The mystery of life on planet Earth has intrigued humans from the beginning of time. To begin to understand the mysteries of Earth and Life, requires an appreciation for the evolutionary process involved in the creation of planet Earth. I have been writing about the destiny of Creation, but failed to develop the basis for understanding the formation of the natural world. This article helps establish a better appreciation of how our natural surroundings evolved and support life systems. Modern day scientific data, astrophysics and archeological discoveries confirm that our solar system, including earth, was born some 4.5 billion years ago. Earth is the largest of the rocky, terrestrial planets that orbits relatively close to the sun. Our planet consists of a molten core primarily of iron, a mantle of elements and less dense minerals and a crust. Earth’s crust is divided into several tectonic plates which are constantly moving and shifting, resulting in the eruption and escape of some of the core molted lava. Earthquakes and volcanic activities occur along the fault lines of the tectonic plates. With the growth of the continents, the tectonic plates enlarged to where the Earth today has about two dozen large lithospheric plates which are moving west about 3 ½ inches annually.
Earth is the only planet in the Universe where we know life exists and fossil and geochemical records suggest life began soon after the comet and asteroid activity slowed significantly. The formation of our solar system and planet Earth began an evolutionary process of development for the next 4 billion years. Based upon archeological finds, it is estimated the human species first appeared about 650 million years ago.
Today, there remains a major question over the formation of our Universe, solar systems and planets. One cannot argue against the fact that there was a cataclysmic event that resulted in the creation of the different Universes, the various solar systems and planets, but what caused this event? For thousands of years human beings, even primitive societies, have found the answer to this question in their religious beliefs. It is known today, as “Intelligent Design”. Science, on the other hand, has not been able to find definitive proof, and therefore tends not to accept the intelligent design concept.
An in-depth study of the evolutionary formation of planet Earth, I believe reveals the orderliness, connectedness, relationships and detailed designs which supports the intelligent design concept. Close to ten million different species have been identified on our planet and science projects there remains millions more unidentified species. Each individual organism, from the tiniest microbe to the giant mammals, contributes in some way to the environment that provides life on Earth. Fossil evidence indicates simple one cell life began on Earth 3.7 billion years ago and are known today as cyanobacteria. Life on Earth requires liquid water, organic molecules, and a reliable source of energy. One of the most important innovations developed by early life forms was the ability to transform available sunlight into energy required to drive their internal biologic processes and known as photosynthesis. The rise and proliferation of photosynthetic organisms in the Archean period, and especially of the oxygen-producing cyanobacteria, had a profound impact on the composition of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. This was the element required to initiate the evolutionary process that supported the development of our natural world. It took over 3 billion more years of development before the first signs of the hominid species began to appear. Hominids are generally large tail-less primates that use their hands to hunt and gather food. Interestingly, chimpanzees and human share 98.4 percent of their DNA, indicating a close linkage between the two species, however a direct connection between the two species is still lacking.
Homo sapiens are relatively new to Earth. Fossil records and archaeological finds in Africa show the arrival of modern humans was at least 200 thousand years ago. There is some speculation that homo sapiens may have arrived much earlier, but there remains no scientific data supporting this theory. The first humanoids were hunter-gathers who relied upon their natural surroundings for food and shelter. They were literally a part of the natural world and survived based upon their ability to read the land and understand the connections they shared with nature and other life forms. History has provided numerous examples of the rise and fall of civilizations throughout the world, yet the human species has adjusted, survived and spread over the entire planet. The emergence of modern humans, when combined with the emergence of science and technology has had a profound adverse impact on planet Earth. The development of agriculture around the end of the last ice age and the construction and expansion of cities and transportation systems, has resulted in massive removal and distribution of plants, and even changes in the geology and topography of the surface of Earth. The most alarming changes occurred with the introduction of the industrial revolution, two hundred years ago, which has accelerated the human destruction of our natural world. The resulting changes in climate conditions throughout the world and the slowly increasing sea levels due to ice melting on land, will present serious issues for generations to come. Our remaining forest covered lands represent a large portion of what remains of our natural world and are vital for future life on Earth.
The Earth is what we call a “closed system” in that it produces everything needed to ensure the life and growth of all inhabitants, including humans. In other words, our ability to live and grow depends upon the elements provided by Mother Earth, as do all living creatures that live on earth. We are therefore, connected to and dependent upon our natural surroundings for life. People are but a small link in the circle of life and we depend upon nature to provide the essential requirements to sustain life on this planet. Within the system, where all things are connected, there is a delicate balance that must be maintained. When we upset the balance of nature, it directly effects all people and other creatures. This connection we share, can be demonstrated using a variety of examples.
The trees of our forests are one example of how closely connected we are to nature. Most of us are aware of the many products we harvest from the trees within our forests. These include lumber to build our houses, paper to write on or print newspapers, fruit and nuts we eat, firewood to heat many homes and the list goes on. How many of you realized that we must have trees to actually live today? Trees are truly required by almost all life on our planet, but for important things like storage of carbon dioxide, production of oxygen, purification of drinking water, and soil erosion prevention. Produces from the forests are secondary.
Our challenge is to understand the relationships we share and require from the natural world and implement realistic changes that will allow Earth to continue to provide the elements required for future life, including human beings.