Chaos and Order: Contemporary Cosmology and Myth

  • Milan Tomašević Institute of Ethnography SASA, Belgrade
cosmology, cosmogony, myth, popular cosmology, anthropology


The paper offers a definition of cosmology and its connections with mythology, and presents contemporary theories as a secular mythical narrative suitable for anthropological analysis. The paper is dedicated to emphasizing the folklore characteristics of modern cosmology and points to the importance of popular cosmological narratives as reading that contains culturally, philosophically and even religiously relevant elements. Special attention is paid to cosmogonic myths that describe the state of the universe before the creation of space and time. A parallel has been drawn between modern cosmology and conventional cosmogonic myths. In the end, the paper offers a concise definition of popular cosmology and recalls the most important authors and popularizers of modern theories. The main task of the paper is to present the basic concepts that can contribute to a complete understanding of the anthropological character of the presentation of contemporary cosmology that we encounter in popular narratives. The aim of such an analysis is to observe the depth of the significance of modern science for creating a philosophical picture of the world that inherits secular worldviews. By treating popular cosmology as a modern myth, the paper presents a new dimension of the significance of scientific theories for today's civilization. Such an approach unravels the strictly positivist halo of cosmology and points to its anthropological character. The concepts highlighted in the paper serve as an illustration of the significance that the image of the universe and the position of the Earth has for the history of civilization. By presenting the cultural dimension of cosmology, it opens a space for dialogue between different branches of scientific research, i.e. it contributes to the communication of philosophy and science. Equally important, by illuminating the folklore character of the narrative of the origin and history of the universe, a training ground is created for philosophers and theologians who, in their own ways, interpret the creation of everything around us. By drawing attention to authors such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Kraus, Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku and others, as contemporary bards and narrators, the paper seeks to contribute to the understanding of popular cosmology as an expression of modern man's need for great stories, for narratives that transcend the spatial and temporal frames of one generation, and that is exactly what myths do.


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How to Cite
Tomašević, Milan. 2020. “Chaos and Order: Contemporary Cosmology and Myth”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 15 (4), 1101–1118.