Water is the essential component that created the necessary womb-conditions for life to spring. When Earth was young and molten there was not a single drop of water on her surface and it is yet unclear exactly how water formed and prevailed. Some of the water most probably came from comets, which are huge frozen chunks of ice that crashed on the planet in her early age. However, most of the water that we have today was formed by the process of chemical reactions that hydrogen and oxygen initiated bonding together. Earth is rich in iron and those first oceans contained much of it as well. The atmosphere was dense from the greenhouse activity of volcanoes and mainly composed of carbon dioxide and methane. A lot of research has been done on ancient rocks that are like time-machines telling us what Earth was in ancient times.
The particles that make up all matter have the peculiar property to bond and combine with each other, so to form ever complex systems. Almost like an intrinsic urge it is that atoms combine into molecules and molecules combine with one another with the billions and create elegant structures of amazing complexity from stars to our brains. However, complex systems evolve in time and no complex system is assembled at once from the very first time. That is, matter and molecular structures evolve and better themselves through time and collective experience. Mostly I refer to life on Earth.
Thus, following this fundamental principle of unfolding complexity based on collective experience life evolved from a single type of unicelled bacteria, the prokaryotes. These first living things were very simple molecular structures, more like chemical programs that synthesized chemical molecules and used them as a biofuel for their simple cellular processes to sustain their system and to divide, that is reproduce. Earth has been practically devoid of oxygen in her first few billion years of her existence, geological research concludes. So the first generations of organisms lived on other elements like iron, methane and hydrogen. Research has also shown that life began in the warm and chemically rich oceans. The first plants also evolved in the ocean beads. Terrestrial volcanic activity is linked to rapid increase in oxygen levels in the atmosphere some 60 million years ago, which just coincides with the evolutionary boom of mammalian life. However, when ocean weeds gradually began to take over the shores some 500 million years ago and then embraced the whole surface of the Earth, they synthesized carbon from the carbon-rich atmosphere and transformed it into oxygen. Oxygen that was to become the fundamental life-giving molecule for life on this planet. Life on Earth is a closed system, that is every creature is sustained by other creatures in the form of the food chain and symbiosis.
For instance, all oxygen breathing life is in an inseparable symbiosis with the plant life, as we breathe what plants exhaust and plants breathe what we exhale. This is the closed ring of life that established itself hundreds of millions of years ago. In fact, breathe and breathing is so intimately imprinted in our genetic memory that much of human mythology and spiritual symbolism is associated with the act of breathing. For example, in Genesis we read that God breathed in the soul of the first human. We associate the mouth as the opening through which the soul leaves with the final breathe of the diseased. Even the etymology of words like “spirit” and “soul” derive from the words for “breathe” and “breathing”. Which is quite an interesting symbolism, that is created spontaneously and unconsciously and is associated with cellular memory, that is with the collective memory of the species and not that of the individual.
There is this ongoing debate between religious creationists and evolutionists, that is the old debate between science and religion. This debate is the result of nothing else but our limited minds and narrow understanding of the world and ourselves, with emphasize on the general lack of understand of ourselves, our psyche and the workings of human psychology. Because religion is a spiritual fruit of the human psyche and ironically we are unable to analyze and understand the symbolism of our own soul. However, we shall discuss the genesis and meaning of religion and religious symbolism in a lecture to follow.
Observing the development of life on Earth by indirect means of anthropology, geology, archaeology, carbon dating and real-time observations people with ability to think and analyze matters objectively had slowly revealed the timeline of evolution of life on this planet. Let us briefly summarize what the concept of “evolution” describes – Evolution is the constant change of life in order for it to be optimally adapted so to ensure its survival. Evolution is the process of development, which began from the birth of those very first bacteria billions of years ago and which continues until this day and will continue as long as there is life on Earth.
Because change is a constant that is ever in motion, nothing is static.
Returning to this moment when inanimate matter bonded in such a way that gave birth to life, provided the right environmental conditions were present of course. One may think that this whole life phenomenon is no phenomenon at all and rather it is a predetermined consequence that lies on the path of this cosmic principle of ever more complex systems. And yes, this is quite true if we think in mathematical terms and make some simple calculations we will come to the conclusion that somewhere out there must be at least one more planet with life similar to the one here. It`s just that if you make more calculations you will realize that the cosmos is so incredibly huge and the distances involved are so tremendous that there is a very good chance that no life will ever encounter another in this vast Universe. Even if you travel with the speed of light, you will still need billions of years and no matter is able to travel beyond the speed of light and remain in a state of matter, that is if a space ship is to travel beyond the speed of light it will dissolve and disappear as though it went into a black hole. But, I truly wonder why do people dream of alien life so, when there is so much life and beauty in this planet and there is so much to learn and understand, so much to create and so much problems to fix and settle that plague humanity today.
I think we should concentrate on our own development and evolution of our minds, and just maybe when we reach a certain level of our mental evolution we just might encounter other minds but in a quite different way than science fiction movies imagine.
Again, on the primitive debate between science and religion, primitive religion says “God created all life in an instant with magic wand in six days.” and primitive science says “There is no God, the Universe is a meaningless void of chaos and emptiness and life is a random generation of confused molecules.” The truth is that our knowledge and understanding is still in its infancy and there is much ahead of us. Because what we refer to God, or the Creator of the Universe and life is a very real and fundamental principle in quantum physics that sets things into motion and without it there would be no definite states, nor forms or complex structures. This is the observer principle. Since, we know that life existed long before humans were around to observe it and the Universe existed long before Earth got around, there must be a cosmic observer that was aware of this Universe from her very beginning. This Cosmic Mind is the Creator, but it is by no means the religious concept of God having human face and human emotions. The Universe moves guided by fundamental laws and principles and it does not suddenly shift by her will, as though if it gets angry and orders a massive flood to punish naughty humans. I do not intend to go deeper into my insight about the nature of reality just yet, but we know nothing about God and what this Universe is. The Universe does not have a religion, only humans do.
After this brief and unavoidable divergence from our current topic of evolution of life, let us go back to it and continue our mental journey back in time.
After the dinosaurs died out, nature reevaluated its evolutionary path and everything became smaller and more compact. It seems that huge size for both animals and plants was not sustainable for our planet and in the course of time it changed its ways and mammals branched off as the new all-promising breed of life. Carbon dating the anthropological remains found we estimate that around 2.5 million years the first Hominid branched off all other animals. These ancient human-like creatures had little in common with modern day humans and were simply the evolutionary trial version of what was to lead to us. Of course, globally thinking the appearance of the first bacteria was to ultimately lead to us, since we are at the top of the evolutionary tree. As if the Universe purposely wished to lead evolution to manifestation of living consciousness, so that it can know herself better.
Finally, the first skeletons that absolutely match modern day human skeletons we found date at around 200 thousand years ago, that is when Homo Sapiens branched off all other Homo species and took on its road to total domination. Now, the concept that humans are descendants of apes is a big misunderstanding of Darwin’s theory that was turned into religious propaganda by the institution of the church. Firstly, we can also say that humans are descendants of prokaryotes or the first living bacteria, as well. Second, even though we apparently have such a close genetic structure to apes compared to all other mammals Homo Sapiens is descendant of Homo species that for one reason or another evolved to be much different than apes. And apes and Homo Sapiens were two different branches of the mammalians that led to the Homo strain down at the crossroad where this evolutionary divergence began to take place. In other words, all animals are descendants of each other in this planet and apes today do not evolve into humans simply because they never were from the Homo Sapiens family.
It took really long, long time for Homo Sapiens to develop civilization, but once they did it our race plunged into an ever progressing spiral of advancement. Mostly in terms of external development of our environment to suit our needs for a comfortable and effortless existence. Homo Sapiens apparently did nothing but to simply survive living very much like all other animals lived for more than 150 thousand years. But then, gradually something in our minds began to awaken and to realize the world that was surrounding us, even more these awakening minds began to interprete this world and to express themselves. The need for self-expression gave birth to the first art we find in caves from the Stone Age period of our development in the form of cave drawings the oldest of which, found so far, dates back to approximately 32 thousand years located in France.
The brilliant human mind embarked on the journey of understanding the world around and the world within. Since we will be discussing genesis of religious thought in another lecture, let`s tackle another interesting concept of the human mind – beauty. Our perception of beauty when applied to other humans and particularly to representatives of the opposite sex roots deep as an evolutionary aid to one of the two fundamental instincts – reproduction. Beauty is generally associated with proportionality and symmetry. Symmetrical proportions of facial and body features convey good genes, which is all that evolution looks for. So, considering that every form of behavior in animals is triggered for a reason and usually has a very practical purpose we can follow down the basic principles that gave rise to the concept of beauty, that later on developed further into a great part of our social behavior.
Our perception of beauty is the practical quest of evolution to produce healthy and better offspring. Of course, we humans have developed to appreciate the character of the person as well, which on numerous instances is far more important than shallow beauty in regard to creating a good and stable family environment, where the parents stay together and get along well so that they rear up their offspring and provide them with affection and protection. Still, the magnetism of beauty are undeniable and next time when you see a man or a woman you feel attracted to, remember that what you experience is instincts and evolution in action!
However, our perception of the beauty has another aspect that is not related to other humans looks, but to scenery and inanimate objects. We look to a nature scene and consider it beautiful, we see beauty in color combinations and shapes. This is the artistic inspiration that created all forms of art and poetry. A true mystery of the human mind, closely related to this intrinsic property of human psyche – spirituality.