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The Table Video

Keith Ward

The Evolution of Science

Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford / Fellow of the British Academy / Priest of the Church of England
July 24, 2013

Keith Ward sat down with the Biola University Center for Christian Thought in San Diego, California in July of 2013. In this clip, Ward comments on the transition from an Aristotelian conception of science to a modern mechanistic view.


I think we’re at a crucial changing point in the sciences now. There was a huge revolution in the 16th century when Aristotle’s authority was overcome. Until that time, certainly in Europe where Aristotle was thought to be the person who understood the universe better than everyone else, but his authority was overthrown and we got the rise of experimental observational, mathematically-based science. I think that’s had a fantastic run.

But it’s now being seen by lots of people to have major limitations, and the rather mechanistic, or what people call the clockwork view of the universe that goes along with some popular presentations of science, doesn’t look as though it fits what life is like now. In quantum physics, in molecular biology, in information theory and technology, there are lots of other complications to a mechanistic view. It looks as though it’s finished in fact. So I don’t think we’re in a position to say how science will go.

I personally view as Roger Penrose, who was professor of mathematics at Oxford, when he said that whatever future science will be like, and that future is pretty nearer, it’s going to have to take consciousness much more seriously than it has done for a while. And I think people who ignore consciousness are actually the reactionaries now. [relaxing music]