"If a problem can't be solved, enlarge it." —Dwight Eisenhower
The unfolding scientific story of our existence spans some 13.7 billion years—from the primordial flaring forth of the early universe to the rapid flaring forth of our global civilization. This grand narrative blends cosmology, physics, chemistry, geology, biology, anthropology, sociology, economics, and history into a single, compelling account of the development of the cosmos, the evolution of life, and the history of humanity. It encompasses all nations, all cultures, and all eras. It is our common story because, for the first time, humans have an origin story that transcends all of our regional, religious, and tribal differences.
Today, we call this Big History—and it is perhaps the most remarkable achievement of human civilization. And because it reveals large-scale forces, trends, and adaptations, it may be an essential tool in securing our common future, promoting excellence in education, transcending dangerous conflicts, and effectively addressing the economic and environmental challenges of our global civilization.
We believe that Big History:
• Provides a mnemonic for us to understand and remember the details of science and history.
• Helps inspire us to appreciate the awesome grandeur of the new sciences and the human adventure.
• Helps us understand the unique environmental, political, economic, and technological challenges of our global civilization.
• Helps to address profound existential questions of meaning and purpose, virtues and values, in ways that are respectful of science, supportive of thoughtful religion, and conducive to civil societies.
It is in the context of Big History that we can most profitably debate and create solutions to the Big Problems we now face—challenges related to energy and environment, war and conflict, human rights and good governance, new technologies and sustainable growth, education and development, food and population. Here’s just one example: To feed our growing population, we will have to grow as much food in the next 40 years as humans have grown in the past 8,000 years since the dawn of agriculture. Presumably, we will have to do so without increasing the destructive environmental impact of agriculture.
Big History is also the most constructive context for pondering Big Questions related to meaning and purpose, beauty and goodness, truth and transcendence, science and the sacred. How can we effectively use this new knowledge and interpret these new insights? How do religions and whole cultures adapt to this new worldview? How do we successfully negotiate culture wars and clashing civilizations? How shall we live? And what does it all mean?
What it all means depends in part on how we interpret Big History and what kind of future we craft together. At Metanexus, we bring together the best and brightest thinkers from a wide range of disciplines to debate the Big Problems of the 21st century and ponder the Big Questions of our existence. Our aim is to create one of the most fascinating, significant, and transformational conversations in this corner of the galaxy. We hope you’ll join us.
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Metanexus fosters a growing international network of individuals and groups exploring the dynamic interface between cosmos, nature and culture. Membership is open to all. Join Now!