The Story of Life (now on YouTube)
Dr. Paul Narguizian
College of Natural & Social Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences
California State University,
Science is a search for evidence, but the history of life on Earth, is a search for meaning. What makes life on Earth so special? How do you explain its diversity? And what exactly is it? How life emerged or (the origin of life) remains a mystery, but we know that it possesses four qualities: (1) It can metabolize, (2) self-regulate, (3) reproduce, and (4) adapt. We also know that life is fragile in the face of gradual and sudden changes to the environment. Just ask the dinosaurs!
The story of life is more than just a body of scientific facts and evidence. It is about the journey of who we are, how we got here, and where we are headed. All life on Earth, past and present, belongs to a dynamic unfolding universe that inspires wonder, awe, and creativity.
The Story of Life also utilizes and integrates the ancient literary wisdom of the Earth in the form of the oral and written traditions found among the various indigenous peoples of the Earth. This enables the reader/learner to better understand “what does it mean to be human and to be able to place oneself within the context of the Universe, and more specifically within the context of being born and having evolved from the Earth.”
Questions for Exploration
How can we say when life began, when in some sense our whole planet has been “alive” since its inception?
How did the chemicals of the early Earth come alive?
What does it mean to say that we evolved from archaea or from blue-green bacteria (cyanobacteria)?
What does “evolved” mean, more precisely?
What is the role of extinctions in the evolution of life?
What evidence do we use to tell the history of hominines (humans)?
What makes humans different?
How do we study the evolution of our ancestors?
What qualities make humans unique?
What is symbolic language and how did it ensure that humans alone would be capable of Collective Learning?
How does the idea of Collective Learning explain why humans alone of all species have a history of long-term change?
Possible Questions for Educators
What is this work we call biology?
Should biology educators reclassify themselves as “historians of life?”
How should educators tell the story of life?
What are the major milestones in biological discovery that expanded our knowledge of life on Earth?