Bryson, Bill - On the sequencing of increments and configurations
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
… the universe is an amazingly fickle and eventful place and our existence within it is a wonder. If a long and unimaginably complex sequence of events stretching back 4.6 billion years or so hadn't played out in a particular manner at particular times – if, to take just one obvious instance, the dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out by a meteor when they were – you might well be a few centimetres long, with whiskers and a tail, and reading this in a burrow.
We don't really know because we have nothing else with which we can compare our own existence, but it seems evident that if you wish to end up as a moderately advanced, thinking society, you need to be at the right end of a very long chain of outcomes involving reasonable periods of stability interspersed with just the right amount of stress and challenge (ice ages appear to be especially helpful in this regard) and marked by a total absence of real cataclysm