WHAT IS PHYSICAL COSMOLOGY?
Science: (from Latin "scientia meaning "knowledge") A systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. In an older and closely related meaning, "science" refers to the body of reliable knowledge itself, of the type that can be logically and rationally explained … the word "science" became increasingly associated with scientific method, a disciplined way to study the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology …The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning ~ Wikipedia
Physical cosmologists theorize that the nature of the universe is governed entirely by physical laws and is limited to those laws which can be successfully proven through repeatable experimentation. Scientists propose the possible existence of these physical laws both through the direct observation of natural phenomena and, in the case of theoretical physics, by using mathematics as a symbolic language for analyzing physical problems. Therefore, in order to be considered to a scientific approach to investigation, the discipline in question must be centered in the process of the observation and prediction of phenomena by independent parties using the same data and methods of testing. But, even though this seems a very simple requirement for inclusion in the physical cosmology tent, there is still much debate about who should be allowed in.
“Scientific “cosmologists, such as astronomers and astrophysicists don’t like having to share the cosmology tent with what they consider to be the “superstitious” astrologers and neither of those factions like the idea of the creationists forcing their way into the tent. The problem is not with the meaning that Wolff intended for the word. It is not with the banner that hangs outside the tent, or even those who flock to that banner, but with the preconceived biases and prejudices they bring inside the tent with them.
I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.
~ Arthur C. Clarke ~
Pharmacologists do not seem to be offended by the idea that their profession grew out of the work of the ancient herbologists and modern chemists do not seem to overly bristle at being said to be related to the ancient alchemists. But whenever modern astronomers and astrophysicists are linked to the traditional study of astrology they react with extreme hostility.
It would seem that most modern astronomers and astrophysicists would like to mark the point of the beginning of the scientific study of makeup of the Universe to be the 16th and 17th centuries and the works of Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton respectfully. (Both of whom were students of astrology, by the way) This is said to be the point where the study of the cosmos switched to Nicolas Copernicus’s model of a Sun-centered (heliocentric) system and away from the now known to be incorrect concept of an Earth-centered (geocentric) system upon which all cosmological theories up to that point had been based. Not only that, but modern scientist tend to assert that it before this time that there were no reliable standards for the evaluating the results of scientific observation and therefore all theories about the nature of the cosmos made beforehand were invalid.
"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently: "you say that we go round the Sun. If we went round the Moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”
~ Sherlock Holmes: “A Study in Scarlet”~
Though perhaps not as dramatically, modern astrologers tend to express the same thought as Sherlock Holmes on the subject. Though in the beginning, some 5,000 years ago, astrology got off on the wrong foot by assuming that the Sun went around the Earth, as far as the work itself goes, it has always been based on a system of the observation of the movement of these celestial bodies from the vantage point of the Earth and correlation of the heavenly events with earthly events and the conclusions drawn from that observation and analysis. The validity of those conclusions is not automatically invalidated by the fact that they were drawn from the perspective of a geocentric system viewed with the naked eye instead of from the perspective of a heliocentric system observed with a telescope.
That we can think of no mechanism for astrology is relevant, but unconvincing. No mechanism was known, for example, for continental drift when it was proposed by Wegener. Nevertheless, we see that Wegener was right, and those who objected on the grounds of unavailable mechanism were wrong.
~ Carl Sagan ~
It was momentarily upsetting for the astrologers to discover their error about the Sun not revolving around the Earth, but they saw no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater, or even to throw out the bathwater as long as it was getting the baby clean. Just because a map was drawn when the world was thought to be flat does not mean you need to throw that map away now and replace it with a globe to get around. You can still use a flat map to navigate your way from Paris,France to Paris,Texas and the old Earth centered system of astrology will still work for you while you are standing on the Earth. But, you will need to find another astrological system when you are standing on the Moon and a flat map is not going to get you from the Moon back home to Moonlight, Virginia.
As to the accusation that the work of ancient astrologers was not carried out with any acceptable scientific standards, the astrologers would assert that the identification of stars and planets in the sky and the observation of their movements and their correlation with corresponding events on Earth was not only scientific in nature, but that it probably marked the beginning of the use of statistics in the analysis of data derived from scientific observation. It might also be said that it is probably because the study of astrology has always been undertaken with logically based principles and standards that the practice of astrology has been able to adapt and change with each advance in human knowledge and is still being studied today in the light of this new knowledge and not in spite of it.
My view is that if your philosophy is not unsettled daily then you are blind to all the universe has to offer.
The inclusion of creationism inside the cosmology tent is another matter all together. Even though creationists prefer the term “creation science”, it is anything but a science. Creationism’s central and immutable assertion is that the entire history of the Universe from beginning to end is put forth in the bible and no mater what evidence is presented that challenges that viewpoint it is to be considered blasphemy rejected without any consideration.
Creationists believe that the Earth is only 10,000 years old and there has been no Darwinian evolution of any species since God created them. Even if you hand them a fossil that it is the ancestor of a modern day creature from a million years ago, the creationist will reject it by saying that that it is a demonically fabricated item, placed on Earth by Satan to confuse you and turn you away from God’s holy word.
If you challenge the creationist’s viewpoint as unscientific they will respond that you are persecuting them because of their religious faith. In a sense, that is what you are doing by asserting that their blind faith, unalterable by the presentation of any evidence, is not science. However, are not attacking religion itself, as not all religions reject modern scientific theory as blasphemy, indeed some have been saying the same things as modern science all along.
The mystic and the physicist arrive at the same conclusion; one starting from the inner realm, the other from the outer world. The harmony between their views confirms the ancient Indian wisdom that Brahman, the ultimate reality without, is identical to Atman, the reality within.
~ Fritjof Capra ~
And, even when religions have been dogmatic and resistant to changes in scientific thinking, there have always been those who have stepped forward to challenge that dogma. It was after all a Catholic priest and cosmologist, Georges Lemaitre, who was the first to propose what has became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe. So, the argument by creationist that it was ungodly atheists who came up with the idea of an evolving cosmos is blatantly false and deliberately misleading.
Science is based on evidence without conclusion; creationism is based on conclusion without evidence. Even under the guise of calling it the scientific theory of the Intelligent Design of the Universe, creationism is not science and should not be trying to slip into the scientific cosmology tent any more than the KKK should be trying to slip into an NAACP meeting.
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
~ Carl Sagan ~
Part 1: COSMOLOGY
Part 3: METAPHYSICAL COSMOLOGY