Title page for ETD etd-08292008-063614

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Guarino, Michael J.
URN etd-08292008-063614
Title Religious appeals in the popular presentation of cosmology
Degree Master of Science
Department Science and Technology Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Hardcastle, Gary L. Committee Chair
Bounds, Elizabeth M. Committee Member
Dennison, Brian K. Committee Member
Moyer, Albert E. Committee Member
Weiss, Steven C. Committee Member
  • religion
  • cosmology
  • physics
  • popularization
  • imagery
Date of Defense 1996-05-08
Availability restricted

This thesis explores the use of religious language, metaphors, and images in the popular presentation of cosmology. Specifically looking at books written by cosmologists and intended for a lay audience, I argue that these religious appeals present a particular model, or picture, of cosmology to the public.

Through the religious language, metaphors, and images, the texts create scientific-religious imagery which gives cosmology and cosmologists religious functions (e.g., the metaphor of cosmologists as priests). Taking these images together, the texts present a model in which cosmology performs like a religion -a model of Cosmology-as-Religion. Thus, the religious appeals appropriate religious authority through cosmology's assumption of religious functions.

However, the texts also contain arguments justifying cosmology and the need for its continued financial support. The texts link these justificatory arguments to the scientific-religious imagery, and this associates the texts' appropriation of religious authority with the justificatory arguments. As a result, the appropriated functions give cosmology additional social benefits, providing a socio-religious context to the arguments. This, in turn, increases cosmology's importance to society. In this way, the religious appeals help legitimate the justification of cosmology.

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