Cosmology

Authored by: Joel R. Primack , Nancy Ellen Abrams

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Science

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415492447
eBook ISBN: 9780203803516
Adobe ISBN: 9781136634178

10.4324/9780203803516.ch9

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Abstract

Scientific cosmology is the study of the entire universe, its history, structure, and composition. Long considered highly speculative, cosmology has in recent years become a precise science in which detailed theoretical predictions are routinely confirmed by increasingly powerful observations. Nevertheless, fundamental questions still remain to be answered. Cosmologies existed long before science – they were the stories every culture told, and still tells, about the origin of the world and the place of humans in the big picture. All religions include origin stories, which are generally based on the understanding of nature at the time when the religion was founded. This has led both to interesting conversations and to some of the deepest conflicts between science and religion. In this essay we discuss the history of changing cultural cosmologies in the West, the radically different cosmology that is emerging today from modern astrophysics, and some of the religious implications of this new scientific picture.

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