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Lava before life

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Two four-letter words lava and life are linked. You and I wonder about while scientists discover how our planet came to be. Their findings tell us this earth of ours likely was hit by meteors, one the size of Mars about 4.5 billion years ago that vaporized the earth’s crust leaving it a boiling ocean of lava. Recently a tiny fragment of a crystal of zircon the size of a dust mite or little more than a human hair has been dated at 4.4 billion years ago. Before any life or more particularly human life, gradually this molten mass cooled, maybe in 100 to 200 million years, enough to create a crust. Scientists theorize that then steam from the atmosphere condensed to make oceans. Life evolved in the oceans that formed. Clues to when life first existed are embedded in fossils of about 3.5 billion years ago.

The story of lava and life has merged by wide-spread volcanic eruptions in the past 542 million years. We know that from the lava found on four continents. These eruptions resulted in mass extinctions of many species, at one time making the dinosaurs domination possible and at another time resulting in their extinction. Study of fossils tells us dinosaurs dominated Earth for the 135 million years after one of volcanic eruption.

So today we wonder and know that beneath this crust of earth lava boils and bursts forth. Of the more than 1500 active volcanoes have erupted in the last 10,000 years, every day there are about 20 erupting. Hot lava and volcanic ash and escaping gases devastate vast areas. Lava and life are not compatible. We can live saying what will be will be and build out cities at the edge of them or we can do our best to cope on the thin crust of earth. So what has this to do with faith and doubt? Probably nothing, but there will be those who say they know and there will be believers without information based on the best we know.

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