Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Importance of Cosmology

Cosmology is the most important subject in the world.

Why? Because it is the story of the world: its origin, structure, purpose, and destiny. As people in that world, its story necessarily forms the background for our own personal story. It affects our deepest beliefs, values, and hopes.

Our cosmology forms the basis for our response to the most fundamental questions regarding our existence. Our cosmological beliefs shape our morality, religion, and culture. Our cosmology is closely linked to our worldview.

Naturalist Cosmology

Big Bang cosmology is the standard cosmology in our modern society. It is currently embraced by most Western scientists and scholars, and is taught at most schools and universities.

According to Big Bang cosmology, the universe began billions of years ago with the explosion (the “big bang”) of a highly compressed ball of energy-matter. Its subsequent expansion and evolution saw the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets. On planet Earth simple life arose, which eventually evolved into higher forms of life, including humans. 

Big Bang cosmology aims to explain everything solely in terms of natural laws. It is claimed to be fully scientific, relying only on observation and reason, and banning divine revelation and miracles.

As such, Big Bang cosmology presents a vital background story for naturalism, forming its creation myth. Naturalism holds that only the physical universe exists, with no God, no heavenly realm, no absolute morals, and no purpose. The universe, and all that it contains, is viewed as a huge accident. Humans, the chance products of evolution, have no purpose in life, and cease to exist at death. Morality and religion are merely human inventions. Eventually, all life will be destroyed as the universe either collapses into a  Big Crunch or expands into a Big Freeze.

Christian Cosmology

In stark contrast, Christian cosmology is centered on the everlasting, almighty, and all-knowing triune God of the Bible. 

The ultimate purpose for which everything was created was to reveal and share God's magnificent glory (“the heavens declare the glory of God”, Ps.19:1), especially through the work of the Son, Jesus Christ. Accordingly, before creation, God the Father prepared his Grand Plan for the universe, encompassing all things in heaven and earth, which, in the fulness of time, will all be united in Christ (Eph.1: 3-11).

Although this creation is planned by God the Father, it came about through Christ, by whom,

"all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible...all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col. 1:16-17).

Christ also "upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Heb.1:3). Without his continuous word of power the universe would instantly cease to exist. Christ providentially guides the universe throughout history to ensure that his Father's all-encompassing Plan is completely fulfilled. Nothing can happen without God's will. 

The prime distinguishing structural feature of a Christian cosmology is its two-fold nature: the created cosmos includes not only our visible universe but also heaven. Heaven is a parallel physical realm containing, among other things, God's throne, angels that can interact with our visible world, and the souls of departed saints. God's heavenly throne, from which he rules his cosmos, forms the focal point of the universe.

God created this two-fold universe out of nothing a few thousand years ago.

On earth, Adam and Eve were created in God's image, to serve and glorify Him. The original creation was very good, containing no sin or evil. Unhappily, Satan, an angel who rebelled against God, caused Adam to fall into sin. Consequently, all humans, as Adam's offspring, transgress God's moral laws. Sin and evil now distort the entire universe.  Happily, humans can be redeemed through the gracious work of Christ. At the Day of Judgment, Christ will cleanse the entire universe from evil, restoring both heaven and earth. On a renewed earth free from sin and corruption, the transformed believers will rule with Christ, who was given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).

Thus, Christian cosmology is very much Christ-centered: Christ is the creator, sustainer, incarnated redeemer, judge (2 Cor. 5:10), and ultimate ruler of the entire universe.

The present state of the universe, containing so much pain and misery, is clearly not the best of all possible worlds. Yet, since God is perfectly wise, we can be assured that the full story of the universe is the best possible story. It is the most perfect expression of our wondrous God, glorifying his perfect power, holiness, justice, mercy, and love. And it will culminate in the best possible world, at least for those who love God and long to share in his glory.

Cosmology and Apologetics

The central gospel message is: believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, and obtain eternal life. Such a message seems entirely implausible to someone who's worldview denies the existence of God, moral absolutes, moral accountability, miracles, and life after death. If the universe has no meaning and all religions are merely human inventions, then Christianity can be no more than wishful thinking.

Hence, to make the case for Christianity, we must show that Christianity consists of more than just a few historical claims and moral rules. Christianity has its own comprehensive worldview, with its own epistemology, values, and cosmology. 

Since becoming a Christian involves a drastic change of worldview, we must also show why Christianity is superior to alternative worldviews such as naturalism or post-modernity. 

An opposing worldview is best challenged by addressing the cosmology forming that worldview's background story. Hence, in our current society, we should critique Big Bang cosmology. Consider some of its limitations:

1. Big Bang cosmology is largely based on unverified assumptions, such as the uniformity of natural laws, the supposed homogeneity of the universe, the non-existence of supernatural agents and divine revelation, and so on. 

2. Cosmology in general is plagued with empirical under-determination, in that we can always construct many different models to explain the same astronomical observations. For example, there can be no scientific disproof of the notion that God created the universe instantaneously, light rays and all, close to its present form, 10,000 years ago.

3. Big Bang cosmology has many scientific problems. It repeatedly had to be patched up by introducing esoteric, highly speculative notions such as inflation, dark matter, and dark energy, none of which have ever been observed in the lab. Even with these fudge factors in place, many puzzles remain. For example, galaxy formation theories fail to account for the early existence of huge mature-looking galaxies very shortly after the alleged Big Bang.

4. Finally, Big Bang cosmology has serious explanatory shortcomings. It fails to provide a plausible explanation for the origin of life, consciousness, mind, or free will. It has no place for absolutes in morality or rationality. It claims to be scientific, but can account for neither the values or rationale needed to do science, nor for scientists as functioning human beings. Big Bang cosmology is inherently materialistic. Yet, the rational defense of materialism is ultimately self-refuting since any argument for materialism implies the existence of conscious agents, rational norms, free will, and the like, all of which materialism denies.

In sum, to make the Christian gospel plausible to contemporary society, we should deconstruct its worldview by critiquing its underlying cosmology, and replace it with a comprehensive Christian alternative.


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