Thank you for stopping by the Epic of Evolution web site! This site is for people who are curious about the Epic of Evolution. The purpose of this site is to help you explore the past in ways that help you celebrate the present and flourish in the future. On this page you will also learn about the author of this site and its history and future.
Where are you? How did you get here? Where are you going? What’s the most scenic way to get there?
For thousands of years, people have asked themselves questions about how they fit in. To answer these fundamental questions, we need context. The greatest possible context is our Origin Story. Origin stories help us put our lives in the biggest possible context.
Until only around 100 years ago, origin stories were based on people’s experience gained from our five senses. Now, thanks to the inventions of telescopes, microscopes, spectroscopes, molecular biology, and hundreds of different instruments and techniques that extend our powers of perception, thousands of scientists from around the world have discovered astonishing insights that reveal more than ever before about our universal origin story. Yet the more we discover, the more we realize there is to learn. How amazing is that???
The Epic of Evolution is our evidence-based origin story. It chronicles our 13.8 billion year journey from the “Big Bang” to the emergence of stars, life, and the human spirit.
The Epic of Evolution is everybody’s story. This web site is for everyone who is curious about where they came from and where they may be going. The Epic of Evolution is the Origin Story for people of all philosophies, all traditions, and all religions (or none). This Epic is for those who claim faith in a higher power as well as for those who do not and for those who are not sure. The goal of this site is to help you learn about the grandest of stories, from the Big Bang to the evolution of life to the emergence of our culture to the ascent of consciousness.
Explore the PAST
To help people understand the story of the universe, this site contains an overview, which I call, the Seven Stages in the Epic of Evolution.
This site also contains hands-on educational resources for teaching the science of the Epic of Evolution in a fun and tangible way. Many scientific disciplines contribute to our understanding of the Epic of Evolution. To gain the greatest benefit, it’s helpful to have a basic knowledge of physics, geology, biology, paleontology, and neuroscience.
This site is about the entire story of the universe, not just about the story of life. That said, because so many people are confused about evolutionary biology, this site emphasizes biological evolution and the role of variation in evolution. This site pays special tribute to Charles Darwin, who showed that evolution requires “profitable” variations as well as natural selection.
In the future, this site will build on Darwin’s ideas of evolutionary psychology. Darwin showed how emotions such as love and sympathy contribute to human fitness.
This site contains tested, hands-on activities that effectively teach important concepts about the science of evolution. This site also has annotated guides to books and videos and web sites about the Epic of Evolution.
Celebrate the PRESENT
Beyond teaching the facts of evolution, a goal of this web site is to help you feel at home in this evolving cosmos. By understanding our place in the evolving cosmos, you can create more joy and prosperity in your life.
One of the big challenges in celebrating evolution is overcoming destructive philosophies promoted in the name of evolution. For over 150 years, people have been overly influenced by the negative interpretations of evolution, such as “eugenics”, “survival of the most ruthless,” the belief that “life is merely random and meaningless”, and “descent from slime gives license to behave like slime.” These ideas fail to offer a comprehensive or accurate view of evolution. These limited portrayals of evolution offer little to celebrate. In fact, these limited understandings lead to various forms of existential angst, which in turn leaves people vulnerable to helplessness, depression, and anxiety.
In contrast to these ideas, the information on this web site draws from the most up to date evidence, which gives us a richer, more nuanced and more comprehensive view of evolution. Many recent discoveries offer a more accurate view of reality so that we may live more in harmony with this reality. And this is a reason to celebrate!
Celebrating dialog between science and religion
If you listen to the “news” you might believe that all religions are at odds with science. Like other “fake news” this is not a reflection of reality. The reality is that religions, like everything else in the universe, are evolving, and more and more religious people are embracing and celebrating the Epic of Evolution. Science and religion are two complementary projects helping people become the fullest expressions of themselves. To paraphrase Galileo, “Religion shows the way to go to heaven and science shows the way the heavens go.”
To help you make sense of the relationship between science and religion, this site provides a clearinghouse of links to sites that foster dialog between evolution and religion. More and more religious people are exploring and discussing spirituality in the light of evolution.
Flourish in the FUTURE
The main goal of this web site is to help each person flourish in the future. Understanding the past lets us understand principles that can guide us in creating an optimal future.
Already, an evolutionary worldview is helping people flourish, on personal and planetary levels. On a personal scale, the light of evolution is transforming the fields of nutrition, exercise, medicine, and psychology to enhance and prolong people’s lives. On the planetary scale, evolutionary science is helping us avoid meteors and mitigate and ease the effects of climate change.
For example, the Keto Diet is one of the fastest-growing diets. By understanding how people evolved, scientists have learned principles of nutrition to help reverse chronic diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune disease, obesity, and dementia.
Another example is in the field of psychology and neuroscience. In light of evolution, we know that many of our behaviors are subconscious and evolved to help our ancestors survive when food was scarce or we were the food. Many of these same behaviors cause us problems today. We eat for the famines that never come and become obese. Our “fight or flight” reflexes are triggered when there is no real danger. In the light of evolution, we can be free of our inherent drives to overeat and to over-worry.
Collectively, the Epic of Evolution helps us flourish in the future. We know that what killed the dinosaurs will not kill us. Humans now have the technology to deflect incoming asteroids, thereby saving sentient life on Earth.
Yet great challenges remain. Thanks to insights from the Epic of Evolution, we know that the climate on Earth is always changing and at times, has not been ideal for human life. With this information, we are able to find solutions to insuring an optimal climate.
“We cannot save our planet unless humankind undergoes a widespread spiritual and religious awakening.”
~ Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest,
At the heart of this awakening is an inspiring and accurate evolutionary worldview.
About the Author, Cathy
I am Cathy Goldwater McGowan Russell, weaver of this web. (Please call me Cathy.) In highschool, biology was my favorite subject. My best friend, Diane, and I dissected a shark that had a bonus inside: A fish!. We dissected the fish and discovered another bonus! A worm.
My passion for understanding evolution began in biology class because it made sense of all aspects of biology.
in college, I was most fascinated with the evolution of the human brain and how consciousness evolved. Because the tools for understanding microbial cells were far better, I chose to earn a Ph.D. by researching how bacteria evolve. My group in the Research on Microbial Evolution (ROME) lab, investigated horizontal gene transfer in the evolution of new metabolic pathways. We discovered that genes from distantly related organisms could be transferred to create entirely new metabolic pathways that allowed bacteria to eat human-made compounds. Our work helps us understand where biological variation comes from! (Something Darwin never knew). This was amazing!!. These tiny microbes are so different from us, yet their cells and DNA reveal so much about our human evolution.
My passion for promoting the Epic of Evolution continues to grow because understanding this story has given me hope and happiness that I want to share. The more I learn about this amazing journey, the more optimistic I become.
My goal is to inspire a hopeful vision for thriving in the future. Knowledge of the past offers reasons to celebrate the present and clues to flourish in the future. (more about Cathy )
History and Future of this Site
This site began in 2005, when I (Cathy) bought the domain name EpicOfEvolution.com to create a set of links to various excellent storytellers of our amazing origin story. I had a lifetime fascination with evolution, a more recent interest in the story of the universe, and I was in awe of the brilliant scientists who had been able to figure this stuff out. Wow.
When I first began this site, I was intellectually captivated by this amazing story. It fed my mind and made sense of stuff. Then, around 2008, I had an epiphany. I realized that the Epic of Evolution inspired my soul as well as making sense for my mind. One morning, I saw the universe as intriguing, yet indifferent. If you had asked me if the universe was friendly, I would have said “No. It’s indifferent.” But by that afternoon, I saw the universe as becoming ever more friendly toward sentient life. While I still don’t necessarily believe that the universe has emotions (except for those of humans) I do see that the universe has a clear direction toward greater complexity, greater cooperation, greater consciousness, and even greater compassion, (at least in this corner of the universe.) I have a new hypothesis: Evolution’s Arc Bends Toward Love. I call this hypothesis “EVOLUTION’s ARC.
Evolution’s Arc is obvious to some people and yet, to others, it is utterly senseless. But to me, this change in perspective has PROFOUNDLY improved my life. First off, this hypothesis fits the data much better. Second, this hypothesis provides better predictive powers. Third, the most courageous and creative people who have ever lived share this essential worldview! It’s not just me! Most importantly, with this new worldview to guide me, I am in excellent health (after years of struggle), I am happier, and I feel so hopeful about the future (which is especially handy during COVID-19). Now, I have dedicated my life and this website to explore the hypothesis of Evolution’s Arc, to celebrate its implications, and to flourish with its applications.
FUTURE OF THIS SITE
My Big Hairy Audacious Goal for this site:
- to create a hub for a vibrant community of enthusiasts who share their visions for creating a flourishing future.
- to create a site with the most effective tools for teaching Evolution’s Arc in a way that inspires people of all ages
- to create videos of inspiring music, songs, and stories that celebrate Evolution’s Arc.
- to interview evolutionary thought leaders who inspire people to live their most creative and empowered lives.