A pinhole is all it took to weave the fabric of space and time. Existence was ripped out of nothingness and light was born. In that very first instant, the beauty and horror of the cosmic circus commenced.
Matter and antimatter annihilated each other spewing energy into the newly colonized space. The fabric of space itself stretched at speeds even faster than light. Protons and neutrons began their courtship and the basic building blocks that made everything that ever was and ever will be came together.
Just about ten minutes after the show got underway the fusion furnace kicked into gear and our first elemental nuclei came off the production line. Hydrogen showed itself in all its glory. But with 99.9999999999996% of the atom’s total size being vacant space, there was little to flaunt. Future atoms would prove to be only slightly more endowed.
A billion or so years later, the cosmic temper tantrum cooled off. Matter found itself uncontrollably attracted to other matter. Clouds of gasses pulled in closer and closer until the heat and friction of these galactic orgies ignited the first stars into brilliant radiance. Most of the elements that compose my morning coffee, in addition to the brain that craves the substance, came from massive explosions from far away stars.
Some of these stars ejected just enough dust and gas at just the right speeds and just the right angles to form what would eventually become the sun and the little ball of rock we now claim as our home. Fortunately for us, the little ball of rock survived an onslaught of collisions with other balls of rock and ice that left behind massive oceans. This provided the perfect broth for the very soup that sparked life on our blue planet.
Nearly one billion years after Earth first formed, single-celled life forms came out of the shadows. They were the only residents for more than two billion years before life took a great leap into complex life forms. It is possible that it all happened when two single-celled organisms bumped into each other in just the right way that one absorbed the other into its own body. While the absorbee became a kind of fuel cell, the absorber got to spend more of its time focused on eating up more energy. The more energy it could consume the more it could reproduce. With this new drive for energy consumption and reproduction the evolution of life on Earth reached new heights.
For over a billion years the colorful almanac of life continually unfolded upon the world. Humans too were part of this process. And even though we don’t really like to admit it, we are no more evolved than any other species of life that currently resides here. Everything still living is equally evolved for different traits. The only way we could ever claim to be the most evolved species is when we have finally killed off all other life on this planet. But that’s setting the bar pretty low for an evolved species.
This is not to deny the fact that we have evolved in some ways that others have not. Our conscious intelligence has unquestionably evolved beyond most other known species. It is the driving force powering our curiosity. It is why we love, why we lie, why we question existence and why stepping in dog shit gets us so upset.
Culturally we have evolved even faster than our biology ever could because we continually pass on the experiences and innovations of those who came before us. From man-made fire and the wheel to belief systems, art and all scientific discovery, knowledge from the past are bricks in the foundation for future generations to build upon.
This is exactly why scientific discovery is the cornerstone of our civilization. The more that we learn about the universe and ourselves as a species, the closer we get to attaining a deeper understanding of our place in the cosmos, our place in time and our place in society. We have the ability to improve ourselves within our own lifetimes and as a species in general.
Altruism, social justice and kindness are the inevitable byproducts of our learned intelligence and our quest to improve ourselves as a species. Morality is an evolved human trait. It is the outcome of biological and cultural evolution. Belief systems have been very valuable to our cultural development; but it is our humanness, not our beliefs, that make us moral creatures.
We are composites of molecules, some created at the very beginning and some created when stars exploded into supernovae. Though mostly vacant space, our bodies' atoms are bonded together in a way that gives us structure, gives us mass and provides vessels for our thoughts to form and dissipate. Our happiness, anger, hunger and satisfaction are fluxes of energy among atomic bonds. We have the ability to observe these emotions, shape them, and continually improve upon them.
We come from a string of life forms that have evolved to colonize every possible nook of this planet. We have the ability to learn not only from our own mistakes but also from those who came before us. We are laying the foundation for future generations to build upon and we should all commit ourselves to continued scientific discovery and support others who do so for the benefit of all.