The Cosmology reference article from the Simple Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Cosmology

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Cosmology is the study of "all that is". It is part of both physics and religion, which sometimes compete to explain the same things. Some think that because the creatures creating all the models of our universe and ethical traditions and ideas of divine beings are studied in biology, that cosmology also should be really a part of biology.

However, the dominant idea of scientific cosmology is the mechanistic paradigm which says that there is either an expanding universe or finite universe, and that the laws of physics are predictable in either, due to the geometry it "obeys". It cannot decide to violate these laws, as a living thing might do. Other laws might be possible, but we can't know about that. In this paradigm, relativity is one of the most important ideas, and models of our universe are not allowed to vary much.

However, this view cannot also explain quantum mechanics. Nor does it take into account cognitive limits which human science says can be important. So some newer theories prefer to say that cosmology is something biological creatures need or want to make our universe seem simpler and more predictable than it really might be. It might be for instance that since we think we can control and predict the machines we create, like clocks, we prefer a controlled and predictable model of the environment we live in. But some think that this is like saying that what is needed to explain a city is good enough to understand ecology in general.

A related question is how limited mathematics might be as a way to explain reality. If it is very general and really similar for all beings we can say "we understand reality" with it. But if it is very different for aliens or whales then we cannot say this - it would be arrogant to assume it until we do math with other beings. For this reason, most SETI signals are sent out with basic math like the Fibonacci sequence and the prime numbers, to see if other beings have the same ideas about these as we do - and can answer us back the same way.

Many peoples have their own cosmology that today scientists and most religions do not accept. For instance in Renaissance Europe there were thought to be crystal spheres that rotated - with all the stars on one, and each planet on its own. These circled the Earth. In Ancient Egypt there was a female sky-goddess who arched over the world, which was a male god. And in other traditions, the world was a giant sea-turtle floating in a giant ocean. These ideas were good enough to explain an island or watershed or continent that people lived on. Since they did not travel much, this was a "good enough" way to explain the world they actually lived in every day.

Comparing various creation myths and world views from all over the world is part of anthropology. This is today considered separate from the astrophysics and astronomy that provide statistics for physics to explain. But the cosmology that a physicist produces is still considered a sort of creation myth, and scientists have no special status when these are debated in religion.

Worldwide, most people believe that a divine being, or Creator, was or is still creating universe. They see the ethics of that divinity, not the physics created by humans, at the core of reality.

One compromise is the fecund universes theory. In that theory, the multiverse is alive and growing, and creating "new universes" all the time. Humans are limited and can only see one of them and guess about others. Models of our universe help to suggest what those others might be like. But, we cannot be sure that laws of physics really vary as we think they might in a different universe. And, most important, there is no thinking or ethics or divine being necessarily involved in this continuous creation - it goes on splitting just like bacteria. This will not seem very special or divine to most people, but, it is compatible with all of the scientific data that we have so far.

See also: string theory

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