Based on our current understanding of the big picture, the consensus view is that the story of modern humans journey started in Africa some 200,000 years ago. And modern humans most likely evolved from their common ancestor, Homo erectus, which literally means ‘upright man’ in Latin. Obviously Homo erectus is an extinct species of human that probably lived between 1.9 million and 135,000 years ago.
But the story of the evolution of modern humans is a bit more complicated then that. I would say, the story is still a work in progress, and as we learn more the story of the evolutionary journey of modern humans will be tweaked.
What we can fully agree on is that, humans didn’t come about in isolation on their own. Their journey started with nature, and when nature learnt to create life. And from what we know so far, life on earth as we know it began some 3.5 billion years ago. It is not an absolute truth, but an assumption based on the fossil evidence of life on earth.
Nature found a way to conceive complex life form using DNA. An extremely complex and technologically intelligent architectural design. Designed by nature millions of years ago. And the genes that are made up DNA, which gave early humans their larger brain size, is estimated to have evolved around 500,000 years ago. We still continue to share lots of genes with other primates and our mammals cousins.
A DNA is designed to constantly mutate, so it is continuously mutating, so therefore, the egg and sperm that originally created me for example probably contained 100 to 200 new mutations that weren’t in my parents’ DNA. And each of those mutations created a new gene, and thus, I have quite a few genes that are only slightly older than me. This is nature’s way of creating an upgrade.
Our physical bodies are made up of cells. Which are the basic building blocks of all living things. A human body is composed of 37.2 trillions cells, and only 43% of the total body cell count are human cells, the rest are microscopic colonists. So in a way, and technically speaking, we are more microbe than we are human. Hence, to a very large extent, the behavioural patterns and the personality traits of a human being is directly related to the gut bacteria.
So a human body is quite literally an ecosystem, an amalgamation of a whatever is human. Living in harmony with non humans, making us the human or the person that we are.
Our sense of belonging is hardwired in most of us, because it helped our human ancestors stay safe and survive. A group of people binding together in clans, tribes, communities etc to protect each other. And this sense of belonging was passed on to all of us. So most of us as humans still have a constant urge to belong. The pursuit of where I belong has helped humans create culture, heritage, religion, society, nation state and the list goes on.
To some of us, the sense of belonging also serves as the anchor we need to live. We have learnt to live today with a nostalgia for the past, even if that past happened way before our birth. History is always at the mercy of those who get to write it. It is extremely hard to separate history or a version of a history as described by someone from the person who wrote it.
Our sense of belonging has helped us create a God in our own image, and we have a developed a natural urge to one day return to that God of our own creation. Because we have convinced ourselves that we belong to a God, and therefore, after the death of a human being, that being shall return to its rightful maker.
But who is the rightful maker of a human being, and where do we belong ? Well! People will have to find their own answers, and some are obviously quite content with the popular answers provided by religion and various gurus. As far as I am concerned, I have come to realisation that, the journey of my own existence started at the same time when nature learnt to create life. And the DNA, a complex molecule inside the cells that contains all of the information necessary to build and maintain an organism, for example “ me” started its journey millions of years ago.
So therefore, the information that I made from, is not just mine, but also of all my human ancestors as well as my closest animal cousins. I exist because they lived. Does that mean I belong to them ? No, not at all. Yes, technically speaking, their story is carrying on through my existence. And my existence has to comply with the overall design of nature. For example, even if I succeed in leaving earth and moving to lets say mars, I am still designed to die, so I will die.
I come from nature, but nature is not my master. My story, my journey and the life I lived will always belong to me. And I will always be at the mercy of nature’s design, even when I am convinced that I am exercising my own free will. Many before me opened up their own line of enquiry to understand the big picture, and perhaps like me, most could only manage an answer they could learn to live with. Hoping that someone after them will do a better job. And collectively their pursuit has surely helped advanced the overall human journey.