The earth's origin fades into the dim beginning of the universe when God said "Let there be light". Its formation was in God's vision from the beginning and as the Spirit of God moved over the cosmic dust it became a fiery ball which slowly cooled forming clouds and water. Life emerged, developed and now we see the jewel.
The earth is the LORD'S and all it holds,
the world and those who live there.
Ancient Greek View
The ancient Greeks called mother earth Gaia and made it into a goddess. According to the story, Gaia emerged from Chaos. Ovid sees the hand of the creator (an unnamed god) at work who populated Gaia with mountains, seas, flora and fauna. (Webpage: Major Greek Goddesses.htm)
View of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 A.D.)
Galileo observations of the sky through the newly invented telescope led him to believe like Copernicus that the sun was at the center our planetary system. This brought him into conflict with the Church who feared that abandoning the literal meaning of scripture would lead the people to disbelieve in the word of God.
In 1633 A.D. the following propositions were condemned by the Church:
"That the sun is the center of the world and motionless is a proposition which is philosophically absurd and false, and formally heretical, for being explicitly contrary to Holy Scripture;
That the earth is neither the center of the world nor motionless but moves even with diurnal motion is philosophically equally absurd and false, and theologically at least erroneous in the Faith." (Webpages: Galileo Trial Documents)
In time we began to realize that Scripture teaches us how to go to heaven and not how the heavens go.
Charles Darwin's View (1809-1882 A.D.)
Before Darwin's publication of On the Origin of the Species, the Western world believed that all life forms on earth were directly created by God. "Then God said, 'let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures ....'" (Gn 1:24)
After careful observation of nature Darwin came to the conclusion that --
1) evolution did occur; 2) evolutionary change was gradual, requiring thousands to millions of years; 3) the primary mechanism for evolution was a process called natural selection; 4) the millions of species alive today arose from a single original life form through a branching process called "specialization". (Webpage: Charles Darwin British Naturalist)
Unfortunately, Darwin was brought up believing in the literal interpretation of Scripture, so when confronted with the natural evidence wound up rejecting his Christian faith as stated: "In 1880, in reply to a correspondent, Charles wrote, 'I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation, & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.' " (Webpage: Was Darwin a Christian ....) He was not smart enough to see past the limitations of his naturalism and the misinterpretation of Genesis of his day. May God have mercy on his soul. Today we realize that Genesis 1 does not tell us how God created but that He did Create.
James Lovelock's View
Lovelock published the Gaia theory in 1970 A.D. and presented us with a view that the Earth is alive. He states, "I recognize to view the Earth as if it were alive is just a convenient, but different, way of organizing the facts of the Earth....not as the ancients saw her -- a sentient Goddess with a purpose and foresight -- but alive like a tree."
Lovelock claims that there is strong evidence suggesting that there is a systematic control of earth's temperature, air composition and ocean salinity. For example, the early earth's atmosphere heavy with Carbon dioxide was altered by evolving forms of ocean algae and is now maintained at 79% Nitrogen, 20.7% Oxygen, .03% carbon dioxide and other trace elements by the action of the same biota. In other words, Micro-organisms drive the living earth. (Webpage: James Lovelock and the Gaia Theory) This view implies foresight and planning which simple organisms do not have. While it is true that all living entities interact and depend in some way on one another, of themselves, they cannot give direction toward an end to the totality of the Earth. Another factor must enter the equation which is God' Creative Spirit.
"When you send forth your breath, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth." (Ps 104:30)
Jürgen Moltmann has well said, "Everything ... is, exists and lives in the unceasing inflow of the energies and potentialities of the cosmic Spirit." 66
Teilhard de Chardin View (1881-1955 A.D.)
Teilhard was a French paleontologist and philosopher and Jesuit priest who gave evolution a cosmic and religious perspective.
He begins with Cosmogenesis or evolution of stellar matter, moves toward involution and birth of consciousness on the dark planets or Biogenesis. The next stage is the birth of man Homogenesis, the origin and development of man who consciously unifies the earth by his socialization and means of communication (Noosphere). The end stage is Christogenesis, birth into Christ and the movement of mankind toward the Omega point who is God through Christ.
We should thankful for his mystic view of evolution even if he falls short on some point of Christian faith. His work was not meant to be a systematic theological work.
Origin of life