Coming of Age Under the Night Sky: the Importance of Astronomy in Shaping Worldviews by Stephen P. Cook
Analecta Husserliana, 1, Volume 107, Astronomy and Civilization in the New Enlightenment, Part 2, Pages 99-109
(pre-publication version, August 26 2010)
THE IMPORTANCE OF ASTRONOMY IN SHAPING WORLDVIEWS
Introduction: Worldviews and Astronomy
By worldview, I mean the
conceptual framework, beliefs and values used to make sense of
reality—something difficult to define.1
To me reality is everything: all structures—actual and
abstract, events and phenomena—observable or not, including feelings.
With these definitions, characterizing worldviews is messy.
Describing the scientific world picture used to make sense of
objective reality—events and phenomena that can be recorded by
devices— is easier but still complex.
Once understanding or experience enables it, characterizing
ultimate reality will be simpler.
Physicists dream of doing this: finding the theory of everything;
others connect it with finding God.
By astronomy, I mean scientific study of the universe.
It didn't start like that—it began with eyes watching the night
knowledge must ultimately be reconciled with observation.
The quest for it was inspired by a question, "Why do we see
what we see?" Beginning
in 1600, Kepler
sought to answer this with respect to observed positions of Mars.
His struggle to find a hypothesis or model to fit the data is a classic application of the scientific method.
the year 1609 —when
Kepler's 1st Law was published—marks
the beginning of modern science. That
same year Galileo turned his telescope to the night sky.
What he saw validated his belief in the Copernican worldview and
challenged Catholic Church authority.
This powerful institution would eventually silence him in perhaps
history's most famous clash of worldviews.
Worldviews are used to answer fundamental questions like,
"Why am I here?" Long
ago I realized that efforts to solve pressing problems are often stalled
by differences in worldview. I
began to wonder, "How can we help people develop healthy
worldviews, ones that will bring happiness and promote planetary
well-being?" The topic
of worldviews, I soon realized, has two parts: worldview analysis and
Worldview development begins in early childhood with concept
acquisition. By concepts, I
mean abstract generalized ideas and understanding that replace sensory
experiences and memories. For
example, a young child handles different objects and forms a concept of
a sphere. Conceptualization
involves observing, abstracting, recalling memories, discriminating,
categorizing, etc. Concepts
that belong together fit into conceptual schemes; these are used to
build a conceptual framework or map.
Your worldview is used to answer "What if...?"
questions and to make predictions about the future.
Based on feedback you receive, aspects of it get validated,
negated, refined, and retested—like
doing science and testing hypotheses.
My worldview analysis approach attempts to cut through complexity
and diversity and characterize worldviews in simplified, manageable
fashion. I employ two
analogies to describe it: one uses building blocks, the other playing
cards. In considering how
worldviews develop, the blocks I imagine being used are all different.
I call them worldview themes and have eighty of them.
Each has a
name, number, and description—identifying beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behavior articulated in similar
fashion by lots of people. Many
such themes can be used (as a first approximation) in characterizing
As an example, consider my analysis (Cook 2009) of a typical
American adult's worldview. The
top theme cards held are: Monotheism; Belief in a Personal God;
Gratitude & Forgiveness; Valuing Family; Proud Identification;
Ethical Orientation; The Consumerist; The Technological Fix Mentality.
As we turn our attention to astronomy's role in shaping
worldviews, with the exception of the first two and the last, none of
these shall concern us. I
will argue that astronomy has generally tended to encourage people
incorporating the following themes into their worldviews: #1A
Humbly Unsure, #4
Global Vision, #6 Scientific Method, #12 The Artistic
Worldview, #13 Dancing With Systems, #18B Dispassionate, #27 Belonging
To Nature, #29A The Self Restrained Person, #30 Intellectual Freedom,
#37B Global Citizen, and #46A The Technological Fix Mentality.
by my claim that astronomy has promoted both science and art?
Consider this: the word cosmos is from the Greek word for order,
and The Artistic Worldview (theme #12) involves human creation imposing
order on chaos. And
consider one of those paradoxical great truths: "The universe
created humans" and "Humans created the universe."
The first half you can accept, but the second? In this regard consider a book by Anthony Aveni (Aveni 1992).
Note its subtitle: How Science and Myth Invented the Cosmos.
Changing Worldviews: From 1,000,000 BCE to 1,000 BCE
Worldviews are built of concepts. Imagine
a time before concepts: the being alive experience is one of wholeness.
Before people learn to abstract, to use words and numbers, they
unconsciously value "the interconnected unity of [nature's] parts
and process"—they appreciate Belonging to Nature (theme #27).
We relate their feeling of Oneness to Mysticism (theme #7A).
While there may be bliss in their ignorance, there's also painful
struggle: they are both hunters and hunted.
While language compromised holistic feeling, it spurred concept
development and blossoming of consciousness—also difficult to define. Some understand it by analogy: just as our body moves
in real space, our mind moves through mind space.
According to Julian Jaynes, “Consciousness is constantly fitting things
into a story”
Before this can happen, humans needed to order events in time and gauge
time intervals. (In a
"humans created the universe" context, this is "the
beginning of time.") While
they could do this roughly by watching living things grow, astronomy
provided more precise means: using time intervals between successive
sunrises (day) or full moons (month) or the sun’s changing position
According to Aveni, "Naming the phases of the moon and associating the course of
the sun across the zodiac with seasonal activities date back into
history as far as any document can reach.
It would have been logical to marry the act of story telling
about everyday affairs to acts of nature simply as a way to embellish
and lend structure to time—to
remember how to mark its repeatable cycles.”
At some point worldviews began to incorporate the concept of justice. According to Jaynes, “Our sense of justice depends on our sense of time.” Aveni builds on this, writing, “There are good reasons for translating normal solar behavior into a concept of justice,
for is justice not based on constancy and
consistency, on day-to-day reliability?" Consider the idea of
weighing both sides of a dispute as in "the scales of justice"
(in the sky as constellation Libra).
Certainly doing this is promoted by worldviews valuing order and
dispassionate (theme #18B) self-restraint (theme #29A).
Appreciation of order in the sky helped foster this.
Humans both found order and imposed it.
Among the jumble of stars, patterns were recognized.
Imaginations saw both familiar figures and heroes to worship.
These were linked to stories.
The sky became a medium for expression of artistic creativity.
At least one of these constellations appears to be truly ancient:
Ursa Major. Given the
similarity of Eurasian and New World stories, its origin seemingly
predates migration of humans across the Bering Strait.3
According to Jacob Bronowski, "the largest single step in
the ascent of man is the change from nomad to village
agriculture...since civilization on the move can never grow up" (Bronowski 1973). Human
beings were metaphorically once children.
In the creation myths of over a hundred cultures throughout the
world, their parents were the Earth and the Sky.
How might these children have related to the night sky?
According to Aveni, ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Mayans "believed that
they lived in an animated universe…breathing, teeming, vibrant…They
talked to the stars, listened to the planets... They saw themselves as
mediators in a great universal discourse.
At stake was the battle between fate and free will.”
reported in surviving texts from earliest human history, gods were
connected with tangible, concrete, visible objects in both the sky and
on the earth.
A powerful feeling—fear—fostered
insecurity in prehistoric people. Ever
present, even in ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations, were
"overtones of anxiety" which Henri Frankfort attributed to
"a haunting fear that the unaccountable and turbulent powers may at
any time bring disaster to human society."4 A clue as to
where many looked for guidance can be found in the origin of the word
disaster, it means literally ill-starred.
People looked to the sky searching for order often lacking in the
chaotic terrestrial world. Generally they found it.
The "fixed" stars move in the same predictable,
reassuring way...But there are seven exceptions: "wandering"
stars: sun, moon, and five planets.
Planetary retrograde motion was especially troubling.
A dominant belief: one's fate (Fatalism, theme #11A) was written
in the stars. Another gave
gods human emotions. If
they were angry, people suffered consequences.
In many cultures, astrologers, holy men, shamans, etc. were
to interpret messages and to placate gods.
Today, some laugh at these people and the astrology and magic
(theme #7B) their worldviews were based on.
Others recognize that they sought what many seek today: a healthy
worldview. Fear is not healthy. People
fear what they cannot understand—what
they can't predict, what doesn't fit into their worldview.
They seek to explain what they otherwise would fear.
Their stories make sense of natural phenomena, unusual events, of
Contrast this view of the ancient Near East, with one of ancient
reported by Thomas Cahill, "In virtually all of the Irish
tales...we come upon the Celtic phenomenon of shape-shifting... the
ability of a being to turn itself into something else...There is within
this worldview a terrifying personal implication: that I have no fixed
identity but am, like the rest of reality, essentially fluid” (Cahill
Stories from other cultures capture the tension between order and
chaos. Navaho tradition
placement of stars in the sky to First Man and First Woman, who
initially laid them out on a mat in front of them.
Just after they'd positioned the first few in orderly, useful
fashion, including the North Star, along came Coyote—that
trickster! Grabbing a
corner of the mat, he flung the rest into the sky: this is why they seem
so randomly placed.5
Myths are stories typically featuring gods or demigods as
transmission of them declined as people began writing down sacred
stories, and as religions became less polytheistic and more
monotheistic. Belief in a
single God can
be traced to Zoroaster,
thought to have lived somewhere in Iran or Central Asia around 1000 BCE.
His name, in corrupted Greek, means literally "undiluted
stars." We remember
him because the religion he founded, in the words of Mary Boyce,
"probably had more influence on mankind directly or indirectly than
any other faith" (Boyce 1979).
From his conception of an ongoing battle between good and evil,
one can date the beginning of an important component of many worldviews:
"Apocalypticism" (theme #9B).
He is perhaps the first prophet to teach belief in an abstract
without tangible presence.
Worldviews: From Ancient Greeks to Christians to 1700
Consider another milestone in the triumph of order over disorder. An important advance occurred in the brief interval of sixty-three years spanning two solar eclipses. Of one he witnessed in 648 BCE, Greek poet Archilochus wrote, "Zeus, the father of the Olympic Gods, turned mid-day into night, hiding the light of the dazzling Sun; and sore fear came upon men"6 Yet according to Herodotus, Thales predicted the eclipse of 585 BCE. While Babylonian astronomers ~2000 BCE and others preceded them in quantitatively appreciating the order in nature, by the sixth century BCE, Greeks like Thales and Pythagoras were doing just that.
Christianity was influenced by both Greeks and Zoroastrianism. Monotheism can bolster another powerful feeling— comfort—as St. Patrick and later Irish monks throughout Dark Ages Europe realized. As Cahill described it, “The key to Patrick's confidence... rock solid confidence on which a civilization may be built...is in his reliance on 'the Creator of Creation' Our Father in heaven, having created all things...will deliver us, his children from all evil.” Zoroaster's apocalypticism also found a home in Christianity. Unlike monotheism, this can be a source of discomfort. Of Biblical prophecies Marcelo Gleiser writes, "[they] create a state of constant anxiety with regard to cosmic events; every shooting star, every eclipse, every comet or unexpected celestial event may be interpreted as part of the doomsday prophecy, the harbinger of the end to come" (Gleiser 2001).
Church teaching eventually makes Europeans forget the
polytheistic pagan past. The
man dominion over all living things.
Man no longer belongs to nature: he is the master of nature.
Embracing Anthropocentrism (theme #25), Church cosmology puts
Earth at the center of the universe.
It asserts a fundamental difference between matter found on Earth
and in the heavens, where perfection supposedly reigns.
Its details are borrowed
from Greeks such
as Plato, Aristotle, and Ptolemy.
publication of his sun-centered system in 1543, Copernicus seriously
challenged this cosmology.
Both cosmological models sought to make sense out of what is seen
in the sky. Galileo's
observations, especially of Venus showing phases that are impossible for
it to exhibit in Ptolemy's model, dealt the ancient cosmology a
staggering blow. Church
authorities viewed challenges to its authority and original thinking
with alarm. Many refused to
look through Galileo's telescope! This
telescope did more than make astronomical discoveries.
It struck a blow for Intellectual Freedom (theme #30) and
bolstered the Enlightenment. That era, says E.O. Wilson,
"brought the Western mind to the threshold of a new freedom.
It waved aside everything …to give precedence to the ethic of
free inquiry" (Wilson 1998). By
1687, after Newton in Principia showed the same physical laws
operate both on Earth and in the sky, there was no reason to assume
celestial matter fundamentally differed in composition from Earth's. A new mechanistic worldview structure replaced the
IV. Astronomy, Humility, and God
The modern connection between astronomy and humility is a legacy of Copernicus and Galileo. By asserting The Copernican Principle—human beings are not in a privileged place to make observations—cosmologists turn their backs on anthropocentrism and embrace humility. With Galileo’s telescope comes humbling appreciation of the universe's vastness and a trend begins: in our conception, the universe grows in size as years pass.
Today we estimate7 it contains 70 million million million =7x1022 stars—more than the number of all the grains of sand on all of the world's beaches—and has minimum size of 25 to 30 billion light years. The 1965 discovery of the cosmic background radiation provided evidence for a beginning: the Big Bang. We estimate that occurred 13.7 billion years ago. (In a "The universe created humans" context, this is the beginning of time!) These numbers only apply to the observable universe—our universe may be but one of many that make up the multiverse. Even of the observable universe our ignorance is great. Referring to
matter and dark energy, in 2003 one cosmologist8 admitted,
"It's embarrassing that 95% of the [observable] universe is
With so much unknown, doubt seems a good word to use in
describing the universe’s beginning (if it had one!)
I once wrote a metaphorical account (Cook 1990) of creation in
which God said "Let there be doubt!"9
Where'd I get this? Several
places. From physics'
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle; from math's Gödel's theorem; from
chaotic systems behavior; from looking at pictures like Voyager's 1990
"pale blue dot" image. Of
it, Carl Sagan said, "Look again at that dot.
That's here. That's
home. That's us...Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic
arena ... astronomy is a humbling and character-building
Suppose you asked people to respond to the
following: "Using one
word, name what your worldview is built around."
Imagine the answers...Truth.
Survival. Many of
you reading this might answer "Knowledge" or
"Science." I bet
the most popular answer worldwide would be "God."
Project Worldview themes most directly tied to God are: #7A
Mysticism, #8A Monotheism, #8B
Belief in a Personal God, #9A
Religious Fundamentalism, and #14A Moralistic God.
"Are astronomers and physicists looking for God?"
Yes, in an ultimate reality sense with certain constraints.
As scientists, they are involved in testing scientific statements—those
capable of being proved false. Many
would argue a statement such as "The universe is the creation of an
Intelligent Designer" is not scientific.
Scientists often approach their work from different perspectives.
As Gerald Holton puts it, "There have co-existed
in science in almost every period since Thales and Pythagoras, sets of
two or more antithetical systems or attitudes ...one reductionist and
the other holistic, or one mechanistic and the other vitalistic, or one
positivistic and the other teleological"
(Holton 1988). Consider
two physicists, one an outright reductionist mechanistic positivist, the
other more sympathetic to holistic vitalistic teleology.
The first is comfortable with Scientific Materialism (theme #5A),
asserts the universe had no
Creator, and argues it has no purpose.
He sees life as involving physical/chemical processes—not
expects it to someday be created in the lab.
Were he to write a book about God and physics, it might resemble The
God Particle by Leon Lederman (Lederman and Teresi 1993).
Despite its title, God is absent from this irreverent
book—except in humorous passages.
Lederman's hero is Democritus —who first imagined matter can be
reduced to atoms. In this
he is searching for the God particle: the Higgs
Our second physicist also values the Scientific Method (theme #6), which can involve reductionist analysis. But she is less narrowly focused and appreciates insights from chaos/complexity studies and a newer, more holistic, synthesis oriented approach to problem solving: Dancing With Systems (theme #13). Whereas mechanists believe reality is ultimately composed of one thing (matter), this physicist can conceive of it as made of two things: matter and spirit—although she might call it something else: mind, consciousness, etc. Grounded in mainstream materialist perspective, free of scientific constraints she will embrace Vitalism (theme #5B). A book written by her might resemble The Mind of God by Paul Davies. Within scientific boundaries, Davies' book suggests he is searching for God. Dissatisfied with the worldview of our first physicist, Davies' book has a teleological ending: "Through conscious beings, the universe has generated self awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here" (Davies 1992).
some astrophysicists are atheists, many believe in God.
Those who believe the universe is infinite in space and time, and
value holism, may be comfortable with Mysticism.
This theme's description begins, "While things and events
appear to be separate, I believe the perception of discrete objects and
the passage of time are illusions." Believing reality is One, mystics strive to experience
Oneness and search for God within themselves.
Some call the ultimate mystical state cosmic consciousness;
others speak of union with God.
Those who believe the universe has a beginning may conceive of
God as described in the Monotheism theme: "Creator of the
astronomers can accept this if it's detached from other connotations.
This theme goes on to describe God as "the source of the
vital spark that energizes life."
Those unable to accept God doing this, but believe life is more
than the sum of chemical building block parts, may think of vital spark
as mind or consciousness and sign on!
in a Personal God presents problems.
It can mean God watches over 1) the entire human species, 2)
favored individuals, or both. Scientific
justification for this belief is hard to find, although some
(mistakenly?) use the Anthropic Principle to provide it.
worldviews end with Monotheism and don't extend to include Belief in a
Personal God or Religious Fundamentalism or Moralistic God, divisive
beliefs are avoided. Also
avoided are difficult questions, such as "Where was God on
September 11, 2001?"
In simplest form, monotheism is potentially a great unifying force for humanity—as is seeking not believing, as is holism not reductionism, as is looking at the night sky. Pictures of Earth from space are another such force.
lines dividing nations, they inspire dreams of a peaceful world of
global citizens (theme #37B) and help people appreciate the planet we
all call home.
As humble seekers, astronomers can provide two reasons why
they're uniquely qualified to shape conceptions of God.
First, they study
most believe God dwells. Second,
with their appreciation of "the big picture," astronomers can
help people move away from small, petty, childish, overly detailed,
rigidly confining, exclusive conceptions, and toward grander, simpler,
liberating, and inclusive ones. Progressing
along the path from Moralistic
God to Religious
Fundamentalism to Personal God to Monotheism to Mysticism is moving in
While traditionalists may challenge such mysticism, and argue
"Seeing God everywhere is seeing Him nowhere," they
undoubtedly prefer it to the emptiness of Godless materialism.
Certainly mystical conceptions of ultimate reality—especially
those incorporating vitalism—more naturally lead to inclusive worldviews, feelings of belonging
not alienation, than purely mechanistic conceptions. I'd say someone who believes "a fella ain't got a soul
of his own, but only a piece of a big one"10 is more
inclined to become a caring global citizen than an atheist. Holographic models—believing the whole universe is inside the smallest
grain of sand, inside you, inside everyone—can produce similar feelings that we're connected
to each other.
Technology, and Astrobiology
With Galileo's telescope, Global Vision (theme #4) enters the human drama as people take a first step in using technology to extend their senses. Since then, astronomers have possessed a Technological Fix Mentality (theme #46A). Consider milestones in this history of using technology to answer basic questions
“What are stars made of?” In 1835, he predicted we’d never find out.
He was wrong! Astrophysics was born in the 1860s when astronomers began to
find an answer. They did it
with a technology Comte couldn’t imagine: attaching a spectroscope to
a telescope and photographing stellar spectra.
By the 1930s, efforts to extend astronomer's vision into regions of the electromagnetic spectrum
besides visible light began with the first radio telescopes. In 1990, the dream of placing a telescope in space—above limitations of Earth's atmosphere—was
The technology revolution of the last half-century
has brought sweeping change to how science is done.
Today we often use a systems approach and computer simulation to
tackle problems too complicated to approach analytically by solving
promoting global vision, long before new technology gave systems
thinking a push, astronomy encouraged an important aspect of it:
choosing a system whose boundaries in space and time are big enough to
include all that bears on a problem.
A key question for astrobiologists is "How did life
begin?" Once this
field was dominated by scientific materialists conceiving of life
beginning 3.5 billion years ago in terms of random processes in the
"organic soup." Seeing life as no more than the sum of its parts, many
reductionists don't extend their analysis beyond the molecular level.
In contrast, systems thinkers take a broader view and imagine
downward causation in which a higher level in the system representation
seemingly imposes its will on a lower one.
Upon random combination, they impose natural selection with
global system constraints. Those
who embrace panspermia believe this first happened elsewhere and life
came to Earth by hitching a ride on comets.
In confronting social problems, system thinkers often imagine a desired future and design a system with the desired behavior. Take the global climate change problem. Given the key role the energy balance in the Earth—Sun system plays in it, astronomers have made important contributions with studies of 1) "How constant is the energy output of the Sun?" 2) links between cosmic ray intensity, cloudiness, and global temperatures, and 3) Earth's sister planets—Mars and especially Venus, with its runaway greenhouse effect. “How bad could global warming get?”
No one wants wonderfully temperate Earth to turn into
a hellishly hot Venus!
Beyond technological fixes, astronomy can promote attitudinal fixes and healthy worldviews. Sagan described one context in which this might happen,
"A religion that stressed the magnificence of the
universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth
reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by traditional faiths"
(Sagan 1996). Such a
religion could inspire belonging to nature feelings and get people
outdoors. Dark sky
locations with public observatories in naturally beautiful settings
could increasingly become destinations—even religious shrines! Bringing children to such places—expanding worldviews—could become a sacred duty of parents.
Astronomy: Coming of Age
first got involved expanding worldviews as an astronomy teacher, and
eventually worked out my version of the ideal sky tour...On an early
winter night, after initial orientation, I get to what I really want to
share: part of "The Great Story"—our
cosmic heritage: nearly
fourteen billion years of evolution has resulted in us gazing at the
stars in wonder. Before
getting to my cycle of stellar evolution theme, I start in a far away
galaxy: Andromeda. I tell
my audience "The light you're seeing left 2.5 million years ago—when people were little more than animals!"
Telescopic views of Andromeda find me asking them to imagine
another galaxy 4.5 billion years ago— the
inside it a
giant cloud of gas and dust, roughly 99% hydrogen and helium, 1% heavier
elements. To aid
imaginations, we view the Orion Nebula and describe the birth of the Sun
as part of the cloud collapses. After
appreciating how dependable and stable the Sun is, we consider how the
Orion Nebula might look a few million years from now by looking at the
Pleiades. We then consider
stellar energy crises. After
eons turning hydrogen into helium, a star runs low on nuclear fuel—and
stellar death nears. By now
we're examining the aging red supergiant star Betelgeuse and
I sing a silly song about it going
supernova! I mention the
new star Chinese astronomers saw in 1054, we look at the remnant of that
supernova event, the Crab Nebula, and note the explosion enriched the
The cosmic ecology lesson ends with the birth
of the next generation of stars. I
tell them "We are the ash of stellar alchemy...The iron bound up in
hemoglobin giving our blood its red color originated in the nuclear
furnace of an old star, was disbursed when the star exploded, and became
part of the collapsing cloud that spawned Sun and Earth 4.5 billion
years ago." It's both
a belonging to nature and recycling
Focus on death prompts questions as to how life on Earth will
end. Here astronomy puts
new life into apocalypticism, with analysis of potential cosmic
downplaying supernova threats, I discuss hazards posed by comets and
asteroids—like the six-mile wide piece of rock that did in the
dinosaurs sixty five million years ago.
I recall a night in 1994 at the campus observatory when we saw
what happened after Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter. We wondered, "What if it had hit the Earth?"
Comets have a long history of being associated with the wrath of
God, the Devil, havoc, and death. Fear
of them began to diminish after Halley successfully predicted that the
comet seen in 1682 would return 76 years later—demonstrating the power
of the scientific method and Newtonian physics.
What will the world be like when Halley’s Comet returns in
2061? In his 1965 book Starlight
Nights, Peltier worried that our advanced civilization would end in
nuclear holocaust and not make it to that year (Peltier 1965).
Today we are not so pessimistic. In the spirit of Project 2061, some are even hopeful. Perhaps the comet will fly by a world peopled by those whose collective worldview is healthy: they have learned to share, to be tolerant; they feel connected: to each other and to nature…
To me this will mark humanity's coming of age.
Perhaps someday, the appearance of a comet will be a cause for
celebration of humanity's growing up.
That won't mean the human species has met all challenges: I can think of two it may confront in the near future.
The first will begin with an astronomer finding an asteroid with
an Earth crossing orbit. Perhaps technology can be used to alter its course and
prevent disastrous collision. Perhaps
humanity will demonstrate it has grown up and is capable of protecting
itself from hazards lurking in space.
The second will be of a different nature, but it too will involve
astronomers from the outset. Its
ramifications will shake the worldview of nearly every thinking person.
It will come with the answer to what sky watchers have always
wondered, "Are we alone?"
Someday our childhood will end.11 Earth and Sky have
been considered our parents in various mythologies.
In summarizing the importance of astronomy in shaping worldviews,
I credit our Sky parent with teaching us there is order in how the world
works, and giving us global vision to see through space and time.
As Bronowski put it, "There are many gifts unique
to man, but at the center of them all...lies the ability to draw
conclusions from what we see to what we do not see, to move our minds
through space and time." Today
we honor the successes Kepler and Galileo had in doing this long ago.
Someday, we'll celebrate our species' coming of age under the
"Letters," in Physics Today, Sept. 2009, vol. 62, #9;
www.projectworldview.org for details
Schaefer, "The Origin of the Greek Constellations," in Scientific
American Nov. 2006; pp 96-101
Sandars, "Introduction" in The Epic of Gilgamesh
London: Penguin Books, 1972
M. Cliff, private communication
6. Duncan Steel, Eclipse London: Headline Book Publishing, 1999
Driver, 7/23/2003 news item http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/space/07/22/stars.survey
Rees, "Our Complex Cosmos and its Future," in The Future of
Theoretical Physics and Cosmology
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003
find this intriguing: doubt<==>uncertainty,
which per Heisenberg has units of energy x time—
the same units as action (as in The Principle of Least Action).
Perhaps God simply said, "Action!"
John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath
must cite Arthur C. Clarke's mystical classic Childhood's End
Anthony Aveni, Conversing With the Planets New York: Random House, 1992 Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices London: Routledge, 1979
Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man
Boston: Little, Brown, 1973
Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization
New York: Doubleday, 1995
Stephen P. Cook, The Worldview Literacy Book
Weed: Parthenon Books, 2009
Stephen P. Cook, Coming of Age in the Global
Parthenon Books, 1990
Paul Davies, The Mind of God
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992
Marcelo Gleiser, The Prophet and the Astronomer New
York: W.W. Norton, 2001
Gerald Holton, Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988
Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990
Lederman and Dick Teresi, The God Particle New York: Dell Publishing, 1993
Leslie Peltier, Starlight Nights New
York: Harper & Row, 1965
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World
York: Random House, 1996
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot
York: Random House, 1994
E. O Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge New
York: Alfred Knopf, 1998
P. Cook, Project Worldview, Weed, NM 88354-0499 USA; firstname.lastname@example.org