Part I: In the Beginning...

1. Physical Cosmology

The question, "What is reality?" is not easy to dismiss. Picture a triangle with science, religion, and philosophy at its corners. The answer may lie somewhere amid the intersections between these elements, and this is the heart of the discussion we will undertake in this seminar. How do we reconcile our religious beliefs with scientific knowledge? To lay an appropriate foundation, Dr. Möbius begins with an explanation of the aspects of physical cosmology.

Scientific knowledge of the universe is limited to the observable universe. Cosmology itself is concerned with the observable universe, models of the universe, and the universe's development and fate. Our understanding of the universe has expanded tremendously since the time of the ancient Greeks, whose initial view of the universe was as a flat Earth, surrounded by a dome-like sky, or heaven. This heaven was the domain of the gods themselves. In the experience of everyday senses, this model would seem accurate. Even today, we speak of the sun "rising" and "setting." Because of the convincing nature of our own observations, it would take many years and hard evidence to correct these "misunderstandings."

Greek philosophers began the paradigm shift away from the "flat Earth" model through astute observations. Aristotle noted that we see the mast of a ship coming towards land first, and yet more of the ship from the top down may be observed as it approaches land. He also noted that the stars are at different heights in northern Europe than in Egypt. Eratosthenes measured the diameter of the Earth, knowing that at the zenith of the summer solstice, the sun shone down to the bottom of a well, while at the same time he could measure a shadow in Alexandria. Using the principles of geometry, he was able then to calculate the diameter. Aristarchus noted that during the lunar eclipse, a circular shadow covers the moon. He knew that the moon and sun were on opposite sides of the Earth at this time, and thus deduced that the Earth is round. From this, and knowing the Earth's diameter, Hipparchos determined the moon's distance from Earth by timing the passage of the moon through the Earth's shadow.

These observations eventually led to Ptolemy's model of an Earth centered universe, in accordance with human experience, which suggests that the Earth is stationary while the stars are in motion. Ptolemy had to account for the irregular motion of the planets (Greek for wanderers), which he did by suggesting that planets had smaller epicycles on their main orbits in which they traveled backwards. During the Renaissance, this model became unwieldy, as new observations did not seem to fit the explanation.

First Aristarchus, and then Copernicus, proposed models of a heliocentric, or sun-centered universe. Galileo continued this work with his observations of the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter. It was during this time that religion and science truly had a confrontation. The idea that the Earth might not be the most important, and central, aspect of the universe was troubling to Galileo's contemporaries, and Galileo himself was persecuted by the Church. Cosmology entered a significant transition phase, and our modern understanding of the scientific nature of the universe had begun.

Observable Limits

To the astronomers of Galileo's day, the vast expanse of the universe must have seemed overwhelming. In their view, the universe was simply created. Their main questions centered on the working aspects of the universe; they wanted to know how it functions, what drives it, and what mechanisms lurk behind it. Today we ask ourselves questions of cosmological significance: "How did the universe begin?" "Where did it come from?" "Is it eternal?" It seems that we must be satisfied with only pictures and models, not full answers to these questions. Dr. Möbius illustrates the ancient view of the world with man attempting to peer outside, into the universe, to understand what drives the world. It was believed that human thought and reason would be capable of understanding all of the mysteries of the universe. In Descartes' view, objectivity in science is not only necessary, but possible. However, as shown in M.C. Escher's depiction of "The Gallery," we must also consider the connection of ourselves with the world we wish to study, through our own consciousness. Our knowledge of the world arises from our experience of it, and therefore our study of the universe is limited to models and representations of our own design. We cannot "pop out" of the picture, detaching ourselves from what is observed. To have a complete picture of the universe, including ourselves, seems to point beyond the capabilities of science as we know it. But what are we left with? What has science taught us about the observable universe? For surely there are great truths to be discovered, despite our limitations...

The ancient astronomers must have wondered why the sky at night is dark, when we can see the stars shine so brightly. Olber's Paradox states that if we have an infinite universe, we would see infinite galaxies, with an infinite number of stars between them, which would light up the night sky like a curtain of fireflies. In the same way that we do not "see the forest for the trees," meaning that as distance increases we do not observe separate spaces between the trees, but an all-encompassing "greenness," so the stars and galaxies in the night sky ought to blend in brightness, if the universe were truly infinite. Something must be wrong with the assumption of infinity, because we do not observe such a phenomenon. There must be limits.

On a scale of 1:10 billion, the earth would be approximately the size of the head of a pin. The sun would be a Styrofoam ball of 14cm at a distance of 15m, or twice the width of the seminar room. The outermost planets would be about the distance of downtown Durham, with Jupiter roughly the size of a marble, and Saturn's rings the diameter of a quarter. The closest star, Alpha Centauri, would be about as far away as San Francisco. The light we see from Alpha Centauri is already 4 years old.

Saturn is 10 times as far away as the sun is from the Earth, and Alpha Centauri is another factor of 20,000 times away. The size of the Milky Way is another 20,000 times greater. At the beginning of the 20th century, scientists could only map 20,000 light years, after which point their view was obstructed by interstellar dust. Today, we have the capability to view the entire Milky Way Galaxy and beyond. With the aid of sensitive instruments like the Hubble telescope, we have peered into the beginning of time, into the depths of the observable universe. We have determined its size to be 15 billion light years across. Our telescopes have reached the limit of their powers of resolution; light from greater distances could not have reached us by this time. Even with an infinite universe, we cannot see forever. Therefore, the resolution to Olber's Paradox is that the observable universe is indeed limited and finite. Despite our sophisticated instruments and calculations, we cannot hope to see beyond "The Curtain of the Universe," which is 15 billion light years away. The entire wealth of galaxies and stars beyond that remains potentially infinite, and locked in the great Unknown.

The Red Shift

The astronomer Edwin Hubble found that more distant galaxies move away from us at a greater speed than galaxies which are closer to us. But all of them move away. This suggested that the entire universe might be expanding (into what?). To determine the velocities of the receding galaxies, scientists use spectral lines, and measure the "red shift." When light sources such as galaxies move away from us, their light begins to appear red, which signifies a longer wavelength (more "stretched out"). If these light sources were approaching, they would appear in the shorter end of the spectrum, as blue light. Today, scientists have begun mapping the observable universe, using measurements of the Hydrogen Spike, or the red shift of hydrogen, which can indicate the relative speed of a galaxy, and leads to the determination of its position in the universe. If the universe were pictured as a globe, we have been able to map four small slices of it, roughly the size of Rhode Island in relation to the entire Earth. Methods of measurement such as the red shift have vastly increased our understanding of the limits of our universe. And the knowledge that the universe is expanding has led to more questions about the nature of the universe, and about our place within it.

Upon first consideration of Hubble's discovery of the expansion of the universe, it might be easy to assume once again that the Earth is at the center of the universe, since we observe everything as moving away from us. However, there is another interpretation, which can be visualized by the picture of a Stollen, or raisin cake. Just like a raisin cake baking in the oven, the whole universe is expanding, stars, galaxies, and also the space in between. As a cake rises, every particle moves away from every other particle. So it is in the universe; no one place can be called "the center." No matter where the observation takes place, all of the objects in the universe will be seen to move away. The farthest objects, like the raisins within the cake, will be moving away the most rapidly from the observer. Just as the dough between the raisins is expanding, so the space between galaxies is expanding at a constant rate. It is interesting to note that the raisins themselves, the "galaxies," do not themselves expand, although the "space" around them does. All of this may be summed up in the title "the Cosmological Principle," which is the standard interpretation for the expansion of the universe, and our relative place within it.

Will the universe expand forever, or will gravity one day slow the rate of expansion and cause the universe to collapse on itself? The answers to these questions are derived from models which attempt to describe the mass and the geometry of our universe...


A projectile fired from a massive object such as the Earth must be travelling at a minimum speed, the "escape velocity," in order to escape the pull of gravity. If its speed is less than this escape velocity, it will reverse its course and fall back toward the massive object. Projectiles fired from more massive objects , such as Jupiter or the sun, require faster escape velocities. If a projectile were fired at 11.2 km/s from the Earth, it would barely escape Earth's gravity; but if it were fired at the same speed from Jupiter, it would not escape, because of Jupiter's mass. This reasoning can be applied to questions of the expanding universe. If the mass of the universe is below a critical value, the universe will expand forever. If it is above that value, the universe will collapse on itself, unable to escape its own density. However, we cannot be sure that the universe will expand indefinitely simply by trusting that the mass alone as a sufficient indicator.


The universe must also display a geometry which would enable it to continue to expand. Three possible geometries have been postulated for the universe: spherical, flat (Euclidean), and saddle-shaped. Where we are in the universe, everything appears to be flat and Euclidean, just as the Earth seems flat to a local observer. But just as observations have shown the Earth to be a sphere, in contrast to our unaided human sense experiences, the universe may be shown through mathematical analysis and observation to exhibit some other fundamental geometry. A spherical universe, in which diverging lines will eventually meet again (like meridians on the globe which meet at the north and south poles), will eventually collapse. A flat geometry, in which parallel lines will never meet, expansion will continue, at an ever slower rate. In a saddle-shaped universe, diverging lines will more sharply diverge, and expansion will continue forever, unabated. Experiments cannot be devised to "prove" any of these geometries as the correct one; we rely on mathematical models and current observations which indicate support for one over the others. Observations of supernovae, for example, as well as other phenomena in space, seem to point toward answers about the expansion and evolution of our universe.

A quasar is a bright, dense object which receives energy from black holes. While its luminosity is greater than an entire galaxy, it is smaller than our solar system. Looking farther into the universe means looking deeper into the past, because of the "travel time" of light. Since quasars are only observed very far away from us, we infer that they existed only in the distant past. We see galaxies in the regions of space closer to us; it has been proposed that galaxies may have evolved from quasars.

According to the laws of thermodynamics, the universe had to be very hot at the beginning, and then it cooled as it expanded. At an age of about 300,000 years, the universe was at a temperature of 3000K, the temperature of the surface of the sun. The radiation emitted then exists now as an opaque "curtain," obscuring our view of the universe before that time. All of our knowledge about what went on before that time must come from inference based on observations of events after that time.

Most people are familiar with the Big Bang theory, which is used to explain the origin of the universe. According to this theory, everything in the beginning existed as radiation, or energy, instead of matter. If the Big Bang theory is correct, some remnant of this original radiation should still exist. In the 1960's, scientists working at Bell Labs discovered this "cosmic background" radiation by accident. More recently, NASA has launched the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite to gather data about the radiation emitted in the early universe. Although this seemed at first to be definitive proof of the Big Bang, the theory has some problems associated with it, which could mean that it is incomplete or incorrect.

The Flatness Problem

A small change in some parameters of the universe, such as total mass and rate of expansion, could drastically alter the universe's fate. In the present state and age of the universe, altering these parameters by one order of magnitude (a factor of 10) would alter the outcome. However, when the universe was just three minutes old, a change of 10^-15 (changing the 15th decimal place by one digit) would have decided between eternal expansion and eventual collapse. The Big Bang model cannot explain how our universe landed within this extremely narrow range of tolerance.

The Horizon Problem

Let us pick an arbitrary direction in the universe, and call it "left," then call its opposite "right." If we look as far as we can to the left, and the same to the right, we find that the universe is fundamentally the same in both directions. Yet the regions we are looking at are sufficiently far removed from each other, such that no communication is possible between them, as stipulated by the speed of light. In fact, no communication has been possible since the time they evolved into their present form. How can this be? How can the universe appear so completely homogeneous, when the two sides or directions of it could have had no "knowledge" of what the other side was doing?

The Matter Problem

According to special relativity, matter and energy (including radiation) are different forms of the same thing. The Big Bang theory says that in the beginning, the entire universe consisted of radiation, which is pure, massless energy. Light decomposes into matter through a process called "pair production," in which equal amounts of matter and antimatter are produced. These are not approximately equal; they are exactly equal amounts. Since this is a perfectly symmetrical process, how is it that there is matter in the universe today? The equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have annihilated each other and turned back into radiation.

The "dark matter" problem also relates to this conundrum, as there seems to be more matter in the universe than can be accounted for by the rate of expansion and inflation. The theory of inflation, by calculating that particles were derived from "latent heat" in the universe, actually puts these three difficulties (the flatness, horizon, and matter problems) into a framework which makes scientists better able to understand them. In a way, the inflation theory "takes care" of these problems! Even if only one in a billion photons decays into matter without producing antimatter, some latent heat must have been used up in the process, much like the heat released when ice turns into water. So we may consider, why has the temperature of the universe found to be fairly homogeneous as well?

The Anthropic Principle

With all of this uncertainty, where do we fit in? Why has the universe developed exactly the right physics and chemistry for life to evolve? The Anthropic Principle, or a version of it, may indicate some kind of an answer. The Strong Anthropic Principle states clearly that the universe was designed to support intelligent life. The Weak Anthropic Principle, on the other hand, states that our universe is one of many, and we exist in this one because we are only able to exist in one that supports life. These ideas do not leave us with a complete sense of relief or satisfaction at having solved our problems; in fact, theories such as these can generate even more questions and thought-provoking dilemmas. The attempt to solve such issues may be called the pursuit of science.

John Archibald Wheeler envisioned the universe looking back at the Big Bang through our eyes, somewhat like a serpent engulfing its own tail. We are a part of the universe we observe, and our science is necessarily confined to the boundaries within it. We have begun to realize, in this modern age, that we are faced with profound limitations, and that the answers to many of our questions will be found outside the realm of science.

2. Spiritual Cosmology

It would be incomplete to think of Cosmology as a set of scientific hypotheses or mathematical deductions, without considering the question, "What does it all mean?" Science alone is not able to provide an answer; we are dealing with matters of meaning or "reason," not "facts." And yet, through the discoveries made in the science of physics and astronomy, we are indeed describing a new story of creation. This story is beautiful, and full of wonder, awe, and mystery. Dr. Brockelman discusses the significance of the new "mythology," not as a contrast to modern scientific discoveries, but rather as a complementary and connected view of cosmology.

Cosmology as Mythology

It is human nature to search for order out of chaos; for understanding out of confusion. We undertake this search scientifically, by developing hypotheses, which are rigorously tested, either confirming or disproving the original theory. Certainly the astonishing progress of the human race, which has occurred in the blink of an eye on a cosmological time scale, has been thanks to our ability to advance our knowledge through experimentation. Gods, monsters, and "myths" have no place in the scientific laboratory. Or do they?

Scientific cosmology and creation myths share many characteristics, such as the ability to explain the origins of our universe and life itself, but there is a difference in acceptance. Scientific cosmology can be proven using the principles of mathematics and physics. Creation myths, however, cannot be proven. Throughout human history, there have been important myths telling us how the universe began, and why we exist. How do they change when placed next to the pillars of scientific discovery? The answer is complex, and will involve many of the issues presented in this class. But it seems clear that scientific cosmology offers us a myth for our time. Modernity itself, the modernity which embraces science in our culture, is a myth. It is a human answer to the question of how to live. And today we have a new answer, a new story, contained in the findings of modern scientific cosmology. This story has been defining a new culture, one with scientific understanding and a sense of meaning. Cosmology is both scientific and mythological. As a true "myth," it can provide us with a sense of belonging in the universe, and it can also describe our origins scientifically. The answer to the question "What does it all mean?" can be found in the interpretations and understanding of both aspects.


The science of interpretation, especially of Biblical and other religious mythologies, is called hermeneutics. Our culture is developed through the interpretive understandings we have of mythology; since ancient times there have been stories which explain the wonders of the cosmos and of our place within it. A hermeneutic story is not scientific theory, and it is not mathematics. It is another form of human understanding; an interpretation of life.

Mythologies exist to satisfy humankind's longing to know where we belong, and what our purpose may be in the grand scheme of the universe. How do we arrive at such explanations? As an example, consider the familiar myths contained in the Bible. In the hermeneutic understanding of Passover, for example, we do not consider the events as strict historical "fact"; it becomes something symbolic, through which we may read the truths of our existence. It is a story of community, of finding one's way in the world, and of beginning the journey to a new place. The myth is a guide for our lives as human beings.

In a similar way, the hermeneutic understanding of the book of Genesis is viewed not as a scientific document, but as a backdrop for subsequent events in the Bible. This story gave early cultures a way to visualize a larger reality, and rationalized the introduction of "evil" into our human world. The creation mythology of the Bible is also a powerful message of wonder and amazement at the beauty and complexity of the universe; at the tremendous "accident" of life on this planet. It is a story about unity and separation, and it teaches us something about the nature of our human souls. The creation mythologies of other cultures in the world, such as those of Hinduism and Buddhism, are no less beautiful and significant.

The theory of the Big Bang is also a myth. In other words, this story can answer questions about the origin of the universe, just as the story of creation in Genesis does. However, it would be a mistake to assume that the Big Bang theory "proves" the book of Genesis is "true" in a factual sense. These are both hermeneutic understandings, one springing from rigorous scientific observation; the other from poetry and the story-telling traditions of early cultures.

Traditions of Spiritual Thought

The unique dimension of humanity is culture. We are surrounded and shaped by it from the moment we are born, and we are finally laid to rest within its traditions. Culture is defined by perennial questions of humanity: "Who are we? What are we doing here? Where are we going?" Humanity also asks, "How should we live?" These questions are not only answered by the progress of science, but also by religion and spirituality.

The remains of a bear 40,000 years old were found with its bones buried in its mouth. This constitutes the first known cultural remains of modern Homo sapiens (wise man); a larger reality was even at this early time recognized by human beings. Bodies ritually buried indicate that death meant something--a passage, perhaps, into a great "beyond." These early humans were conscious of a greater reality, of which their culture was a part.

Many thousands of years later, the Greeks and Romans lived within a well-developed cultural system, surrounded by their gods and myths which explained the wonders of nature to them. As their thoughts progressed, through the teaching of great philosophers like Socrates, a sense of the universe emerged. The Platonic tradition seeks to explain rather than interpret, which is important for its shift in point of view. Instead of being a part of a greater, awesome reality, humans began to think of themselves as in control of the answers, through the power of the mind. Mankind was able to approach "God," the greater or higher power, in thought, but not by direct observation of nature.

In the Aristotelian tradition, God was envisioned outside the universe, as an "unmoved mover." Humans were left to speculate on the existence of God or a wider reality through examination of "natural laws." This kind of thought was dominant until the 13th century, when St. Thomas Aquinas synthesized these traditions into modern Catholicism. It was theorized that God could be understood through the analysis of five main principles and "proofs." The First Cause argument states that every effect must have a cause, and so the beginning of the universe was assumed to have a "causeless cause;" the existence of God was therefore "proved."

During the Enlightenment, God was seen as a "divine watchmaker;" an observer who set the universe in motion and has left it alone to function ever since. Religion in this sense was made more impersonal, through the notion of a "deity." The possibility of direct mystical experience was denied, and so the connection that early cultures had to nature and to the wonder of the universe was closed to human beings in this tradition. God, the larger reality or purpose for the universe, became "unknowable." It is here that modern organized religions have stepped in, sometimes prescribing a "God in the gaps." Whatever was not knowable through observation and thought was given over to the power of this God, who stood in the gaps of our understanding and provided the simple answer.

Out With the Old...?

In our own time, modern science has given us many answers to fill the gaps. The discoveries of our time are an awe-inspiring narrative. a "guided tour" of the evolution of the universe. Beginning with the initial singularity, at which time the universe was pure energy or radiation (in the beginning there was light), the scientific narrative describes the explosive birth of matter. Elementary particles coalesce into stars, which in turn form galaxies. Eventually, the Earth itself evolves within the Milky Way galaxy. Life forms out of the complexity. Humans and culture, intertwined, begin to decipher the narrative of the universe, and this process leads down to our present day. The "new cosmology" has made available to us the understanding of a wider reality, to which we belong. As we discover more about the universe through science, we are compelled to wonder and be amazed at the beauty and complexity of it all. It is interesting to compare the view of the "old cosmology" and traditions of thought with those of the new:

  1. In the Old view, the universe was static, while the New discoveries in cosmology point toward a dynamic, ever-changing universe.
  2. There was once a picture of a fixed and "finished" universe, while the New cosmology shows an open and continuous universe.
  3. Old cosmology would say that the universe is eternal, but today we understand that there was a beginning.
  4. While the Old school cosmologists believed that the universe was creative at its origin, the New describes creativity throughout.
  5. In the Old school, it was postulated that the universe existed within time and space. The New cosmology states that time and space are in fact creations of the universe itself.
  6. In the Old view there were unconnected parts of the universe, such as pulsars and the common cold. However, the New cosmology stresses that the universe is connected throughout, and no parts are separate.
  7. In the Old view the universe was mechanistic, as opposed to the New view of an organic universe.
  8. A deterministic universe in the Old view is contrasted with a probabilistic universe, including some determinism, in the New view.
  9. The Old school cosmologists believed in a reductive universe, while the New points toward an emergent universe instead.
  10. While the Old school cosmology stated that there was a purely rational universe, the New cosmology believes in limits of reason, and the abundance of mystery.
  11. Finally, while the Old cosmology believed that God made the whole universe, the New cosmology would say instead that God permeates the whole universe.

Perspectives on our questions have changed, reflecting the progress of human culture and understanding in this scientific age. But the struggles of humanity are still the same: we want to know where we belong, and where we are going. To find the answers, we must look at the scientific discoveries, which point out processes and structure in the universe. But spiritual cosmology has an important role in shaping the meaning and purpose of our existence within this grand reality. We must learn to consider the significance of both science and spirituality together.

3. Theories of Creation

In our Western society, we have a tendency to assume that SOMETHING must have started everything in motion. We cannot easily conceive of "nothing." And so the pursuit of science for centuries has been to understand that "something" which was at the beginning of the universe. Olber's paradox tells us that the universe is not infinitely old, for if it were, the night sky would be infinitely bright (see Chapter 1). Hubble's expansion rule also shows this, and it is supported by the discovery of the background radiation (refer to Chapter 1). Therefore, we conclude that there must have been some kind of a beginning...

Today we generally accept the theory of the Big Bang as an explanation of what happened at the beginning. But what came before that? What was before the initial singularity? Theories of creation have been proposed by many throughout the ages to answer this question. Although a comprehensive discussion of these theories belongs in its own volume of text, we will briefly examine some of them here (see Paul Brockelman's book, Cosmology and Creation for further discussion).

It is a widely held belief that space and time began with the Big Bang, and that before there was space and time, there was no matter. Was the Big Bang caused by some type of energy fluctuation in an imperfect vacuum? If there was no matter before the singularity, then how could something like the universe have come out of nothing?


We may define "nothing" as "the absence of everything." But is this satisfactory? According to the ancient philosopher Parmenides, "nothing" can not be thought of. "Nothing" cannot be! How can we hope to understand this puzzle?

Mystics and religious scholars have tried to solve this riddle for centuries. God is often described as transcendent, and undefinable. God in many traditions, such as Judaism, cannot be named, or as in the Hindu tradition, has many names. In Buddhism, the ultimate reality, or God, is empty. The ancient Maya said that "God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere." This "nothingness" does not imply nihilism, but rather denotes an existence which we cannot comprehend, and which becomes for us an answer to the question "What was before?" It would perhaps be incorrect to think of God as "nothing," but instead as "everything." Is God the great force which "flipped the switch" of creation? Then how did God come into being? Can we even imagine, on scientific grounds, what is meant by "before" creation? Consider the motion of the galaxies (see Chapter 1). As the galaxies rush away from each other, the space between them expands. If this space can expand, it can also compress. If it continues to compress, it will ultimately disappear, and with it space and time. If these disappear, so will our laws of physics. Therefore, we cannot presume to know anything about the great "Before." It reaches beyond the possibilities of our understanding.

The Steady State Theory

One scientific theory of creation simply assumes no beginning. Everything exists as it is now and has forever. As a result of the expansion of the universe, it is becoming less dense. More particles are needed to fill the "gaps." In this theory, new particles in the universe arise out of nothing! The theory attempts to override the impossibility of "nothing"!

Creation Without Creation

Could the universe be a result of a quantum fluctuation? Somewhere within the "quantum froth" and "quantum foam," would we find the answer to the question of our beginning? Quantum mechanics, however, does not provide us with very reassuring answers. In fact, according to these laws, we cannot know ANYTHING precisely on the sub-atomic level! We cannot even know if there IS anything equal to zero! How then, can we know how the laws of quantum mechanics could have affected the "nothingness" which came before the initial singularity?

In Western religion, the tendency has been to think of God as a hypothesis; as the CAUSE. He has become the "God of the Gaps." Since science cannot easily account for these puzzles, why not insert a God whose existence is unknowable? For some, this has been a convenient answer. But God is more than a hypothesis. He is an experience, and as such is undefinable. We use metaphors to explain, such as "God is a womb," or "God is the earth." Similarly, there are thousands of metaphors available to express the mysterious undefined nature of the universe. Even "quantum froth" is a metaphor! When we speak of this froth and foam, from which the universe arose, we are using metaphors for something which is undefinable. Is this simply a "less messy" answer given by science: "Thank goodness we don't have to worry about God anymore, and wow! This foam is certainly interesting!"?

Many people have the idea that someone is "standing in the way of science" if they acknowledge God and the mystery of existence. But is this right? How can we learn unless we first do not understand? The very fact that we do not know everything drives us to pursue science and the study of religion. If science could explain everything, then could we assume that the universe is determined? Are we not free? What parts then do human creativity and free will play in the universe?

One More Theory

Another theory of creation, called the Mother and Child Theory (what a lovely metaphor!), posits the existence of a "mother" universe which spawns "baby universes." The mother universe is expanding, spewing out baby universes which will eventually spew out their own baby universes. Thus, there is the potential for infinite creation events. But we are still left with a big, unanswerable question: Where did the mother universe come from? Where did it all begin?

Perhaps we can ask ourselves why we are so obsessed with "beginnings" in the first place. Is it human nature? Religions of the world attempt to explain the "beginning." Knowing about our origins gives us ground to stand upon, locates us within the universe, and provides a sense of security, which we as human beings crave. And so it would seem that what we are searching for in the universe is more than a simple, factual explanation. We are looking for our origins, and for the meaning of our existence in the wide universe. Where did we come from? What are we doing here? Where are we going? And how ought we to live...