1. The greatest story ever told is the universe coming into being and the emergence of organisms that can contemplate it.

It all began about 14 billion years ago: the matter, space, and energy of our entire universe was contained in a space one-trillionth the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Where exactly this tiny all-containing entity came from, we don’t know. But it burst forth, and within a trillionth of a second, gravity and quantum mechanics were already at odds and four distinct forces— atomic energy, gravity, radioactive decay, and electromagnetism—were already at play. Within a millionth of a second, the universe was already the size of our Solar System, and subatomic particles like quarks and leptons had emerged and were interacting with their anti-matter complements in a trillion-degree Kelvin cauldron. Before the universe was one-second-old, quarks cooled and bonded, forming heavy particles called hadrons, as well as protons and neutrons. Before it was two minutes old, the universe was already several light-years wide, and the temperature was only 100 million degrees.

For the next 380,000 years, the universe continued to expand and the cauldron of electrons and photons were free to move about—until the temperature dropped to 3,000 degrees Kelvin, or half the Sun’s temperature, at which point the electrons began combining with atomic nuclei.

Within a billion years of the universe’s beginning, galaxies had begun to form, and so did stars— billions and billions of them. From these stars issued materials heavier than helium and hydrogen, enabling the formation of matter that would eventually cluster into planets. As stars exploded, they scattered their chemically-rich and diverse debris across galaxies. In one pocket of the universe, at the edge of a Virgo Cluster, in the Milky Way galaxy, in the region known as the Orion Arm, a small star which we now know as the Sun formed with heavy enough material to pull a collection of comets and planets into its gravitational field.

One of the planets we now call Earth coalesced and fell under the Sun’s gravitational spell. Not just anywhere, though: Earth ended up in what scientists call the “Goldilocks zone” where its distance from the Sun allowed for the large liquid bodies on the planet’s surface to stay in mostly liquid form. Any closer to the sun and the oceans would have evaporated; any farther, the oceans would be frozen solid. The conditions were “just right” for life.

Scientists have yet to discover exactly how life emerged from non-life, but somehow from the organic matter in the oceans simple bacteria emerged. Scientists theorize that they must have required no oxygen to thrive, and were also able to give off oxygen as a by-product. Eventually, these bacteria produced sufficient oxygen molecules to support aerobic organisms and the production of a protective ozone shield around the Earth that protected life from the Sun’s molecule-destroying UV photons.

This story of an expanding universe and the development of all that now exists is the greatest story every told. Scientists have yet to discover how life came from non-living matter but refuse to settle for the religious cop-out of a Creator.

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