Reflections in Cosmology 1: Masks of the Universe

This blog finally takes off, with a series on cosmology as I begin my own journey through Edward Harrison’s book Cosmology: The Science of the Universe. Thumbing through the pages, I can’t help but feel excited about its unique contents – it’s about cosmology as a science, yet emphasizes its historical, philosophical and theological roots as well as implications. It reaches out beyond the realms of science, challenging its readers to reflect on provocative questions that are awe-inspiring and disturbing at the same time.

Edward Harrison distinguishes between the words ‘Universe’ and ‘universe’. The former refers to the true nature of the cosmos, while the latter represents a model that we construct to describe it – a mask that we usually mistaken for the actual face. We cannot pretend that we will ever find out all there is to know about the actual Universe, so it would be wise to heed these words found in the book’s introduction as we delve into the wonders of cosmology:

The history of cosmology shows that in every age, in all societies, people believe that they have at last discovered the true nature of the Universe. But in each case, they have devised a mask fitted on the face of the unknown Universe. Proud of their knowledge and confident of its final truth, the members of a society pity the ignorance of their ancestors and fail to foresee that their descendents will also pity them for their ignorance. ~ Edward Harrison, Cosmology: The Science of the Universe

In fact, this is true not just in cosmology, but in every other area of human knowledge be it science or theology.


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