Living things first appeared on earth around 3.8 billion years ago. The posts here discuss bits of that history of life as well as its results in present-day organisms. I’m not a scientist, but gaining some understanding of this epic has become intensely meaningful as I’ve grown older. It intrigues me, consoles me, excites my imagination, and beckons me to see myself and all the living things around me as its outcomes.
The blog also turns out to be about time. We—I, for sure—cannot grasp such spans as a million or a billion years. But filling in the story of the development of life—such as the evolution of humans over six million years–gives images and substance to those eons. Time, I keep thinking, is like descriptions of a deity: something that is not within my capacity to envision but which I catch glimpses of as I learn a little about its slow work.
Within such a broad subject matter, the posts here jump around a good deal. For readers who may wonder what themes link them together, 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 a lot 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 closer and longer you look at them, 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 learned to walk 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?