How Should We Look At It? Since life on Earth began it has taken about 3,500 million years to get where we are today. Three thousand, five hundred, million years? That seems incredibly hard to comprehend? However, there is another way to look at it!

Earth Was Formed: As we currently understand it, our Earth was formed out of gases and dust floating in space some 4,500 million years ago. There was no life, the planet was extremely hot and the atmosphere was choking. It took a further 1,000 million years for the pulse of life on Earth to eventually begin beating. The first life was in the form of bacteria, possibly originally inside the depths of the earth and or in the oceans, some 3,500 to 4,000 million years ago. As incredibly complex as they are, and yet so incredibly simple, compared to human beings, single cell life organisms did not arrive in the oceans for another 2,500 million years, until about 1,000 million years ago. This was the first quantum leap towards higher consciousness for life on Earth.

The First Reptiles: From here on, creation began to move faster. It took Mother Nature just 400 million years to assemble single cells to form more complex life forms, eventually arriving at the first sea creatures with backbones, around 600 million years ago. Another 200 million years were needed to develop the first amphibians (able to live on land as well as in the sea), and a further 100 million years before some of these amphibians were sufficiently developed to live entirely on land. And so, just 300 million years ago, Nature gave birth to our first true land creatures. These initial land creatures were the first of the reptiles. The first dinosaurs arrived about 230 million years ago and the first birds of the air, engineered from the structure of the early reptiles, arrived about 200 million years ago.

Dinosaurs Stunted Our Growth: For over a 160 million years the bigger reptiles, namely the dinosaurs, dominated the Earth. They ruled supreme. They were the most powerful life form on the Earth, and although they had very little brain power, their sheer brute force, ferocity and high demand for meat was enough to prevent mammals becoming any bigger than little shrew like creatures, scuttling around on the forest floor. Perhaps this 'stall' was even a necessary part of the evolutionary programme, preventing higher forms of life from evolving until the time was right. Who knows? Certainly it is hard to imagine our technological evolution achieving what it has without oil and coal (which obviously take a little while to form). Anyway, whatever the case, as far as the evolution of life is concerned, life with the dinosaurs appeared to be a long time going nowhere.

Dinosaurs Die Out: About 65 million years ago, all of a sudden, and as if by magic, the dinosaurs died out. The evidence seems to indicate a sudden and dramatic change of climate. As we currently understand it, a huge meteor collided with the Earth, causing a massive amount of dust to be thrown high into the atmosphere, blocking out the sun, like a nuclear winter! The resulting climate change and fall in temperature brought an end to all larger and more susceptible life forms, i.e. the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs were, in evolutionary terms it seems, a bit of a dead end road, and being the dominant life form on Earth at that time, perhaps needed to be eliminated in order for higher life forms to evolve! If you like, the dinosaurs were like weeds, choking the 'Garden of Eden', preventing the more useful crops from growing properly and one theory is that the 'Great Gardener in the sky' stepped in to do some weeding and so make room for us vegetables. With the dinosaurs dead and gone, the surviving mammalian life forms were able to expand and diversify into the many different species that we see alive today, including us - mankind!

First Primates: It was also about 65 million years ago that the first primates were evolving (primates are the highest order of mammals, including man). The first primates evolved into the apes and monkeys and by about 20 million years ago they had fully populated the forests, living a life in the trees. About 10 million years ago some of the apes came down out of the trees and adapted to living a life on the open plains and grasslands. 4,490 million years since the Earth was formed, 3,490 years since life on Earth began, and only 10 million years to the birth of Jesus. Still no sign of mankind in any form.

Upright Man: In fact it wasn't until 4 million years ago that some of the apes living on the plains started to stand more upright, walking for short spells on just two legs instead of on all fours. Another two million years later the offspring of these apes were permanently adjusted to a life on two legs, walking upright all of the time. These creatures are called Homo-erectus (erectus meaning upright), and they looked like a cross between an ape and the modern man that we see today. The last Homo-erectus died about 200 thousand years ago and there came about a new breed of primitive, called Neanderthal man. It was about 100 thousand years ago that the first true modern man, Homo sapien arrived, firstly in Africa. Throughout the next 60 thousand years he spread out across the globe, eventually arriving in Europe, about 40 thousand years ago. Up until this point the only killing that occurred in lesser life forms was for food, self defence, and to win domination (usually sexual) in a group. However what was needed now in the continuing order of evolution of consciousness on Earth was to give the dominant life form increased awareness that would eventually lead to a greater understanding of what life can constitute, and how it functions, perhaps one day we would even be able to consciously link up with other intelligent life in our universe.

Increasing Awareness: The time taken to initiate this increased awareness is a difficult period in any form of evolutionary event involving free will, because of the free will syndrome. Learning to grow up can be very painful, often involving much selfish behaviour, and painful, sometimes even fatal accidents brought about through immaturity and inexperience. But if any form of life is ever to truly appreciate, and make its own conscious decisions affecting, and having control over, its own destiny and purpose, this period of learning cannot be avoided. However, learning the hard way can be avoided if we so wish. Much help can be given by other evolved life forms that can guide us easily and painlessly to increased levels of appreciation and understanding. But not everybody wants this, and so learning the hard way for many, becomes a way of life, until the dawn of realisation becomes upon them.

First Act Of Genocide? Was it with the arrival of Homo sapien, or Cro-Magnon as he is also known, that for mankind, the real fighting started? Some think that Cro-Magnon hunted down and killed all of the remaining Neanderthals and so wiped out Neanderthal man for good. If so, perhaps this was mankind's first deliberate act of persecution and war, culminating in genocide - Cro-Magnon versus Neanderthal. Neanderthal man was much more placid, and less intelligent than his brother and was completely wiped out. Perhaps this is happening is parabled in the Genesis bible story of Cain and Abel.

First Atomic Bomb: Here we are then; only 40,000 years to 1985, and modern man has truly arrived, marking his arrival with a lot of killing motivated perhaps by reasons other than those ever seen in the history of life on Earth. Fortunately, in this instance, mankind had limited weapons to fight with and couldn't really damage the planet! This was still the case right up until about 40 years ago when mankind on Earth discovered the atomic bomb. Of course the people in power couldn't help but notice what a wonderfully threatening weapon this would be to have in their toy cupboard. And like most children, they weren't content for long with what they had, they wanted more and more, and more and more, and more and more, and more and more! At present (now 1985), we have the capacity to totally blow all intelligent life on planet Earth right out of existence, whether by accident or by design! Can you wonder how Mother Nature must feel about that?

Looking At It Another Way: With an average physical life span of perhaps 70 years or so, it's very hard to imagine the length of time involved in the creation of life on Earth. It's hard to try and imagine a single million years, yet alone a thousand million or more, but we can get some appreciation perhaps by converting the time scale of events into periods of time that we are more familiar with; that is years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds. In this instance we take one day to represent one million years of evolution.

Think about it for a minute. One day represents one million years. In this timescale, the Earth would have been formed about 12 years and 4 months ago. Bacteria in the oceans, 9 years and 7 months ago. Single cell life in the oceans about 2 years and 9 months ago, eventually leading to multi-cellular creatures with backbones being formed about 1 year and 8 months ago.

The first amphibians arrived about 1 year and 1 month ago, the permanent move to land and the dinosaurs came about 10 months ago, with the first birds arriving just about 5 months ago. Altogether the dinosaurs ruled the Earth for about 19 weeks. The first primates didn't arrive until about 10 weeks ago, and they didn't stand up on two legs until just 4 days ago.

Neanderthal man arrived just 4 hours and 50 minutes ago with the first modern man (Cro-Magnon) arriving in Africa 2 hours and 25 minutes ago. He eventually found his way to Europe just under an hour ago. The great flood occurred about 7 minutes ago and Jesus arrived just 3 minutes ago. World war one was fought 6 seconds ago and world war two and the advent of the atomic bomb, was just 3.5 seconds ago. Out of 12 years of work by Mother Nature, modern man has been living in Europe for less than 1 hour and he's known about the atomic bomb for just 3.5 seconds.

About 1 second ago we developed enough nuclear capacity to totally destroy our planet and everything on it! Mankind could now totally waste everything that Mother Nature has taken 12 years to build and we've only been standing on our own two feet for 4 days. We've been in Europe for just 57 minutes and in America for less than a minute and we've amassed this 'total nuclear capacity' which we've had for less than a second. In the space of just 1 second we are now in a position to wipe out everything that has taken Mother Nature 12 years to engineer.

Can you wonder what Mother Nature must feel about that? If you'd spent 12 years building a house, and you invited a friend round to stay, and that friend was there for just one hour, before he picked up a box of matches, which he held for just 1 second, before setting light to your house and burning it to the ground, with you and your children in it, accidentally or otherwise! How would you feel?

Evolutionary Timetable (Dated as of the year 2000)

Evolutionary Event Approximate Time Ago Time Ago
(1 Million Years = 1 Day)
Our current universe came into being 14,000 million years 38.33 years
The Earth was formed 4,500 million years 12.32 years
Bacteria in the oceans 3,500 million years 9.58 years
Single cell sea life 1,000 million years 2.74 years
Back boned sea creatures 600 million years 1.64 years
First insects and crustaceans 570 million years 1.56 years
Fish 570 million years 1.37 years
Plant life on land 475 million years 1.30 years
Amphibians 365 million years 1.00 years
Permanent land reptiles 300 million years 9.86 months
First dinosaurs 230 million years 7.56 months
First small mammals 200 million years 6.57 months
First birds in the air 150 million years 4.93 months
Dinosaurs died out 65 million years 2.14 months
First primates evolving 65 million years 2.14 months
Apes fully populate forests 20 million years 20 days
Down from the trees 10 million years 10 days
Up on two legs 4 million years 4 days
Homo-erectus 2 million years 2 days
Neanderthal Man 200,000 years 4.80 hours
Cro-Magnon (modern man) 100,000 years 2.40 hours
Modern Man in Europe 40,000 years 57.60 minutes
Neanderthal Man died out 25,000 years 36 minutes
The Great Flood 10,000 years? 14.40 minutes
Birth Of Jesus 2,000 years 2.88 minutes
World War 1 86 years 7.43 seconds
World War 2 (advent of the atomic bomb) 60 years 5.18 seconds
Lethal nuclear capacity 30 years 2.59 seconds
World War 3, or other manmade catastrophe? Could be less than 1 second away?