Touching The Limits Of Knowledge
Cosmology and our View of the World

Spriritual Cosmology, Part II,
Lead: Paul Brockelman, Frank Sespico

Summary by Sarah Lowe:

Professor Brockelman started the class by recapping the previous week's discussion. He brought up the point that his perspective to cosmology seeks to expose certain religious "truths" that can be compared and contrasted with science's "truths". He pointed out the differences between science's and religion's methods of presenting information: science seeks to provide explanation, and religion seeks to provide interpretation. Science and religion do not contradict each other as many might think, and the two are not mutually exclusive; rather, they tackle the issue at hand in complimentary, thought provoking ways, incorporating both fact and myth.

Creation mythology has depended on stories to promote acceptance of creation. These stories are not necessarily falsities, but should not be interpreted in a literal sense. Professor Brockelman explained the importance of mythology to humans, and added that the scientific story is a modern form of creation mythology that helps to provide a suitable explanation for the lay person. Professor Brockelman continued, saying that creation mythology tries to explain God in relevant terms to human life and to humans' curiosities. The description of God is also continuously changing, adding new characteristics onto the old.

Frank added insight to mythical guidance, noting that religion sets guidelines within cultures. He said that myths are used as examples and are models for humans to measure their own actions against. Frank compared the United States' approach to spirituality with the Aboriginal culture's, and shared his experiences from his interactions with the Aborigines. Their culture embraces nature, and uses a different standard of creation mythology than ours. In language, usually in their native language, and in the process may this be limited to only the thoughts and concepts currently actively used in their cultures. Professor Brockelman pointed out the uses of models in our society to try to put meaning to words. Some of the class thought that putting words to a thought might actually detract from the original meaning. Professor Brokelman used the analogy of The Wizard of Oz to connect symbolism to beliefs about God. Because humans relate easily to symbols, it is our inclination to think of God as a finite, hidden symbol. He said that humans mistakenly believe that if they could somehow see beyond the curtain, God could be identified.

March 20, 2000