Cosmology is a term used by anthropologists, philosophers, scholars of religion and theologians to denote an individual or group understanding of the world, the universe and beyond. This “map” may or may not include an account of creation.
In contemporary science the term cosmology denotes the creation, structure and evolution of the universe, as with the Big Bang theory.
For all their social legitimacy and status, from a spiritual standpoint modern scientific cosmologies can fall short by ignoring the possibilities of hellish, purgatorial, astral and heavenly realms that could permeate and interact with life on Earth and, indeed, life throughout the universe (assuming life exists beyond our planet).
Perhaps most scientific cosmologists in the 21st century are so focused on their way of seeing the world that there’s little or no room in their hearts, minds and souls to experience numinosity. If they did, they’d probably revise their theories to make them more comprehensive.
Cosmology arguably bears a direct relation to ethics. But these two spheres of inquiry are usually kept apart by philosophers, scholars and theologians. This arbitrary separation of cosmology and ethics has its pitfalls. For instance, a dominant cosmology that excludes the importance of numinosity is probably not going to seriously consider persons claiming to experience numinosity. As a result, persons of numinosity might be marginalized and discriminated against.
While many may naively suppose that science pins down truth, a look at the range of current scientific cosmologies (note: plural) will hopefully dispel that belief.
Instead of truth, what we arguably find is a group of stories, not entirely unlike the ancient myths that preceded them. True, these more recent stories are based on scientific (i.e. measurable and replicable) observation.¹ But their fragmentary nature highlights the fact that human beings cannot really grasp the whole. Not that there’s any harm in trying. But when researchers lose their sense of humility and start overreaching the limits of their observations, all sorts of problems can arise.
For an excellent list of the latest scientific imaginings, see Historical Cosmologies (the latter entries in the chart). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmology. And for a brief timeline see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_cosmology.
¹ At least, this is what we’re told. In reality fraud and deceit can creep into the halls of science, just any other human endeavor. See Broad and Wade, Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science.
- The Vertical Cosmological Argument and the Fallacy of Composition (humblesmith.wordpress.com)
- Modern Cosmology: Interactive Computer Simulations … (physicsforme.wordpress.com)
- Einstein’s “biggest blunder” beats dark energy in explaining expansion of the Universe (gizmag.com)
- “A” is for axion (Alphabet of Cosmology) (catch26.wordpress.com)
- Astronomers have found the largest structure in the universe (theverge.com)
- Stellar performances finally gain the limelight (newscientist.com)
- The Kalam Argument – Reddening the faces of atheists everywhere (ferlans.wordpress.com)
- Dynamic, dark energy in an accelerating universe (spacedaily.com)
- Astronomers discover the universe’s largest known structure (slashgear.com)
- What is the purpose of the Universe? Here is one possible answer. (io9.com)