(from Greek κοσμολογία - κόσμος, kosmos, "universe"; and -λόγος, -logos, "intelligence, blueprint , plan"), in strict usage, refers to the study of the Universe in its totality as it now is (or at least as it can be observed now), and by extension, humanity's place in it. Though the word cosmology is recent (first used in 1730 in Christian Wolff's Cosmologia Generalis), study of the universe has a long history involving Science, philosophy, esotericism, and religion.
You will sometimes see the etymology as logia ("study") instead of logos.
The term "cosmology" as used in religion has a different meaning than that used in physics and astronomy.
- In physics and astronomy, cosmology deals with a theoretical system to explain the origin, structure, evolution, and behavior of the known physical universe (e.g., Einstein's theories and quantum physics helped push back the boundaries of cosmology as understood in this sense of the word).
See: WMAP Introduction to Cosmology
- Religious cosmology:
In his course "God and Mankind: Comparative Religions", Robert Oden 1, defines religious cosmology as "the attempt of religion to help people deal with the uncertainty of life in the world, so they won't be spiritually or psychically lost." In reality, early religious cosmology arrogated the realm of "scientific" cosmology, as evidenced in the repression of the Galilean/Copernican ideas that put the sun, not the earth, at the center of the solar system.
More specifically, religious cosmology addresses the following sorts of questions, the answers to which can provide a meaningful map to the pain and confusion of experience.
1. Where did the universe come from?
2. How was the universe brought into being?
3. What is the nature and destiny of humanity?
4. What is the meaning of life?
5. Is there an afterlife?
6. What is the meaning and content of salvation?
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last updated 11 April 2010