In the recent issue of Discover, I read an interview that dealt with the theme: Big History. As far as I understand the concept it is putting human history into context of universal history. Human history is only a subset of a much larger history that include the environment that allowed mammals to develop, the cosmos that allowed a planet to develop with such an ecology that supports life... back to the beginning.
I had this thought. Before everything that is there was truly limitless possibility. It is like a blank piece of paper before the first line is drawn; but once that first line is drawn it both reveal what picture may develop and also begins to limit what possible picture may take shape and with each line more limits are placed, until finally a finished product is revealed. As the cosmos go, before the Big Bang there were no limits, no natural or physical laws. But once "Bang" happened then limits were placed: atomic structure and shape, thermal dynamics, gravity, electromagnetism... more and more limits were put into place until life emerged. And limits are placed on life through ecology, DNA, intelligence.
But at what point can we step back from the paper and see the picture, how much of the outline needs to be revealed before we can understand the contours of the overall structure and shape of the picture developing before us? How many details need to be sketched in before the limiting effect is in fact a revealing effect? Or is there no grand picture emerging from the chaos turned order of the cosmos which has brought about life and awareness?