Throughout history mankind has tried to picture the world and to understand its origin and its features (Cf. ). In cosmology as a very young scientific discipline, ideas of different scientific quality are encountered. In this situation, opinions seem to play a prominenter role than in some other parts of physics. Nevertheless, today, through the ΛCDM-model, physical cosmology provides an image of the universe not in conflict with the wealth of data gained by painstaking observation and intelligent theoretical interpretation. The achieved scientific description of "the world as a whole" is a remarkable asset independent of a particular cultural background. Nevertheless, the question asked in the title can receive only a guarded answer: As described in this paper, in view of the haziness of the universe's extension in time and space, and because of the methodological and epistemic problems of cosmological modeling, knowledge gained about the "world as a whole" cannot be as secure and explicative as knowledge from laboratory or planetary physics. Silk called cosmology a falsifiable myth . Certainly, a tremendous amount of additional empirical data concerning the large scale structure obtained since has been used to strengthen the cosmological model. Yet, with almost all of the universe's matter content unexplained, the situation still is the same: We modestly conclude that mathematical modeling, in particular when dealing with the early and earliest epochs of the universe, cannot produce but the cosmological myths adequate for our time.
For his very helpful and detailed comments, and for suggesting improvements to some incorrect statements in a previous version, I am very grateful to D. J. Schwarz, Bielefeld. I also thank my Göttingen colleagues from astrophysics, F. Hessman, and from geophysics, A. Tilgner, for discussions and for some references.