking for themes to get a grip on, here is an outline of topics and some of the relevant posts for each.
1. The Cosmos and the Origins of Life. We don’t know exactly how we living things got started, but we know about the probable process and we know approximately when.
2. The First Two Billion Years: Single Cells. The evolution of the groundwork of life was slooooww, complicated, and vital.
3. Plants and Animals. The longer you look closely, the more you see.
4. The Processes: Emergence and Natural Selection.
5. The Human Body. How we evolved and how our body works. First, we walked on two feet—without a tail.
6. Thinking and Feeling. Our brain gets us by, with some help from irrationality.
7. Competition and Cooperation. Organisms have been competing against and collaborating with each other for a long time. Humans take the second for granted.
8. Aging and Dying. Death frighten me a little less when I think about the long linkages of lives of all kinds before me, around me and after me.
9. Religion and Spirituality. Religions tell us our Story, reassure us about life after death, and urge us to live in certain ways. Can naturalism do the same?