Taylor: The greatest story ever told

In this story…we are not the goal of creation; we are a part of its continuing story.

Jim TaylorWith apologies to the novel and the movie for borrowing their title, maybe it’s time to revisit the biblical story of creation. Instead of one man’s story, this is everyone’s story. In the beginning, there was nothing. Not even darkness.

And then, amazingly, out of nothing, a drop of energy formed. As it splashed, space and time were born; dimensions emerged.

The energy made light. The energy made heat. Balls of energy melted together, building bigger balls of energy, until those balls could no longer contain all that compressed energy. They exploded and seeded the new universe with the physical elements that still form everything. Our bodies consist of the atoms created by exploding stars; we are stardust.

The echoes of that ancient explosion still ring through the universe; they echo within every cell in every living being. With matter came gravity, the attraction of all things to all things. Free-floating molecules clung together.

The stardust formed gas clouds, galaxies, and stars. One of those stars became our sun. Some of the stardust attracted towards that sun started swirling around it.

The dust and debris formed a solar system, with planets.

One of those planets, we call our Earth. It began as an utterly inhospitable place, a seething sphere of molten rock. It was not paradise.

But as it cooled, some of the gases circulating in its atmosphere blended into something new: Water vapour. The vapour condensed into liquid. It fell onto the earth. It ran down over hot rocks and formed streams and rivers, lakes, seas and oceans. In that mineral-rich chemical broth, life emerged. We don’t know how it happened, but we know it did, because we’re here. Those first plants, still single cells, absorbed energy streaming from the sun, converted it into chemicals necessary for life.

The plant cells grew, and multiplied and died. When their waste product, free oxygen, threatened to poison life on Earth, new life emerged—animals that used the oxygen to feed themselves. Each form of life enabled other forms of life.

In time, plants and animals both ventured from water onto dry land. Trees and grasses, frogs and lizards, bugs and insects, furry creatures and feathered creatures, grew, and multiplied, and died, and made room for new plants and animals.

In time, we became one of those animals. We call ourselves ‘humans.’ This is our story. We call ourselves intelligent beings, but if there is intelligence, it exists in the collective sentience of all living things.

It draws us together, connects us, cautions us, points us into the future.

In this story, we realize we were not created uniquely, distinctly. We are not the goal of creation; we are a part of its continuing story.

We are all related. To each other. To all animals. And to all plants, and to the waters where life began, and to the blue planet spinning in the vast network of space, and to the star dust from which we all came. We are children of the universe, and parents to the universe that will succeed us.

We are not alone. We are a moment, the boundary between what has been, and what will be.