Chapter 8: Evolution – A 4-Billion-Year Journey

How do you wrap your head around 4-billion years? This is how long life is estimated to have been evolving on earth. How many life cycles have occurred in our own evolution? Early in evolution, life cycles would have been very short. Thus, there must have been billions and billions of life cycles from the start of life on earth to our present day! So, evolution is a very slow process. Evolution deals with time periods of millions and billions of years. We experience time periods in relationship to our own lives; such as periods of 1, 10, 50, or 100 years.

Evolution occurs by changes to the DNA, the code that builds and maintains living systems. DNA changes through a couple of ways, by combining DNA from its parents, and by copying errors. With these changes, new life forces are either better or worse suited to survive in their environment. The better suited living systems prosper, while the poorer suited are out-positioned and die off.

Based on our evolution, we are truly alive when we are immersed in natural settings. All our senses are stimulated and engaged. This is the environment that we have evolved in during our 4-billion-year journey. That is why I believe we long for nature.

All life is assumed to have evolved from the first single celled organism on earth, about 4-billion-years ago. This means that all life is related! We have just gone down different paths on our journey through space (the environment) and time. We could be extinct, or a tree, or a fish or any other life force. The tree of life below represents the evolutionary relationships between all living things that have ever lived.

We need to try and prevent significant environmental changes, as evolution is too slow of a process to help us deal with such changes. We are now realizing that our impact on the planet has been so significant that scientists are calling this impact one of the great periods of global extinction in the history of life on earth.

This process of evolution has lead us to our self-awareness; are we the universe looking back upon itself? As the dominate life force on earth, we need to be doing a better job caring for our garden, the planet earth.

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