Monday, February 26, 2007


Websters describes it as "the branch of philosophy dealing with the origin and general structure of the universe, with its parts, elements, and laws, and especially with such of its characteristics of space, time, causality, and freedom."

When we speak of the "structure of the universe", we are speaking of creation. "Origins" address how we got here; and "space, time, causality, and freedom" involves what we are to be about now that we are here. In other words, you can't talk cosmology without talking God and purpose. Not if you are a religious person, you can't.

Therefore cosmology necessarily includes metaphysics...Who God is and what He is about are important components.

Living in what had still been the "Christian West" in the lifetime of some of the older members of our civilization, we have taken cosmology for granted. Doing so is no longer wise. With a plurality of religions comes a plurality of cosmologies. We had better know our own.

A component of Catholic cosmology is the hierarchy of beings. God is at the top and He is Trinitarian. Below Him are His created angels who were given free will. Some of them chose to sin and were cast out of heaven as punishment. Descending to the next lower level we find man who has been put in charge of God's created world and who also has the free will to choose sin. Man is subject to the influence of the angelic realm--good and fallen.

The remainder of creation falls on a level below man.

In Catholic cosmology God is ever and always "other". We share a life with Him by adoption, not by nature. We are not God in any way that fails to acknowledge His choice to make us so.

Our purpose here on this earth is to know, love, and serve God and ultimately to be happy with Him in heaven. We are subject to the penalties due to sin, which include death, but death is an introduction to eternal life won for us by Jesus Christ who suffered on our behalf to save us from death's curse. We cannot save ourselves, but we can reject our salvation by choosing to say "no" to God.

Another component of Roman Catholic cosmology is Purgatory, a place of purification following our death that will ultimately lead us to heaven, the dwelling place of God. There is also hell, the outer darkness reserved for those who reject Him.

We believe that we will live only once, after which we will be judged for the way we have lived, by Christ Who sits at the right hand of God the Father. We believe that the earthly human mother of Jesus, God's uncreated Son, is in heaven body and soul, and that after death we, too, will be reunited with our bodies for all of eternity.

Belief in these things are what makes us Roman Catholic. They are not options. They are not subject to our interpretation. They suffer if we attempt to import beliefs from other religions into our system. And when they suffer, we also suffer by no longer having the sure knowledge of who we are and what we are doing here.

Grasping firmly our Catholic concepts, we can then look at the cosmology of other religions; but doing so without a firm grasp on what we believe is dangerous to our spiritual health since there are many other cosmologies floating around in the sea of contemporary ideas, any one of which can disassemble our faith in an eyeblink and leave us alone and confused.

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