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‘Faith in Science on Darwin’s Birthday’

February 1, 2022 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Is there a loss of ‘faith in science’ and what is the role of Faith in science?

About this event

‘Faith in Science on Darwin’s Birthday’ with Professor Tom McLeish

I am a scientist deeply concerned at the loss of ‘faith in science’ as a human, cultural, vital and also trustworthy (in the main) activity.

To some extent, the pandemic has pointed once more to the essential importance and role of science, but the anti-vax movement has at the same time underlined the trouble.

This is especially painful on the day when we remember the insightful leap of Charles Darwin into the ‘Tree of Life.’

How to make good? One way is to shine greater light on the very ancient ideas that have led to what we call science now, but which were called by different names in the past. ’Natural Philosophy’ – the pre-19th century label points to the much earlier tradition of ‘wisdom’. We go right back to the most striking and profound ancient nature-wisdom poem, to be found in the Hebrew Bible book of Job, looking at it in a new light, and also alight on a passage in the later Hebrew Book of Wisdom which imagines the transmutation of species, and ask whether one route to ‘faith in science’ might be a reappraisal of the role of ‘Faith in science’ (with a capital ‘F’).

Tom McLeish, FRS, is Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics at the University of York, the Centre for Medieval Studies and Humanities Research Centre.

His research in ‘soft matter and biological physics,’ draws on interdisciplinary collaborations to study relationships between molecular structure and material properties. He leads the UK ‘Physics of Life’ network and holds a 5-year research fellowship focusing on the physics of protein signalling and the self-assembly of silk fibres.

Other academic interests include the framing of science, theology, society and history, education and philosophy, leading to the recent books Faith and Wisdom in Science (OUP 2014) and The Poetry and Music of Science (OUP 2019). He co-leads the Ordered Universe project, a large interdisciplinary study of13th century science.

From 2008 to 2014 he served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University and was from 2015-2020 Chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee.

Tom is also a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day



February 1, 2022
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm


North Yorkshire Humanists


Priory Street Centre 15 Priory Street York YO1 6ET
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