Nothing exists in isolation. Everything today is a continuation of the past as well as an indication of the future; everything around us is impacted by distant things, and in turn influences other things in the distance. In order to answer questions about mankind and human society, one must first understand humanity and human history itself, as well as the environment in which humans survive.
SECTION ONE: THE PURSUIT OF TRUTH
In the thousands of years of recorded human civilization, truth is often mistaken as fallacy, while fallacies are often regarded as sacred and inviolable truths. The birth of a revolutionary truth must always weather a ruthless and bloody storm of opposition: that has been the universal law throughout time.
Many scientific conclusions have led to tragic persecution and brutal combat in the long course of history, but truth always wins out in the end. Through the endurance of time, fact will always shine through the layers of absurdity and make its brilliance known universally.
The path to truth is often filled with hardship. Three such examples are introduced below.
One: The Story of Earth’s Relation to the Universe
Since the beginning of time, humans have been preoccupied with understanding the earth we live on and the universe surrounding it. Due to the limitations of the known world, for thousands of years after entering civilized society, humans could only rely on their intuition and imagination to observe the sun, moon, stars, earth, and sky and attempt an understanding of the earth and universe.
“Geocentric” was a cosmologyical doctrine established in ancient Europe; it was first proposed by the third-century BC ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. He theorized that the earth was the center of the universe, with the moon, stars, and all cosmic matter orbiting around it. Aristotle was a master of ancient Greek philosophy and a teacher to the famous Macedonian king, Alexander the Great. His lofty status and seemingly reasonable explanation might have been the reason this wrong theory dominated the Western world for more than a thousand years. It is often through a series of “developments,” misinterpretations, and accidental applications that falsehoods gain and cement their dominance in the world.
The astronomer Ptolemy further developed and improved upon the geocentric theory. He believed that Earth was located in the center of the universe, with the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn ranging around it in successive order. According to him, these planets all orbited the earth within their own trajectory at regular intervals.
All of the above views regarding the earth and its relation to the universe fall within the realm or normal academia. According to the general principles of scientific research, as long as there is sufficient basis, a new correct scientific conclusion can overturn a previous wrong one without much difficulty; however, once a scientific theory is deliberately exploited by the dominant religious or political authorities, the situation becomes much more complicated.
Christian doctrine took up the incorrect geocentric theory. According to Christianity, God created Earth and the universe. The earth was the center of the universe, and everything in the universe, including mankind, was created by God. During the dark medieval times, Christianity firmly imprisoned people’s belief systems, not allowing any doubt or rebellion against predetermined Christian ideology. This allowed the geocentric theory to dominate cosmology virtually unchallenged.
The first person to offer substantive challenge to the geocentric theory was Copernicus. Nicholas Copernicus was born in Torun, Poland, on February 19, 1473. He studied law, medicine, and theology at university, but his interests lay in astronomy. In his spare time, Copernicus would observe and study astronomy. Coupled with his reflections on the universe, he proposed the heliocentric theory and dedicated his life to completing the astronomical masterpiece, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. This work stated that Earth was not the center of the universe but just an ordinary planet. The center of the universe was the sun, followed by Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, in that order.
Today, we can see that Copernicus’ argument is not the ultimate truth either, but it was a crucial first step on the path to truth and a complete denial of the geocentric theory. More importantly, the heliocentric theory’s denial of geocentric theory would move beyond an astronomical debate to evolve into a challenge of Christian religious theology. The revolutionary consequences inspired by the heliocentric theory would trigger a chain reaction across a series of other fields. This was absolutely unacceptable to the Christian church.
On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres was published after Copernicus had been bedridden by a stroke. With trembling hands, he caressed this masterpiece for which he’d struggled his whole life, and he died not long after.
It was the genius, atheist, Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno who developed Copernicus’ theory. Bruno was not an astronomer; he used his own philosophical speculations to propose the idea of an infinite universe, further developing the Copernicus theory. Bruno believed that the sun was not static but constantly moving, and that the sun was not the center of the universe either. He believed that there were an infinite number of worlds outside the solar system, and the universe—being unified, material, and infinite—could not have a center.
Bruno’s ideas infuriated the Catholic Church, and the inquisition held a seven-year interrogation against him. Bruno was indomitable and insistent upon the truth, even in prison; he was ultimately sentenced to death by burning. On February 17, 1600, Bruno was burned at the stake in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori.
Brutality, bloodshed, and violence can never stop people’s pursuit of truth, as evidenced by one of the most outstanding pioneers of modern science: Galileo. Through astronomical observation, Galileo concurred with the Copernicus theory and published the book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems in 1632. This book was soon banned by the Roman Catholic Church. Galileo himself was tried in Rome and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1633.
The period in which Bruno and Galileo were sentenced by the church was the darkness before the dawn for Europe. The fourteenth-century Renaissance movement, originating in Italy, sought to organize ancient Greek and Roman works as cultural weapons against religious theology. The movement took up a human-centered humanism ideology to confront the God-centered religious ideology, opening the way for modern ideological liberation.
It was the dedication in the pursuit of truth and fearless sacrifice for righteousness demonstrated by men like Copernicus, Bruno, and Galileo that woke the dawn of the new world. From the seventeenth to the eighteenth century, the Western Enlightenment movement started in Britain and France and expanded to Germany, the Netherlands, and many other countries. The Enlightenment movement used rationalism as an ideological weapon, with its spearhead directly pointed towards feudal autocratic rule and religious theology. It opposed religious superstition in favor of promoting the spirit of science and opposed authoritarian dictatorship in favor of democracy and freedom. The Enlightenment movement even advocated for a rational society free from religion—a secularization of human life. It was the effort of Enlightenment thinkers that uncovered the path to science and reason for all humanity and removed the shackles of religion from the pursuit of truth once and for all. And then there was the American Revolution and the French revolution . . . and so scientific research suddenly saw the light.
It was the power of truth that drove the world to momentous change.
Two: The Story of Earth
The earth is home to man. Our ancestors hunted, gathered, and farmed here day in, day out. It is Earth—the home our survival depends upon—that provides a habitat for humanity within the vastness of the universe. And thus humanity has endured from the beginning of time until today, evolving from apes to Homo sapiens, from barbarism into civilization.
However, the surface of the earth we live on is far from fixed and eternal; it consists of separate plates that constantly drift and change. From the formation of the earth until this day, this surface has undergone much change. About two hundred million years ago, Earth was one supercontinent encompassing all lands. What is today the east coast of South America was connected to the west of Africa; North America was adjoined to the west of the Eurasian continent; Australian was a peninsula off the east of Antarctica; the Indian subcontinent was all the way in Antarctic, thousands of miles away from Southwest China; and China’s Tibet was bordered by vast seas. This was not the first time a supercontinent existed on Earth. Another supercontinent had formed about seven hundred million years ago, but the shapes and locations of the landmasses varied.
The landmasses on Earth have been separating and uniting throughout time. Just as brothers who must go their separate ways once the time comes, this supercontinent finally broke apart, the landmasses starting their separate journeys, two hundred million years ago. The Americas drifted westward, away from Europe and Africa, while the Indian subcontinent broke off from the Antarctic continent and traveled north until it bumped into eastward drifting Asia, forming the magnificent Himalayas in the process. Australia left Antarctica shortly after the Indian subcontinent and traveled north, and it maintains a northward voyage until this day.
Today, the Americas continue to drift westward with the Atlantic Ocean, expanding at a rate of one to four centimeters per year. In fifty million years, the Atlantic will have widened by more than one thousand kilometers. At the same time, the Asian continent is drifting eastward and the Indian Ocean is also enlarging. Under attack on both the east and west side, the Pacific is becoming narrower; eventually, it will no longer be the largest ocean in the world.
As the African continent continues to move north, the Mediterranean will become an inner lake and eventually disappear. The stubborn Indian continent will remain firmly pressed against Asia, causing the Himalayas to rise at a rate of one to five centimeters a year. In some tens of thousands of years, Mount Everest will be more than ten thousand meters in height, further cementing it as the world’s highest peak.
After swallowing the Mediterranean, the African continent will continue its “northern expedition,” eventually hitting Europe and creating a tall uplift along the African-European continental margin. The Alps will gain in height as well; however, the African continent itself will face large internal divisions. The Great Rift Valley will rupture completely, East Africa will begin an eastward drift, and a new ocean will be produced.
This almost fairytale-esque story is the theory of plate tectonics, which originated from the continental drift theory proposed by German scientist Alfred Wegener. In 1910, when Wegener was lying in bed sick, he was inspired by the world map in front of him. He was fascinated by the similarity of the landmasses on the two sides of the Atlantic, as the protrusion on one side perfectly fit into the concave of the opposite side. With such consistency in shape, could it have been possible that these two continents were once connected? With this idea in mind, Wegener began a series of studies. He not only conducted comparative studies of the continental strata on the two sides of the Atlantic, but he also researched the consistency of African and Brazilian paleontology, eventually producing the theory of continental drift.
Wegener’s theory was almost unanimously opposed by geophysicist everywhere. People laughed at his “great poetical dream” and regarded him as an ignorant grandstander lacking basic knowledge of Earth science. Wegener’s ideas were deemed to be simply ridiculous and completely unjustified.
Wegener was extremely marginalized and shunned in academia; this exclusion and contempt even affected the small number of people who expressed recognition or sympathy to his theory. During that time in the United States, you could not become a university professor if you subscribed to the theory of continental drift, and you would also face endless irony and disdain. In such an environment, even those who wholeheartedly supported continental drift theory could not express it out loud—this was a rare phenomenon in the United States, where democracy and freedom were such important values.
For a long time, the theory of isostasy held dominance in geology circles. It theorized that the earth’s crust moved in an equilibrium of alternating rising and sinking movements that relied mainly on vertical movement and only minimally on horizontal movements. Therefore, the continental drift movement was undoubtedly a fundamental negation of isostasy theory, openly challenging existing geological theories and authorities.
Wegener was alone in his battle; even his famous meteorologist father-inlaw held continental drift theory to be mere caprice. But Wegener persisted in his academic beliefs and was committed to proving continental drift theory in every way possible.
In 1930, the fifty-year-old Wegener met a tragic death in Greenland while attempting to find further evidence to support his theory. The continental drift theory faded into obscurity along with its founder.
It was only in the 1950s that breakthroughs in paleomagnetism research finally validated his theory. When magma goes from hot to cool in its solidification process, it gains magnetism from the earth’s magnetic fields. Rocks from different times magnetize in the same direction. Since rocks can be dated, the magnetization direction of rocks across different time periods can also be determined; thus, the different locations of different regions at different times can be determined as well.
In the 1960s, scientists conducted differential research into seabed rocks and terrestrial rocks in conjunction with research into submarine magnetic anomalies, eventually finding evidence of subsea expansion. Wegener’s continental theory finally became recognized as truth instead of “absurd heresy.” Both Wegener and his theory were vindicated in the academic community. Scientists established the theory of plate tectonics based on Wegener’s theory, marking a geological revolution and the advent of a new era in Earth science.
Three: The Story of the Origin of Humanity
When it comes to the origin of humanity, almost every nation has developed its own interpretation over time. Most of these explanations state that humans are created by deities and are accompanied by numerous folktales and legends. When the “God created man” story became a theological doctrine of the prevalent religious power, however, it became uncontestable, as any challenge to theological doctrine in a religion-centric world could mean imprisonment, or even death.
British naturalist Charles Darwin and biologist Alfred Russel Wallace were both revolutionary figures in the impetus to overthrow the “God created man” ideology. Darwin in particular cast unprecedented doubt on the creation theory through his detailed research and rigorous scientific analysis.
In 1831, the British Navy ship Beagle was set to embark on a scientific investigation of South America. Its main task was to conduct hydrological mapping of the east and west coast and islands of South America, as well as record a time for completing an around-the-world voyage. The ship was missing a naturalist with geophysical knowledge, so Darwin was suggested due to his interest in botany and geology, even though he was not a geologist. This voyage took nearly five years, stopping at many places around the world. While managing geological inspections and collecting data, Darwin discovered many occurrences that contradicted the creation theory.
On the South American Pampas grasslands, Darwin often observed a kind of bird that could not fly, called the rhea. These birds lived in environments similar to that of African ostriches, but although rheas were similar in body structure to ostriches, they were not identical. If God decided to create these beings, wouldn’t one be enough? What point was there in repeating the process?
What struck him as even more odd was his experience while investigating the Galapagos Islands; each island had their own unique creatures. These islands were very close to the South American continent, and the islands’ creatures were obviously different yet still clearly genetically related to the creatures living in South America. Even among the islands, though each island’s creatures were significantly different from each other, they still shared obvious genetic traits. This phenomenon made it possible for people to imagine that such creatures shared the same origin and developed differently in diverse environments—so species were not necessarily immutable. This ideology was undoubtedly incompatible with the “God created all things, and all things are eternal” belief.
Upon arriving in Brazil, Darwin was mesmerized by the variety of plant life, the beautiful leaves and flowers in the Brazilian forests. All this natural splendor dazzled Darwin and caused him to question if God had really created such diverse marvels one by one, all by himself.
After Darwin returned to the Britain, he started thinking in-depth about his voyage and studying domestic animals, ultimately forming the concept of evolution and publishing his far-reaching book, On the Origin of Species, in 1859. In this book, Darwin systematically expounded on his theory of evolution. He believed that all creatures were capable of evolving; some evolutions were heritable, and some were not. Evolution was caused by changes in the living environment and the use of organs; individuals evolved to better suit the environment had better chances of surviving, and organs used more were gradually developed. For example, wild ducks have stronger wings than domesticated ducks because they fly more, while domesticated ducks have stronger legs because they walk more.
Darwin believed that there was a surplus in nature, and that organisms reproduced in far greater numbers than necessary for survival. Only those individuals who evolved to best adapt to the environment survived and produced offspring, while less suitably evolved individuals were eliminated. Under natural conditions, evolution is a need for survival and reproduction. Animals compete for food and mating opportunities, while plants compete for sunshine and nutrients. They are all evolving through such competitions.
In Darwin’s mind, a primitive ancestor could produce a variety of species each with their own traits. Different individual hybridizations and isolated geographical environments all contribute to the formation of new species and varied traits. All creatures within the same genus share a genetic connection, just as different foliage on a tree connects to the same trunk.
Shortly after the publication of On the Origin of Species, Darwin’s follower, Thomas Henry Huxley, published Man’s Place in Nature in 1863. In 1871, Darwin published The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, in which he enumerated many facts to scientifically prove that humans were evolved from animals and shared “kinship” with animals, thus pointing out man’s position in nature. Darwin’s assertion completely denied the religious doctrine of “God created the world and man.” These two books once again caused a sensation. They told people that there was no Creator, that the world evolved according to its own laws, and that species evolved from other species from one common ancestor, producing a variety of complex biological species, including humans.
Darwin and Huxley’s arguments caused great waves and infuriated the religious community. One debate on creation versus evolution went down in history. On June 30, 1860, the British Association for the Advancement of Science arranged a debate on creation versus evolution theory. Due to physical discomfort, Darwin did not participate in this debate. Attending on his behalf was staunch Darwinist and quick-thinker Huxley; on the other side of the debate was eloquent Oxford Bishop Wilberforce, a man renowned for his religious attainments. This debate is known in history as the “Oxford Evolution Debate,” and it took place in the Oxford University Museum. The sensitive nature of the theme attracted a large volume of listeners; the venue was packed with over seven hundred attendees.
Wilberforce spoke first. Playing on the religious feelings of the people, he carried out a deeply provocative attack: “Mr. Darwin would have us believe that every animal, every reptile, every fish, plant, fly, and fungi descended from the first living creature that could breathe. This is a blatant denial of the will of God. Can we allow such betrayal of orthodox religion?” Wilberforce quickly turned his glance to Huxley and asked, “Mr. Huxley, do you consider yourself descended from an ape through your grandmother or your grandfather?” This clearly humiliating provocation caused the audience to burst into laughter.
After hearing Wilberforce’s speech, Huxley quickly realized that Wilberforce did not know what evolution was, nor had he seriously read On the Origin of Species. Huxley calmly stood up after the crowd had quieted and spoke: “I have come to defend science, and I believe that no prejudice can take away the prestige of my respected party.” He then plainly explained the fundamentals of the theory of evolution, pointing out that this was the result of twenty years of observation on Darwin’s part, not fabrication, and that it reflected the objective laws of the biological world. Then Huxley said, “On the question of humans originating from monkeys, it is not as superficial and literal as the Bishop understands it to be; it just means that humans are evolved from animals like monkeys.” After further illustrating Darwin’s views in a more comprehensive manner, Huxley turned his head and started straight at Wilberforce, replying, “[A] man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling, it would be a MAN, a man of restless and versatile intellect, who, not content with a success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions, and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.” The audience responded with warm applause to Huxley’s brilliant retort.
The Oxford Evolution Debate had great repercussions. It helped people to clearly understand the absurdity of creationism and the scientific nature of the Darwinian evolution theory. It was evolution that removed the shackles of feudal theology from the field of natural science, allowing it to embark upon a path of independent development. Simultaneously, the theory of evolution further shook the rule of religion through obscurantism, liberating people’s minds and defending the dignity of truth.
The pursuit of truth is a demanding process; it requires a certain spirit and a type of courage. Daring to challenge traditional ideas, daring to contest authority, daring to face persecution: these are all premises for the birth of a revolutionary truth.
This book bases its research on the pursuit of truth and the respect for reality. This author is determined to go forth undeterred, with no regrets or fears, because he firmly believes that the conclusions of this book are fundamentally related to the fate and future of humanity.
SECTION TWO: THE BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE
One: The Universe Started with “the Big Bang”
Nowadays, any ordinary person knows that the sun we rely on to survive is just another ordinary star in the Milky Way, and that Earth is just another planet of the sun. Before the 1920s, however, the horizon of astronomers was confined to the Milky Way, as if the Milky Way was the entire galaxy. The first person to discover galaxies outside of the Milky Way was American astronomer Edwin Hubble. In 1925, he discovered the Andromeda Galaxy near the Milky Way through astronomical observation, marking the first extragalactic galaxy (i.e., a galaxy outside the Milky Way) observed by humans. In later observations, Hubble found that there were far more than one or two galaxies outside the Milky Way. Ten years after the discovery of the first extragalactic galaxy, the scope of astronomical observation expanded to a range of five hundred million light-years; that is the distance light travels (300,000 km per second) in five hundred million years. At the time, this observation distance seemed to be sufficiently large.
After observing numerous extragalactic galaxies, astronomers discovered that almost all of them were moving away from us, and the further those galaxies were, the faster they were moving away. For example, the Virgo Nebula is moving away from us at a rate of 1,000 kilometers per second; to the astronomers then, this was simply incredible. Why are these galaxies moving away from us? Where does our universe come from, and where is it heading? Many scientists have approached these questions from different perspectives. In 1927, Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître suggested that all material of the universe could be traced back in time to an originating single point; he called this point the “Cosmic Egg.” When the Cosmic Egg suddenly exploded, the explosion material formed the stars. Today, the Big Bang theory of cosmic formation is accepted by most scientists, and this theory is being constantly perfected.
The universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago; of course, this is only a rough estimate. Different scientists have varied understanding of this number, but the differences are not significant.Therefore, it does not prevent our discussion. This time can be confirmed in at least three ways. The first method relies on the observation of galaxy retreat speed. If we rewind 13.8 billion years, the universe can be attributed to one originating point. The second mode focuses on the study of the universe’s oldest stars and the star clusters they form. Upon further inference, their ages are all close to 13.8 billion years. These are the first generation of stars formed in the universe. The third approach is centered around the decay of atoms; it uses the law of the atomic half-life to test the age of the oldest existing atoms.
The most common description humans use to describe cosmic origin states that the universe began with a primitive atom. This atom was much smaller than the atoms we refer to today; it had a diameter of only 10-33 centimeters, a high temperature, and large density. In specific numbers, this atom has a temperature of 1032 K and a density of 1093 grams per cubic centimeter. This primitive atom suddenly exploded 13.8 billion years ago. The space it created through that explosion is the universe; the debris it produced are the galaxies, stars, and various substances in the universe today.
However, the above description is not completely accurate. Our cosmology today is based on general relativity and quantum mechanics. Based on today’s scientific theory, we can trace the formation of the universe to 10-43 seconds after the Big Bang. This period is called the Planck time. The abovementioned figures are the cosmic scale, temperature, and density at this time. Using this state of time as the origin of the universe is actually very arbitrary; since there had to have been a “zero-point” and a singularity point before this time, we are merely unable to describe the universe before Planck time with existing cosmic theory.
It is not easy to truly understand the description of the universe. It first demands that we surrender our observation of the things around us and adopt a completely different way of understanding everything in which we exist and perceive constantly.
From a geometric point of view, a point is zero-dimensional, a line is one dimensional, a surface is two-dimensional, and a cube is three-dimensional. This is something we learn in junior high. We can easily imagine the shape of a point, a line, a surface, or a cube. But space is four-dimensional; we can perceive it, but we cannot imagine what it looks like. Of course, there will be many people who do not agree with this argument. They might ask: Hasn’t time always flowed naturally? Isn’t the universe the area we see? People have these doubts because they are confused by their personal experiences. According to existing understandings of cosmic theory, time and space came into existence at the moment of the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, and so time has flowed until the present and the universe has been constantly expanding to this day. Surely someone will ask: Even if there was no matter or life before the Big Bang, there must have been time . . . right? The answer is no. Time started with the Big Bang; there was no time before that. If the Big Bang created the galaxies and matter, surely there was empty space before the Big Bang—how else did the debris from the Big Bang disperse? The answer is once again no. Space came into being at the moment of the Big Bang; the volume of space is determined by the volume of the universe’s expansion. Someone might ask again: What is outside of the universe? What connects to the edges of the universe? The answer is that the universe only has size; it has no edge and does not touch anything. (There are scientists who believe that there are other universes outside of our universe, but we cannot see them since space is four-dimensional.)
When we observe the galaxy through a telescope, we discover that the further away a galaxy is, the faster it is moving away from us—that is not to say that we are the center of the universe. As a matter of fact, we would reach the same conclusion observing the universe from any planet in any galaxy. Just as when we blow balloons we might observe on any point on the balloon that the further away a point is the faster it is moving away. Observations made on any fixed point give the illusion that the observer is at the center. In reality, every point is just an ordinary point.
The explosion 13.8 billion years created the epoch. At the beginning of the Big Bang, the four natural forces we know today (strong interaction, weak interaction, electromagnetism, and gravitation) were unified. As the universe began to cool and expand, these four forces started to separate. At the same time, the asymmetry between matter and antimatter began to appear; matter outweighed antimatter by a tiny portion. These were the “Dark Ages” of the universe; in this dark space, particles and antiparticles annihilated into photons, producing energy. This annihilation included neutron-antineutron annihilation, proton-antiproton annihilation, electron-positron annihilation, and neutrino-antineutrino annihilation. Today, light fills the entire universe mainly as a product of the early Big Bang period, while the matter that remains from this large annihilation is our cosmic galaxy.
Three minutes after the Big Bang, the temperature of the universe fell to one billion K. During this time, protons and neutrons combined to form nuclei; this process lasted about an hour. When the universe’s temperature dropped to one hundred million K, the nuclear synthesis ended. According to theoretical calculations, among the products of the nuclear synthesis, hydrogen accounts for ¾, helium takes up ¼, while tiny amounts of lithium, beryllium, and boron account for less than one millionth of the whole. These theoretical figures have received initial confirmation through astronomical observations today.
During this time, the universe was full of photons, but it was not transparent due to the large number of free electrons also existing in the universe. These electrons blocked the path of photons. About thirty million years later, the temperature of the universe had dropped to 3,000 K, electron movement was less intense, and it was possible for hydrogen nuclei to capture one electron and turn into hydrogen atoms, for helium nuclei to capture two electrons and form helium atoms, and for lithium nuclei, beryllium nuclei, and boron nuclei to all capture corresponding electrons and form atoms. Without the electrons blocking their paths, photons were liberated and lit up the universe, ending the Dark Age. Concurrently, the universe moved from a radiation-based era to a matter-based era.
In the 1960s, while debugging the radio astronomical telescope, two engineers at the Bell Labs—Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson— discovered that a very “cold light” occupied the universe sky. This “light” encompassed every star and every galaxy, filling every corner of the universe. It was not visible with optical telescopes but could only be observed through radio telescopes; its corresponding temperature was 3 K. We know that 0 K is absolute zero, measuring -273 ⁰C. This is the theoretical minimum temperature, and 3 K is exactly the theoretical calculation of the temperature of waste heat produced by the Big Bang. That cold light that filled the universe is the original light remnant of the Big Bang; it is the remains of the photons from the Dark Age of the universe. Since 13.8 billion years have passed and the universe has undergone a great expansion, the initial photons are now scattered throughout the universe and have become very sparse. Only a few hundred photons exist in every cubic centimeter, which equates to 3 K in temperature. Evenly spread across the entire universe, this light is called “Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.” These two engineers’ accidental discovery proved to be the most powerful proof for the Big Bang Theory, and the two were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978 for that reason.
At the same time the universe was expanding from the massive force of the Big Bang, atoms were being brought together by gravitational force to form huge clouds. Two hundred million years after the Big Bang, these atom clouds had finally been compressed tightly enough so that stars could be born. At this time, the universal temperature—that is, background radiation— had dropped to 30 K. The universe’s sky had changed from the earlier yellow and red to the darkness we see today, with dots of stars twinkling in the distance. Galaxies began to form as well; 13.8 billion years after the Big Bang, the universe is still continuing its outward expansion.
Two: The Universe and the Milky Way
There is no question that the Milky Way is also a product of the Big Bang, yet unlike the cosmic Big Bang theory, there is no consistent view regarding the formation of the Milky Way. The general belief is that a large cloud of atomic gas gathered due to gravitational force and formed a relatively enclosed and independent space shortly after the universe was created. Under gravitational force, a number of smaller enclosed and independent air masses formed within this large enclosed air mass; these smaller air masses became more and more dense, and their internal temperatures rose higher and higher. About two hundred million years after the universe formed, they ignited their own hydrogen nuclei one by one, producing enough heat to set the air masses aflame and form the first generation of stars. That original gas cloud encompassing hundreds of millions of stars evolved into one giant galaxy: the Milky Way.
According to research today, the Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy comprised of a large number of stars. Some people compare it to the discs athletes throw, since it is also round, thin, and convex in the center. Along the diameter of this “disk,” we call the center the Galactic Center, and the convex part surrounding the center the Galactic Bulge, with the galactic disk and halo ranging around it.
The Galactic Center of the Milky Way is flat and spherical in shape, measuring 16,000 light-years in diameter and about 13,000 light-years in thickness. It is densely populated by stars and is filled with dense interstellar matter and nebula. According to observation, there is a supermassive black hole in the nucleus area, supported by the existence of strong cosmic ray radiation, which is evidence of black hole phagocytosis.
The area around the center is semi-densely populated by stars and called the galactic disk; it measures 100,000 light-years in diameter, with a thickness of about 3,000–6,000 light-years. It is thicker near the center and thinner around the edge. The spherical shape surrounding the galactic disk is called the halo; it is about 100,000 light-years in diameter and is sparsely populated with stars, most of which are older and mineral-weak. Within the halo, some stars have aged to the last period of their star-life, and some of the larger ones even scatter their heavier elements through supernova explosion. These scattered elements land on the disk and become the “material” that form new star systems.
The galactic disk has a spiral arm structure that extends from the inside out, approximately symmetrical to the Galactic Center. The spiral arm contains more young, bright, metal-rich stars with denser galaxy dust, and it is also where stars are born. The Milky Way galactic disk has four spiral arms: the Norma and Cygnus arm, the Sagittarius arm, the Scutum-Crux arm, and the Perseus arm. At present, our solar system is located in the Orion arm, which is a minor spiral arm. The sun is 27,000 light-years away from the Galactic Center and slants about twenty-six light-years north off the surface plate; it revolves around the Galactic Center at a rate of 220 kilometers per second. Even at such high speed, one full rotation around the Galactic Center takes approximately 250 million years; thus, we call 250 million years one galactic year.
When we observe the sky with the naked eye, we cannot see the spiral nebula of the Milky Way, nor the spiral arm structures. In a clear summer night sky, all we can see is a bright river of stars stretched across the sky. This is because we are situated in the galactic disk and can only observe a side view of the Milky Way, so it will always look ribbon-shaped to us. There is a brighter, denser area near Sagittarius—that is the nucleus of the Milky Way.
In gross estimation, there are about two hundred billion stars in the Milky Way (some scientists believe the number to be much higher—as much as two thousand billion galaxies) and around 300 billion galaxies in the universe. This is an extremely vast number. With so many stars and galaxies out there, it is humanly impossible to count them one by one. Even if every single person in the world spent their life counting, it would not be enough to tally all the stars in the universe. In fact, the number of stars and galaxies is obtained through “weighing.” It is calculated according to the orbit patterns of stars and galaxies.
Our galaxy is a relatively large galaxy within the universe, and it is not alone—there are about ten smaller galaxies surrounding it. Each of these galaxies has stars ranging in number from billions to tens of billions; there are even some dwarf galaxies with only a few million to hundreds of millions of stars. The Milky Way rules these galaxies through its gravity and dictates their movement. There are also bigger galaxies neighboring the Milky Way. In this lineup, the Milky Way can only claim second, with the Andromeda Galaxy reigning supreme. The Andromeda consists of nearly one hundred billion stars, and it rules more than ten smaller galaxies as well. In addition, there are some galaxies smaller than the Milky Way and Andromeda that are not governed by the two, but rather connected internally to form an independent, giant celestial system. We call this celestial system a “galaxy cluster,” or “galaxy group.”
The independent celestial system in which the Milky Way is located is relatively small, with only thirty galaxies. It does not quite reach the quota for a cluster—only a group. We call it the Local Group. Other galaxy groups near the Local Group include the Sculptor Group, the M81 Group, and the Virgo Cluster.
Galaxy groups (clusters) are all individually independent within the universe. As we know, galaxies are all moving away from each other, but that is not the case for the members in the Local Group. Apart from the ten or so satellite galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy, two hundred light-years away, is speeding towards us at a rate of 120 kilometers per second. According to this calculation, it will meet with the Milky Way in thirty billion years.
In our universe, galaxy groups (clusters) are not the real giants; superclusters are celestial systems even larger than galaxy groups (clusters), and they take the throne. Superclusters are also known as second-order clusters and are comprised of smaller galaxy clusters or galaxy groups. The Local Group Galaxy Cluster is part of the Local Supercluster, which encompasses the Sculptor Group, the M81 Group, and the Virgo Cluster. The Local Supercluster contains about fifty galaxy clusters and galaxy groups, totaling thousands of galaxies. It is a flat, giant cluster of galaxy clusters with the Local Group located along its edge. The center of the Local Supercluster lies in the Virgo Cluster, sixty million light-years away. The Milky Way revolves around the center of the Virgo Cluster, completing one orbit about every one hundred billion years.
The two superclusters relatively close to us are the Perseus-Pisces Supercluster, twenty-five million light-years away, and the Hercules Supercluster, five hundred million years away. There is vast empty space between superclusters. In that distance of hundreds of millions of light-years, even the existence of interstellar material is extremely rare, not to mention celestial bodies.
The celestial system one level higher than superclusters is the cosmic universe we can observe today, called the metagalaxy. Because humans are still limited in terms of observation, the universe we can observe today is still far from the entirety of the universe.
In March 2016, the Hubble telescope observed the most distant galaxy we have discovered to date—the GN-z11, also known as the infant galaxy—13.4 billion light-years away from Earth. This is a very exciting record, as it not only conveys a far-off distance, but also a very distant time. As light travels, it not only produces distance, but it also brings information from the past; 13.4 billion light-years is not only the distance between two galaxies, but also the ancient information that a distant galaxy sends us. In other words, the infant galaxy we see today is not its current form, but a galaxy from 13.4 billion years ago. The infant galaxy existing now has far surpassed our current observations. It is important to note that the theoretical history of the universe is 13.8 billion years, which means that we can now observe any galaxy born four hundred million years after the creation of the universe.
Is it also possible to gain an ultimate panoramic view of the entire universe as we continue to improve our observation techniques? It is theoretically impossible to achieve this ultimate goal. Hubble’s law tells us that the farther away a galaxy is from us, the faster it is moving away from us, since light has the fastest speed in nature. The farthest galaxies we observe today are already speeding away from us at a rate close to the speed of light, and farther-off galaxies are speeding away even faster. On one hand, they are moving away from us at a speed close to that of light, while on the other hand their light travels to us at the speed of light; these two opposing speeds offset each other. Just as we cannot produce actual distance on a treadmill, so the farthest corners of the universe can never be exhausted.
Now that we understand the macro structure of the universe, let us go back to comprehend its microstructure. We are in the stellar period of the universe’s history. According to theoretical calculations, this period should continue for hundreds of billions of years. The main players of the stellar period are naturally stars, and the sun we rely on for survival is one such star. When we peer into the night sky at the sparkling stars, we actually see stars burning in the distance. We can see a limited number of stars with the naked eye—only about 6,000 or so. The actual number of stars is trillions of times more than what we see. Many stars have already died and become white dwarfs, neutron stars, or black holes; they can no longer burn.
Stars are not static. Just as the sun orbits around the Galactic Center, other planets orbit according to certain rules as well. Stars do not exist in isolation either; they have many members in their families. First there are the planets that are gravitationally attracted to the stars—our Earth is one such ordinary planet in the solar system. Celestial bodies that orbit planets are called satellites. Satellites are also members of the stellar family, but they are controlled by the gravitational force of planets. The moon is the earth’s satellite. Satellites are not the smallest celestial bodies in the stellar system; in addition to satellites, there are many asteroids, comets, meteorites, and interstellar media that also react to the star’s gravity. All of these are members of the stellar family.
The space between stars is not necessarily a vacuum either. Interstellar gas and dust, cosmic rays, particle flow, and interstellar magnetic fields all exist in that in-between; they are collectively referred to as “interstellar material.” Interstellar material is extremely thin and unevenly distributed. During astronomical observation, concentrated cloud-like objects, called nebula, are often found in space. These are areas where interstellar material is more concentrated.
Stars are not evenly distributed in the galaxy. They tend to group in denser concentration towards the center of the galaxy and in sparser concentration along the edge. In the Milky Way, the nucleus is densely populated with stars, while the halo is more sparsely populated. This rule does not only apply to spiral galaxies like the Milky Way but holds true in elliptical galaxies, disk galaxies, and irregular galaxies as well. Apart from the distribution patterns mentioned above, some stars also form stellar cluster under the influence of gravity. These clusters have tens of thousands to tens of millions of stars, forming smaller stellar systems of their own. Stellar clusters can be divided into globular clusters and open clusters; they are all members of the galaxy and belong to the stellar family.
In the universe, dark matter and dark energy far outweigh visible matter. It is speculated that visible matter makes up only 5 percent of the universe’s matter, with the vast majority being dark matter and dark energy. With the current levels of science and technology, we know little about dark matter and dark energy, but we can determine their existence. If the actual rotational speed of a rotating galaxy is faster than its theoretical speed, we can deduce that there is non-visible matter accelerating its rotation. Likewise, if the expansion of the universe exceeds its theoretical speed, that means dark energy is playing a role.
Three: The Solar System and Earth
To understand the solar system and the earth, we must first start with their formation. In the Milky Way and in other corners of the cosmos, new stars form constantly. This phenomenon has been confirmed through astronomical observation, and the formation of the solar system can also be inferred from the formation of other stars.
The general belief is that the solar system was a gray cloud cluster before its formation, made up of countless air masses and dust particles. Most people believe that this cloud was a remnant of an exploding star that was tens of times larger than the sun. After the initial explosion, the debris was extremely hot, and it did not start to cool or darken in color until many years later. Due to the inherent gravity of the material, these substances slowly gathered together and became concentrated, with the central part becoming especially condensed. Through the role of gravity, the central area rose in temperature and density, indicating the birth of a new star; such birth processes were commonplace in the universe.
As the center of this air mass became increasingly dense, its core temperature reached ten million degrees. Volatile hydrogen nuclei finally gathered enough momentum to break through the electromagnetic barrier and collide, thereby creating nuclear fusions. The huge amounts of energy and light produced through nuclear fusion radiated out, creating a new star—that was the formation of our sun. Through analysis of the heavy elements in the solar system, we can deduce the sun to be a third- or fourth-generation star. As a star, the sun’s age is calculated from the moment of its nuclear fusion, dating back about five billion years.
As the sun formed as a star, the planets around it were also forming. Initially, there were many asteroids in the outer area of the solar system cloud cluster; the largest measured hundreds of kilometers in diameter while the smallest were only a few hundred meters in diameter. There were hundreds of millions of such small asteroids, and in addition, large amounts of rock fragments and ice existed as well.
Because these asteroids were so large in number, there was constant collision between them. Some such collisions produced comminuted explosions, resulting in numerous minute particles, while some smaller asteroids were absorbed by bigger ones during collision, causing them to grow in size. These collisions continued for many years until one day an asteroid gained enough mass to stand out from the group. The gravitational force of this bigger asteroid caused the surrounding asteroids to collide with it more frequently, making it more powerful at the same time. After many more years of collision, a planet was finally born. Our Earth was one such planet, born 4.6 billion years ago. Thereafter, the collisions lessened in frequency until finally tapering into calmness, and the earth entered a period of stability.
The solar system has eight planets, with Mercury being closest to the sun, and Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune following in order.
The moon is Earth’s satellite and is the astronomical body closest to Earth, with an average distance of 380,000 kilometers. Within the solar system, apart from Mercury and Venus, the other six planets all have their own satellites. Jupiter has the most, with sixty-nine confirmed satellites, while Saturn ranks second with sixty-two confirmed satellites. In addition to the eight planets and their respective satellites, dwarf planets, asteroids, and comets also exist in the solar system. Meteorites and interplanetary medium are also essential members of the solar system family.
As the absolute leader of the family, the sun’s mass accounts for 99.85 percent of the total mass of the solar system. The total mass of all eight other planets account for less than 0.135 percent. The planets’ satellites, comets, asteroids, meteorites, and interplanetary medium only account for 0.015 percent of the solar system.
Current scientific capabilities are enough to prove that the earth is the only planet with intelligent life in the solar system. No other planet has the environmental conditions to nurture and support intelligent life. After further studying the conditions required to produce intelligent life, one conclusion is certain: the true miracle of the solar system is the emergence of human beings. Even the formation of the sun pales in comparison, as there are countless stars in the universe, but very few star systems capable of producing intelligent life.
SECTION THREE: THE ORIGIN OF MANKIND
One: Humans are the Product of Evolution
Today we can say with certainty that humans are the product of evolution—a miracle of life formed through mutation, inheritance, and natural selection.
Humans and Hominoidea (apes) originate from the same ancestor, the earliest of which can be traced back to Africa. Apes are a close relative of humans, while chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans have all shared common ancestors with humans.
The ancestors of mankind can be traced back to the Egyptian ape about thirty million years ago. Around ten to twenty million years ago, humans and apes began to move in two different evolutionary directions; one developed into the modern human, and the other developed into the modern ape. However, the Egyptian ape cannot be called the ancestor of mankind. The true ancestor of mankind—the first to step over the human threshold—is the Australopithecus.
The Australopithecus lived in Southern Africa about 4.4 to 1 million years ago; its brain capacity was about 35 percent of the modern man’s, which is 20 percent higher than that of the chimpanzee.
The early Australopithecus was divided into two branches: one burlier in build, and the other more slender. The burlier branch was eliminated through evolution in the Pleistocene epoch, while the slenderer branch evolved into the ancestors of mankind. The burlier branch evolved studier, stronger limbs to better adapt to the environment; the slenderer branch evolved brainpower and flexibility to better suit their living environments. As evidenced by reality, wisdom of mind surpasses strength of body and is more conducive to adapting to the environment.
Currently, recognized fossils of Australopithecus have only been discovered in Africa. So why did humans and apes split ways on the path of evolution? Archaeological excavations of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula have yielded the following conclusions:
The Great Rift Valley split East Africa into two halves from south to north. A series of canyons and lakes formed a natural barrier between the biology existing on the east and west sides, creating two independent developmental environments. The Australopithecus living in the west adapted well to the moist grove environment where rain and food sources were abundant and survival was easy. They evolved to become today’s living apes. On the east side, the environment was much harsher. The climate was dry and food source was scarce. The Australopithecus had to struggle in order to satisfy basic survival needs. They had to prevent attacks from large carnivores and also ward against sudden volcanic eruptions. Due to these difficult conditions, many perished and only a small portion survived and evolved to cross over the human threshold. Therefore, humans come from the small number of winners who survived the struggle against a harsh world. We are the strongest adaptors.
Between 1.9 million and 1.65 million years ago, the earliest group capable of manufacturing tools appeared. They were known as Homo habilis. The fossils of Homo habilis were first discovered in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Other fossils were discovered later in other parts of Eastern Africa. The Homo habilis possessed much larger brain capacity than the Australopithecus, reaching more than 50 percent of the capacity of the modern brain, with similar overall shape and grooves. Homo habilis were capable of attacking beasts with simple stone tools, cutting fur, and mashing nuts, and they might possibly have possessed linguistic communication skills.
The genus member more evolved than Homo habilis was Homo erectus. Homo erectus fossils were first discovered in the Trinil area of Java, Indonesia, in 1891. Fossils were also found in other parts of the world. With the exception of the Americas and Oceania, Homo erectus fossils were found in Africa, Asia, and Europe. China’s Peking Man and Lantian Man are all Homo erectus.
The Homo erectus lived between two million to 200,000 years ago. Their brain capacity was over 60 percent of the modern man’s, and they were able to create very sophisticated stone tools.
The most important characteristic of the Homo erectus was the ability to use fire. The use of fire not only made meat more delicious and previously inedible things edible, but it also prevented against animal attacks and guaranteed warmth in the winter. Fire played a critical role in the ultimate separation between humans and animals . . . and the final evolution of man.
The evolutionary species that came after Homo erectus was Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens can be divided into early Homo sapiens and late Homo sapiens.Early Homo sapiens lived around 300,000 to 100,000 years ago, and late
Homo sapiens lived 100,000 years ago. Late Homo sapiens were anatomically similar to modern humans, which is why modern humans are known anatomically as Homo sapiens.
In addition, about 120,000 to 30,000 years ago, a highly evolved race known as the Neanderthals lived in Europe and West Asia. Neanderthals are so named because their first fossils were discovered in the Düssel River’s Neander Valley; they are also occasionally called “the Neanderthal Man.” Neanderthals do not belong to the same species as the modern man but are a species of archaic humans, while modern humans fall under the Homo sapiens species. However, according to recent studies, scientists believe that Neanderthal genes can be found in most modern humans, which means that modern man had sexual contact with Neanderthals. Although Neanderthals became extinct some thirty thousand years ago, modern man has passed on information from the Neanderthals, to some extent.
Two: The Characteristics of Human Evolution
Humans, like all other animals, are the product of evolution, yet humans went down a completely different evolutionary path. In the bitter cold of the Ice Age, nature evolved the woolly rhino and mammoth, providing Rhinocerotidae and Elephantidae animals with thick fur and skin to withstand raging cold winds; to adapt to thick-skinned herbivores like the woolly rhino and mammoth, the saber-toothed tiger evolved out of feline predators; the antelope developed speed to outrun carnivorous predators; the giraffe evolved from Ruminantia to reach higher vegetation; the hedgehog developed burrs to protect itself; the chameleon evolved to change color according to its surrounding in order to better camouflage itself, and so on.
The evolution of mankind differs significantly from all other animals. Man started evolving through the brain. All of their environmental adaptions are based on the brain (relative to the evolution of the brain, the other aspects of evolution are secondary). Counting from the starting point of evolution, humans have increased their brain capacity threefold in less than ten million years. Mastering this key of evolution was very important; once humans completed this evolutionary process, it was taken for granted that they became masters of Earth.
SECTION FOUR: THE ORIGIN OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION
One: From Barbarism to Civilization
Humans have evolved from animals. About three million years ago, the ancestors of man learned to use stone tools. About 500,000 years ago, the use of fire expanded the scope of food and helped man’s ancestors overcome the cold, allowing them to move out of the warm climates of lower latitude Africa towards Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Americas. Humans migrated in the pursuit of food constantly, and in large groups. This migration process took very long. Australia was reached about fifty thousand years ago, and the Americas were only reached fifteen thousand years ago.
The social development of human beings has always been relatively small. This social organization existed in the form of primitive communes; any person who obtained food had to share it among the collective, and every person had the right to share in collective food source.
Because the demands of life—that is, basic food—were very simple, and the number of humans distributed around the world was small enough to easily assure such demands, people had ample leisure time. Once enough food was obtained, all remaining time could be used for rest and entertainment. That is why many scholars believe that late Paleolithic humans were happier and more relaxed than people today.
The first major change in human lifestyle and the formation of human society occurred about ten thousand years ago. During this period, the manufacture of stone tools became much more sophisticated, evolving from earlier striking methods to polishing techniques, coining this time the “Neolithic Age.”
The most revolutionary change for mankind was the mastery of plant and animal domestication. Planting and keeping animals provided a much more stable lifestyle compared to the migratory way of hunting and gathering. It offered more security as well, allowing people to settle down. This change in production methods was later known as the “Agricultural Revolution.”
The Agricultural Revolution fundamentally changed life and social structures for humans. After settling down, people formed family units and villages. Compared to the gathering method, planting and farming greatly improved the efficiency of land usage, permitting villages to expand and far exceed the human groupings of the gathering era. The efficiency in production created enough surplus for storage, sparking conflict and war. To better ward off foreign invasion, two or more villages would unite to form a tribe, further expanding the scale of human society.
In the late Neolithic period, people invented metal-smelting technology. The first metal to be smelted was copper. Adding a small number of additives to copper enhanced its performance quality. Bronze is produced by adding small amounts of tin to copper.
Pottery and weaving also emerged in this era. With the development of agriculture, irrigation and water conservancy projects also arose; complete and intricate agricultural irrigation systems existed in Mesopotamia and Egypt more than six thousand years ago.
Before the Industrial Revolution took place more than two hundred years ago, the center of human civilization was firmly fixed upon the Eurasian continent and the African region north of the Sahara Desert. (Unless otherwise specified, we will call this “North Africa” in this section.) Due to the swamps in the Sahara Desert and the upper reaches of the Nile, North Africa and the Eurasian continent shared more contact, while the African region south of the Sahara (referred to as “South Africa,” unless otherwise specified) was isolated from the hub of civilization on the Eurasian continent. The Americas and Australia also existed in relative isolation.
The ancient Eurasian continent and North Africa possessed 90 percent of the population and the most advanced civilization. Among some of the most important ancient civilizations that existed here were: the Mesopotamian civilization along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; the Egyptian civilization along the Nile; the Indian civilization along the Indus and Ganges rivers; the Chinese civilization along the Yellow River and Yangtze River; and the Minoan civilization of the Mediterranean Crete.
It is worth mentioning that many nomads lived outside of civilization on the vast expanses of grassland north of Eurasia, from the northeastern part of China in the east to the Hungarian planes of central Europe in the west. These powerful nomads traveled south to pillage and plunder civilized areas every chance they got, destroying buildings and spilling blood in their wake. They were the destroyers of civilization; however, they were also the messengers of civilization, as they brought Eastern civilization and technology to the West, and Western civilization and technology to the East.
Different ancient civilizations came into being at different times, with only indirect influences between them. Chinese civilization especially experienced less influence from other civilizations due to its far-off location in the East. Due to long distance and inconvenient traffic, the basic principles of civilization only journeyed from one place to another after many years. Only after accepting these basic principles—and only these basic principles—did the major civilizations start to flourish, each with their own characteristics.
Every civilization is always under constant destruction and reparation. The main destruction comes from war, but natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes also play a part, albeit a secondary one. Some civilizations were destroyed and never rebuilt, like the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete. It was destroyed without a trace left; even the subsequent Greek civilization did not accept much of its influence. Some civilizations are repeatedly destroyed and reconstructed; this reconstructed civilization is impacted by its predecessor, but its core values often undergo great change. Mesopotamian civilization, Egyptian civilization, and Indian civilization all have such features. However, there is one other civilization that has been damaged and rebuilt many times but has managed to continue uninterrupted: the Chinese civilization.
Two: The Pace of Civilization
Ancient civilizations can only be regarded as primitive civilizations, as human civilization did not stop its in-depth development after its establishment. As civilization develops in depth, it also develops in scope. When ancient civilizations were conceived, they were like single, isolated islands floating in the corners of the world, surrounded by barren land. These “islands” were like sparks of flames, constantly burning and expanding, influencing the areas around them until all civilizations connected into a whole. This period is called the Classical Era or Classical Age by scholars.
For the purpose of this section, we will continue to use the Eurasian continent and North Africa as the main subject of observation. We know that in the earlier stages, a series of small city-states formed in the major civilized areas. These small states coveted each other’s wealth and resources, so constant battles ensued. As war raged, the more powerful states gained in power while weaker states were swallowed up. As states expanded in scale, the battles between small states became wars between large nations; the scope of civilization continued to expand, eventually forming one whole.
The emperor Qin Shi Huang was the person to first unify Chinese civilization. Early Chinese civilization was confined to the small area near the middle reaches of the Yellow River. As civilization spread, a number of small vassal states were formed, all of which were nominally affiliated to the Zhou dynasty. In reality, the Zhou dynasty only had control over the limited area around itself. By third century BC, only seven larger nations remained due to war and the merging of vassal states. Among them, Qin—a nation developed from border tribes—was the strongest in power. Under these circumstances, Qin Shi Huang destroyed the six other countries over one decade of conquest, establishing a unified Qin dynasty in 221 BC.
Indian civilization was united by the Maurya dynasty. During the rule of Ashoka, a series of successful expeditions were launched, joining Indian civilization as one. In the time that followed, the neighboring civilizations of China and India developed along different respective paths. Indian civilization spent more time divided, while Chinese civilization spent more time united.
Roman civilization was an important component of European civilization; it is both a sister civilization and a continuation of Greek civilization. In its heyday, the Roman Empire spanned Europe, Asia, and Africa, surrounding the entire Mediterranean. Its origin can be traced back to the Roman citystate on the Apennine Peninsula. After centuries of war, the Romans united Italy. Then they conquered many countries along the Mediterranean over more centuries of war, forming the huge Roman Empire. During Rome’s prime, its contemporary, China’s Han dynasty, equaled it in size and power, making the two the respective East and West cores of civilization.
The middle and later parts of the millennium BC was a time of great ideological advancement for humanity. Due to great unrest, centuries of war, and long periods of divide experienced by the major civilized areas, people thought long and hard about the universe, life, ideal societies, ideal governments, and moral ethics. A great number of outstanding thinkers emerged, and their thoughts pushed humanity into maturity. Under the guidance of these ideological masters, human society rationalized in leaps and bounds. The influence of these thinkers lives on, remaining rooted in the depths of human society until this day.
In the five hundred years between 770 BC and 221 BC, philosophers, thinkers, military strategists, and educators like Laozi, Mozi, Confucius, and Sun Tzu flourished in China. India’s Buddha was a contemporary of China’s Confucius; he was born during a time of great social upheaval in India. Buddha observed the pain people suffered through aging, sickness, and death, prompting him to agonize over the meaning of life and ultimately create Buddhism.
In the same period, Greek thinkers replaced the mysticism of religion with scientific rationalism. Their philosophical speculation started with the understanding of nature, asking and answering questions freely using rationality. In time, a number of outstanding rationalist thinkers and scientists like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Archimedes appeared.
In the history of ideology, another far-reaching event would take place later. Jesus created Christianity in the first century AD.
Human history has always been accompanied by war, and this period was no exception. However, two wars must be mentioned, for they impact all of human history. The first war was the eastward campaign of the Macedonian king, Alexander the Great. After Alexander inherited the throne, he unified most of Greece through a series of wars, and then he launched a war against the powerful Persian Empire. His conquest was unstoppable. Although the Persian Empire was much larger and had more troops, it crumpled under the iron fist of Alexander the Great. After conquering Egypt in the south, Alexander advanced eastward until he hit the river basins of India.
Alexander the Great held great respect for Greek culture, so he was determined to spread Greek civilization to the corners of the earth. He realized, however, that the brilliant oriental civilizations were not inferior and sometimes were even more marvelous than Greek civilization, so he became a facilitator of culture exchange instead of cultural invasion.
The other war worth mentioning was the war waged by the Eastern Han Dynasty against the Huns. The Huns were a strong, nomadic tribe in northern China, long accustomed to harassing the Chinese Empire to its south. Relying on the strength of his empire, Emperor Wu of Han launched a series of large-scale wars against the Huns. As a result of these wars, the Huns were greatly weakened, and a portion of the Huns joined the Han dynasty shortly after, while the rest fled into the depths of the desert. The fleeing of the Huns invoked a great migration in the history of the world. This migration lasted hundreds of years, changing the course of world history.
At that time, there were many strong ethnic groups living on the Eurasian grasslands; the Huns were one of the strongest. As the Huns migrated westward, they occupied the lands of other nomadic tribes. Unable to contend with the fierce Huns, these tribes were forced to move farther west into other nomadic territories. Many Germanic tribes had occupied the grasslands of central Europe and were now crammed into the small area in the north of the Roman Empire during this migration. At every opportunity they would travel south to rob wealthy Romans.
During this time, the Roman Empire divided into two parts. The Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire) was still strong, so the Germans had less opportunity for looting. The Western Roman Empire was in decline, and after repeated invasions it was eventually occupied by the Germans in 476. The demise of the Western Roman Empire holds major significance. Historians use the fall of the Western Roman Empire as a dividing line, denoting the thousand years following the fall as the “mid-century.”
Three: The Century of the East
After the Western Roman Empire fell, the Byzantine Empire continued to survive for nearly one thousand years, striving to continue the splendor of the Roman Empire. The Justinian period in particular tried to restore the territory of the Roman Empire, achieving some success. But overall, the Byzantine was on the decline; its rule shrank more and more and the nation weakened gradually until it was destroyed by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.
Europe was most often dominated by barbarians. Under their rule, almost all of classical European civilization was destroyed. Only the Roman religion was inherited. During this period, European society was scattered and divided into many small countries. Religious rule rose above imperial power, achieving dominance. As cultures suffered destruction, religious rule strictly imprisoned people’s minds, casting Europe into a cultural desert; academic circles call this period the “Dark Ages.”
To say that the entire world was shrouded in darkness during the Dark Ages is a gross generalization. The lack of creativity was only restricted to the West; the East experienced a great prosperity of culture. The number system we call “Arabic numerals” was developed in this period by the Indian people and was spread to Europe by the Arabs. The Arabs also absorbed the mathematical achievements of the Indians and Greeks to create their own unique mathematical accomplishments—algebra was one especially brilliant achievement. Arabs also experienced successful creative achievements in astronomy and medicine.
During the Medieval Period (fifth to fifteenth century), China contributed the most significant cultural achievements of all. Most of the world’s scientific and technological advancements came out of China in this period; among them, the four great inventions—the compass, paper-making, gun powder, and printing—made the most significant contribution to human society. China’s four great inventions quickly spread to the Arabs and Persians, who later brought them to Europe.
Obviously, the abovementioned creations and inventions are not the full scope of medieval cultural development in the East. The Eastern world also achieved remarkably in the fields of literature, art, and philosophy.
The rise and expansion of Islam was another very influential event of the Middle Ages. Muhammad not only created the Islamic religion, but he also spread it through war and missionary work, thus uniting the Arabian Peninsula. His successors continued to promote the spread of Islam and expand the territory of Arab countries, ultimately forming a religious nation of unprecedented scale. This religious nation covered a variety of different areas and spanned all three continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The rise and spread of Islam created conflict with Christianity. The famous Crusades raged from 1096 to 1291 as the war was fought over control of Jerusalem, as well as numerous other cities and religious sites.
At the beginning of the thirteenth century, a powerful nomadic nation sprung up on the grasslands of northern China: the Mongol nation. Genghis Khan and his descendants used brutal war tactics to carry out invincible conquest. The Mongols built an empire of unparalleled reach. Starting in China from the East and encompassing Korea, it reached Poland and the Baltic Sea in the West, and Mesopotamia and the Arabian Gulf in the West. Most of the Eurasian continent was included in the territory of the Mongol Empire.
In Europe, the Germans broke into many small countries after conquering the Western Roman Empire. Among them, the Franks established the most powerful kingdom. Relying on support from the Pope, two generations of Franks rulers, Pepin and Charles the Great (also known as Charlemagne), conquered and built an empire that encompassed most of Europe. Since this empire rose to its peak during the rule of Charles the Great, it is known as the Charlemagne Empire. Shortly after the death of Charlemagne, the Charlemagne Empire split into east, central, and west portions; these would later become Germany, Italy, and France. These three countries played a very important role in European and world history—one that persists today.
The original people inhabiting England were called the Celts; they later came under the rule of the Roman Empire. After the Western Roman Empire was invaded by the Germans, England was occupied by two smaller Germanic tribes, the Angles and the Saxons. Anglo-Saxons became the masters of this land thereafter.
Four: The History of the World
When Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492, the American people were still in the early stages of the Agricultural Revolution. They had domesticated over one hundred types of crops—no less than Eurasian cultures— but farming only made up a small portion in their production. Most of their food was obtained through the more primitive method of gathering.
Prior to this, the Americas had formed three large areas of civilization. The Mayan civilization of Central America was a leader in arts and technology; they created imaginative architecture and sculptures and also mastered considerable mathematical and astronomical knowledge. The Aztec civilization was located in Mexico; they were an aggressive people that staged tribal wars to capture prisoners in order to sacrifice their hearts to the gods. This sacrifice was to ensure victory in battle, while victory in battle was meant to produce more captive hearts to sacrifice for victory. This produced a vicious cycle that fed war with more war. The Inca civilization in Southern America had the relatively highest level of civilization; they had formed an empire called the Inca Empire. The Inca Empire had a unified religion, the Inca religion; they practiced state-ownership when managing land, mines, and other assets, and they had a centralized conscription and taxation system. In comparison, the Mayan civilization and the Aztec civilization were still in tribal stages.
When the British arrived in Australia in the late eighteenth century, they found the land even less civilized than the Americas. There were about 300,000 indigenous people living in Australia, all still stuck in the Paleolithic Age. They could only use the simplest tools, such as sticks and rough stones, their social structure was still in the group stage, and they generally did not wear clothing apart from a few decorative objects.
South Africa was much more civilized than the Americas and Australia, but the development there was extremely uneven. The development of South Africa should be attributed to the introduction of agricultural and smelting technologies from the Asian and European civilizations; this allowed them to enter the agricultural period early on. The introduction of Islam also helped to promote cultural development.
Columbus’ discovery of the American continent was a milestone in human history. He believed that he had circled the earth and reached Asia on the other side. Although Columbus died without realizing his mistake, the significance of his discovery cannot be diminished. No matter how many people had previously believed that the earth was round, it was only after Columbus’ geographical discovery that this conclusion was cemented. (In reality, the first person to actually conclude a successful round the world voyage was Ferdinand Magellan.) People started to view the history of mankind through a global perspective. Before this, people had always believed the world to be composed of the Asian, African, and European continents alone. This is why the academic community generally agrees to use Columbus’ discovery of the Americas as the sign of humans entering a global era.
The start of the global era is also marked by bloodshed. Spanish colonialists in the Americas began first with the plunder of gold, silver, and jewelry, and then continued relentlessly to occupy land and resources. They used trickery and betrayal to gain the trust of Native peoples, and then they brutally killed their chiefs and kings. The European colonialists who came after the Spanish killed and plundered in the same vein. Arguments vary concerning the exact number of Indians killed in the end, but one thing is for certain: the dead far outweighed the survivors. The Indians living on the West Indies suffered particularly heavy losses; they were nearly wiped out. Many Indian villages on the continent were also destroyed until few people were left alive.
As the indigenous peoples of the Americas were largely slaughtered by colonialists, a manpower shortage occurred in the development of the Americas, giving rise to the slave trade. European slave traffickers sold African slaves to the Americas for huge profits. The slave trade was extremely cruel and savage. Some information indicates that about one black slave out of every four died in the transportation process due to the harsh trafficking practices. The slave trade caused the population of Africa to terribly decrease.
The colonization of Australia did not start until the late eighteenth century. Most immigrants were criminals sent to Australia due to overcrowding in British prisons. The arrival of these people rained destruction on the aboriginal people; they killed indigenous people as if it were a hunting sport, destroying over 90 percent of the population.
With the discovery of the Americas and Australia, Western Europe started a massive expansion and colonization operation. Portugal, Spain, France, and Britain all established colonies overseas. As a late bloomer, Russia limited its expansion to its immediate surroundings. As time has proven, this kind of peripheral expansion is much more effective than overseas expansion. Today, Russia’s territory ranks first in the world, the result of its continuous expansion over many centuries.
The overseas colonies established by the Europeans developed a new national consciousness over time, giving rise to continuous conflicts between them and their sovereign nations. The demands for independence by the colonies grew louder and louder, spearheaded by the thirteen British colonies in British North America. On July 4, 1776, the colonies declared independence, establishing the United States of America while the territory now known as Canada remained loyal to Britain.
Encouraged by the independence of the United States, a new wave of demands for independence arose in the colonies outside of the Americas. After a long and arduous struggle, these colonies all gained their independence.
Five: Emerging from the Middle Ages
Emerging from the Middle Ages had completely opposite consequences for the East and the West. Western Europe’s creativity exploded after many years of constraint, propelling it to the forefront of the world. Meanwhile, in the East, creativity, which had previously been in the lead, became inexplicably suppressed, gradually falling behind.
In Europe, the writings and ideology of Classical Era Greek rationalist thinkers had been forgotten and lost. Taken by the Arabs to study, these writings gained new splendor. When the Crusades moved East in the conquest of the Muslims, Christians unintentionally discovered these works that had originally belonged to their ancestors. They translated the works of Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and Ptolemy from Arabic into Latin. The rediscovery of these rationalist masterpieces refreshed the minds of scholars who had long been confined by religious doctrines, igniting new sparks in the hearts of people, and finally erupting into the magnificent Renaissance movement.
The Renaissance took place from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, starting in Italy and later extending into other parts of Europe. It flew the banner of European Classicism Revival, promoting an anti-church theocracy, anti-feudal ideology liberation movement. This movement was far-reaching in its influence; it sounded the horn for the development of modern civilization. In this movement, a large number of ideological liberation pioneers emerged, including poets, writers, playwrights, and scientists. Dante, Boccaccio, Shakespeare, Copernicus, and Bruno are some outstanding representatives.
The sixteenth-century religious reformation movement was a direct assault on the Catholic Church. The reform was sparked by the Holy See’s selling of indulgences. According to the Church, people were born guilty, and only through purchasing the indulgences sold by the church could they find redemption. This was a barely disguised attempt at extortion. The frequent issuance of indulgences caused widespread resentment among the people. The German Martin Luther wrote a series of opposing articles attacking the sale of indulgences and introducing different religious ideologies. Following Luther, Calvin and King Henry VIII also spearheaded new movements of Christian doctrines.
The Protestant Reformation created a new Protestant Church, separated from the Catholic Church. Many people chose to convert to Protestantism, which was a heavy blow to the Holy See. Without the support of the Renaissance movement, this religious reform would have been impossible to achieve.
The Enlightenment movement was the second ideological liberation movement following the Renaissance. It originated in Western Europe, centered in France, but soon spread to other parts of Europe and the United States. Enlightenment thinkers held rationalism in high regard, aggressively criticizing theological dogma and resisting religious superstition with atheism. They opposed autocratic hierarchy with ideas of social equality; combated ignorance with science and knowledge; suggested freedom, equality, and universal love; and proposed models of ideal social systems. During the Enlightenment, a number of great thinkers like Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Grotius, Jefferson, and Paine emerged.
The Enlightenment directly led to the establishment of modern democratic countries and the advent of the Industrial Revolution, propelling Western civilization ahead of Eastern civilization to occupy center stage of the modern world and lead the development of human history.
Enlightenment thinkers designed an ideal system that would ensure democracy and freedom by separating and facilitating mutual restraint between executive power, legislative power, and judicial power. This system is also known as the separation of powers. The nation established by the American Revolution was the first modern democratic country to be built on the separation of powers.
France was the center of the Enlightenment; the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 was astounding. The revolution sent King Louis XVIII to the guillotine and established a modern democratic regime. The success of the French Revolution shook Europe; it was without a doubt a great threat to the feudal autocratic regimes of other European countries. Major European powers joined to forcefully intervene in the French Revolution, and it was under these circumstances that Napoleon came to power.
Napoleon was an outstanding tactical genius. The European anti-French alliance united seven times, bringing together nearly all the major countries of Europe to attack France. Under such disparaging conditions, Napoleon’s army was unstoppable, occupying most of Europe at one point. However, due to an erroneous decision to attack Russia, Napoleon’s forces were almost completely annihilated. In the face of a joint offensive from strong foreign enemies, Napoleon was finally defeated. Nevertheless, the great influence of the French Revolution and the personal military genius of Napoleon lingers on.
As the Western world was being shaken by phenomenal changes, the East was still continuing in its old social order, stuck in a stagnant state. In the Muslim world, Ottoman Turkey ruled the Balkans and Middle East; the state was seemingly strong, but petrifying from within. Along its European border, it could vaguely feel the changes in Europe, but it remained untouched itself.
The ruling Mughal Empire of India had once been very strong, but its sun was starting to set as well. The empire was in a divided state. This internal division—as well as the conflict between the Muslim rulers and the Hindus, who made up the majority of the population—provided opportunity for subsequent colonial invasion.
Caught between these two major Muslim powers was the Muslim Safavid Empire, located in the Iranian Plateau. During the first half of the seventeenth century, the Safavid Empire reached its heyday, but it suffered greatly through a series of peasant uprisings, thus beginning its decline.
The most closed off of all was the Chinese Empire in the Far East. During this time, China had been ruled by the Ming and Qing dynasties. Since the early days of the Ming dynasty, the Chinese Empire had adopted an isolationist strategy, not only refusing to initiate contact with the other world, but also taking strict precautions against passive contact. The empire refused to deal in foreign trade and even strictly prohibited the people from going to sea. At the same time, the Japanese Empire ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate also adopted a closed-door policy, missing the opportunity to communicate with and learn from the West.
Six: The West Reaches Its Summit
The Western world managed to reap huge benefits during the Discovery Era. Regardless of whether the means of obtaining such benefits were righteous or not, the end results were enormously lucrative. A series of ideologically liberating movements like the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment produced great social evolution. They removed the shackles of religious theocracy and the fetters of feudal despotism, forming an ideological environment and social system conducive to promoting a liberation of productive forces. It was against this backdrop that a historic opportunity once again occurred in the West: the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution propelled the West from its already advantageous position to a historical peak.
The Industrial Revolution started in the mid-eighteenth century in Britain, beginning with a series of inventions in the textile industry. The invention and application of James Watt’s steam engine was an important landmark, as it drove the Industrial Revolution to develop further in depth.
The true leap of the Industrial Revolution came after the merging of science and technology. In the early days of the revolution, the application of technology was based solely on the use of practical technological inventions. However, it was only possible to create simple, intuitive inventions by relying solely on experience to solve technological problems. After applying the use of scientific theory as a guide to technology, more complex and abstract inventions were created, fostering rapid development in productivity. The combination of technology and science that took place in the late nineteenth century is called the Second Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution promoted the advent of the industrial culture in human society, and it also changed the political, economic, and military order of the world. Propelled by the Industrial Revolution, the British economy grew rapidly, eventually becoming known as “the world factory.” Britain’s subsequent domination of the world was entirely due to the results of the Industrial Revolution. The earliest country to accept the results of the British Industrial Revolution was the United States, while France was the first to do so in Europe. Russia also embarked on the road of industrialization after its serfdom reform. At this time, Germany and Italy were still rent by disunity.
From the years 1848–1870, Italy experienced twenty-two years of bitter, tortuous struggle before finally winning its independence. Germany’s unification was entirely due to the Prussian president, Bismarck. After uniting into one, Germany began to move on the world stage as a leading power.
In 1492, when Columbus discovered the New World, most nations were still living in their own fixed areas. This situation changed drastically in the middle of the nineteenth century, when almost the whole world came under the control of Europeans, the Americas included. Although most American countries had gained independence, such independence was still under European rule or in the context of European culture. This situation held true in most other continents as well.
Europeans entered Asia on a large scale during this time. As a result, the divided and overly populated Indian Mughal dynasty was slowly swallowed by constant British attacks, until it was completely occupied and became a British colony in 1849. Although China had also undergone heavy blows from peasant risings, the country was still strongly united and the Chinese army desperately resisted European invaders. Sadly, the vast disparity in weaponry and technology was difficult to surmount. Although China managed to retain a nominal independence, it had in fact become a semicolony. The neighboring states of China were all reduced to colonies by the invaders.
Almost at the same time, Japan was also forced to sign unequal treaties under the threat of American gunboats. Although China and Japan had suffered the same fate, the two countries later adopted completely different national strategies. Suddenly aware of how far they had lagged behind, Japan went through the Meiji Restoration and received desired results. It only took them forty years or so to catch up with the pace of the world.
In 1904 and 1905, Japan and Russia broke out in large-scale war over interests in Northeast China. In that war, Japan defeated the Russian army both on land and at sea, winning a brilliant victory. The Russo-Japanese war was the first time a European country lost to a non-European country; it signified that a non-European country had entered the ranks of world powers for the first time. Prior to this, Europeans controlled all the nations and regions of the world. European history had reached an unprecedented peak.
Seven: The Modern World
The great wealth brought on by the Industrial Revolution invigorated the Europeans, yet war loomed over Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. To seek military balance, Britain, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and other strong powers struggled to find alliances. Finally, two camps formed: the Allied Powers led by Britain, France, and Russia, and the Central Powers led by Germany, Italy, and Austria. Each camp sought their own advantages in order to overwhelm their opponents; every country bargained with its opponents for their own interest, ready to sell out allies at any time. In 1914, crisis finally ignited, and the First World War broke out, quickly spreading from Europe to the entire world. At that time, World War I was unprecedented in its destruction.
During the First World War, a revolution took place in Russia that had far-reaching repercussions. The Bolsheviks of the proletarian party led by Lenin established the world’s first socialist country on November 7, 1917. The victory of the Russian socialist revolution put Marx’s theory into practice for the first time, profoundly impacting the world order. After this, many countries embarked on a socialist path as well; the banner of socialism covered half the world at one point.
The great destruction brought on by World War I left a deep impression on people’s minds. In order to avoid similar disasters from occurring again, the leaders of the major victorious countries met to discuss an establishment that could end war. At the suggestion of US President Woodrow Wilson, the League of Nations was established as the first centralized international organization in human history. Its main purpose was to promote international cooperation and ensure international peace and security. The establishment of the League of Nations was the first important attempt to use international organizations to stop the spread of war.
Unfortunately, the League of Nations did not curb bloodshed. Only ten years later, a second world war would break out on an even larger scale. World War II once again set an unprecedented scope in the history of human warfare. The deep impressions it left were not only due to the huge casualties and destruction caused, but also due to the development and successful application of the atomic bomb. The two atomic bombs launched by the United States landed in Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki, instantly razing the two cities to the ground. Such destructive power had been unimaginable to people in the past, and it led humans to question if humanity would one day be destroyed by their own scientific and technological achievements.
After the Second World War, people thought long and hard. The leaders of the major victors met again and decided to learn from the lesson of the League of Nations and form a new international organization to safeguard against war and preserve global peace. As a result, the United Nations was formally established on October 24, 1945. Shortly after the founding of the United Nations, two military and political groups, headed respectively by the United States and Russia, formed on opposing sides. The two sides existed in strained rivalry for a nearly fifty-year period known as the Cold War. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 did the Cold War come to an end.
The so-called Cold War was in reality quite heated. The Korean War broke out shortly after World War II, and the Vietnam War followed after that. Other minor battles ensued frequently in various other parts of the world as well. While the United Nations did its best to stop wars, it simply could not do anything once the interests of major powers were concerned. After the Cold War, the world remained strained. The United States rose to become the number one superpower, with China rising rapidly and following on its heels. Other powerful countries like Russia, Japan, Germany, Britain, and France held strong positions as well. The United Nations was powerless to stop the actions of such countries; none of the major wars that took place after the Cold War were authorized by the UN.
A new way of killing is becoming increasingly threatening: terrorist attacks. Terrorist organizations have resorted to various means to carry out large-scale attacks on innocent civilians, often leading to casualties totaling hundreds of thousands. This has become a new kind of disaster in the world.
Looking into the development and formation of human society, we can clearly see that the cycles of human society are shortening. Before the Agricultural Revolution, the changes in human society were measured in hundreds of thousands of years; after the Agricultural Revolution, they were measured in thousands of years. The Industrial Revolution further shortened that time to mere decades. In today’s world, the Information Revolution and Biotechnology Revolution characterized by atomic energy development and computer technology have sped up the development of human society even more. This rapid increase in speed causes great uncertainty, and it means that the world will undergo great change every few years, or even every few decades. This change is reflected in human individuals and family units; in cities and villages; in the political, economic, and cultural aspects of a country; and in the overall world order. The driving force behind the shortening of human cycles is the power of science and technology.
We find that war and crime constantly accompany humans. The evolutionary phenomenon of internal competition where the strong bully the weak is fully demonstrated by humanity. Occupying the wealth of others for fun and sacrificing others’ happiness for personal fulfillment has become an ironclad law of human society. In particular, it can be seen that war has always been a main theme of human history. Human society is built upon the killing of each other.
In their attitude towards nature, mankind went from passively adapting to nature, to actively adapting to nature, to actively adapting nature. Humans’ demand for material wealth is endless, the demand on nature is endless, and the demand for science and technology is endless. No manner of wealth can satisfy this type of demand. Looking back at what we’ve lost and gained, we will see that material wealth did not bring happiness and satisfaction, but instead brought psychological pressure and a loss of security.