Where Do We Come From?
Origin of Life
I have always been curious about the origins of the universe and about the origins of humans in particular.
The proposed process of evolution of apes into man has always fascinated me and made me read a lot of books on this subject. There are a lot of theories put forth by both scholars of science and of religion on this topic. Most theories put forth human life as exclusive to the earth or with earth as the starting point. This universe is made of billions of galaxies and an uncountable number of stars and planets and is continuously expanding. This is happening at such a mind-boggling speed that the human mind is incapable of putting an exact number to this. So considering this in the limited capacity of our mind (at least my mind to be honest), are we so daft as to believe that life exists only on earth? What made earth so special as to warrant this uniqueness? This is my attempt to try and put forth certain theories in a simple way that could explain how we came to be about on this planet…It’s for you to judge which one you agree with on the basis of your religious and scientific discretion. Also, I am not going to debate the merits/demerits of any theory. They are being placed for your own debating/researching pleasure. Read on…
Theory 1 – God created Man in his image.
Almost all organized and large religions in the world subscribe to this view. It puts forth a notion that one fine day God decided that Man should be created to rule the earth. God was chilling out somewhere and announced out of the blue “Let there be light and man on earth!”. Whether Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, whatever be the religion, creation has a common origin. There is a heaven where God(s) reside and they rule over this world. They preach a concept of “life after death” where we ultimately meet God in heaven or are condemned to the fires of hell. Whilst I am a deeply religious and spiritual man, I have always questioned this concept. How is it possible that in this infinitely large universe, only the earth was the subject of this benevolence?
Theory 2 – Theory of Evolution a.k.a Darwinism.
According to Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, life “evolved” on earth. He proposed that complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism’s genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival — a process known as “natural selection”. These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation. Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism. This theory was used to explain the evolution of apes into man and there are fossil records to prove the theory starting from the Australopithecus Afarensis (the first ape to walk upright) of 3.2 million years ago to Homo Habilis then Homo Erectus to Neanderthals and finally to Homo Sapiens, the modern man of today. Someone might question if that is the case, how come apes continue to live on earth and why there is no other evolutionary example available in this particular case? Furthermore, there are gaps in fossil records in between, so how can one deduce continuous and sequential evolutionary process in this case? The Punctuated Equilibrium theory can be used to explain that. When a significant evolutionary change occurs, the theory proposes that it is generally restricted to rare and geologically rapid events of branching speciation called Cladogenesis. Cladogenesis is the process by which a species splits into two distinct species, rather than one species gradually transforming into another. Hence one can assume that whilst one branch of apes decided to turn into humans millions of years ago, well some of them preferred to keep swinging from the trees. This could explain why apes and humans continue to co-exist on this planet. (Some human beings around us are proof that we did evolve from the apes, don’t you agree? ☺)
Theory 3 -The most interesting one and laced with controversies, “ALIENS/Ancient Astronauts”!
According to this theory (and most avid fans of the History channel would agree), Aliens came to Earth thousands of years ago and created/placed/gave birth to the first humans on this planet. There are many complex structures created on this earth like the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuaman, Nazca lines, Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, Teotihuacán, Easter Island Moai that are believed to be built by aliens. All these structures have solid physics, mathematics and engineering principles involved in it which, considering the time when they were built, were not even discovered by man. Proponents of the ancient astronaut hypotheses often maintain that humans are either descendants or creations of Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (ETI) who landed on Earth thousands of years ago. An associated idea is that humans evolved independently, but much of human knowledge, religion, and culture came from extraterrestrial visitors in ancient times and in a way ancient astronauts acted as a mother culture to the modern humans.
Theory 4 – Panspermia.
Panspermia is a hypothesis proposing that microscopic life forms that can survive the effects of space, such as extremophiles, become trapped in debris ejected into space after collisions between planets and small Solar System bodies that harbour life. Some organisms may travel dormant for an extended amount of time before colliding randomly with other planets or intermingling with protoplanetary disks. Under certain ideal impact circumstances (into a body of water, for example), and ideal conditions on a new planet’s surfaces, it is possible that the surviving organisms could become active and begin to colonize their new environment. So this in effect was the starting point of the theory of evolution wherein some chemical process facilitated creating of life creating molecules and which then went on to form superlative forms of life eventually leading to forming the modern man.
I keep thinking about our origins. It must have been such an exhilarating process, this process of creation. And whilst it seems easy in our minds in terms of the passage of time, it is humanly impossible to fully understand the tricks, twists and turns involved. My rational mind rejects the “God created man in his image” theory though.
Epilogue: In this vast universe with billions of galaxies and trillions of stars and planetary ecosystems, I believe that there is absolutely no chance that we are alone or that life exists only on the earth. It is possible that there could be forms of life on other planets but they are so far away and unreachable beyond our understanding of space and time that we just do not know. There might just be a civilization across our known world and far more technologically advanced beyond our comprehension who might just have seeded earth a few hundred thousand years ago. Well, who knows? The way we are trying to search for alien life, maybe someone is trying to search for us…makes you think, doesn’t it?