Thematic table of contents

An outline of the themes in 3.8 Billion Years, each followed by links to selected posts.

1. The Cosmos and the Origins of Life. We don’t know exactly how living things got started, but we know a lot about the probable process and approximately when it took place.

On the Cosmic Calendar, A Date to Remember
Lessons from the Origins of Life
Is DNA Alive?
Neil Shubin’s ‘The Universe Within’

2. The First Two Billion Years: Single Cells. The evolution of the groundwork of life was slow, complicated, and vital.

Genesis For Non-Theists
The Pioneers: Archaea and Bacteria
Cyanobacteria: R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Life Before Fossils
Most of Your Cells Aren’t Yours

3. Plants and Animals.

       The Democracy of Living Things

Plants As Aliens
I Like Lichens
400 Million Years of Ferns
Hope Jahren’s ‘Lab Girl’ and the Dramatic Life of Plants

Reverence For (Some) Life
Beavers, Humans, and Evolution
Animals and the Law: More Like Persons or Property?

4. The Processes: Emergence and Natural Selection.

Genes Are Like Sentences, Genomes Are Like Books
Emergent Phenomena: More Than the Sum of the Parts
“We Are All Mutants”: Mutation Basics
It’s Diversity All the Way Down

5. The Human Body. How we evolved and how our body works.  First, we walked on two feet—without a tail.

Walk, Run, Eat: The Evolution of Our Body
How Consciousness Might Have Evolved
The Body Electric
Breath: Divine Gas In a Smart Body
Stem Cells: How to Build a Body

6. Thinking and Feeling. Our brain gets us by, with some help from irrationality.

Steven Pinker on Disgust, Sex, and Happiness
Comparison is the Thief of Happiness
The Biology of Suffering
“The Mind Is Mainly Drawn to the Future”
The Brain Speaks Out
Winning-Streak, Everyone-Agrees-With-Me, You-Cut-Me-Off, and Other Biases of the Brain

7. Competition and Cooperation. Organisms have been competing against and collaborating with each other for a long time. We often take the second process for granted.

Darwin’s Dark Vision: “Ten Thousand Sharp Wedges”
Symbiosis, Or How We All Get Along

8. Aging and Dying. Death frightens me less when I think about the long linkages of lives of all kinds before me, around me and after me.

The Death of Everything
Oliver Sacks and The Comforts of Metal
Feeling Old? Envy the Lobster
The Immortal Jellyfish

9. Religion and Spirituality. Religions can tell us our Story, reassure us about life after death, and guide our conduct. Can Naturalism be as productive and beneficial?

Buddha and Darwin
Genesis for Non-Theists
Hindus Seek Detachment. Have Plants and Animals Already Found It?
How To Make A Religion
Dawkins’ Pilgrimage to the Ancestors

tree of life 3

3 thoughts on “Thematic table of contents

  1. Very pleased to have discovered this blog! I really enjoy the exploration of where supposed opposites meet and blend, and where meaning is revealed. I too have a great reverence for life, and believe that we must apply our critical thinking whilst also honoring the unfathomable mystery. Compassion, intuition, imagination, logic and reason are not mutually exclusive! I look forward to reading more…


  2. As Amy, I am also very pleased to read your blog. It seems that we coincide in many points of view and at the very least we’ll have interesting conversations. Thanks for reaching out!


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