Roger J. Wendell
Defending 3.8 Billion Years of Organic EvolutionSM


Life Life
"The property that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and organic dead bodies; animate existence characterized by active metabolism, growth, reporduction, and response to stimuli."

- Dictionary of Ecology and Environmental Science, 1993



"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the
wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."

- Chief Crowfoot, Blackfoot Indian Chief


Arrow Pointing Right Click Here for my page on Evolution...
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Life Defined:

"I therefore propose to define life as 'a regime that contains a hereditary program for defining and directing molecular mechanisms that actively extract matter and energy from the environment, which matter and energy is converted into building blocks for its own maintenance and, if possible, reproduction'."
- Historian Fred Spier
Social Evolution & History, Vol. 4 No. 1, March 2005


The History of Life:

Donald R. Prothero "The history of life on Earth is an incredibly complex story. At the present moment, there are somewhere between 5 and 15 million species alive on our planet. Because more than 99 percent of all the species that ever lived are extinct, this suggests that hundreds of millions of species have lived on Earth, and probably a lot more, since the origin of life 3.5 billion years ago or even earlier."

- Donald R. Prothero in his book, The Story of Life in 25 Fossils
(Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonders of Evolution), p. IX (Preface)


Pattica samuppada - Buddhist term suggesting that all life relates interdependently, that none of us - plants, animals, humans - leads a separate existence.


"If the life of natural things, millions of years old, does not seem sacred to us, then what can be sacred?... Contempt for the natural world implies contempt for life."

- Edward Abbey, Beyond The Wall p. 44


"Any religion which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion... Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace."

- Albert Schweitzer


The Old Way:

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas "But our human world was overwhelming. People had all the power and made all the decisions. With their indifference to anything nonhuman, the world was at their mercy. So as I saw it, there were two spheres of existence - the one I lived in, which was the sphere of people, and the one I barely knew, which was the sphere of everything else, from amoebas to blue whales, from duckweed to giant sequoias, from the floor of the Mariana Trench to the summit of Everest. Every living thing in that second sphere belonged to what I've come to call the Old Way, keeping the old rules that evolution set out for each species, the rules that helped us stay alive and move our genes into the future. The Old Way put us here, although we no longer respect that."

- Elizabeth Marshall Thomas in her book,
Dreaming of Lions (My Life in the Wild Places), p. 25


"All life-forms have an inherent right to life;"

- Vandana Shiva in her book, Biopiracy p. 77


"Life, we now know, is nothing but a vast array of coordinated chemical reactions. The 'secret' to that coordination is the breathtakingly complex set of instructions inscribed, again chemically, in our DNA."

- DNA Pioneer James Watson


The Wonder and Grandeur of Life and Evolution:

Charles Darwin "Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."


"Life on this planet has an expiration date, if for no other reason than that someday the Sun will cease to
shine. Life emerged here shortly after the planet itself formed some four and a half billion years ago,
and current estimates suggest our world has a good half billion years left until its present biosphere
of diverse, complex multicellular life begins an irreversible slide back to microbial simplicity."
- Lee Billings in his book,
Five Billion Years of Solitude
(The Search for Life Among the Stars), p. 7


Arthur Schopenhauer "Those who don't wonder about the contingency of the world's existence are mentally deficient."

- Arthur Schopenhauer




A Short Dance
Copyright © 1992 Roger J. Wendell

Published by the Garden Doctor
editor John A. Starnes, Jr.
No. 20, Fall, 1992, p. 27

Imagine holding your hands in front of your chest - as if to illustrate a length or distance. Between these hands our lives flash like the ephemeral dance of a mayfly. One hand indicates our beginning, while the other signals the end - the space in between may be all we ever have. If you're like me you may not know exactly who to thank for this short dance, nevertheless, it's good to be here.

Besides just "being here now," what else is important? Well, other life, that's what. All life. That includes every lichen, redwood, beaver, bear, and bobcat. Each has as much "right" to be here as me or anyone else. Life's choreography is a display as rich and varied as anything we could ever invent or imagine. Like the turning, whirling dance of Shiva, each living being has a magical presence that is wondrously hypnotic. Yet, our modern, artificial existence blinds us to the real beauty of life. Bankrupt ideologies and social systems separate us ever further from the wonder of this, our organic heritage.

For me, the complexity and vibrancy of living things is a collection of verse as sacred as any Bible or Veda. From the ashes of burnt stars rose this wonderfully indescribable phenomenon that has graced our planet for over three billion years. Unmolested, life's breathtaking diversity, beauty, and abundance reigned for a thousand million generations.

Until now. Now, with a sadness so deep and profound that it defies description, I am forced to witness the desecration of the very evolutionary fabric that binds us all. Nature, on every corner of the globe, is being crushed by the asphalt glacier of human greed and ignorance. All of us have watched it. Our techno-industrial society's relentless conquest of the natural world is taking its toll. From shopping malls and housing tracts, to patchwork clear-cuts and strip mines, our globe's fragile network of ecosystems is being severed forever. The ecological loses that have occurred over the last decade alone read like a wartime body count. More than just numbers, imagine what it really means to lose an eagle, a forest, or an entire species. Gone, lost forever. And with it too our own sense of freedom and aliveness - the very essence of our being.

Every whale, elk, and snail darter has a right to compete for its existence free of artificial interference. Our cultural ethic must be to preserve and protect - not to pillage and pilfer at greed's whim. It's an outrage that our collective consciousness, as a species, allows us to degrade any life, let alone sweep it aside with cavalier abandon for sport or profit. The dance of life is too special, too sacred, to be debased and destroyed by such arrogance.

These are desperate times. Do we console and comfort ourselves with technological hallucinations and imagery while organic evolution is killed? Or do we act before the close of hands at the end of our own short lives?

Compromise, platitudes, and promises mean nothing to living organisms and beauty. The answer is much deeper. Immerse yourself in nature and you will emerge with the vision necessary to guard that most sacred of dances. Touch the heart of wilderness and you will know the universe, you will know life, and you will know the answer.




The Train Ride
(Author Unknown)

Life is like a train ride. We get on. We ride. We get off. We get back on and ride some more. There are accidents and there are delays. At certain stops, there are surprises. Some of these will translate into great moments of joy; some will result in profound sorrow.

When we are born and we first board the train, we meet people whom we think will be with us for the entire journey. Those people are our parents! Sadly, this is far from the truth. Our parents are with us for as long as we absolutely need them. They too have journeys they must complete. We live with the memories of their love, affection, friendship, guidance, and their ever presence.

There are others who board the train and who eventually become very important to us. These people are our brothers, sisters, friends, and acquaintances, whom we will learn to love and cherish.

Some people consider their journey like a jaunty tour. They will just go merrily along. Others will encounter many upsets, tears, losses on their journey. Others still, will linger on to offer a helping hand to anyone in need. Some people on the train will leave an everlasting impression when they get off. Some will get on and get off the train so quickly, they will scarcely leave a sign they ever travelled along with you or ever crossed your path.

We will sometimes be upset that some passengers, whom we love, will choose to sit in another compartment and leave us to travel on our own. Then again, there is nothing saying we cannot seek them out anyway. Nevertheless, once sought out and found, we may not even be able to sit next to them because the seat may already be taken.

That is okay, everyone's journey will be filled with hopes, dreams, challenges, setback, and goodbyes. We must strive to make the best of it, no matter what. We must constantly strive to understand our travel companions and look for the best in everyone.

Remember, at any moment during our journey, any one of our travel companions can have a weak moment and be in need of our help. We too may vacillate or hesitate, even trip, hopefully we can count on someone being there to be supportive and understanding.

The bigger mystery of our journey is we do not know when our last stop will come. Neither do we know when our travel companions will make their last stop. Not even those sitting on the seat next to us.

Personally, I know I will be sad to make my final stop.

My separation from all those friends and acquaintances I made during the train ride will be painful. Leaving all those I am close to will be a sad thing. But then again, I am certain one day I will get to the main station only to meet up with everyone else. They will all be carrying their baggage, most of which they did not have when they first got on this train.

I will be glad to see them again. I will also be glad to have contributed to their baggage and to have enriched their lives, just as much as they will have contributed to my baggage and enriched my life.

We are all on this train ride together. Above all, we should all try to strive to make the ride as pleasant and memorable as we can, right up until the final stop and leave the train for the last time.

All aboard!

Safe journey!




Dostoyevsky on life:

"Virtually all of us cling desperately to life, either because of our love of life and/or our fear of death. I'm told there is a passage in a novel by Dostoyevsky in which a character in the story exclaims, 'If I were condemned to live on a rock, chained to a rock in the lashing sea, and all around me were ice and gales and storm, I would still want to live. Oh God, just to live, live, live!'"

- Vincent Bugliosi in his book,
The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, p. 30


Life, all life, is impressive:

Bernd Heinrich "As in all living thngs, each creature does it its own way, and very small, perhaps almost random selective presures may start a cascade in on edirection that, once started, continues on its own momentum to ever greater differentiation and perfection. Not a shred of intelligence is needed to make it, nor to make it work. It is strange to me that life itself doesn't strike the average person as all that impressive, but for some reason 'intelligent' life does. When you consider life as a whole, intelligence is a mere bristle on the hog."

- Bernd Heinrich in his book,
A Year n the Main Woods, pp. 211-212





  1. Abbey and Thoreau
  2. Activists
  3. Animals and Wildlife
  4. A Short Dance
  5. Backyard Wildlife
  6. Biodiversity
  7. Biology
  8. Bioneers
  9. Cancer
  10. Climate Change
  11. Cosmology
  12. Council of All Beings
  13. Creation Theories
  14. Council of All Beings
  15. Death
  16. Deep Ecology
  17. Earth Day
  18. Earth Rainbow Network
  19. Evolution
  1. Extinction
  2. Foundation for Deep Ecolocy
  3. Genetically Modified Organisms
  4. Insects
  5. Institute for Deep Ecology
  6. Joanna Macy - Welcome to all beings
  7. Leave No Trace - Center for Outdoor Ethics
  8. Northwest Earth Institute
  9. Organic Evolution - 3.8 Billion years of it!
  10. Paleontology
  11. Plants
  12. Rainbow Family of Living Light
  13. Recycling
  14. Selected Deep Ecology Writings
  15. There is no God
  16. Time
  17. World Charter for Nature - United Nations
  18. Wilderness Defense!
  19. WikiSpecies - A free directory of life! (Because life is in the public domain!)




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