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Religion and science

Menu:

Cosmology: modern,
biblical and Pagan beliefs

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Definition:

"Cosmology" involves the study of the origin and structure of the universe, including such topics as the shape of the earth, the the location of the sun, moon, planets and stars, the age of the universe, the evolution of stars, etc.

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Three main cosmological belief systems:

Historically, there have been three main Western beliefs about the layout, shape, size, movements, etc. of the earth, moon, sun and the rest of the universe:

bullet Pre-scientific view: Ancient Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area and throughout the Middle East taught that the universe was quite tiny. These religions included those of ancient Egypt, Babylonia, Canaan, etc. The Earth was more or less flat, like a dinner plate. Mountains around the edges held up a canopy in the shape of a rigid metallic dome which formed the sky. Angels pushed the sun, moon, planets and stars across the underside of the dome of the sky on a daily basis. God sits on his throne in Heaven, which lies above the canopy. Doors or windows in the dome could be opened through which water (and in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah) fire and brimstone could be poured. This is the view of the universe that the writers of the Bible appear to have adopted from these other Pagan religions, if one interprets their writing literally.

bullet Earth centered view: The ancient Greeks introduced the concept that the Earth is a sphere at the center of the universe. The moon, sun and stars are all imbedded in transparent spheres which revolved around the earth. Heaven and God were viewed as existing at an extremely great distance from earth. They were even beyond the outermost sphere, which contains the stars.

bullet Modern view: The Earth is roughly spherical in shape. Actually it is closest to an oblate spheroid -- a pear-shaped body that bulges at its equator. It rotates on its own axis once a day and revolves once around the sun each year of about 254.26 days. To be precise, the Earth and Sun revolve around their mutual center of gravity.

Our Sun is a somewhat average-sized star in a fairly typical, slowly rotating galaxy. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is perhaps 120,000 light years across. (A light-year is a measure of length equivalent to the distance that light travels in a year.) Our galaxy contains at least 100 billion stars. There are perhaps 170 billion galaxies in the universe. One astronomer speculated that the total number of stars in the entire universe is approximately equal to the number of grains of sand on all the world's beaches.

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Topics on cosmology covered in this section:

bullet Two Pagan views, one modern view, one hoax, and one conspiracy theory:
  • Part 1: Overview about cosmological beliefs. Ancient Pagan view originating in Sumer.

  • Part 2: The revised Pagan view, as generally accepted within early Christianity.

  • Part 3: Greek Pagan cosmology (Cont'd). Modern view of the solar system. The big lie: that the church taught a flat earth during the Middle Ages

  • Part 4: The flat earth belief is reborn as a modern-day conspiracy theory. Two proofs that it is false.

  • Part 5: Five more proofs that the flat earth belief is false.
     
bulletBible passages

bulletHow conservative and liberal Christians interpret these passages

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Site navigation:

 Home page >  Christianity > Bible & the world > here

 Home page >  Religion & science > here

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Copyright © 2001 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JAN-28
Latest update: 2016-MAY-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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