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a model of cosmology
Purposeful UniverseMay 28, 20242 min read

A Harvard Astrochemist on Why Cosmology Matters


For scientists of faith, cosmology is essential on both a scientific and spiritual level. Karin Öberg explains that by exploring creation and trying to understand it, we unveil something new about the Creator. Therefore, accurate cosmology matters for strengthening one’s relationship with the divine and ensuring that the relationship is not based on superstitions.

Video on Why Does Cosmology Matter?

In this clip from the Science and Religion Institute at the University of Notre Dame, Harvard astrochemist Karin Öberg, PhD., presents a comprehensive overview of cosmology from the medieval ages to the present.

Cosmology Throughout the Ages

Cosmology has not been constant throughout history. In pre-Judaic times, the stars, moon, and sun were considered deities of their own, and the sky was vibrantly inhabited by gods and heroes. Then, with the advent of monotheism and Judaism, cosmology was “demythologized”—people began to understand all of creation as something created by one God instead of revering creations as deities themselves. At this point, cosmology was pictured as a dome-like structure, with the heavens above, the earth below, and an underworld underneath.

Medieval Cosmology

In the Middle Ages, the dominant cosmological model placed the spherical earth at the center, surrounded by concentric spheres of different heavenly bodies. Everything in the model had symbolism and meaning attached to it to represent God's providence.

The Clockwork Universe within the Realm of Cosmology

Starting with Galileo and Newton and the Enlightenment, scientists begin to understand mathematical laws that govern the universe. They believed that the universe was “self-going”, perfectly following these laws on its own in perpetuity. They started to see God as the “law-giver”, imposing this structure on the universe from the outside. Eventually, when considering this eternally self-running universe, some scientists started believing God was no longer necessary or relevant.

The Emergence of The Big Bang Theory In Cosmology

In the 20th century, scientists realized that the universe is not, in fact, eternal. The Big Bang theory was first introduced by a Catholic Priest, and while resisted by many scientists at first, it is now the accepted explanation for how our universe began. Since we know the universe had a beginning, this again emphasizes the real possibility of a Creator behind it all. 

To watch Oberg’s “Cosmology and Religion” full presentation, click here

Cover Image: Diagram of the Relation of Human and Cosmic Phenomena IXth Century


Purposeful Universe

The Purposeful Universe seeks to explore and present, through award winning videos, the abundant order in nature that funnels biological systems toward increasing levels of complexity and sophistication—suggesting that human life is the purposeful outcome of a complex, ordered system.