Cosmos is no longer the Universe

Cosmos was the divine intention of creation. For over two thousand years, the universe was viewed as an eternal work of art. Cosmos was the universe. The universe was seen as eternal. It had no history. The four revolutionaries of modern science and Edmond Halley have crushed this view in principle. The progress of science since then has given us an entirely different universe, a universe in development, a universe with a history, a universe that is not a cosmos. But what has become of the stories of creation, the Hebrew story and the Greek story? They were written when the universe was seen as a cosmos. Can they be our guide or inspiration today?

Beginning with Pythagoras the universe was given a new theological name that acknowledged the divine order of the universe. Before Pythagoras, cosmos was a simple word meaning order with no theological implications.

Scientists have been led to reject scientific theories based on a final cause. Detectives, however, seek to find motives which are final causes to prove their cases. Plato responding to the question “what are the greatest things?’ said, there are two great things the cosmos and the city-state. Plato had several examples of community to observe. He did not have to speculate about what community could be. He was aware of the flaws in these communities. Yet he found them to be similar to the cosmos at the human level. The cosmos/universe = city-state/humans. Cosmos was the order of the universe. The city-state was the order of humans.

What has this to do with creation?

If creation deals with establishing a cosmos then creation is a past event. If creation deals with our developmental universe then creation is a forward-oriented final cause.

David Shaw

What is your view?

Science’s mistake

Science has had a decisive role is demolishing the ancient cosmos. Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Halley have joined together to leave the cosmos in fatal tatters. I am not an expert on these scientists, but I doubt that any of them were conscious of what they had done. I can’t recall any of them leaving a written mention of the word cosmos describing what the word meant. Even in our own time, we are entertained by the TV series COSMOS which appears to be unaware that cosmos is a theological term. Carl Sagan explained within the series that cosmos is a simple word for order. If this were true cosmos could not be a synonym for universe.

Sagan made no mention of Pythagoras who was the first to apply the word cosmos to the universe. Plato and Aristotle acknowledged Pythagoras and added definitions to the cosmos:

  • the planets moved in perfect circles;

  • beginning with the sphere of the moon and outwards the universe was made of eternal matter;

  • the Earth stood at the center of the cosmos;

  • the stars are equally distant from Earth;

  • the motion of bodies on Earth was explained in terms of the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire.

With these definitions disproved, Pythagoras’ universe-cosmos was also disproved. The meaning of cosmos was demoted from the theological level to its prior meaning, simple order.

If this was what Sagan meant by cosmos how could his TV series be named COSMOS? Did Sagan have a conception of the cosmos that prevailed for two thousand years until the revolutionaries? If he did why did he never describe it? Is science aware that cosmos was a theological optical illusion that science has destroyed? This was a great accomplishment. Cosmos is over as an astronomical conception. Nothing in astronomy is clarified or enhanced by continuing to use the word cosmos.  Cosmos is no longer a synonym for universe. If cosmos is a simple word for order as Sagan has stated it does not apply to the universe. If Sagan like the theologian Pythagoras saw God’s creative intention in the universe then cosmos is not a simple word for order. It is a theological affirmation that steps beyond the boundary of science.

Cosmos was associated with a model of an eternal universe such as the Hebrew cosmos and the Greek cosmos. Our universe is not a cosmos. Our universe has a history. Our universe is in the process of creation. Aristotle recommended contemplation of the universe-cosmos as the highest possible activity for the human intellect. Today contemplation of the universe is not the highest possible activity of the human intellect. Today speculation regarding the divine creative intent is the highest possible activity of the human intellect.

David Shaw

What is your view?

This blog follows the publication of The Rise and Fall of the Traditional Theories Of Creation And Community the Next Emergence