By John Burgeson, www.burgy.50megs.com
In November, we talked about the size of the universe. It is not only very large, it is also very old. 13,500,000,000 (13.5 billion) years old. That was when time itself began, at the so-called “Big Bang.” It was not a "bang,"; there was no noise -- rather it was a very very fast unfolding of the material universe, including space itself(!) from an incredibly small point. From our viewpoint, not much happened until 4,500,000,000 (4.5 billion) years ago when the earth began to form. The sun had been created and the planets came into being as matter collapsed to form a glowing hot sphere. Earth was inhospitable at first; then it began to cool.
About 3,500,000,000 (3.5 billion) years ago the first life appeared. Arguments in the scientific community abound as to exactly when this happened, and how it happened. These arguments are likely to persist for many years, perhaps forever. The Christian scriptures record that it DID happen, and Who caused it; they do not explain how, or when. Life evolved from the simple to the complex, see Dawkins' THE ANCESTOR'S TALE, reviewed in the Bugle some months ago, for one story, skillfully told. About 225,000,000 (225 million) years ago, the dinosaurs evolved. They held dominion over the earth for millions of years; our ancestors were small mammals scampering around under their feet.
It was about 3,000,000 (3 million) years ago, when the first hominids (beings that looked somewhat like us) appeared. According to Dawkins, some of these beings, 250,000 generations ago, were the ancestors of you and me! Then, about 8,500 years ago, civilization developed as humanity discovered the technologies of farming and began to build cities. Before this time, humans were primarily hunter-gatherers.
Lets make a model, condensing all earth history into one year, last year. It is midnight, December 31, 2005. The big bang happened two years ago, at midnight on December 31, 2004.
On April 1, 2006 the first life (bacteria) appeared. It was not, however, until September 1, 2006, that Eukaryotes (protozoans and plankton) evolve. The next "event" observed were corals and jellyfish appearing on November 12.
Fish were present on November 20, and quickly thereafter (November 29) amphibians (toads and frogs) emerged. For the first time life appeared on dry ground. Insects came on December 3 and seed plants the next day (December 4).
On December 13, dinosaurs arose. They disappeared the day after Christmas.
Birds on December 15; flowers on December 20. Carnivore mammals (lions and tigers and bears -- O my)* on December 25. At 6:00 in the evening of December 31 the first primates, looking a lot like us, were present. At six minutes to midnight the first humans.
At 11:59 PM, (8,500 years ago) civilization began. As we observed the stroke of midnight, 2006, we reflected that the birth of Christ was 14 seconds ago; Rico was founded less than a second ago.
Boggles the mind. But that's the way it is.
John Burgeson, for the Rico Bugle
* From Dorothy in the WIZARD OF OZ