The cosmos (universe) is interpreted by 2 avenues: natural (general) revelation and spiritual (special) revelation.
Natural revelation comes as we perceive outer space, our solar system, our planet, and our human society – visible relationships of matter, energy, and people (more or less). For instance, when we look at the order and beauty of the stars, galaxies, and of our biological planet, we logically deduce an origin to these things. We know that we are looking at the effect, so therefore there has to be a cause. Strictly from a natural revelation, we understand somehow, something, or someone had to have begun the cosmos, for matter and energy do not arise spontaneously (as a law of physics).
Spiritual revelation comes by some intelligence other than human which is “above,” transcendent, and outside of our 4 (or so)-dimensional existence, yet is imminent in that “it” or “they” can communicate to us. This concept should not be as controversial as it is, because truly there is no law of logic which is violated to posit a being or beings which are in another form besides matter and physical energy but who are sentient and may willingly engage humanity and be engaged by humanity. Before we ever come to the Bible, or any other mode of receiving spiritual revelation, we can logically understand the possibility and probability of there being a God, and/or other spiritual beings who influence our human society, and who must in some sense have something to do with the origin of the created, or if you like, extant, visible cosmos.
Now because I am not a philosophy student, I have not formally studied epistemology, and I do not pretend to have a scholarly understanding of the various debates concerning these things, I will therefore have to ride the horses of other men from this point. I am openly, honestly revealing to you that I am assuming the detailed, satisfactory explanation of all things epistemological in going forth from my Christian/theist point of view, worldview, and indeed my interpretation of the cosmos. Yet don’t make the mistake of thinking that because I am not schooled in these subjects that therefore I cannot have valid arguments and observations.
For instance, let’s take a person who has never heard of San Francisco and place him on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge during a very heavy fog. He would not be able to see San Francisco or even the entire bridge to the other side, so it would seem he was standing on a road which ends in the cloud just a couple hundred feet out. Yet logically he could deduce that the bridge does connect to the earth on the other side because it stands firm, there are cars coming and going across it, and because bridges are generally built to connect 2 sides of a waterway.
This is the analogy of a half-breed intellectual like me, and probably you if you’re an average kind of person. We only have part of the learning necessary to be called an expert; we are in middle school trying to write a doctoral dissertation. We’re staring into a heavy fog – but everything sensible tells us how that bridge connects. We’re hard-wired with the logic and reasoning which connects the bridge in our mind to the city on the other side. This is how we conceptualize the connection between our physical cosmos and the true nature of the whole. We know there is “more than meets the eye.” We “feel” the reality of a higher control room where decisions are being made which affect us and our world – but those feelings are validated by logic. There is something totally wild about the reality that we are here, alive, parked on a blue and green beach ball 93,000,000 miles from a furnace which is made of its own fuel and is itself a micro speck compared to the space between trillions and trillions of its cousins scattered immeasurably far into the mysterious reaches of space. We stand on the end of the bridge staring into the fog, but everything logical demands we connect the bridge to the other side.
Of course there is a God.
Why hadn’t I thought of that?
And if He, (allowing my presuppositional slip to show), was able to create this cosmos, these people, those flowers, bugs, trees, sky, ocean, etc with order, design, beauty, and predictable, testable laws of consistency… then He must be able to communicate with us.
What would this communication be like? I submit to you all, as so many of my forefathers of the faith have done, that the Bible containing 66 books of Old and New Testament writings is the unique, divine, perfect revelation of that Creator God. The One who is able to breathe the cosmos into existence by sheer fiat is also able and has spoken clearly, logically, and completely to us in His Word the Bible. This we will explore and test on Interpreting the Cosmos. The Bible is the Rosetta Stone to the cosmos. It is the revelation of the Artist and Designer, it is the literature of God, and it alone is in this category.
In a beautiful circle of glory, the Bible points back to the physical cosmos as the “partner in preaching” to the written Word. The physical universe screams out the glories of the eternal, infinite God, and the Bible is where He reveals Himself personally. As a result, His plan and purpose in creating this cosmos is first vaguely imagined by us as we behold the mind-blowing universe, and then confirmed in detail through the redemptive history of the Old and New Testaments.
If this is true, then through this lens of Scripture we ought to be able to understand the cosmos in a consistent, logical way. It may throw people off that the Bible is at once a word-for-word divine revelation and yet a thoroughly human document. The marks and signature of humanity is woven throughout its pages, yet the humanity which wrote claims hundreds if not thousands of times to be the instrument of a speaking, personal God. If the Bible is the breathed-out Word of the only true God, then what it says will be supernatural, super-human, and super-amazing to all who will look into it with childlike eyes.
Won’t you look and be amazed? Let’s interpret the cosmos.
Thanks for reading,