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Religion and science

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Cosmology: modern, biblical and Pagan beliefs

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

bulletPre-scientific view: Ancient Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area and throughout the Middle East  taught that the universe was quite tiny. These included the religions of ancient Egypt, Babylonia, Canaan, etc. The Earth was more or less flat, like a dinner plate. Mountains around the edges held up 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 you interpret their writing literally.
bulletEarth 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 rotated 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.
bulletModern view: The Earth is roughly spherical in shape. Actually it is closest to an oblate spheroid - a pear-shaped body. It rotates on its own axis once a day and revolves once around the sun each year. 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. The dimension of our galaxy are so great that they are measured in hundreds of thousands of light years. A light-year is the distance that light travels in a year. The number of stars in the 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:

bulletTwo Pagan views, one modern view, and one hoax
 
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 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JAN-28
Latest update: 2007-APR-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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