Cosmology is the study of the origins and eventual fate of the universe. Physical cosmology is the scholarly and scientific study of the origin, evolution, structure, dynamics, and ultimate fate of the universe, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order. Religious cosmology (or mythological cosmology) is a body of beliefs based on the historical, mythological, religious, and esoteric literature and traditions of creation and eschatology.
- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - F
- Every time we get slapped down, we can say, Thank you Mother Nature, because it means we're about to learn something important.
- John N. Bahcall cited in: "UNRAVELING UNIVERSE. Is the cosmos younger than the stars it contains? Was Einstein's biggest blunder not a mistake?" in: Time (March 6, 1995) Vol 145. p. 45 (online)
- This quote was Bahcall's response to the ongoing controversy about which new observation will eventually "tie up the loose ends in cosmology?"
- The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design. So too, Michael Behe's irreducibly complex biochemical systems readily yield design. The complexity-specification criterion demonstrates that design pervades cosmology and biology. Moreover, it is a transcendent design, not reducible to the physical world. Indeed, no intelligent agent who is strictly physical could have presided over the origin of the universe or the origin of life.
- William A. Dembski "The Act of Creation: Bridging Transcendence and Immanence", presented at Millstatt Forum, Strasbourg, France, 1998-08-10
- While in the ﬁrst quarter of this century physicists and cosmologists were forced to revise the basic notions that govern the natural sciences, in the last quarter of this century biologists will force a revision of the basic notions that govern science itself. After that “ﬁrst revolution” it was clear that the classical concept of an “ultimate science”, that is an objective description of the world in which there are no subjects (a “subjectless universe”), contains contradictions.
- Heinz von Foerster (1981) Notes on an epistemology for living things, p. 258
G - L
- Why are the heavens not filled with light? Why is the universe plunged into darkness?
- Edward Robert Harrison (1987) Darkness at Night: a Riddle of the Universe , page 1
- One may wonder, What came before? If space-time did not exist then, how could everything appear from nothing?... Explaining this initial singularity—where and when it all began—still remains the most intractable problem of modern cosmology.
- Take a look at George Gamow, who is now recognized as one of the great cosmologists of the last hundred years. I speculate that he probably didn't win the Nobel Prize because people could not take him seriously. He wrote children's books. His colleagues have publicly stated his writing children's books on science had an adverse effect on his scientific reputation, and people could not take him seriously when he and his colleagues proposed that there should be a cosmic background radiation, which we now know to be one of the greatest discoveries of 20th-century physics.
M - R
- Simple rules can have complex consequences. This simple rule has such a wealth of implications that it is worth examining in detail. It is the far from self-evident guiding principle of reductionism and of most modern investigations into cosmic complexity. Reductionism will not be truly successful until physicists and cosmologists demonstrate that the large-scale phenomena of the world arise from fundamental physics alone. This lofty goal is still out of reach. There is uncertainty not only in how physics generates the structures of our world but also in what the truly fundamental rules of physics are.
- William Poundstone, The Recursive Universe (1985), p. 31
- Physics has entered a remarkable era. Ideas that were once the realm of science fiction are now entering our theoretical — and maybe even experimental — grasp. Brand-new theoretical discoveries about extra dimensions have irreversibly changed how particle physicists, astrophysicists, and cosmologists now think about the world. The sheer number and pace of discoveries tells us that we've most likely only scratched the surface of the wondrous possibilities that lie in store. Ideas have taken on a life of their own.
- Lisa Randall (2005) Warped Passages: Unraveling the Universe's Hidden Dimensions, Ch. 24
S - Z
- If the general picture, however, of a Big Bang followed by an expanding Universe is correct, what happened before that? Was the Universe devoid of all matter and then the matter suddenly somehow created? How did that happen? In many cultures, the customary answer is that a God or Gods created the Universe out of nothing. But if we wish to pursue this question courageously, we must of course ask the next question: where did God come from? If we decide that this is an unanswerable question, why not save a step and conclude that the origin of the Universe is an unanswerable question? Or, if we say that God always existed, why not save a step, and conclude that the Universe always existed? That there's no need for a creation, it was always here. These are not easy questions. Cosmology brings us face to face with the deepest mysteries, questions that were once treated only in religion and myth.
- The primary challenge of this cosmological transformation of consciousness is the awareness that each being in the universe is an origin of the universe. "The center of the cosmos" refers to that place where the great birth of the universe happened at the beginning of time, but it also refers to the upwelling of the universe as river, as star, as raven, as you, the universe surging into existence anew. The consciousness that learns it is at the origin point of the universe is itself an origin of the universe. The awareness that bubbles up each moment that we identify as ourselves is rooted in the originating activity of the universe. We are all of us arising together at the center of the cosmos.
- Brian Swimme (1996) The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos
- Cosmologists have plenty of ego — how can a person not be ego-driven when it's your job to deduce what brought the universe into existence? But without data, their explanations were just tall tales. In this modern era of cosmology, each new observation, each morsel of data wields a two-edged sword: it enables cosmology to thrive on the kind of foundation that so much of the rest of science enjoys, but it also constrains theories that people thought up when there wasn't enough data to say whether they were wrong or not. No science achieves maturity without it.
Let there be cosmology.
- The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things which lifts human life a little above the level of farce and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.
- Steven Weinberg (1993) The First Three Minutes
- I experience the same sense of absurdity when I listen to a cosmologist like Stephen Hawking telling us that the universe began with a big bang fifteen billion years ago, and that physics will shortly create a 'theory of everything' that will answer every possible question about our universe; this entails the corollary that God is an unnecessary hypothesis. Then I think of the day when I suddenly realized that I did not know where space ended, and it becomes obvious that Hawking is also burying his head in the sand. God may be an unnecessary hypothesis for all I know, and I do not have the least objection to Hawking dispensing with him, but until we can understand why there is existence rather than nonexistence, then we simply have no right to make such statements. It is unscientific. The same applies to the biologist Richard Dawkins, with his belief that strict Darwinism can explain everything, and that life is an accidental product of matter. I feel that he is trying to answer the ultimate question by pretending it does not exist.
- Colin Wilson (1998) Alien Dawn pp. 301-302
- Cosmology is a science which has only a few observable facts to work with.