Anthropocentric God

Do you consider man to be the most important species in the universe?  Why?  Of the billions of star systems in our galaxy and the billions of galaxies in our universe, do you consider us to be the most dominant life form in the universe simply because we believe we are on earth?  I have found other animals on our planet that might well have better qualities than us.  And what if we compared Homo sapiens to life on other planets in the universe?  And we are fairly certain that other life exist.  We just haven’t found it yet.  And if they have found us, then they are certainly more advanced than we are.  Wouldn’t the most important life form be the most advanced?

I suppose it was natural for our species to allow its countenance to be the face of God.  Since we are the most important life in the universe, God must look like us.  However, our egos are perhaps a little inflated.  In reality, we represent a tiny spec of time on earth and are an even smaller amount of matter within the universe.  We are not that important in the scheme of things.

God is the Creator of our universe and other universes if they exist.  We really don’t know how far God’s creation reaches out.  So, we are a bit presumptuous to think that God looks like us or for that matter, even resembles anything in our existence.  We only know that the Creator exists, but nothing else.  God could be the essence of creation and be no more contained than space itself.  We just do not know and will not until we travel into the afterlife.  And there is no guarantee that we will initially view God after we die.  There may be a process that we will have to undergo in order to reach that final destination.  And some may never reach it.

It seems logical that the universe could be a perpetual motion machine, and we may be elements that are recycled as part of that process.  We know that our bodies decay and the atoms are reused.  We know that stars die and the elements are created from its destruction.  It is most likely that we live in a closed universe that constantly has systems that are dying and then regenerating.  It is possible that our universe is actually a living organism that recycles itself.  If there are other universes, they may play a role in the death and regeneration of our universe.  For example, if there is an anti-matter universe that collides with our universe, it could destroy us.

Again, we have no way of knowing what is going on within and outside our universe.  The best we can do is have faith in God, our Creator, and attempt to unify with God in advance of our deaths, so we will be ready for whatever lies ahead.  If nothing happens and your atoms simply merge into something new, then I will not be thinking and will not have to worry about the afterlife.  But I know that I am thinking now and that to just stop thinking would be rather absurd, knowing that there is very little in life that just ends.  Like I said, there appears to be a strong tendency toward recycling in our universe.

It does not seem likely that we would just stop thinking upon death.  But then, we do have a problem if we continue thinking.  What will we be thinking if we do not have our senses to distract us?  It might be good to think about that before you die.

 

Stromatolites – Our Ancient Ancestors

Our earliest ancestor was a plant, not an animal.  This most ancient ancestor was a stromatolite dating back more than 3.5 billion years ago or about a billion years after our earth was first formed.   Stromatolites consist of blue-green algae that aggregates, creating layers.  Even though most of our early ancestors have gone extinct, stromatolites still exist today.  A large population is located in the Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay in western Australia.

Stromatolites were the most abundant fossils found in rocks dating to the Precambrian era, from the origin of Earth about 4.5 billion years ago to 544 million years ago.  Stromatolites became prolific starting about 2.5 billion years ago, releasing oxygen into the environment which set the stage for animal life.  Both plant and animal kingdoms diversified over the years, but stromatolites remained the same since they were able to adapt to many environments and did not require diversification to survive.  They formerly existed all over the world, but today they are endangered.

Over billions of years, both plants and animals evolved into large trees and dinosaurs, but there were many mass extinctions that cut off the branches in our family tree.  One of the most widely discussed was the death of the dinosaurs, which occurred about 65 million years ago.  The K-T boundary or thin geologic line representing the end of the Cretaceous and beginning of the Tertiary ages included iridium.  Iridium is found primarily in meteors.  This was strong evidence of when the large mountain of a meteor about six miles wide crashed into the Yucatan Penninsula near the town of Chicxulub in Mexico.

Scientists are fairly confident that this meteor caused significant stress on the dinosaur population, but are not certain if this event could have accounted for the mass extinction by itself.  However, if you examine the effects of the meteor’s impact, it might be sufficient.  The impact set off volcanic eruptions, massive earthquakes, and tsunamis, all sending dust and debris into the atmosphere, where it blocked sunlight for centuries.  This created a nuclear winter with temperatures plummeting.  There were wildfires all over earth, causing acid rain.  This sounds pretty convincing, but there is one more piece to this puzzle.

About this same time, a large volcanic eruption occurred in the Deccan Traps located in the northwestern part of the Deccan Plateau in India.  It may be the largest volcanic province in the world, consisting of more than a 6,600-foot depth of basalt lava flows covering an area of 190,000 square miles.  When the event occurred, some estimates show that 580,000 square miles were impacted.  This would have been a significant event, which when combined with the meteor could have been too much for the dinosaurs.

Some scientists believe that the Deccan Traps eruption occurred first about 66 million years ago, lasting for thousands of years, and then the Yucatan meteor smashed into the earth about 65 million years ago, causing a double whammy which wiped out the dinosaurs.  However, it may be more than a coincidence that the Yucatan impact area is on the opposite side of the world from the Deccan Traps.  If you place your finger of your right hand on the area where the meteor landed and a finger of your left hand on the Deccan Traps on a globe of the earth, these locations are eerily opposed to each other.

I don’t believe in coincidences.  I would argue that the time lines need to be reexamined.  It is more likely that the meteor stuck first, which triggered the great Deccan Flats eruption.  Whether this occurred 66 or 65 million years ago is not known, but it must have been closer in time than scientists believe.

Mammals were able to survive these events and over time, an animal called Homo erectus popped up in the east African rift zone about 2 million years ago.  These hominids were able to stand upright, so we believe that we descended directly from them.  Homo sapiens seem to have entered the scene about 500 thousand years ago, and the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens, which is very similar to modern man, can be found about 200 thousand years ago.

Our subspecies just barely hung on after the mega-volcanic eruption at Lake Toba in Indonesia about 75,000 years ago.  This was the biggest eruption that we know about during the history of earth, which caused a nuclear winter just like the Yucatan meteor and Deccan Flats eruption.  Our species came very close to being wiped out.  There were only about a thousand of our species that survived this event, which explains why all humans are so genetically similar.  After surviving the ice age, our species started repopulating the earth about 10,000 years ago.

So the bottom line is that Homo sapiens sapiens has not been king of the earth for very long.  In the great scheme of things, we should examine all our ancestors and realize that we are very insignificant in the great scheme of things, not only in the amount of time that we have occupied the earth, but also in our vulnerability to changes.  We have been very fortunate that we are right in the middle of a warm, moderate period, but will we survive the next ice age or cataclysm?  Time is really not on our side.

Has Man Been Around for Millions of Years?

How long has man been around on our planet?  Well, it depends on your definition of man.  If by   man, you mean Homo sapiens, then the answer is no.  We have only been on earth for about 200,000 years.  But if you mean man to include our ancestor, Homo erectus, the answer is yes.  We have been around about two million years.

The ultimate common ancestor of all modern people was an early Homo erectus in Africa who lived at least 1.8 million years ago.   Early African Homo erectus fossils, dating back to about 1.8 million years ago, are the oldest known early humans to have possessed modern human-like body proportions.  These features are considered adaptations to the loss of earlier tree-climbing adaptations, including the ability to walk and possibly run long distances.

The most complete fossil individual of this species is known as the ‘Turkana Boy’ – a well-preserved skeleton, dating around 1.6 million years old.  Microscopic study of the teeth indicates that he grew up at a growth rate similar to that of a great ape.  The Turkana Boy does not look much like modern man.  Actually, he looks more apelike.  But there is fossil evidence that this species cared for old and weak individuals.  The appearance of Homo erectus in the fossil record is also often associated with the earliest axes, the first major innovation in stone tool technology.

The earliest skeletal evidence of modern man, Homo sapiens, also came from Africa.  These finds were about 200,000 years old.  They then appear in Southwest Asia around 100,000 years ago and elsewhere in the Old World by 60,000-40,000 years ago.  This evidence seems to support the argument that Homo sapiens came out of Africa, sometimes referred to as the “replacement model.”

The alternative model was called “regional continuity,” which theorized that Homo sapiens originated regionally rather than out of Africa.  The DNA data seems to support the regional theory.

Geneticists at Oxford University found that the human betaglobin gene is widely distributed in Asia but not in Africa.  Since this gene is thought to have originated more than 200,000 years ago, it undercuts the claim that an African population of modern Homo sapiens replaced East Asian archaic humans less than 60,000 years ago.

It is apparent that both the complete replacement and the regional continuity models have difficulty accounting for all of the fossil and genetic data, so it might be best to take a middle position, the assimilation theory.  It takes a middle ground and incorporates both of the models.

Gunter Brauer, of the University of Hamburg in Germany, proposed that the first modern humans did, in fact, evolve in Africa, but when they migrated into other regions they did not simply replace existing human populations.  Rather instead, they interbred to a limited degree with late archaic humans resulting in hybrid populations.  In Europe, for instance, the first modern humans appear in the archaeological record rather suddenly around 45,000 years ago.  The abruptness of the appearance of these Cro-Magnon people could be explained by their migrating into the region from Africa via an eastern Mediterranean coastal route.

They apparently shared Europe with Neanderthals for another 12,000 years or more.  During this long time period, it is argued that interbreeding occurred and that the partially hybridized predominantly Cro-Magnon population ultimately became modern Europeans.  In 2003, a discovery was made in a Romanian cave named Peştera cu Oase that supports this hypothesis.  It was a partial skeleton of a 15-16 year old male Homo sapiens who lived about 30,000 years ago or a bit earlier.  He had a mix of old and new anatomical features.  The skull had characteristics of both modern and archaic humans.  This could be explained as the result of interbreeding with Neanderthals according to Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis. 

Alan Templeton, also of Washington University, reported that a computer-based analysis of 10 different human DNA sequences indicated that there has been interbreeding between people living in Asia, Europe, and Africa for at least 600,000 years.  This is consistent with the hypothesis that humans expanded again and again out of Africa and that these emigrants interbred with existing populations in Asia and Europe.  It is also possible that migrations were not only in one direction–people could have migrated into Africa as well.  If interbreeding occurred, it may have been a rare event.  This is supported by the fact that most skeletons of Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon people do not show hybrid characteristics.