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Origin Story: A Big History of Everything Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian
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Origin Story Quotes Showing 1-14 of 14
“Knowledge is like a sphere; the greater its volume, the larger its contact with the unknown.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“Like human lovers, electrons are unpredictable, fickle, and always open to better offers.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“As Seth Lloyd puts it: “To do anything requires energy. To specify what is done requires information.”3”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“Like the origin stories of Confucianism or early Buddhism, the modern story is about a universe that just is. Any sense of meaning comes not from the universe, but from us humans. “What’s the meaning of the universe?” asked Joseph Campbell, a scholar of myth and religion. “What’s the meaning of a flea? It’s just there, that’s it, and your own meaning is that you’re there.”3”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“The Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.… It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.… Yet the GNP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or… the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.… It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“Nevertheless, the first states were a new phenomenon in human history. They all assumed the right to mobilize wealth from farming communities, towns, and cities in return for some degree of protection. As the English political theorist Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan (1651), the right to distribute resources “belongeth in all kinds of Common-wealth, to the Soveraign power. For where there is no Common-wealth, there is… a perpetual warre of every man against his neighbor.” Traditional elites owed their power, in part, to the intrinsic weakness and isolation of traditional farming communities.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“Entropy is the loyal servant of the second law of thermodynamics. So, if we think of entropy as a character in our story, we should imagine it as dissolute, lurking, careless of others’ pain and suffering, not interested in looking you in the eye. Entropy is also very, very dangerous, and in the end it will get us all.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“Paradoxically, the flows of energy that sustain complex things (including you and me) are helping entropy with its bleak task of slowly breaking down all forms of order and structure.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“H. G. Wells wrote a history of humanity as a response to the carnage of World War I. There can be no peace now, we realize, but a common peace in all the world; no prosperity but a general prosperity. But there can be no common peace and prosperity without common historical ideas.… With nothing but narrow, selfish, and conflicting nationalist traditions, races and peoples are bound to drift towards conflict and destruction.2”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“But we humans, like all living organisms, have goals, and we set out on long journeys to achieve those goals, despite the indifference of the universe. And stories from all cultures describe these dangerous journeys, journeys that don’t always succeed but sometimes do. The journeyers endure periods when everything seems lost, periods of great suffering. There are sudden, unexpected interruptions to their quest. Helpers appear, too, gods or friends. And there are lucky breaks. So, in all mythological traditions, quests can and do succeed. Alertness, determination, and hope—these are the crucial virtues of anyone on a quest, because the journeyer who misses opportunities or who gives up too soon or who despairs must fail. Any traditional storyteller could have told us that these are the qualities we humans will need as we face an unpredictable future full of both dangers and opportunities.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“tax. When the star stops generating energy, it will collapse.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“The universe really is indifferent to our fate. It's a vast ocean of energy for which individual wavelets such as us are ephemeral, passing phenomena.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“That allowed them to model important features of the external world and even to model possible futures. No brainy creature (not even you or I) is in direct contact with its environment. Instead, we all live in a rich virtual reality constructed by our brains. Our brains generate and constantly update maps of the most salient features of our bodies and our surroundings, just as climate scientists model changing environments today.17 Those maps enable us to maintain homeostasis.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
“energy is used to pump individual protons from inside the cell (where there is a low concentration of protons) to outside the cell (where there is a high concentration of protons). This is like charging a battery.”
David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything