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An essay donated by John Burritt

The universe, evolution, & religion

While in college, I asked a professor, after class, ?What was at the outer edge of Space - A little white fence?- (jokingly)? His answer was, ?There is no such thing as a straight line, only an arc of infinite radius.? This has stayed with me for the last 50 or so years. I?ve since concluded that the 4th dimension is TIME.

The biggest problem in understanding the UNIVERSE and EVOLUTION as I see it, is the tremendously huge distances and times involved. The numbers are measured in Billions of Light-years, literally Astronomical, and hard to visualize or comprehend. In the case of the Universe, the numbers are measured in Billions of light-years. In the case of the Evolution, it is measured in Billions of years.

Light travels 186,000 miles per second. It takes 8 minutes for the Sun?s light to reach our eyes, and 5 more hours and that light reaches Pluto (no longer designated as a Planet). After another 4 years 4 months, it reaches Alpha Centauri, our nearest stellar neighbor.

Extending outward some 15 to 20 Trillion Light-Years 1in all directions into the far reaches of the known Universe there are Quasars - Quasi-Stellar objects - and the uniform glow of radiation from the Big Bang. The farthest Quasars are traveling away from us at 90% the speed of light. To look at such objects is to see the Universe as it was billions of years ago. 2

Evolution

Like the distances in the Universe, Evolution is also measured in very large numbers. Earth was formed 4.6 Billion Years ago. To put everything into perspective, every event has been compressed into a 12-hour clock. 3,4

Event Number of years ago: Corresponds to:
The formation of Earth 4.6 Billion 12:00 Noon
Life Begins in a form similar to bacteria 3.5 Billion 2:52 PM
Photosynthetic bacteria appear * 1.4 billion 3:40
Multi-celled plants & animals appear 1 billion 9:24
Crustaceans appear 650 million 10:18
Fish appear 510 million 10:40
Land plants appear 420 million 10:54
Insects appear 380 million 11:00
Seed plants & amphibians appear 360 million 11:03
Reptiles appear 340 million 11:07
Mammals appear 213 million 11:27
Birds appear 150 million 11:36
Flowering plants appear 140 million 11:38
Humans appear 2 million 11:59:41
Christian religion appears 2,000 11:59:59.999

* Note the huge gap in time that occurs between this event and the next one!

All of the above information, except religion, has been proven through scientific research. There is, however no scientific proof to support religion, plus it occupies an extremely small segment of time compared to the age of Earth. This leads me to think religion is based on the fear of the unknown.

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References used:

  1. One source specifies 156 billion years wide. See:  Robert Roy Britt, "Universe Measured: We're 156 Billion Light-years Wide!," Space.com, 2004-MAY-24, at: http://www.space.com/
  2. National Geographic - 1983
  3. "Deep Time," PBS, at: http://www.pbs.org/
  4. Article, Jacksonville-Times-Union, 2005-OCT-02.

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