Isaac Newton: Scientist, Theologian & End-Times Prophet

By Sundell, Carl | New Oxford Review, March 2015 | Go to article overview

Isaac Newton: Scientist, Theologian & End-Times Prophet


Sundell, Carl, New Oxford Review


The mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was bom the year Galileo died. Though in many quarters Newton is considered the greatest scientist who ever lived - a 2005 Royal Society survey ranked him above Einstein - Newton had a dark side. A loner and lifelong bachelor, he was often not polite in conversation, and he resented the talents of his scientific rivals. A measure of anxiety and melancholia dogged him. He threw himself completely into his work, to the extent of giving lectures even when no one was present. Psychologists have speculated that he showed symptoms of Asperger's syndrome. Yet his total absorption in any topic that interested him resulted in the most profound insights. And we know that Newton was not without a sense of humor, as is evident from his famous quip: "Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."

Born to Anglican parents, Newton repudiated the doctrine of the Trinity. He claimed to find no reference to the Trinity anywhere in Scripture (despite Mt. 28:16-20), or any reference to the divinity of Jesus (despite Jn. 1:1-5). Some have suggested that, were he alive today, he might be a Unitarian. On the other hand, had he lived in our atomic age, the Trinitarian God might have seemed more credible to him. Newton might have noted that the universe itself is fundamentally trinitarian, a kind of atomic mirror reflecting its Creator, in that atoms are composed of electrons, protons, and neutrons.

Unlike today's advocates of scientism (the belief that there is no reliable knowledge outside of science), Newton believed that science can help us read the mind of God. Indeed, he regarded Scripture as a scientific text in its own right: "No sciences are better attested than the religion of the Bible," he wrote. Scientific principles could support the case for God that would be consistent with the cosmological (first cause) and teleological (intelligent design) proofs held by Plato, Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas.

Newton rejected atheism as "senseless and odious." Though he lived centuries before the Big Bang theory, which has challenged the old atheist assumption that the universe is eternal, Newton was able to bring the limited perspective of eighteenthcentury science to bear on the question of a First Cause, or Creator God. A brief formulation of the cosmological argument is that since everything in the universe has a first cause, it is reasonable to infer that the universe itself must have a First Cause, otherwise called God.

Newton's most direct statement of God as First Cause and Creator is found in his three-volume work Philosophies Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687). "This most beautiful system [the solar system] could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being...," he wrote. "This Being governs all things not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called 'Lord God'.. .or 'Universal Ruler.'" Newton skirts the specific logic of Aquinas's cosmological argument, but he arrives at the same conclusion: that an "intelligent and powerful Being" had to start the chain of causality that pervades the universe. Newton discovered the mechanism for causality in the law of gravity. The universal law of gravity, Newton said, could not otherwise be explained but by assuming a Lawgiver. Otherwise, he argued, there would be no reason why chaos should not rule.

Newton had even greater enthusiasm for the teleological (design) argument - the view that since order exists in the universe, there must be One who designed that order. Newton lived more than a century before Darwin and therefore was not inclined to adopt any idea of random adaptation of the universe to different stages of its development or evolution. On the contrary, God uses His power not to create randomly, but with a purpose. According to Newton, "God in the beginning formed matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles, of such sizes and figures, and with such other properties, and in such proportion to space, as most conduced to the end for which he formed them. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Isaac Newton: Scientist, Theologian & End-Times Prophet
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.