Chapter 1: What Is Universal History?
Chapter 1: What Is Universal History?
For what reason should one take note of history? Why should one explore it?
In answering these questions one needs to recognize that the history of humanity differs from that of a rock. The history of a rock is defined by astronomic and geologic forces over which the rock has no control. Human history, in contrast, has been shaped by the perception of ideas, and the application of them for constructive or destructive ends. This makes the exploration of mankind's history both fascinating and enormously beneficial, especially when the view is wide and the depth extends to the beginning of mankind, or to the boundaries of major periods, even the beginning of life itself on this planet.
But let's look at our beginning, briefly. Mankind is over 2.5 million years old in terms of its development as the most profound species of life on the planet. The beginning of life on Earth takes us back 3.5 billion years or more. From the moment on that the first living cell 'discovered' the universal principle that enabled it to divide and thereby replicate itself, the 'song of life' on Earth has become rich and majestic, unfolding from a single tone into a grand symphony of near infinite dimensions and complexities and wonders, of which only a minuscule fraction is known and much less of it is understood.
The symphony of life on Earth that we are a part of has also been shaped by the dynamics of the Earth itself. The Earth is a molten planet covered with a thin solid crust which carries the continents that are a part of this crust, and also carries the Earth's oceans. Driven by the Herculean forces of convection currents deep within the molten Earth the continents are constantly in motion. On their 'journey' across the globe the continents became bunched up at times into super continents, and these were at times located in the cold, Polar Regions. The Earth is also a part of the universe, which is constancy in motion according to its own dynamism. Nor is the universe a largely 'empty' place as one might think. Rather, it is a vast sea of cosmic radiation and energetic fields - some derived from exploding stars - which are constantly varying and constantly affecting the Earth and its climate.
The interaction of the movements of the continents and changes in cosmic radiation has subjected the Earth to a number of Ice Ages that resulted in the mass extinction of life on Earth. It believed that 600-700 million years ago the Earth was completely frozen over for 10 million years. Several other mass extinctions of live, resulting from glaciation, are believed to have occurred around 250-200 million years ago, ending with the great Permian Extinction that wiped out over 90% of all life on the planet. Many times, however, the extinctions cleared the slate, after which new and more complex forms of life unfolded. There occurred one exception, however, in this pattern, and we are that exception. We came to be and developed almost exclusively in an Ice Age world.
Ice Age epochs are rare in geologic history, but we are living in one, the Pleistocene Epoch. Almost mankind's entire 2.5-million-year history has unfolded during this Ice Age Epoch. We are literally the children of the Ice Age. Our entire history has been shaped by it. The long Ice Age Epoch, is interrupted periodically with short interglacial warm periods. We are presently in one of those warm periods that typically last for 10-12 thousand years. Ours is now nearing its end. Historically, mankind has seen numerous Ice Ages, typically lasting for roughly 100,000 years, interspersed with those brief warm periods. Nor has mankind developed in a linear fashion as a single species. Rather, we are the end product of a long chain of development, which for all the other human species that we know, has ended in extinction. We are the last of eight major human species. We call ourselves the Homosapiens. We are also the youngest of all human species. We are roughly 200,000 old. The longest enduring human species has been Homo Erectus that became extinct after 1.5 million years of its existence.
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