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Human Evolution from the Origin of the Universe

By John Hands
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Cosmosapiens by John Hands

Cosmosapiens (2015) is about the evolution of scientific theory – from the origin of matter and the universe to the emergence of life on Earth and the evolution of human consciousness. For centuries, we’ve been struggling to find out who we are and why we’re here. Learn about the progress we’ve made toward answering these important questions – and about the barriers that still stand in our way.

Key idea 1 of 9

Various cultures have different origin myths; science explains the emergence of the universe with the big bang.

What crosses your mind when you think of the origins of human beings? For the majority of humankind, explanations of our genesis come from popular origin myths.

For example, 63 percent of Americans believe that what is written in the Bible is the word of God – that is, literally true – and the great majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims believe in the absolute truth of the Quran.

Throughout history, people have developed these myths to tell the story of how the universe and humankind came to be. Many of them describe a chaotic environment, often involving water, from which a god emerges and creates the world.

We see this in the ancient Egyptian myth of Heliopolis: From the primordial watery abyss known as Nu, the god Atum arose, and from his seed the world was brought into existence.

Other myths found throughout Asia tell of a pre-existing animal, such as a turtle, that dives into the primordial waters to emerge with a piece of earth that later expands to form the world.

In other parts of Asia, India, Europe and the Pacific a symbolic egg is the source of all creation.

Very few of these myths tell an origin story of something being created out of nothing. Yet, this is the explanation that is currently favored by science.

This explanation is known as the big bang theory, and it holds that the universe, including all of space, time, energy and matter, exploded into existence from a single point of extreme density and temperature about 13.7 billion years ago. Eventually, this expanded and cooled into the universe we know today.

Scientists have found evidence of an expanding universe in what is known as the redshift. In 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that when a source of light, such as a distant galaxy, moves away from an observer, it shifts further toward the red end of the color spectrum. And this is exactly what scientists are seeing when they are observing distant objects

However, there are gaps in the big bang theory. We’ll take a look at these in the next blink.

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