Monday, May 14, 2018

Cyclic cosmology

If we discovered evidence for cyclic cosmology, would that disprove biblical cosmology? For the original audience, Gen 1-2 describes the world they could see. The earth and the visible stars. Modern readers have a greater sense of scale. 

Yet that doesn't mean Yahweh only created what naked-eye astronomy can observe. It doesn't mean that if the universe extended far beyond what ancient Jewish readers would be able to see on a starry night, God was not the creator of what lay beyond the reach of naked-eye astronomy. What you could see was a synecdoche for what you couldn't. It was all of a piece.

Genesis sets the stage for human history, and God's activity in human history. In so doing, it places humans in a larger cosmic context, but that's undeveloped.

If, say, there are extraterrestrials tucked away in some indetectable corner of the universe or multiverse, their existence wouldn't mean God didn't make them, even if that falls outside the immediate purview of Genesis–or NT counterparts (e.g. Col 1:16). 

A cyclic cosmology is to time what a multiverse is to space. In both you have multiple worlds, but in a multiverse these are spread out over space whereas in cyclic cosmology these are spread out over time. A diachronic rather than a synchronic ensemble. But the principle is the same. God would be the creator of all–whether one or many. 

Mind you, I'm not aware of any evidence for cyclic cosmology. If such turned up, it would require Christian philosophers to retool some of their cosmological arguments, yet cosmological arguments from contingency (e.g. Leibniz, Pruss) would apply with equal force to cyclic cosmology.


  1. Cosmological arguments (and many others) against the Bible seem to carry a hidden assumption that the information in the argument should have been considered in the Biblical text. Alfred Edersheim in the preface of vol 4 of his Bible History makes the comment that concerning the book of Judges "They give the history of Israel from the prophet’s point of view — not a succinct and successive chronicle of the nation, but a history of the Kingdom of God in Israel." Likewise, if I were writing a history of Rome, I would mention the Gauls attacking the city in 390 BC. I would not mention that the Temple of Aesculapius was built at Epidaurus or that Andocides died in Athens or that Egypt agreed to an aliance with Cyprus and Athens. Because these were not mentioned doesn't mean they didn't happen. It just means they are beside the point of the history I am writing. Cosmological arguments may have no impact on Genesis not because they are untrue but because Genesis is not concerned with that point. The point of Genesis is not to explain exactly how the physical world was created but to attribute all of that creation to Yahweh instead of pagan gods or blind chance.

    1. Good reply, especially the last sentence. I see that people waste time with arguing about what is meant by a day.