Origin Story by David Christian

David Christian coined the phrase ‘Big History’ in reference to a project that aims to tell the story of everything that’s happened from the beginning of the universe until now. It’s an idea that caught Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ eye and together they established the Big History Project. Origin Story expands on those ideas.

Christian argues that now we have enough knowledge about our universe, about the evolution of the world, and how we came into being that we can tell the whole story. There are eight threshold events – such as the creation of chemical elements, the creation of life, and the explosion of technology and communication in the modern era – where the universe steps up to a new level of complexity.

The final of his thresholds is Anthropocene; our influence is now so profound that we affect the entire planet – we can do that in a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ way. We can create a healthier, more equal, and happier world, or we can create world in which inequality and climate change destroy our complex civilisations.

Mark Rubbo is the managing director of Readings.