About five billion years ago in Earths early oceans molecular collisions produced larger molecules. Under the inexorable laws of chemistry and physics these molecules interacted and formed molecules much more complex.
Eventually a molecule was formed that was able to produce, out of the molecular building blocks of the surrounding waters, a fairly accurate copy of itself. Such a molecular systemcapable of replication, mutation, and replication of its mutationscan be called alive. Evolving by change and natural selection the first cells arose and life forms of all kinds developed.
A very useful adaptation is the ability of an organism to control its environment. Mankind has prospered because he can do this well. But there is no reason to think that the evolutionary process has stopped. Man is a transitional animal. He is not the climax of creation.
The future development of man will likely be a cooperative arrangement among controlled biological evolution, genetic engineering, and an intimate partnership between organisms and intelligent machines
Anciently humans banded together in interrelated tribes. Loyalty to the tribe made for evolutionary success. Tribes coalesced and expanded and the allegiance of an individual human being was to his particular nation-state, religion, race, or economic group. Now it is time for allegiance to mankind as a whole. And, further, it is time for respect not just for all human beings, but also for all life forms.
The universe is vast and awesome, and for the first time we are becoming a part of it. Our Sun is an ordinary star, one of some two hundred billion that make up the Milky Way Galaxy that is one of billions of other galaxies strewn though the vastness of space.
Humans are the evolutionary product of a long series of biological accidents but in the cosmic perspective, there is no reason to think that we are the first or the last or the best.
We have become aware of our deep connection, both in form and in matter, with the rest of the universe. There is great interest in space exploration. There is todayin a time when old beliefs are witheringa kind of philosophical hunger, a need to know who we are and how we got here. There is an ongoing search, often unconscious, for a cosmic perspective for humanity.