By: Raymond Greiner
Rivers quench the thirst of terrestrial life dating to early historic times. These rivers represent calendars through geological tracks in an affirmation of their bond with our planet’s evolutionary journey.
Earth’s lonely orbit of a small Sun began its journey four and a half billion years ago. During its the first billion years it marked time as a barren, lifeless rock. As the Sun expanded, the Earth warmed and an atmosphere was created with massive clouds of moisture. Rains came lasting ten thousand years creating oceans and this event opened opportunity for metamorphosis of microorganisms.
Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist, presents detailed descriptions of oceanic evolution in her magnificent prize winning book The Sea Around Us.
Periodically I have camped on the bank of the New River, and observed this ancient river flow over its granite bed. Various sections reveal the river’s diverse character. Some sections are rapids crashing in a violent downstream race of sound and fury, as others are placid pools with a gentle tranquil flow. The New River is over three hundred and twenty million years old, and among the top three oldest rivers in the world. The Fink and Meuse rivers are similar and geological science dates these rivers a bit older than the New. As we contemplate rivers the Colorado River’s formation of the Grand Canyon must be included. The Colorado River is younger than the New River at the age of seventy five million years. The Colorado River bed is softer sedimentary material than the New River, which is granite and quartz. To gain perspective it took the Colorado River six thousand years to carve one foot of downward cutting action. As I dumped my canteen of water on the granite rocks while camping on the bank of the New River I am in awe, as I observe this water quickly roll off and dissipate. It’s a fascination how this same water carved the New River gorge as it flowed for such a vast span of time. The New River was three hundred and eighteen million years old when the first humans appeared on the Earth. This reality can stagger one’s imagination.
So, some may observe this data with a question. “Why is this important?” It’s not an easy question to answer.
Most prominent thought for response is the revelation of human brevity compared to Earth’s natural presence and contribution. During the time the Colorado River began its task to carve one foot of its mighty valley humankind invented its first organized religious structure, which influenced human history from this point forward. As a species we have been directed by religions, and as the question arises why is Earth’s evolutionary path important this question can also be imposed to religions. Ancient cultures did not embrace human designed religious formats, but spirituality was vividly present. Ancient divinity did not align with a selected human apostle or reference God in human form. Ancient cultures embraced their natural surroundings, studied the cosmos, and sensed an inner connective energy influencing daily lives. They knew of the Solstices and observed Earth’s rotation as they studied Universal energy and change. Ancient populations were widely spread geographically and societies were tribal in a unique display harmonious behavior with recognition of unity as an essential element for longevity. They obtained subsistence directly from nature’s offerings further enhancing their bond with the planet.
The contrast from ancient human functions to modern human activities could not be greater. Ancients viewed Mother Earth as their muse, as modern cultures have exploited and pillaged Earth’s resources polluting air, water and soil seeking fiscal and material gain moving from an embrace to a disgrace. This is obvious and is vividly apparent, as modern society displays a continuation of gluttonous ingrained social behavior. Governments seek power by any contrived means. War and mass killing among our own species has become dominant placing military might as a priority. Intolerance has spread like a gruesome plague, and dysfunction has infiltrated global society.
The New River continues its trek in time and will likely remain long after humanity has destroyed itself.