A Layman’s Cosmology: Speculation on Earth’s Evolution and the Emergence of Humankind

By Henry Christopher

In “A Layman’s Cosmology: Speculation on the Origin of Existence and God,” I speculated “It would appear that Existence might be likened to a vast, endless sea of particles and atoms, with the potential, as Aristotle saw it, to be made into an infinite variety of substances. All that was wanting was a being with the mind to create.” I noted a Creator with a consciousness to love and bring about harmony in creation — modeled after His/Her own being — emerged from this sea of existence.

This article explores the possibilities of how God worked through the evolution of the earth to prepare for the arrival of humankind.

Scientists tell us the universe is 13.8 billion years old, while the earth is 4.5 billion years old. In our reckoning, that is a long period: plenty of time for the Creator to experiment, test, prepare, and develop step-by-step an ideal physical environment and introduce humankind to that world.

According to geological evidence, earth scientists have divided the history of the planet into major eras, periods and epochs in order to track the evolution of earth’s chemical, geological, biological, and climate events. It took four billion years for earth to form out of a volcanic, molten mass, and for life to be introduced.

First, in the Precambrian Era, major developments took place to make the earth capable of supporting life: earth’s molten mass had to cool off and form a solid crust; the chemical composition of the atmosphere had to develop, water introduced, and oceans formed. During the first billion years, a magnetic field formed around the earth, which kept the planet’s atmosphere from dissipating into the vast solar system. Without our atmosphere, life on earth would not exist, as is the case with the Moon and other planets in our solar system.

The evolution of plants, fish and animals started in the sea, where they remained for at least 600 million years. In the absence of a protective ozone layer, the land was bathed in lethal levels of UV radiation. Once photosynthesis raised atmospheric oxygen levels high enough, the ozone layer formed, making it possible for living things to venture onto the land.

The Paleozoic Era or “Age of Fishes” came next, lasting 325 million years, with the introduction of amphibians and insects.

This was followed by 180 million years of the Mesozoic Era, the “Age of Reptiles.” During this era, dinosaurs appeared, as well as small mammals and birds.

After the extinction of the dinosaurs, the last era began 66 million years ago — the Cenozoic Era or “Age of Mammals,” where the continents took their present shape and major developments in all areas of plant and animal life took place. Then, 20 million years ago, scientists say the evolution of humans began.

What comes into question is: Did the development of the earth just happen by chance, or was it orchestrated by God? Was our planet His laboratory where He experimented, tested, selected and rejected, over billions of years, all the variables to create a proper environment for humankind? Variables included ideal climate; a variety of geographical conditions and continents; sustainable ecological environments for a multitude of plant, animal, insect, fish, and all other life on earth, and so much more.

Another question would be: Will a proper environment continue to exist that favors human life, or will another multi-million-year ice age come that wipes out most of the human population and its accomplishments and leaves us lost and at the mercy of a cold and hostile world? Can we trust in the Creator to keep us safe and prospering on our planet, or are we at the mercy of cruel and heartless chance?

It could be argued, from the layman’s perspective, that the Creator carefully and methodically developed life on earth over the last 4.5 billion years, and most recently, around 30,000-100,000 years ago, to prepare an ideal world for us to live in.

The Five Major “Ice Ages”

An ice age is a period of long-term reduction in the temperature of earth’s surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental and alpine glaciers, and polar ice sheets in both Northern and Southern hemispheres. Within each ice age, long-term periods of cold climate are termed “glacials,” followed by warm periods called “interglacials.” By this definition, we are in an interglacial period — the Holocene — of the present ice age.

The five “ice ages” which scientists have discovered might have been part of the process of the Creator, which was essential to the development of life on earth. In this way, God possibly used ice ages to regulate development by wiping the slate clean after experimenting and testing so that She could start new tests and experiments and eventually place humankind on Her ideal world.

For instance, perhaps She created dinosaurs and other ultra-large birds, insects and sea creatures 250 million years ago for the purpose of testing out on a large scale organs, body functions, adaptability, etc. When She was satisfied, She then used a glacial period to clean up Her work, clean the slate, and prepare to refine those results in new, more elegant, streamlined, and beautiful creatures and plants, which would be a part of Her ideal world.

Either by chance, or perhaps by the methodical work of the Creator, the ice ages played a critical role in forming the geography, climate, and life on earth as it exists today.

For example, scientists say the first major Huronian Ice Age, 2.4 to 2.1 billion years ago, was caused by the elimination of atmospheric methane — a greenhouse gas — during the Great Oxygenation Event, also called the Oxygen Crisis. At this time, oxygen levels were dramatically increasing due to the first microbes that began producing oxygen by photosynthesis. This created a new opportunity for biological diversification — but it also threw the chemical balance of the atmosphere dangerously off.

However, through the action of glacial and interglacial periods in this early ice age, the levels of oxygen and COin the atmosphere were regulated so that the animal and plant life we see today could thrive and not be wiped out. Was that just luck or was it by the Creator’s design?

The five major ages in the Earth’s history are the Huronian, Cryogenian, Andean-Saharan, Karoo Ice Age, and current Quaternary Ice Age. Outside these ages, the earth seems to have been ice-free even at the poles.

The first four ice ages occurred from 2.4 billion years ago until around 260 million years ago. Then the earth was relatively warm until just 2.6 million years ago when the fifth ice age began.

It started with large ice sheets in Greenland, the Arctic and Antarctic, and with the spread of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. Since then, the world has seen five major glacial and interglacial cycles. The last glacial period started 110,000 years ago and ended around 10,000 years ago.The ice coverage on the earth was not as far reaching as in past ice ages, and the plant and animal life was not completely killed off as in the past, such as when the earth was turned into a “snowball” for around 180 million years in the second major ice age.

What is interesting is that the first four ice ages had alternating cycles of glacial and interglacial periods lasting millions of years. However, in this last ice age, the cycles have been drastically reduced from millions of years to thousands of years, perhaps because the Creator had been at work on the finishing touches of creating and stabilizing the continents, the atmosphere components, fish, and the fauna and flora, with the anticipation of finally bringing humankind on earth.

His last and most important job was to develop an anatomically correct body for humans, in preparation to insert eternal spirits in His children, so that they could fulfill His goal of making humankind His eternal partner and co-creator in both the physical universe and the spiritual world.

With the scientific knowledge and experience the Creator gained from His work with dinosaurs during the Jurassic Period, He was ready to apply that expertise on the more refined and “modern” animals that emerged over the past 60 million years and apply it to the development of prototypes for humans, to prepare a suitable body for the spirits of man and woman. The following chart and timeline of human evolution highlights what we might consider God’s preparation to adapt a suitable physical human body to the natural world He had prepared.

The Emergence of Humankind: Children of God

When scientists consider the evolution of man, we often hear how our early ancestors had to battle with and conquer the “hostile” natural world just in order to survive.

Perhaps there is another way of looking at our past evolutionary history. It is possible God was constantly refining the human body of our ancestors of the proto-human type and testing them, to see how they adapted to the natural world, and was making needed adjustments as new and more “modern” humans emerged from Africa and intermingled with earlier hominids. As earlier proto-humans were making critical changes in their biology as they adapted to the environment, God was creating in the latest ancestors that interbred with them, a more sophisticated, beautiful and ideal body.

Neanderthals dwelled in Europe from 230,000 years ago, while homo sapiens arrived around 200,000 years ago, living in tribal communities; mastered tool-making; used fire for cooking and warmth; and began to create a culture that included art, burial rites, and more.

Scientists believe around 150,000 years ago, the earth was coming out of a glacial period into an interglacial period that lasted around 50,000 years, until the temperatures began to decline into a new glacial period. It could have been during this interglacial period, scientists are now saying, that anatomically modern humans — possibly Cro-Magnon — were interbreeding with Neanderthals.

According to a human evolution account, “a sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2010 indicated that Neanderthals did indeed interbreed with anatomically modern humans circa 45,000 to 80,000 years ago (at the approximate time that modern humans migrated out from Africa, but before they dispersed into Europe, Asia and elsewhere).” As a result of interbreeding, some scientists think modern humans inherited immunity from certain germs and bacteria from Neanderthals, which ensured their survival on earth.

If God, indeed, had been preparing the earth for billions of years for the emergence of humankind, this might have been an ideal time. It is possible God chose two families within a Cro-Magnon tribe, and when a male and female child were each born, He placed the eternal spirit into the infants, elevating the animal race of homo sapiens to children of God — the biblical Adam and Eve.

The rest is history. However, an irony of earth’s and humanity’s history may be that the earth was not too hostile and wild an environment for humankind, but humankind, in disobeying God, became too hostile towards not only the earth — which God so lovingly intended to be our Garden of Eden of harmony, peace and beauty — but tragically, too hostile toward one other.

The ultimate question may not be whether the earth will change to be unable to support life. Rather, will humankind find a pathway back to God to embody His/Her love and bring peace on earth or could we become so violent, we end up destroying ourselves and our planet?♦

Henry Christopher (UTS Class of 1980) is Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at UTS. He was a graphic artist at The Washington Times for 20 years.

10 thoughts on “A Layman’s Cosmology: Speculation on Earth’s Evolution and the Emergence of Humankind

  1. A lot of work went into your article, Henry, and I appreciate it. I agree with you that the Cro-Magnon race was probably engineered as a final model for the spirit-filled race of Homo Sapiens.

    But the general assumption that most Christians make that I have trouble with is that all the work done to bring about “this universe with us in it” was a one-off project by a one-time Creator. How can it be that the majority of us Christians look to the future and see an eternity ahead of us, yet we look to the past and myopically insist that the creation of our universe containing our species of conscious intelligence was a one-off project “at the beginning of time about 13.8 billion years ago”? That’s so crazy!

    If we think outside the limitations of our own physical universe, and about eternity, the inescapable conclusion is that we are part of “an eternal creation process that had no beginning”! So, instead of trying to come to grips with a “First Cause God,” we can start forming a realistic relationship with our “Heavenly Parents” — and with a whole family (sorry, there’s no way around it!) of “Heavenly Aunts and Uncles” — whose “divine creatorship” is to be inherited by each blessed couple, if only we do like they and TPs’ did and fulfill our original purpose (the Three Blessings).

    Would it be acceptable to “revise the Principle” along these lines? I love True Parents, but sometimes I feel like the Lone Ranger when expressing such ideas in a Unificationist forum.

  2. Thanks, Henry, for describing a big macro viewpoint. This type of knowledge no doubt should have an impact on our theology, including the Divine Principle, as James Mathison suggests. I remember an elder member telling me that when True Father first visited the pyramids of Egypt and learned that humans had been around more than 6,000 years, he was surprised because the Bible he had studied so meticulously had led him to believe the Genesis chronology. However, he simply took this as new information and modified his understanding.

    Ruins of ancient cities found under the ocean, and precision carving and moving of huge stones stacked over 12,000 years ago all over the world indicate that other civilizations flourished during the last glacial period that ended about 10,000 years ago. One theory gaining more support is that at the end of that period, as glaciers melted, large lakes of water were formed on top of ice sheets and that when the edge of the ice sheet broke, so much water was released that it raised the level of the oceans possibly 100 feet. That would be enough to bury coastal cities around the world and create a scientific basis for the “flood judgment” stories we have inherited.

    None of this scientific knowledge about the past, however, changes our understanding of the fundamental points of the Divine Principle: that everyone seeks happiness, and to achieve it we undergo developmental processes of three stages of growth, and must master the processes for obtaining the three blessings that will enable us to live in peace, prosperity, and happiness. We may eventually gain knowledge of other intelligent beings in the universe, but that would not change how we have to learn and live by social principles the Divine Principle describes, even if written from the worldview of biblical language and knowledge.

    • Gordon, as a former historical geographer and biblical scholar, I found Henry’s article concise and informative, along the lines that I myself believe to be true. While your third paragraph is true, the fact that he did not address that does not take away from his research. That was not his intention in the first place. There are others who are researching those issues. We need to look forward to create CIG, but we also need to look to our history to understand ourselves and our universe.

  3. The review of evolutionary history is very valuable. I must note, however, that the concept of God breathing into a newborn’s nostrils would be taken by “modern man” noted in Exposition of the Principle, Part I, Introduction, as a typically mythological explanation of a natural phenomenon. Then, what could be that phenomenon? One possibility is that, with an infant’s first breath, he or she for the first time assumes some human form or level of responsibility for activity (which will develop according to principles in the Principle of Creation), implying or defining a spiritual self not found in other species. A Unificationist elder, in a private conversation, suggested that the elements that would become the spiritual self are being assembled as a fetus grows in the womb (this person seemingly implying that they were matching the physical development of the fetus).

    I would like to suggest also that the first human ancestors were born as twins, from one set of pre-human parents rather than from two. While boning up on evolutionary theory in order to formulate this comment, I came across the following sentence in Wikipedia: “Some biologists have argued for an extended evolutionary synthesis, which would account for the effects of non-genetic inheritance modes, such as epigenetics, parental effects [my italics], ecological inheritance and cultural inheritance, and evolvability.” [Such effects might suggest the children of Blessed couples as representing a further step in evolution or even a new species, in which some of them seem to consider themselves to be.] If the first ancestral pair were not siblings, there would likely have been other humans in existence who, if reproducing, would have begun additional lines which later died out.

  4. I think it is incorrect to view the post-Big Bang universe as a testing ground for God. Once the Big Bang occurred then the emergence of stars and planets and plants and animals was a forgone conclusion that was baked into the design. That a species of animal would be elevated through evolution to full consciousness and awareness of God may have taken some nudging/guidance from ‘the other side’ but God would have known exactly what was needed and would not need to test just as an architect or engineer knows exactly what should go where to translate their blueprint to substantial reality.

    Philosophically speaking, I don’t see why a maximally great creator would need to have a variety of species of children. To a parent, children are children and starting with a handful and having them multiply into trillions would fulfil the need and I don’t see why that same parent/creator would need to make other universes or spawn other families within the same universe. From a design point of view it would be a redundant use of energy and I suspect that God is exquisitely disciplined and efficient in His use of energy (which I do not believe to be infinite).

    Scientifically speaking, the biggest cosmological errors that many academics make are in not understanding that there is no such thing as big or small numbers or long or short periods of time. Those are relative to our own size and experience of time. This error causes a more fundamental mistake derived from a lack of understanding of statistical probability.

    Because there is no such thing as large or small numbers or long or short periods in absolute terms, then it is folly to state that ‘with such a large number of planets over such a long period of time it is inevitable that they will produce X.

    Statistical probability cannot be projected forward from a zero or one point. In other words, it is not possible to project a statistical probability of anything at all when there is only a sample of one. In order to project a statistical probability of something there must be a large past sample from which to extrapolate the future occurrence. If we have a 200 year record of the number of hurricanes in the USA then we can reliably predict the statistical probability of a certain number of hurricanes in the USA next year. But if only one hurricane occurred in all of recorded American meteorological history then there is no basis whatsoever to predict when or even if a hurricane will occur again.

    Likewise, we only have a confirmed sample of one when it comes to the emergence of sentient species in the universe or occurrences of a big bang that leads to the existence of a universe. Therefore we have no basis at all with which to predict, let alone insist, that there must be other sentient species in our universe and other universes.

    Sometimes the more informed view is to confess to not knowing and having no basis to form an opinion.

    • Peter, assuming the Big Bang (currently accepted theory) did occur, if we ask ourselves what happened during the infinite amount of time that transpired before the BB, and if we also ask about what we expect will happen during the infinite amount of time after our universe undergoes Entropy Death (currently accepted theory), then we can’t help but think outside the box and wonder what else, independently from us, has been and continues to go on in “the cosmos” — that vast and mostly invisible (to us) reality.

      Some people avoid these sorts of questions by insisting, “Time itself was created at the time of the Big Bang.” But, really, the only way time could not exist is if absolutely nothing ever happened. That’s a silly idea! For one thing, it’s incompatible with our belief in a Creator who actually planned out the universe before creating it.

      Therefore, we’re faced with the reality that some things were going on long before our universe came into existence. We already believe that our spirits are eternal and meant to live on forever into the future, and that we’ll continue to exist long after our universe blinks out (if it does), so the natural question is, “What’s been going on, and what will we do with all the time we’ll have on our hands in the future?”

      Of course it’s absolutely true that our main task now is to take responsibility for what we do know and for what we say we believe in. So some of us feel they have too much on their plate to take time to speculate. I can appreciate that; but it’s not for me. I believe it’s important to always ask “why”, and to avoid dead-ends by always trying to envision the bigger picture.

      So? What will we do through eternity? Play harps — not! Our Heavenly Parents created children in their image, and since we are their children, and we are meant to grow up to be like them, we will want to create like they did. That begs the question, “When did this process of creating children who themselves want to become creators begin?” The answer that jumped out at me after a lot of prayerful reflection is: “Since we see no end in sight when looking ahead into the distant future, it hardly makes sense to insist on a beginning when we look back behind us into the distant past.”

      We owe our existence, as conscious beings capable of true love, to our loving Creator; but although in a sense we represent the finished product of this eternal process, we are by no means either the first nor the final result — it might help to reflect on two rhetorical questions I heard Father Moon (the messiah) ask us: i) “Which aspects of God [our Creator] are we NOT meant to inherit?” ii) “God had a beginning.”

      If it’s true that the Creator of humanity, our Heavenly Parents, had a beginning, then is there a Ha Na Nim (Ultimate Inscrutable One) who always existed and is the First Cause who set everything in motion? Oh, yes, that’s true too, according to Father Moon. Oh my! Now I feel like a grasshopper! (But Genesis provides a hint with two separate Creation stories, a generic one and a specific one.)

      • James,

        Rather than playing our harps, we will engage in activities much more important than creating. Bill Gates, in reviewing for the New York Times a book envisioning futures, put the question this way: “…what will happen once people…no longer need to work in order to feed and clothe everyone?” In a letter to the editor (of that section) that was published last month by the Times, I replied, “If one assumes that human beings are fundamentally creative, then we will spend our time creating things of beauty or goodness and sharing them with one another. I prefer to assume that each person has the fundamental irrepressible desire to give love to the greatest effect imagined. People would spend their time helping others, working toward the present or the future of a community or the whole planet.” I thereby put into public circulation a fundamental tenet of Unificationism, and also suggested a vision alternative to yours.

        • John, I don’t disagree with you, and I’m certain we will spend our time in SW creating beautiful things for one another. I just think that one of our more beautiful creative projects in SW as blessed couples, assuming we eventually grow capable of it, is that we’ll do like our Heavenly Parent(s) did and create a universe or two as a home for children created in our image. And far from being able to rest on our laurels (on the seventh day), we may have to once again hone our parenting skills doing damage control, just like our HP has had to do with us. Even if it’s a lot of work, I can’t imagine creating anything more magnificent than a self-perpetuating species of true love!

          Would you clarify what alternative vision you are suggesting? I don’t see that much difference between yours and mine, except perhaps regarding the extent of our creative potential in SW.

  5. Peter,

    I don’t think God initiated the Big Bang and programmed that everything afterwards would happen automatically, either in the universe or on earth. That’s carrying God’s supposed efficiency a little too far.

    Scientific evidence of the geological and biological history of the earth clearly indicates that things evolved and developed over extraordinarily long time periods.

    We can believe God was the heart and intelligence behind that development or say it happened by meer chance.

    I can envision God intimately involved in creating physical life on earth over those billions of years, the vision that was in His/Her mind of an ideal world — even enjoying tweaking the DNA of the creatures that were being created, including us — to form what would be most pleasing to Him. Just like an artist that experiments with different styles, pigments and brush strokes, etc., to portray life on canvas until it pleases him or her. This does not at all take away from a sense of God’s ability as a creator, but rather shows His/Her great and caring love as our Parent.

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