What is the meaning of the universe? Why does it exist and of what importance is the universe to us humans on planet Earth? For thousands of years the sky was no more than white specks on a black background. Occasionally a ‘shooting star’ added temporary spice to the scene. To many believers, this was Heaven. The Bible refers to the firmament. In Genesis it says
Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven.
Of course the priests who wrote these words some 3000 years ago knew just that much about ‘the Heavens.’ They were not as skilled in astronomy as the magi in the Near East. And that was entirely enough for late Bronze Age societies. The Creation Story in Genesis (stories) satisfied these scientifically ignorant people as well. After all, 50 years ago we never knew of black holes or dark energy or Bosons.
As a result, the question posed at the beginning of this essay is only relevant to people living in the 21st century. We are the very first humans to wonder why this vast universe exists. The first people. The vastness is inconceivable. A few days ago astrophysics presented data about a small section of the universe that appeared especially cold in comparison with other places there. This patch itself was 1.3 billion light-years wide- an unimaginable distance.
Literature from 3000 years ago (or even 100 years ago) will not help solve this question. Philosophers and theologians must start from scratch to ponder this 21st century puzzle. And, of course, the question arises: Where is God in all of this?