As far back into the past as human history can be traced, people have pondered the mystery of creation. With only the observable world as their guide, mankind has constructed mythologies since time immemorial in an attempt understand the meaning, or lack thereof, of existence. All creation myths share as a common thread a glimpse of the world as it was understood at the time of the myth’s writing.
Five or six thousand years ago, man observed a flat earth encased in the sky by a heavenly dome and surrounded by a seemingly endless ocean. In antiquity, the flat earth was the center of a universe with a sun and planets that revolved around the earth in concentric circles.
Our forays into space have put to rest any notion of a flat earth. Today, we believe that our current scientific understanding of the universe is relatively more accurate. If our species is fortunate enough to survive another five or six millennia, time will undoubtedly reveal the weaknesses of our current most advanced scientific beliefs.
Our current creation myth suggests that in the beginning, everything that exists was compacted into an infinitesimal point that was so miniscule as to be almost nothing at all. The point of existence was also almost infinitely dense containing the entire mass of the universe within it. 13 to 15 billion years ago, in an instant of cataclysmic explosion the point began to spread out. The matter from the point expanded and expanded reaching out to fill a void of the infinite space of the universe. Eventually the debris from the Big Bang collected together and formed planets, stars, galaxies and solar systems plus a lot of cosmic radiation, dust and debris.
In quantum physics, it has been noted that all things in the universe that appear to be solid matter can also be regarded as energetic entities; thus, waves of energy behave and look like solid particles and vice versa. Known as the theory of particle wave duality, the concept describes the nature of the universe. Energy can be converted to mass and mass to energy. Everything is fundamentally comprised of the same stuff. The light that shines from the sun is the same as the cells of our bodies, the soil of the earth and the waves on the ocean. From a prehistoric universe of infinite energy, one of solidity was born.
Within the substance of massive stars our solar system was born. At intensive core temperatures of millions of degrees, lighter atoms undergo explosive nuclear fusion reactions until they build upon themselves to become the elemental diversity we recognize today upon the periodic table. As the giant stars age, runaway fusion reactions form an inescapable gravitational center until the star explodes into a spectacular supernova that sends shockwaves across entire galaxies scattering celestial dust across space and time. Our sun, our bodies and our earth are comprised of the stuff of radiant stars.
4.5 billion years ago, the gravity of a small star collected into its orbit swirling fragments of matter that eventually formed 8 planets and numerous other planet-like orbs.
Less than one billion years later, on the third planet from the sun, something extraordinary began to take place. The volatile cauldron that was earth’s early environment spewed forth complex molecules that gradually began to develop the capacity to replicate. When molecules began to organize into groups and then into metabolizing energetic systems, life was born. Over the course of the next several billion years, the primitive life forms became increasingly more and more complex. 5.5 million years ago, a large life form decided to stand upright and walk bipedally, then sometime around 100,000 years ago, a species, Homo sapiens, diverged from its genetic ancestors to form the distinct animal that we now call ‘human.’
Our only home is a stunningly beautiful heavenly body dressed in swirling colors of brilliant emerald, sapphire and white. She is Earth, and she is the only known place in a universe of hundreds of billions of galaxies where the miracle of life exists. Her body nourishes trillions upon trillions of organisms each one a unique living soul upon her surface.
Everything that we are comes from her. She nourishes our bodies, provides the air we breathe and the water we drink. We are her children. From her body we are born and to it we return in an endless cycle of life, death and rebirth.
Earth is relatively small by planetary standards. Even within our own solar system, with a diameter of a mere 8,000 miles and a circumference of about 25,000 miles, she is dwarfed by the gaseous giants of Saturn and Jupiter. At just over 1,000 miles per hour, she spins on her axis revolving around the sun at a pace of 67,000 miles per hour making a complete revolution of 93 million miles every 365.25 days.
This is not her only journey. She is but a tiny speck hurtling through space on a galactic arm of the Milky Way known as the Orion Arm . Our bright brilliant sun is one of 300 billion stars in the spiral galaxy, and just as our earth is slave to the gravitational pull of the sun, the sun too is slave to the gravitational pull of the Milky Way’s galactic center completing one complete rotation across the galaxy every 250 million years.
The Milky Way is also entrapped by the expanding forces of the universe that caused creation billions of years ago and is hurtling through the universe at 1.3 million miles per hour .
Given the insignificant space that the Earth occupies in the vast universe, her accomplishments are nothing short of miraculous. She is our home. We have no other. Her fate is our own.