A Cosmic Perspective
Like most topics in this website, the discussion of cosmology simply represents a personal learning curve rather than any statement of certainty. For anybody already knowledgeable in this subject, this clarification may become fairly obvious, but we all have to start somewhere. However, this clarification is primarily being made because cosmology can be one of those emotive subjects in which different worldviews can all collide. Why this is so may be for the quite simple reason – nobody knows all the answers, which leaves the doors open for both religious belief and philosophical speculation. As such, it is a subject where Clifford’s three principles apply more than most, which is why the discussion of cosmology has been organised along the following lines:
- Duty of Inquiry
- Weight of Authority
- Limits of Inference
As the links into the list above suggest, the focus of this discussion is orientated as much towards how the development of scientific ideas have led to the Big Bang model of cosmology in which the universe might ‘initially’ be described as being finite in both time and space; although the actual size of the universe is not really known. Today, based on the arguments of quantum physics, the model speculates that a universe, with possibly no net energy, came into existence some 13.7 billion years ago and, by the arguments of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, this universe may ultimately decay into a final entropy state some 10100 years into the future. Of course, it should also be highlighted that this is only a hypothesis, supported by limited evidence, and so the ‘ethics of belief’ are there to remind us of the necessity for scientific perspective to be retained. However, as alluded to by the cartoon, the questions encompassed by cosmology are some of the most profound and persistent ever raised by humanity.