- For other uses, see Cosmos (disambiguation).
History of usage
In ancient Greek, cosmos means order. Pythagoras is credited with being the first to apply the term to the universe, recognizing that the universe is inherently orderly and harmonious. However, the original Greek creation story emphasizes a bringing of order out of chaos, so this idea was not new even to Pythagoras.
The New Testament also uses the word cosmos to denote the concept of "world." However, the it also uses another term, οἰκουμένῃ, oikoumenē, to denote specifically the inhabited world. Oikoumenē describes the world as a place where people live, while cosmos describes the world as a place of order.Jesus Christ specifically uses the word cosmos in a very important context:
"I am the Light of the world." — John 8:12
In that verse, the word rendered "world" today is cosmos. Therefore, not only is Jesus identifying Himself as a Source of Light, but He is also reminding His listeners that He is the Source of the order in the world.
Sadly, the ubiquitous use of cosmos to stand for the world has introduced a slight corruption to its meaning. From the root of cosmos comes a word, cosmesis, that means something entirely different: not order but worldliness or cosmopolitanism, a state of being a citizen of the world rather than a citizen or subject of a spiritual kingdom like the Kingdom of Heaven. From cosmesis comes the adjective cosmetic, which connotes the emphasis of personal surface appearance in order to win friends and influence people.
- Main Article: Cosmology
Cosmology is the branch of astronomy that deals with the origin, structure and space-time relationships of the universe. Properly understood, cosmology is at heart a study of order. Yet the most popular cosmological model among astronomers today is the big bang, which postulates an event that was not orderly at all, but highly chaotic. Thus far, defenders of this model have never provided a satisfactory explanation of how the presently observed order of the universe arose from the chaos of a tremendous explosion.
In contrast, the various creation-oriented models under consideration today all state that the universe has always been ordered, and that God is the Source of that order, exactly as He said in the verse quoted above.