an introduction to cosmology: reading and listening recommendations

by Liz Sankey

Ever since I was a little girl, I found myself lost in books and worlds far away from my own. Imagining faeries, sprites, and all kinds of little magic creatures, or watching humans on spacecrafts fly from planet to planet, exploring millions of different ecosystems. Space and the universes beyond were fascinating to me in the same way: the possibilities, like the worlds of my favorite books, were limitless and magical. This yearning for magic has always been a part of who I am. A few years ago, I dove into the theory of everything that has taught me about the magic that is our universe: cosmology. Cosmology, put simply, is the study of the origin and development of the universe, and therefore our origin and development as human and ethereal beings. Many people may think of cosmology as the modern astronomical theory, the Big Bang theory, and the resulting implications of it. But cosmology is much more expansive than just that. It attempts to explain the physics, biology, and spirituality of the expansion of the universe, and how we as humans are a part of that. But I’ll let the experts do the talking.

I’ve put together a collection of readings and audiobooks that introduced me to cosmology (in the order that I read or listened to them) and the ways in which each reading weaves into the next.

Canticle to the Cosmos by Brian Swimme
Canticle to the Cosmos is a lecture series in which astrophysicist and author Brian Swimme journeys into the theory of the cosmos: how the universe was born, and how it continues to unravel. The stories of galaxies and exploding stars lead into the birth of human consciousness, and Swimme explains it all by weaving in quantum physics and biological sciences. These are the makings of cosmology. Although it may sound incredibly complex (and admittedly at some moments it can be with physics and quantum theory), it is not difficult to learn and enjoy the series of lectures with no prior knowledge.

Canticle to the Cosmos by Brian Swimme

One of my favorite parts of listening to Swimme is his almost childlike joy and excitement while he discusses and analyzes the cosmological journey. This audio series is a perfect introduction to cosmology.

Be Here Now by Ram Dass

Be Here Now by Ram Dass
Be Here Now is a spiritual companion to the scientific exploration of human nature in relationship to the universe. It is a great way to continue your study of cosmology after listening to the denser Canticle to the Cosmos. The book is separated into parts. First, Baba Ram Dass details his transformation from philosophy professor to cosmological thinker: his life journey, his pain and realizations, and the road he takes in his spiritual transformation. The second section of this book is a beautifully illustrated journey of the musings of becoming a conscious being.

These sentiments echo the depth of human consciousness that is explored by Brian Swimme, and add the magic of love that is such an important part of it all.

Restoring the Soul of the World by David Fideler
This fascinating book is an exploration of humans within the living pattern of nature. It is a wonderful amalgamation of important scientific discoveries, the idea of a living cosmos throughout cultural history, and evidence of our creative relationship with nature’s intelligence. Nature’s intelligence is a concept fabulously illustrated in this book, the idea that the design of nature, every leaf, seashell, reed, and birds’ wing, is mathematical and intelligently formed.

Restoring the Soul of the World by David Fideler

Each fold in our skin, similarly, is a mark of nature’s intelligent design. The golden ratio is another example. The book is mind-bendingly beautiful, and a fantastic continuation of some of the ideas presented in Brian Swimme’s Canticle to the Cosmos. It also provides a beautiful frame with which to revisit Be Here Now since Ram Dass’s spiritual exploration of human nature fits neatly into Fideler’s study of an interconnected cosmos. This book encompasses nature’s intelligence as a branch of cosmology through connections between science, religion, culture, and nature.

These readings opened my eyes to the beauty and truly magical nature of my world, our world, and all of us human beings who are able to look out upon the Earth and the cosmos. Being connected to the creation, expansion, and existence of our universe and our planet can improve all of our lives and make us more well-rounded, appreciative, and meditative beings. By growing to learn and appreciate everything that surrounds us and makes us, we learn to appreciate and love ourselves! Dive into these readings for your own personal growth and joy, for inspiration, or for education. Enjoy the journey.

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