Reality is so much more attractive than illusion. This is why science is so much more beautiful than religion.
It just takes an open (and humble) mind's eye to see. Science places us within an interconnected cosmos where we are part and parcel of everything in existence.
This is akin to the "oneness" of religion and mysticism. Except, it is demonstrably real. Behold:
I'm a couple of chapters into Richard Dawkins' new book, "The Greatest Show on Earth." Which happens to be evolution.
Great read. A spine-tingle on just about every page for those, like me, who get turned on by scientific facts.
Yes, all life is one -- since every species is related to all the rest, sharing a common ancestor.
On the 'population-thinking' evolutionary view, every animal is linked to every other animal, say rabbit to leopard, by a chain of intermediates, each so similar to the next that every link could in principle mate with its neighbors in the chain and produce fertile offspring.
To illustrate this non-essentialist view of life, where there isn't an unchangeable Platonic form of a rabbit or leopard, Dawkins relates a marvelous image of how evolution works.
Take a rabbit, a female for convenience. Envision her mother next to her. Then, her grandmother. And so on, back through megayears, "a seemingly endless line of female rabbits, each one sandwiched between her daughter and her mother."
Walking along the line, you can't discern any meaningful generational differences between the rabbits for a very long time. But...
Nevertheless, steadily and imperceptibly, as we retreat through time, we shall reach ancestors that look less and less like a rabbit and more and more like a shrew (and not very like either). One of these creatures I'll call the hairpin bend, for reasons that will become apparent.
This animal is the most recent common ancestor (in the female line, but that is not important) that rabbits share with leopards. We don't know exactly what it looked like, but it follows from the evolutionary view that it definitely had to exist.
Now, Dawkins says, you keep on walking. Except, you've turned the bend in the hairpin and now are moving forward in time.
...aiming towards the leopards (among the hairpin's many and diverse descendants, for we shall continually meet forks in the line, where we consistently choose the fork that will eventually lead to leopards). Each shrew-like animal along our forward walk is now followed by her daughter.
Slowly, by imperceptible degrees, the shrew-like animals will change, through intermediates that might not resemble any modern animal much but strongly resemble each other, perhaps passing through vaguely stoat-like intermediates, until eventually, without ever noticing an abrupt change of any kind, we arrive at a leopard.
This tale is so much compelling than the bullshit of Genesis in the Bible. Truth has a vibrancy that lies can't match.
Dawkins presents us with a vision of life on earth marked by continual change -- of the natural variety, not God-inspired. We humans are a culmination of those changes. And also linked to countless changes in speciation yet to come.
Evolution takes away our uniqueness. But it offers human understanding something better: a sense of commonality with each and every life form on the planet.
The Beatles got it right: "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together."
The point is that for any two animals there has to be a hairpin path linking them, for the simple reason that every species shares an ancestor with every other species: all we have to do is walk backwards from one species to the shared ancestor, then turn through a hairpin bend and walk forwards to the other species.
Second, notice that we are talking only about locating a chain of animals that links a modern animal to another modern animal. We are most emphatically not evolving a rabbit into a leopard.
I suppose you could say we are de-evolving back to the hairpin, then evolving forwards to the leopard from there. As we'll see in a later chapter, it is unfortunately necessary to explain, again and again, that modern species don't evolve into other modern species, they just share ancestors. They are cousins.
This, as we shall see, is also the answer to that disquietingly common plaint: 'If humans have evolved from chimpanzees, how come there are still chimpanzees around?'