This introductory chapter begins with an anecdote about the author's admiration for the paintings by Vermeer that depict Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, discoverer of microbial life. It then sets out the book's purpose, which is to discuss the origin of the major stages in the elaboration of life. It deals with the domains of biology, paleontology, and ecology as well as philosophy and theology. The essence of this book is to elucidate three origins, or geneses, all governed by a major evolutionary tendency captured by the motto “unity is strength.” A brief overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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