Intelligent Design Physics Religion Science

Isaac Newton’s whole career, we are told, was a pursuit of the divine

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Remember this when someone tells you that science and religion don’t mix:

Portrait of Sir Isaac Newton, 1689.jpg
Isaac Newton (1642 – 1726/27)

Isaac Newton formulated the laws of mechanics and the law of universal gravity, the laws we use to describe so many of the phenomena we experience, from apples falling and rockets taking off to Mars to the colors of the rainbow. As a bonus, he also invented the reflector telescope that we use to extend our vision into the Universe. And, of course, Newton co-invented calculus, without which there would be no physics or engineering…

To focus on Newton’s science in order to understand Newton simply won’t do. His appetite for learning far transcended what we would nowadays call science. He devoted a larger amount of time to studies in alchemy and theology, dealing with arcane questions which ranged from the transmutation of elements to biblical chronology and the nature of the Christian Trinity.

Although we correctly learn in schools that Newtonian physics is a model of pure rationality, we would dishonor Newton’s memory if we overlooked the crucial role God plays in his Universe. It may be true that to understand Newton’s scientific achievements we can neglect the more metaphysical side of his personality. But that is only half the story — for Newton saw the Universe as a manifestation of the infinite power of God. It is no exaggeration to say that his life was one long search for God, one long search for communion with the Divine Intelligence, which Newton believed endowed the Universe with the beauty and order manifest in nature. His science was a product of this belief, an expression of his rational mysticism, a bridge between the human and the Divine.

Marcelo Gleiser, “Isaac Newton’s life was one long search for God” at Big Think (February 2, 2022)

4 Replies to “Isaac Newton’s whole career, we are told, was a pursuit of the divine

  1. 1
    PaV says:

    Without Christianity, science as we know it wouldn’t exist. Science derived its power and efficacy from the pages of Scripture. But how many sons are there who hold their fathers in contempt because of their wealth?

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    All the big-name scientists were fervently seeking to understand the will of God, in both the Islamic and Christian worlds, until 1789. DOCTOR Locke and DOCTOR Marat broke the spell and gave us science serving the Holy Emperor-Doctor-Torturer instead of science seeking and serving God.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    As to the headline of the article, “Isaac Newton’s life was one long search for God”

    That is similar to what one of Stephen Meyer’s supervisors told him at Cambridge, (Newton’s alma mater), “If you have missed Newton’s Theism you have missed everything”

    “If you have missed Newton’s Theism you have missed everything”
    Stephen Meyer – – Wrong Again: Neil deGrasse Tyson Misrepresents Legacy of Sir Isaac Newton
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgohHoK9mQo

    Here are a few more notes along that line, “for Newton discussions about God and design are not to be kept separate from natural philosophy (science), but rather are integral to it.”

    Isaac Newton: His Science and Religion – Stephen D. Snobelen
    Excerpt: At this point Newton launches into a majestic description of the God he found in Nature and Scripture. This Being, Newton begins, “rules all things, not as the world soul but as the lord of all. And because of his dominion he is called Lord God Pantokrator”. Then follows an account of God’s eternity and omnipresence that is shot through with biblical language. Newton’s God is sovereign over time and space. This twofold sovereignty, Newton suggests, ultimately underpins all things in time and space: “All the diversity of created things, each in its place and time, could only have arisen from the ideas and will of a necessarily existing being”. … At the end of the explicitly theological section of the General Scholium Newton writes: “This concludes the discussion of God, and to treat of God from phenomena is certainly a part of experimental philosophy” (changed to “natural philosophy” in the 1726 third edition of the Principia). Thus for Newton discussions about God and design are not to be kept separate from natural philosophy (science), but rather are integral to it.
    – Snobelen
    https://isaacnewtonstheology.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/newton-in-science-religion-and-society.pdf

    And, “Newton held that, since the world is a product of divine freedom rather than necessity, the laws of nature must be inferred from the phenomena of nature, not deduced from metaphysical axioms — as both Descartes and Leibniz were wont to do.”

    “Newton’s Rejection of the “Newtonian World View”: The Role of Divine Will in Newton’s Natural Philosophy – (Davis, 1991)
    Abstract: The significance of Isaac Newton for the history of Christianity and science is undeniable: his professional work culminated the Scientific Revolution that saw the birth of modern science, while his private writings evidence a lifelong interest in the relationship between God and the world. Yet the typical picture of Newton as a paragon of Enlightenment deism, endorsing the idea of a remote divine clockmaker and the separation of science from religion, is badly mistaken. In fact Newton rejected both the clockwork metaphor itself and the cold mechanical universe upon which it is based. His conception of the world reflects rather a deep commitment to the constant activity of the divine will, unencumbered by the “rational” restrictions that Descartes and Leibniz placed on God, the very sorts of restrictions that later appealed to the deists of the 18th century.
    Newton’s voluntarist conception of God had three major consequences for his natural philosophy. First, it led him to reject Descartes’ version of the mechanical philosophy, in which matter was logically equated with extension, in favor of the belief that the properties of matter were freely determined by an omnipresent God, who remained free to move the particles of matter according to God’s will. Second, Newton’s voluntarism moved him to affirm an intimate relationship between the creator and the creation; his God was acted on the world at all times and in ways that Leibniz and other mechanical philosophers could not conceive of, such as causing parts of matter to attract one another at a distance. Finally, Newton held that, since the world is a product of divine freedom rather than necessity, the laws of nature must be inferred from the phenomena of nature, not deduced from metaphysical axioms — as both Descartes and Leibniz were wont to do.
    It is indeed ironic that such a theologically interesting story should remain largely unknown among theologians, not to mention other scholars. Even the late Richard S. Westfall, the leading Newton scholar of our time and a keen student of Newton’s theological views, mostly failed to see the relevance of Newton’s theological views for the content of his natural philosophy (science). Much scholarship on Newton hitherto has been dominated by the “conflict” school of historiography, growing out of the Enlightenment, according to which religion and science are bitter opponents that cannot possibly influence one another in positive ways; relations of the sort detailed here have gone unnoticed, for they have been inconceivable. In this essay, however, we see the degree to which Newton himself was not an Enlightenment person — not a “Newtonian,” as that term is typically understood.
    http://home.messiah.edu/~tdavis/newton.htm

    And, “The belief that it was by divine will and not by some shadow of necessity that matter existed and possessed its properties, had a direct impact on Newton’s science. It was necessary to discover laws and properties by experimental means, and not by rational deduction. As Newton wrote in another unpublished manuscript, “The world might have been otherwise,,”

    Newton — Rationalizing Christianity, or Not? – Rosalind W. Picard – 1998
    Excerpt: The belief that it was by divine will and not by some shadow of necessity that matter existed and possessed its properties, had a direct impact on Newton’s science. It was necessary to discover laws and properties by experimental means, and not by rational deduction. As Newton wrote in another unpublished manuscript, “The world might have been otherwise,,” (see Davis, 1991)
    https://web.media.mit.edu/~picard/personal/Newton.php

    Seeing that the ‘divine will’ of God, (sustaining the universe in its continual existence), played such an integral part in Newton’s ‘science’, (and although modern science has certainly come a long way since Newton first started the Scientific Revolution), let’s just simply say that Newton would be very pleased to see the recent closing of the “freedom of choice” loophole within quantum mechanics,

    Closing the ‘free will’ loophole: Using distant quasars to test Bell’s theorem – February 20, 2014
    Excerpt: Though two major loopholes have since been closed, a third remains; physicists refer to it as “setting independence,” or more provocatively, “free will.” This loophole proposes that a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure — a scenario that, however far-fetched, implies that a physicist running the experiment does not have complete free will in choosing each detector’s setting. Such a scenario would result in biased measurements, suggesting that two particles are correlated more than they actually are, and giving more weight to quantum mechanics than classical physics.
    “It sounds creepy, but people realized that’s a logical possibility that hasn’t been closed yet,” says MIT’s David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and senior lecturer in the Department of Physics. “Before we make the leap to say the equations of quantum theory tell us the world is inescapably crazy and bizarre, have we closed every conceivable logical loophole, even if they may not seem plausible in the world we know today?”
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220112515.htm

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: This experiment pushes back to at least approx. 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.
    https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.080403

    Moreover, when we rightly allow the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, (as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders,,,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands with the closing of the “freedom-of-choice” loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), then rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead bridges the infinite mathematical divide that exists between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and provides us with an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”

    Jesus Christ as the correct “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vpn2Vu8–eE

    December 2021 – When scrutinizing some of the many fascinating details of the Shroud of Turin, we find that both General Relativity, i.e. gravity, and Quantum Mechanics were both dealt with in Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/in-time-for-american-thanksgiving-stephen-meyer-on-the-frailty-of-scientific-atheism/#comment-741600

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  4. 4
    asauber says:

    St. Bernard on Learning: “It is God really who does the teaching”

    Andrew

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