Some people believe in evolution and some people don’t, it’s all a matter of personal belief I guess. I am a believer myself; it seems quite a logical way for both the living and the inanimate to change and adjust over time, to suit changes in environment.
The creationists have a totally different point of view, of course, and I fully understand that. It’s just that I am not a religious person myself and so I find it easier to grasp the idea of things happening naturally, over enormous lengths of time.
The fact that you can go to somewhere like the Grand Canyon and see all the many layers of sedimentary rock there, which was once mud and dead seashells since hardened through great pressure and completely changed its character from mud into rock. This emphasises to me the slowness of change here on Earth often happening over literally billions of years, change which is still happening, right now and at the same – in most cases – inexorable speed.
Then there are the fossils of course, the remains of animals and plants dead for so long that the very bones of animals (which are usually all that is left) have had the time to turn from bone to stone, often with billions of years involved in the process! Most of those bones are of animals that no longer exist. They have long since become extinct, though distant relatives of some still exist to this day, like crocodiles, similar to their ancient ancestors, but now much smaller. I don’t find it at all strange that only parts of these animals and people are ever found, it would seem obvious to me that there were no funeral directors or garbage men to clear dead bodies away then; it was just a matter of the dead being eaten by the living, very much as it is in the animal kingdom now — nature has always been very good at clearing up, if left to her own devices!
Of course, evolution is still going on all around us, just as it always has, some of it good and some bad (at least from our point of view). In the days of the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, humans had great powers of deduction and creativity, but little or no knowledge of electricity, aeronautics or what the Universe was all about. We have evolved in the few thousand years since, as we learned to take our thinking further and convert thoughts into actions, a mental evolutionary process, leading to the great discoveries of the 20th century.
Even the so-called global warming we now seem to be suffering, I believe to be a part of the evolutionary process, with the world at present leaving its latest ice age and so becoming warmer, with very little difference to this process being affected by mankind. It’s something we just have to live with, and adjust to, for the next few thousand years, before the cycle begins all over again and the Earth becomes cooler again!
Then there are the extinctions reported by scientists, amounting to many species every year; but this has been going on for millions of years, as environments changed. The most famous being the death of virtually all dinosaurs, caused it is said, by the shock of a large meteorite hitting the Earth and changing the climate radically for several centuries. Virtually all extinctions have been caused by some external source affecting the lives of animals and plants who were unable to change to meet their new environment.
The present extinctions we read so much about are largely being caused by what men are doing to the Earth, but even the things they are doing are a part of the overall evolutionary picture. We discovered plastics and now the ‘throwaways’ of that product are killing animals in their millions, at sea and on land. We discovered — after burning wood for heat and cooking for millennia — there was a black stone that would burn more efficiently than wood, so we used that instead, choking the atmosphere of Earth with acrid smoke, which again has killed millions of people.
I have no doubt our evolutionary progress will one day (hopefully far into the future), lead to the death of most of the human race and the other living things for which it is their abode. But I also have little doubt about the Earth’s ability to renew itself, perhaps with a new race of beings, totally unrecognisable to our eyes but suited to the opportunities She will offer them, as She has us. If I am right, I wish them good luck!