Note to self: Needs more links and images. More on anthropic next.
Slides for lecture (pdf)
In the beginning, there was Ginnungagap - the great void - the cold of the north met with the fire of the south, and from it came eitur from which Ýmir the first of the giants was formed.
The race of giants sprung from his armpits, as he slept, as they do; and he fed from the great cosmic cow Auðhumla from whose udders flowed the four great rivers of the world.
Ýmir's sons killed him, and from his body the earth is formed, the stones from his bones and the sky is his skull, held up by the four cardinal dwarves (which spring from the maggots that ate Ýmir's flesh).
The first man, Búri, came from the ice when Auðhumla licked the salt stones (don't ask). He marries (who, you might ask) and Óðinn the All-father, all seeing and all wise, is his oldest son.
There are nine separate worlds:
Some versions call for a rebirth and a new age, and then we do it all over again.
As a cosmology goes, this contains many of the essential concepts still bandied about in modern cosmology.
There is the notion of an (infinite and eternal) void; the world we are in arises spontaneously from a vacuum fluctutation that sets of a temperature gradient, followed by non-linear evolution to form structure and internal rearrangement to increase complexity, leading to organic chemistry, spontaneous quickening of life and evolution, diversification and reproduction.
The cosmology has a finite duration for the observable universe, with thermal death. There is an explicit notion of multiverses, and the destruction at Ragnarök has certain parallels with ekpyrotic universe models, with multiple planes of existence destroyed concurrently and thermally.
The concept of cyclic universes repeating broadly previous structure is also bandied about, albeit tentatively.
This primitive and inconsistent cosmology covers metaphorically a significant aspect of modern physical cosmology. That it does, should either cause us to worry about the cultural limitations of our cosmological models, or to marvel at our ability to stretch metaphors.
Contrast it with Hindu cosmology: "Then was not non-existence nor existence: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water? Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day's and night's divider. That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever. Darkness there was at first concealed in darkness this. All was indiscriminated chaos. All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of Warmth was born that Unit...".
Here we have an explicit cycic universe within a larger chaotic universe - note the Hindu cosmology hints that time is not defined in this pre- or background state. The universe here last for a very long time compared to the lifetime of the observable universe and different cyclic states have different fates.
Again there are explicit metaphorical parallels with modern cosmology.
Alternatively, we are all children of the FSM - beware His Noodly Appendages, and look out for pirates!
All joking aside, pastafarianism provides an interesting contemporary view of myth creation and the development and expansion of consensual worldviews and creation models.
Modern cosmology, at least for the last four or five hundred years, can be considered a philosophical struggle between contending, overlapping cosmological principles.
In the scientific era, the contention is driven by observations of the actual observable universe. In particular whether it is infinite and eternal, vs finite or cyclical; and, whether the universe has a preferred center or viewpoint or not.
Last updated 01/13
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