First of all, the idea of the cosmos as a machine has given
way to the image of the cosmos as an organism. The Big Bang theory, which
has bee orthodox since around 1966, tells us that the Universe began small and
has been growing ever since. As it grows, a succession of new structures and
forms appears within it. This is nothing like any machine we know of.
The idea that Nature is inanimate has been replaced by the
idea that Nature is organized by fields. Fields, like souls, are invisible
In area after area of science, the old idea of the soul as
an invisible organizing principle has been replaced by the concept of field.
Souls motivated organisms by attraction....This kind of
motivation by attraction was dismissed from science in the seventeenth century.
It has recently been smuggled back in through the concept of attractors. These are central to the modern science of dynamics....
The idea that Earth is dead is giving way to the Gaia
hypothesis. Gaia is the Greek name for Mother Earth.
The doctrine that everything is determinate, in principle
totally predictable, suffered a blow with the development of quantum theory
in the 1920's,...More recently, the recognition of chaos and chaotic dynamics
has made the old idea of determinism untenable not just in the quantum realm,
but in the weather, in breaking waves, in the activity of the brain, and indeed
in most natural systems.
The idea of the whole of Nature as totally knowable has also
suffered a terrible blow with the discovery of dark matter: It now turns out
that ninety to ninety-nine percent of matter in the Universe is utterly
unknown to us.
The idea of the disembodied knowledge of the scientist is
giving way to a sense of science as participatory. The observer is involved in
what he or she observes.
The idea of Nature as uncreative has been superseded by the
idea of creative evolution....In an evolutionary world, creativity is an ongoing
feature of the developing cosmos.
And finally eternal laws. These made sense in an eternal
I prefer the idea of Nature as governed by habits....The habits
are maintained by a process I call
the influence of like on like. For example, if rats learn a new trick in London,
then rats everywhere should be able to learn the same thing quicker....
This hypothesis is of course controversial and is still being
tested. Most of the results so far point toward these effects being real. Nature
may well have an inherent memory rather than being governed by eternal laws.
Excepts from pages 21-25 of