On Modern Cosmology and its Place in Science Education
Cosmology in its current meaning of the science of the universe is a topic that attracts as much popular as scientific interest. This paper argues that modern cosmology and its philosophical aspects should have a prominent place in science education. In the context of science teaching a partly historical approach is recommended, in particular an approach that gives priority to the relationship between observation and theory during the formative years of modern cosmology from about 1910–1970. It is further argued that there are very important aspects of cosmology that are not primarily of a scientific nature, but are mainly conceptual and philosophical (and perhaps religious), and that these, too, might advantageously enter courses in astronomy and physics. While cosmology is a science, it is not just a science. Among the topics dealt with are the big bang, the cosmological principle, cosmic creation, and the multiverse. The paper outlines some cosmological questions of a qualitative and conceptual nature that, in the author’s view, are organic parts of cosmology. Courses and textbooks which deal with cosmology should encourage discussions of such questions, not shun them in the name of science.