Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Collins Foundation Press (2013)
Also available as an eBook
Spectacular advances in astrophysics, paleoanthropology, and molecular genetics have recently answered some of the most fundamental questions about our origins, making it possible for the first time to construct a science-based creation story. Journey to Civilization: The Science of How We Got Here tells this new story through the evidence and skepticism of science. It explores and explains the science itself, from the physics of stars and the formation of planets, to the evolution of life, and the epic journey of humans out of Africa to cover the planet. Journey to Civilization is written for the non-scientist in clear, straight-forward language, and is richly illustrated with diagrams, charts, and beautiful color graphics and photographs.
The traditional study of history goes back about 5,000 years to the first civilizations in Mesopotamia, where writing was invented along with government and politics, laws and taxes, monetary systems, military operations, and most other other aspects of our modern world. Until recently, the story of humanity before this was largely unknown and loosely referred to as “prehistoric”.
We now know that humans in their present anatomical form, so-called Homo sapiens, were living in Africa by about 300,000 years ago, which means that traditional history can account for less than 2% of the time people have been living on Earth. What were people doing for the other 98% of that time? Can we know a fuller story of humanity that deals with the entire time we have been on Earth? And what was happening before Homo sapiens emerged 300,000 years ago? Who were our ancestors long before that? How far back can the search for our origins go? What about the Earth itself - how did it come to be? And was anything happening before the Earth existed?
The search for this “deep history” eventually leads to the most fundamental questions of origin and creation. How was the world made and how did we get here? All human cultures have ancient accounts of the creation of Earth and its people. These were passed down through oral traditions of story telling, until finally they were written down. These traditional creation stories were universally important: they defined our place in the universe and gave meaning to our existence.
Then what is our creation story today?
Although science has been the slayer of myths over the last few centuries, it now provides a new creation story that binds all people together as children of the stars and Earth. Recent advances in paleoanthropology, molecular genetics, and astrophysics have answered some of the most fundamental questions about our origins. A new field of study called Big History takes the search for our origins all the way back to the birth of the universe nearly 14 billion years ago, and weaves a continuous account of an unfolding universe that gave rise to life on our planet and eventually humanity.
There has never before been one creation story that could be shared by all the people of the world. Today, however, nearly all of humanity shares the methods and products of science. Science has become a universal language across all cultures; and thus the new creation story produced by science is the story of all the people of the world. It is the common ground upon which we all stand.
Journey to Civilization will change your understanding of science, and it will change your view of humanity and our place in the universe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE FOR JOURNEY
This is one of the most engrossing popular science books I've ever read. It clearly and engagingly explains the most recent theories concerning the Big Bang, the creation of our solar system, and the evolution of life on Earth. Beyond that, the author evokes a sense of wonder that drew me into the creation story and left me open-mouthed with amazement. A beautiful book!
- - Stephen R. Jones, Naturalist and Author of The Last Prarie: A Sandhills Journal
I just came back from a road trip with my husband David, and we read aloud in the car parts of the book … really beautifully done.
- - Fran Korten, Yes! Magazine
Journey to Civilization is a fantastic book. It presents the state-of-the-field science while still conveying the awe and wonder of the story of our evolutionary origins. Much has been discovered recently that has not yet been digested by our culture, so the book is really timely. The hundreds of color pictures and well-done charts also make the whole story fascinating and entertaining, This is really the best "big history" book available. Highly recommended.
- - Steve McIntosh, Author of Integral Consciousness and Evolution’s Purpose
Well written, stunningly gorgeous, and supremely informative.
- - Michael Dowd, Author of Thank God for Evolution
A must read for those who wish to be informed about the science of.... us! This exciting new text is not only a gorgeous production, it is a complete compendium of one of the more important fields in science. It is a well written, understandable, and beautifully illustrated book that I will re-read each year. The informative appendices are a superb way to handle technical information that might interrupt the easy flow of the story.
- - Eric D. Miller, Master Earth Science Teacher
I feel all students would be well served if by the time they graduate from high school they have read Journey to Civilization. It creates a unifying perspective for all the science classes they take. It is so much more than science facts.
- - Mike Stanley, Master Biology Teacher
This is easily the best introduction you can find to the relatively new genre of "Big History".
A scholarly and compelling work, very well referenced, with beautiful photographs, diagrams and charts to support and illuminate the wealth and depth of its content.
I loved this book.
The title is accurate; Briggs stops where the History Department takes over.
All previous attempts are now out-of-date. I was amazed how current the book is, and how well it integrates recent discoveries.
This is one of the best books that I've ever read.
I found this book to be absolutely astonishing …
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Roger Briggs is retired from a thirty-year career as an acclaimed high school physics teacher. He collaborated as an educational writer with scientists from the Space Environment Lab at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado, Ball Aerospace Corporation, and other research centers to bring real science into classrooms. A nationally known rock climber, he has written for The Alpinist and Climbing Magazine, and now works to promote stewardship of public lands.
He was inspired to write Journey to Civilization by of a life-long love of science and a passion for exploring the phenomenon of humanity. Roger lives with his wife MaryAnn in the mountains near Boulder, Colorado and has two grown sons.