Big History seeks to retell the human story in light of scientific advances by such methods as radiocarbon dating and genetic analysis. This book provides a deep, causal view of the forces that have shaped the universe, the earth, and humanity. Starting with the Big Bang and the formation of the earth, it traces the evolutionary history of the world, focusing on humanity's origins. It also explores the many natural forces shaping humanity, especially the evolution of the brain and behaviour. Moving through time, the causes of such important transformations as agriculture, complex societies, the industrial revolution, the enlightenment, and modernity are placed in the context of underlying changes in demography, learning, and social organization. Humans are biological creatures, operating with instincts that evolved millions of years ago, but in the context of a rapidly changing world, and as we try to adapt to new circumstances, we must regularly reckon with our deep past.
Part I. Introduction to the Scientific Perspective on the Past
2. The Origins of the Universe
3. The Structure and History of the Earth
7. The Evolution of Complex Life
8. The Cambrian Explosion
9. Fish and Land Animals
11. The Genus Homo
12. Human Variation: The Science and History
13. Evolution and Human Behavior
14. Brain Evolution
15. Chaos and Complexity
Part II. Science and History
16. The Neolithic
17. States and Nations
18. Religion and Philosophy
19. The Enlightenment
20. The Industrial Revolution
22. Globalism: Money and Power
24. Prospects for the Future
""Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution". In a brilliant tour-de-force, Brian Villmoare encourages us to shorten Dobzhansky's famous quote by deleting the words 'in biology'."
– Volker Sommer, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, University College London
"This sweeping, erudite book will show you how nothing about the past – biological, anthropological, historical, or anything else – makes sense except in the light of evolutionary science. Its breathtaking 5-billion-year perspective will help you think about why almost everything to do with humanity is the way it is."
– Daniel E. Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University