Origin Story

Read Origin Story: A Brief History of Everything by David Christian.

My whole life I’ve had questions about things like the universe and religion and the unrealistic stories that religion pushes up against science. There is, of course, so much we don’t know and while Christian does a good job of sharing what we do know, or at least believe we know at the moment, many–well most–of my questions remain unanswered.

I liked that he wrote about the idea that psychologically¬† at least humans have a need to make up an origin story otherwise we tend to go crazy (my words, not his). This explains an awful lot. And, since we don’t know the reason for the beginning (or Big Bang), it makes sense that we continue to make up stories that can try to explain the before.

My other huge metaphysical question is if the universe truly is expanding–science not only believes that the universe is expanding but that the expansion is accelerating– then what the hell are we expanding into? Even at the size of galaxies and universes (yes there could be many universes), what is the container that they are in?

The closest I’ve ever come to understanding all of this came from Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. A dust ball within a dust ball within… just like riding up the escalator with mirrors on either side and the image literally goes forever. While this still doesn’t explain what the container is, at least it creates a dynamic and manageable image. I do think that’s one of the problems with trying to comprehend and make sense of the universe: It’s simply too damn big to wrap our minds around. And, it’s all expanding into something. When I get like this my husband says I make his head hurt.

I liked this book. It’s an accelerated look at physics, world building, biology, and even a bit of psychology and sociology and of course cosmology. Some of the science gets a little deep, but only for the briefest of moments during the conversation on RNA and DNA and cell biology. But, within a chapter that’s basically over.

In the end, I prefer this Origin Story to the religious ones we’ve heard. At least science is more practical.

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