Books of interest News Religion Science

Book reviewer wonders: How could Newton have been a scientist and a theist?

Spread the love

An unpromising review of Newton and the Origin of Civilisation by Jed Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold begins,

The life of Isaac Newton falls into two halves, and the main problem for Newton studies is how to fit them together. In the first half he was a sulky Cambridge mathematician who, at the age of 44, astonished the world with a work of natural science that was soon recognised as one of the greatest books ever written. In the second he was a sleek London gentleman wallowing in power, wealth and prestige and devoting his intellectual energy to esoteric studies of the Bible. How could they be the same person?

How about, there isn’t really a problem?

No question, Newton’s theology was odd. But maybe lots of people’s theology would sound odd if their lives received so much scrutiny.

Why have organizations like American Scientific Affiliation (self-described Christians in science) so miserably failed that it is taken for granted that this is even a problem?

Didn’t acceptance of methodological naturalism (atheism) and “consensus science” (lifetime jobs for tenured hacks ) finally have a price? Every form of refuge does.

35 Replies to “Book reviewer wonders: How could Newton have been a scientist and a theist?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    News,

    Did the reviewer manage to simply read the General Scholium in Principia?

    Had he done so, he would have seen just why Newton was a theist, it is no mystery at all:

    _________

    >> . . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another.

    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 pantokrator , or Universal Ruler; for God is a relative word, and has a respect to servants; and Deity is the dominion of God not over his own body, as those imagine who fancy God to be the soul of the world, but over servants. The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect; but a being, however perfect, without dominion, cannot be said to be Lord God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel, the God of Gods, and Lord of Lords; but we do not say, my Eternal, your Eternal, the Eternal of Israel, the Eternal of Gods; we do not say, my Infinite, or my Perfect: these are titles which have no respect to servants. The word God usually signifies Lord; but every lord is not a God. It is the dominion of a spiritual being which constitutes a God: a true, supreme, or imaginary dominion makes a true, supreme, or imaginary God. And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present; and by existing always and every where, he constitutes duration and space. Since every particle of space is always, and every indivisible moment of duration is every where, certainly the Maker and Lord of all things cannot be never and no where. Every soul that has perception is, though in different times and in different organs of sense and motion, still the same indivisible person. There are given successive parts in duration, co-existent puts in space, but neither the one nor the other in the person of a man, or his thinking principle; and much less can they be found in the thinking substance of God. Every man, so far as he is a thing that has perception, is one and the same man during his whole life, in all and each of his organs of sense. God is the same God, always and every where. He is omnipresent not virtually only, but also substantially; for virtue cannot subsist without substance. In him are all things contained and moved [i.e. cites Ac 17, where Paul evidently cites Cleanthes]; yet neither affects the other: God suffers nothing from the motion of bodies; bodies find no resistance from the omnipresence of God. It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where. [i.e accepts the cosmological argument to God.] Whence also he is all similar, all eye, all ear, all brain, all arm, all power to perceive, to understand, and to act; but in a manner not at all human, in a manner not at all corporeal, in a manner utterly unknown to us. As a blind man has no idea of colours, so have we no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things. He is utterly void of all body and bodily figure, and can therefore neither be seen, nor heard, or touched; nor ought he to be worshipped under the representation of any corporeal thing. [Cites Exod 20.] We have ideas of his attributes, but what the real substance of any thing is we know not. In bodies, we see only their figures and colours, we hear only the sounds, we touch only their outward surfaces, we smell only the smells, and taste the savours; but their inward substances are not to be known either by our senses, or by any reflex act of our minds: much less, then, have we any idea of the substance of God. We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [i.e from his designs]: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [i.e necessity does not produce contingency] All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [That is, implicitly rejects chance, Plato’s third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.] But, by way of allegory, God is said to see, to speak, to laugh, to love, to hate, to desire, to give, to receive, to rejoice, to be angry, to fight, to frame, to work, to build; for all our notions of God are taken from. the ways of mankind by a certain similitude, which, though not perfect, has some likeness, however. And thus much concerning God; to discourse of whom from the appearances of things, does certainly belong to Natural Philosophy. [Cf also his Rules of Reasoning.] >>

    __________

    Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy is of course Newton’s great work in which Gravitation and the Laws of motion are presented, c 1688.

    KF

  2. 2
    tjguy says:

    Yes, Newton along with all the other great Christian scientists is a disappointment and anomaly for atheists who want to believe that Christians can’t do science or that their faith interferes with their science.

    The evidence lies strongly in favor of the opposite conclusion!

    Granted, when you start trying to figure out the history of life, yes, Christian beliefs can lead a person to a different interpretation of the evidence, but that is history, not science.

    When doing science, it seems their belief in an Intelligent Designer actually helped these scientists become successful.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    I guess their incredulity can be boiled down to this question. How can a person be a scientist and believe in the bible at the same time? And indeed there are many incredible things described in the bible that are hard to believe, especially if one does not believe that miracles are even possible in the first place. But if one is able to allow for the notion that miracles may be possible, and that the bible may be true, then one finds many incredible confirmations for the bible from science. Perhaps first and foremost is the ex nihilo creation of the universe. I know of no other ancient text that claimed the universe came into being instantaneously, and yet,,,

    The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer of the Cosmic Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discover Cosmic Background Radiation

    “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
    George Smoot – Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    ,,, among all the ‘holy’ books, of all the major religions in the world, only the Holy Bible was correct in its claim for a transcendent origin of the universe. Some later ‘holy’ books, such as the Mormon text “Pearl of Great Price” and the Qur’an, copy the concept of a transcendent origin from the Bible but also include teachings that are inconsistent with that now established fact. (Hugh Ross; Why The Universe Is The Way It Is; Pg. 228; Chpt.9; note 5)
    The Uniqueness Of The Bible Among ‘holy books’ and Evidence of God in Creation (Hugh Ross) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjYSz1OYG8Y

    The Most Important Verse in the Bible – Prager University – video
    http://www.prageruniversity.co.....Bible.html

    The Uniqueness of Genesis 1:1 – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBXdQCkISo0

    Now, despite how strong the evidence now is for the beginning of the universe, many people argue fervently against the transcendent origin of the universe, and look pretty foolish in the process of doing so (Lawrence Krauss comes to mind), but the fact of the matter is that for centuries the bible had uniquely held that the entire universe came instantaneously into being from a transcendent point of origin. And thus, since the Bible can get, by far, the most important fact in science right, i.e. the coming into being of all of physical reality itself, then perhaps there are also many other gems and nuggets of wisdom for science to be mined from the depths of the bible? Consider for instance the scientific genius of Nikola Tesla. Tesla pioneered, if not invented; AC motors, AC power generation and transmission, high voltage generation (Tesla coil), wireless transmission of power and information, radio controlled boats, cold discharge fluorescent lighting, and the ‘death-ray’. And yet Tesla also held the bible to be integral to his process of discovery:

    My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla
    Excerpt: At this time, as at many other times in the past, my thoughts turned towards my Mother’s teaching. The gift of mental power comes from God, Divine Being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power. My Mother had taught me to seek all truth in the Bible; therefore I devoted the next few months to the study of this work.
    One day, as I was roaming the mountains, I sought shelter from an approaching storm. The sky became overhung with heavy clouds, but somehow the rain was delayed until, all of a sudden, there was a lightening flash and a few moments after, a deluge. This observation set me thinking. It was manifest that the two phenomena were closely related, as cause and effect, and a little reflection led me to the conclusion that the electrical energy involved in the precipitation of the water was inconsiderable, the function of the lightening being much like that of a sensitive trigger. Here was a stupendous possibility of achievement. If we could produce electric effects of the required quality, this whole planet and the conditions of existence on it could be transformed. The sun raises the water of the oceans and winds drive it to distant regions where it remains in a state of most delicate balance. If it were in our power to upset it when and wherever desired, this might life sustaining stream could be at will controlled. We could irrigate arid deserts, create lakes and rivers, and provide motive power in unlimited amounts. This would be the most efficient way of harnessing the sun to the uses of man. The consummation depended on our ability to develop electric forces of the order of those in nature.
    It seemed a hopeless undertaking, but I made up my mind to try it and immediately on my return to the United States in the summer of 1892, after a short visit to my friends in Watford, England; work was begun which was to me all the more attractive, because a means of the same kind was necessary for the successful transmission of energy without wires. At this time I made a further careful study of the Bible, and discovered the key in Revelation. The first gratifying result was obtained in the spring of the succeeding year, when I reaching a tension of about 100,000,000 volts—one hundred million volts — with my conical coil, which I figured was the voltage of a flash of lightening.
    http://www.lucidcafe.com/libra.....uto05.html

    picture – Tesla seated in his lab
    http://lucidthoughts.com.au/wo.....seated.jpg

    So Tesla, who arguably, with his inventions, had the greatest impact of any scientist in transforming society for the good, traces his key insight in the ‘successful transmission of energy without wires’ to his study in revelation! ,,, And please note how Tesla had mixed the observation of the natural world, with his inquisitive spirit, with a serious study of the Bible for answers, to come to his breakthrough insight. If such can be had in such a manner by Tesla, who knows what other untapped riches lie hidden from our view in the bible?

    Verse and Music:

    1 Corinthians 2:7
    But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

    Jeremy Camp – The Way (Official Music Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q6o4sbndVE

  4. 4
    Mark Frank says:

    News has yet again got an article completely the wrong way round. Do you just quote the first bit of stuff that catches your eye in an article without reading the rest? Are you the same person who complains about people writing about stuff they haven’t read? If you bothered to read even a bit further down you will see the whole review is about how others have found the two halves of Newton’s lives to be incompatible but the reviewer takes the point of the book that the two were closely integrated.

    “the exuberant new book by Jed Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold raises the stakes by arguing that Newton’s biblical lucubrations are just as scientific as his theory of gravitation, and scientific in much the same way.”

  5. 5
    steveO says:

    There is no science-stopping mental conflict for Christians as history clearly demonstrates. There have been so many truly brilliant Christian thinkers in science that it renders the gnu (sing: I’m a ga-nu, hat-tip: BA77) atheist notion of a mental conflict between science and religion as nothing more than cheap propaganda.

    Many of these brilliant scientists were motivated by their faith to understand the world and would write of their awe as they uncovered wonders of the created world.

    As Galileo (a secular hero borrowed from Christianity) wrote: “I give infinite thanks to God for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries”.

    It’s quite sad to compare the great scientific minds of the past with some of the charlatans and media whores who purport to represent science today.

  6. 6
    News says:

    Agree with Mark Frank that the two halves were closely integrated. So, big question is: Why is it even an issue?

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr Frank, thanks for the correction, but I must ask, do you personally hold ‘that Newton’s biblical lucubrations are just as scientific as his theory of gravitation, and scientific in much the same way’? or are you just trying to be antagonistic towards News again, instead of being genuinely helpful, so as to score cheap rhetorical points for your overall Darwinian position?

  8. 8
    Mark Frank says:

    #6 News

    It is an issue because not everyone thinks that is so (as explained in the article) and because it is interesting to understand the nature and extent of that integration.

    #7 BA77

    Even after reading the review I don’t have a good enough hold on what Newton did to answer your first question with any confidence. One day I might read the book he was reviewing.

    I was probably over antagonistic (it has been an irritating day so far and I rather let my irritation out on the comment – for which I apologise) but I don’t think it is a matter of cheap rhetorical points. Is it not important to you and other readers to know how much attention News has given to the items it reports on? If you know that the News OP is frequently significantly and unambiguously wrong then you might be inclined to read it a bit more sceptically – right? Or at least check the source material.

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I find the overall tone of the review condescending and negative, especially given how it glides over a chief text in which Newton does lay out his underlying philosphy, which makes sense of doing science in a theistic, design oriented context.

    Observe:

    Newton produced a revised edition of Principia in 1713 [–> this hints of old age and decline, a theme that is echoed by how his breakdown in his 40’s was treated also], adding a scholium generale in which he argued that the solar system in all its beauty ‘could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being’ – not a passive and impersonal ‘soul of the world’, but a domineering potentate [–> note the loaded choice of rendering] and ‘Lord over all’ [–> Pantokrator]. He extended his list of ‘Queries’ as the Opticks went into further editions, noting a ‘wonderful Uniformity’ in the bodies of animals and the system of stars, and suggesting that it must be ‘the Effect of Choice’, and testimony to the ‘Wisdom and Skill of a powerful ever-living Agent’. [–> Why is the highly material argument in Query 31 passed over silently] If the heathens who flourished in the millennium before Christ had only stuck with primitive religion instead of chasing after ‘false Gods’ they would never have ceased to ‘worship our true Author and Benefactor, as their Ancestors did under the Government of Noah and his Sons before they corrupted themselves’.

    Contrast this with the actual scholium, and one sees that Newton in his own voice gives abundant and easily understood reason for practising science in the context of seeing the scientist as thinking God’s creative and sustaining thoughts that rule the world, after him.

    In short, the issue and concern raised by News — that there is no good historical or philosphical ground for viewing being a theist, even a biblically based one, and being a scientist as fundamentally incompatible, is on target.

    KF

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr Frank, let’s go straight to the deeper issue shall we? Mr. Frank, as an atheist, you cannot provide an epistemological basis for doing science. i.e. Mr Frank, how do you, on atheistic naturalism, provide a coherent basis for doing science in the first place? Why do you, as an atheist, presuppose the universe to be rational, intelligible, and approachable by the human mind?

    “If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.”
    – William J Murray

    “Atheists may do science, but they cannot justify what they do. When they assume the world is rational, approachable, and understandable, they plagiarize Judeo-Christian presuppositions about the nature of reality and the moral need to seek the truth. As an exercise, try generating a philosophy of science from hydrogen coming out of the big bang. It cannot be done. It’s impossible even in principle, because philosophy and science presuppose concepts that are not composed of particles and forces. They refer to ideas that must be true, universal, necessary and certain.” Creation-Evolution Headlines

    Around the 13:20 minute mark of the following video Pastor Joe Boot comments on the self-defeating nature of the atheistic worldview in regards to providing a coherent basis for doing science in the following video:

    Defending the Christian Faith – Pastor Joe Boot – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqE5_ZOAnKo

    “If you have no God, then you have no design plan for the universe. You have no prexisting structure to the universe.,, As the ancient Greeks held, like Democritus and others, the universe is flux. It’s just matter in motion. Now on that basis all you are confronted with is innumerable brute facts that are unrelated pieces of data. They have no meaningful connection to each other because there is no overall structure. There’s no design plan. It’s like my kids do ‘join the dots’ puzzles. It’s just dots, but when you join the dots there is a structure, and a picture emerges. Well, the atheists is without that (final picture). There is no preestablished pattern (to connect the facts given atheism).”
    Pastor Joe Boot

    Mr. Frank, as a Christian theist I have no problem whatsoever understanding why the universe is rational, intelligible, and approachable by the human mind, since I hold that humans were made in the image of God. Whereas you as an atheist deny you even have a mind! Although Boltzmann’s Brain and Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism provide ample evidence that the naturalistic worldview results in the epistemological failure of science itself, I want to focus in on Pastor Boot’s observation that atheism provides no design plan

    ,,,you have no design plan for the universe. You have no preexisting structure to the universe,,,

    Where this ‘preexisting structure’ plays out in modern science is that atheist are at a complete loss to explain why the universe is a circular sphere instead of some other ‘random’ shape:

    Planck satellite unveils the Universe — now and then (w/ Video showing the mapping of the ‘sphere’ of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation with the satellite) – 2010
    http://phys.org/news197534140.html#nRlv

    Whereas I, as a Christian theist, rightly expect such a circular sphere:

    Proverbs 8:26-27
    While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

    In fact, in a little known piece of knowledge, the number of a circle, i.e. Pi, is actually ‘built into’ Genesis 1:1

    This following website, and video, has the complete working out of the math of Pi and e in the Bible, in the Hebrew and Greek languages respectively, for Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1:
    http://www.biblemaths.com/pag03_pie/

    Mr. Frank why is the structure of the universe found to be a sphere instead of some other ‘random’ shape that you, as an atheist, should rightly presuppose? Some atheistic scientists who have tried to explain the 1 in 10^120 finely-tuned cosmic expansion of the universe, which governs why today we observe a sphere for the universe instead of some other ‘random’ shape, had this to say about that 1 in 10^120 finely tuned expansion:

    Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant – Dyson, Kleban, Susskind (each are self proclaimed atheists) – 2002
    Excerpt: “Arranging the universe as we think it is arranged would have required a miracle.,,,”
    “A external agent [external to time and space] intervened in cosmic history for reasons of its own.,,,”

    ,,,(Yet they, as atheists, were not able to accept that conclusion, so they concluded at the end of their paper),,,

    Page 21 “The only reasonable conclusion is that we don’t live in a universe with a true cosmological constant”.
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/hep-th/0208013.pdf

    But alas for those atheistic scientists, it is now found that we actually do live in a universe with a ‘true cosmological constant’:

    Dark energy alternatives to Einstein are running out of room – January 9, 2013
    Excerpt: Last month, a group of European astronomers, using a massive radio telescope in Germany, made the most accurate measurement of the proton-to-electron mass ratio ever accomplished and found that there has been no change in the ratio to one part in 10 million at a time when the universe was about half its current age, around 7 billion years ago. When Thompson put this new measurement into his calculations, he found that it excluded almost all of the dark energy models using the commonly expected values or parameters.
    If the parameter space or range of values is equated to a football field, then almost the whole field is out of bounds except for a single 2-inch by 2-inch patch at one corner of the field. In fact, most of the allowed values are not even on the field. “In effect, the dark energy theories have been playing on the wrong field,” Thompson said. “The 2-inch square does contain the area that corresponds to no change in the fundamental constants, (a ‘true cosmological constant’), and that is exactly where Einstein stands.”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-d.....-room.html

    Dr. Ross goes over the entire episode with how the atheistic scientists dealt with the 1 in 10^120 finely tuned expansion of the universe in this following video:

    Hugh Ross PhD. – Scientific Evidence For Cosmological Constant (Expansion Of The Universe)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347218/

    Here are the 9 lines of evidence that Dr. Ross mentioned which came out shortly after the preceding paper was listed as a preprint on the Los Alamos’s website. Evidences which made Dyson, Kleban and Susskind pull their paper from consideration,,,

    Accumulating Evidence for Dark Energy and Supernatural Design – 2011
    Excerpt: I (Hugh Ross) often refer to nine different lines of observational evidence that establish dark energy’s reality and dominance in my talks. These nine are:
    1.radial velocities of type Ia supernovae;
    2.WMAP of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR);
    3.ground-based measures of the CMBR;
    4.Sloan Digital Sky Survey of galaxies and galaxy clusters;
    5.Two-Degree Field Survey of galaxies;
    6.gravitational lens measurements of distant galaxies and quasars;
    7.distributions of radio galaxies;
    8.galaxy velocity distributions; and
    9.x-ray emissions from galaxy clusters.

    In the last several years, astronomers have added seven additional lines of observational evidence, bringing the total to sixteen. These seven are:
    10.Lyman-alpha forest measurements;
    11.polarization measures of the cosmic microwave background radiation;
    12.stellar ages;
    13.cosmic inhomogeneities;
    14.gamma-ray bursts;
    15.evolution of galaxy clustering; and
    16.galaxy cluster angular size measurements.
    http://www.reasons.org/article.....y-articles

    Here are the verses in the Bible which Dr. Ross listed in the video, which were written well over 2000 years before the discovery of the finely tuned expansion of the universe by ‘Dark Energy’, that speak of God ‘Stretching out the Heavens’; Job 9:8; Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 48:13; Zechariah 12:1; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 45:12; Isaiah 51:13; Jeremiah 51:15; Jeremiah 10:12. The following verse is my favorite out of the group of verses:

    Job 9:8
    He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.

    Thus once again Mr. Frank I ask you. Why do you, as an atheist, presuppose the universe to be rational, intelligible, and approachable by the human mind? I certainly can find no basis for your belief unless you consider stealing Judeo-Christian presuppositions to be a rational basis for your belief.

    Music:

    Speak Life – tobyMac
    http://myktis.com/songs/speak-life/

  11. 11
    Axel says:

    #4

    ‘If you bothered to read even a bit further down you will see the whole review is about how others have found the two halves of Newton’s lives to be incompatible but the reviewer takes the point of the book that the two were closely integrated.’

    A piffling criticism, Mark, in the context of the wilful nescience of you and your brethren of the Covenant of the Double Helix; which was Philip’s point.

    If you could appreciate the enormity of your collective and indeed oppressive folly, you would understand why one of your opponents, especially such an able champion as Philip, might just go off ‘half-cocked’ on merely reading the title.

  12. 12
    Axel says:

    I know you are all scientists, mathematicians, etc, but I have to tell you that, not only did Isaac Newton and Tesler praise the bible as one of their key sources of such knowledge, but – if my memory serves me – Newton is quoted as expressing contempt for mathematics, in relation to the infinitely more worthy pursuit of his biblical and theological studies.

    Characters like him, tickle me to bits. A niece of mine who had graduated at Balliol, was offered a place there to continue her studies for a doctorate, but chose to go to St Andrews, basically just to play mind-games with the girls who would have given their eye-teeth for the Oxford invitation!

    Then, there was an Aussie lad who had been junior, state tennis champion of Western Australia, but hated the game and gave it up all together, because, he said, he knew he would never get to be world champion!

  13. 13
    Mapou says:

    […] he was a sleek London gentleman wallowing in power, wealth and prestige and devoting his intellectual energy to esoteric studies of the Bible.

    Here’s some crackpot nonsense for ya’ll. In the not too distant future, the world will come face to face with the most jaw-dropping and disruptive scientific breakthroughs in the history of humanity. But it gets better than that. What will be amazing to theists and atheists alike is that those scientific breakthroughs will come straight from the Bible.

    I’ll be watching the whole thing unfold with a bag of Cheetos in one hand, a beer in the other and a grin on my face. But I will never say, “I told you so”. LOL.

    By the way, did anybody know that, based on his study of the old testament scriptures, Newton calculated that the present world order will come to an end around 2030, just 17 years from now? You and I live in interesting times.

  14. 14
    Gregory says:

    “Why have organizations like American Scientific Affiliation (self-described Christians in science [actually, that’s the British partner name, not the North American one]) so miserably failed that it is taken for granted that this is even a problem?”

    Sounds like Denyse O’Leary (News) is just bitter for not having passed an intellentual test. She is not a scholar; she is a ‘JOUR-NA-LIST.’ Follow the evidence where it leads.

    ASA is an association of scientists and scholars, not wannabes and haters (as Denyse has regularly demonstrated herself to be towards academia). One who contradicts the Scientific Council of the Church she claims to belong to isn’t really even a credible doubter.

    So, what’s really new in IDist fanaticism?

  15. 15
    Mapou says:

    I think Gregory is very bitter about something. I sense a certain amount of hate in his prose. Were you, like Dawkins, molested by a Christian as a child, Gregory? An overbearing Christian upbringing, maybe?

  16. 16
    Mapou says:

    Axel:

    I know you are all scientists, mathematicians, etc, but I have to tell you that, not only did Isaac Newton and Tesler praise the bible as one of their key sources of such knowledge, but – if my memory serves me – Newton is quoted as expressing contempt for mathematics, in relation to the infinitely more worthy pursuit of his biblical and theological studies.

    I believe it. Newton wrote that almost all religious myths and symbols from antiquity were not meant to be taken literally, but were occult (hidden) knowledge coded in a private metaphorical language that was understood only by a few initiates. This is what alchemy is all about, hidden knowledge.

  17. 17
    GilDodgen says:

    I was a devout atheist who eventually came to the conclusion that the scientific evidence for the existence of God was so overwhelming that I could no longer conjure up enough blind faith to remain an atheist.

    I believe I am in good company, since Antony Flew came to the same conclusion.

    There were other factors, of course, in my conversion from atheism to Christianity.

    Here’s a PowerPoint for a lecture I give, which I’ve entitled: I No Longer Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.

    http://worldchampionshipchecke.....theism.ppt

  18. 18
    drc466 says:

    As an aside, I’ve always thought Christians had an easier path to understanding the universe than atheists. For example, when Newton proposed that Gravitational force is inversely proportional to the Square of the distance between two masses. For an orderly, designed universe, this makes sense – why wouldn’t it be something nice and even, like the square of the distance? For someone who believes in a random universe though – why the Square? Why not r ^ 2.148273? or r ^ 1.932157? The universe is full of nice, neat relationships like this, at very fundamental levels – moreso than not. I find the ability of the atheist to accept so many coincidences nothing short of astonishing.

  19. 19
    Robert Byers says:

    Does another book here on newton contribute anything valuable?
    A better book would be to investigate if Newton deserves the credit for his big idea .
    I read Mr Halley told newton he suggested the important point to Newton. He got the apple on the head and Newton didn’t deny him but justified his patent because of the math opening up so much info on the subject.
    I also read Voltaire said another guy was flirting with this attractive stuff.
    I find newton to be a unsavoury person. i understand he attacked the longitude concept by a inventor.
    Anyways this is from wiki.
    Newton had stupid ideas on the bible and alchemy.
    Another person doing something but unduly credited with intellectual prowess.

  20. 20
    steveO says:

    Thanks for posting the presentation Gil. I was a card-carrying atheist for about 20 years so a lot of what you say resonates with me.

    My atheism started when I was about 15 when I would enjoy summer days in the botanical gardens with a copy of the Origin of Species.

    There seemed to be no cultural influences back then that could correct my spiral of error into atheism.

    It continued as I qualified and I would regularly look down my degree’d nose at those foolish Christians.

    My journey back was somewhat different but I’ve arrived at the same destination all the same.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    drc466, that (‘neat coincidences’ in physics) would certainly be a topic worthy of its own thread. To help start it along:

    Cosmic coincidence spotted – Philip Ball – 2008
    Excerpt: The secret of the Universe is not 42, (As is held in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), according to a new theory, but the unimaginably larger number 10^122. Scott Funkhouser,, has shown how this number — which is bigger than the number of particles in the Universe — keeps popping up when several of the physical constants and parameters of the Universe are combined1. This ‘coincidence’, he says, is surely significant, hinting at some common principle at work behind the scenes.
    http://www.nature.com/news/200.....8.610.html

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    DrRec: The concept of a gravity flux spreading out evenly in proportion to spheres of increasing radius [area of a sphere surface is 4* pi* r^2], leads directly to an inverse square law, much as with electricity and light. Spatial distortion effects from really strong gravity effects lead to a different result, hence relativity. KF

  23. 23
  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    GilD:

    Excellent presentation you should put it up as a PDF and maybe at a presentation host site. KF

  25. 25
    TSErik says:

    I was a devout atheist who eventually came to the conclusion that the scientific evidence for the existence of God was so overwhelming that I could no longer conjure up enough blind faith to remain an atheist.

    I believe I am in good company, since Antony Flew came to the same conclusion.

    There were other factors, of course, in my conversion from atheism to Christianity.

    Here’s a PowerPoint for a lecture I give, which I’ve entitled: I No Longer Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.

    Thanks for posting that presentation Gil. I very much enjoyed reading it.

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    a few notes to drc466’s observation of the ‘neat coincidence’ of the inverse square law at post 18:

    Inverse Square Law
    http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.g.....s/isq.html

    How the Recent Discoveries Support a Designed Universe – Dr. Walter L. Bradley – paper
    Excerpt: Only in the 20th century have we come to fully understand that the incredibly diverse phenomena that we observe in nature are the outworking of a very small number of physical laws, each of which may be described by a simple mathematical relationship. Indeed, so simple in mathematical form and small in number are these physical laws that they can all be written on one side of one sheet of paper, as seen in Table 1.
    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9403/evidence.html

    The Underlying Mathematical Foundation Of The Universe – Walter Bradley – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4491491

    Quote from preceding video:
    “Occasionally I’ll have a bright engineering student who says, “Well you should see the equations we work with in my engineering class. They’re a big mess.”, The problem is not the fundamental laws of nature, the problem is the boundary conditions. If you choose complicated boundary conditions then the solutions to these equations will in fact, in some cases, be quite complicated in form,,, But again the point is still the same, the universe assumes a remarkably simple and elegant mathematical form.”
    – Dr. Walter Bradley

    Calvin and Hobbes – cartoon – The Mathematical Atheist
    http://s3.hubimg.com/u/270622_f520.jpg

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note, Newton, no doubt in relation to the inverse square law he discovered, foresaw the privileged planet principle:

    “Atheism is so senseless. When I look the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance. Atheism is so senseless and odious that it never had many professor.”
    -Sir Isaac Newton

    —-

    The Privileged Planet – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnWyPIzTOTw

    The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery – book By Guillermo Gonzalez, Jay Wesley Richards
    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    Privileged Planet – Observability Correlation – Gonzalez and Richards – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5424431

    The very conditions that make Earth hospitable to intelligent life also make it well suited to viewing and analyzing the universe as a whole.
    – Jay Richards

    The Privileged Planet – The Correlation Of Habitability and Observability
    “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.”
    “The one place that has observers is the one place that also has perfect solar eclipses.”
    “There is a final, even more bizarre twist. Because of Moon-induced tides, the Moon is gradually receding from Earth at 3.82 centimeters per year. In ten million years will seem noticeably smaller. At the same time, the Sun’s apparent girth has been swelling by six centimeters per year for ages, as is normal in stellar evolution. These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth. This relatively small window of opportunity also happens to coincide with the existence of intelligent life. Put another way, the most habitable place in the Solar System yields the best view of solar eclipses just when observers can best appreciate them.”
    – Guillermo Gonzalez – Astronomer
    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    of related ‘observability correlation’ interest;

    We Live At The Right Time In Cosmic History – Hugh Ross – video
    http://vimeo.com/31940671

  28. 28
    Mark Frank says:

    Atheism is so senseless. When I look the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light.

    Have you a citation for this? Here is what the book “famous quote from 100 great people” (which has no ideological axe to grind) says about this.

    As quoted in What if Jesus Had Never Been Born (1994) by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcomb … also in Lord of All: Developing a Christian World-and-Life View (2005) by the same authors.

    “Atheism is so senseless” is a portion of a statement Newton is known to have made …, but there have been no occurrences of the rest of this statement yet located prior to 1994. Newton is known to have been profoundly religious, but the tone, style and arguments simply do not match any which Newton is likely to have used. The argument that Earth is the “right distance from the sun” and even the idea that its placement have possibly been “by chance” are rather modern in tone, and strongly imply some evolutionary assumptions which Newton would not likely have even considered.

  29. 29
    jerry says:

    Have you a citation for this?

    You should watch the Privileged Planet that BA77 recommends. A large number of coincidences for Earth. Including we are at a very convenient place from the right size sun. The documentary goes through over a dozen amazing coincidences. Including the size of the moon.

    I am not aware that any of them have been disputed. The odds of another such planet are apparently very low.

  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    Well thanks for the correction Mr. Frank, but I found a source to 1975 for the rest of the quote, not 1994 as you had it;

    “Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance.”

    As quoted in Isaac Newton: Inventor, Scientist, and Teacher (1975) by John Hudson Tiner. “Atheism is so senseless” is a statement Newton made indeed in “A short Schem of the true Religion”, but the source of the rest of this statement is not located prior to 1975.
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton#Disputed

    Moreover, Mr. Frank, here is the entire ‘atheism is senseless’ quote, in full context, which I find to be far more damning to the simplistic atheistic mindset which you cling to. Which you seem to cling to as if it were a precious gem instead of the ‘odious’ piece of garbage it really is. Why do you do this insanity when I can find no basis for your atheistic beliefs?

    A short Schem of the true Religion – Newton
    Of Atheism
    Opposite to the first is Atheism in profession & Idolatry in practise. Atheism is so senseless & odious to mankind that it never had many professors. Can it be by accident that all birds beasts & men have their right side & left side alike shaped (except in their bowells) & just two eyes & no more on either side the face & just two ears on either side the head & a nose with two holes & no more between the eyes & one mouth under the nose & either two fore leggs or two wings or two arms on the sholders & two leggs on the hipps one on either side & no more? Whence arises this uniformity in all their outward shapes but from the counsel & contrivance of an Author? Whence is it that the eyes of all sorts of living creatures are transparent to the very bottom & the only transparent members in the body, having on the outside an hard transparent skin, & within transparent juyces with a crystalline Lens in the middle & a pupil before the Lens all of them so truly shaped & fitted for vision, that no Artist can mend them? Did blind chance know that there was light & what was its refraction & fit the eys of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These & such like considerations always have & ever will prevail with man kind to beleive that there is a being who made all things & has all things in his power & who is therfore to be feared.
    http://www.newtonproject.susse...../THEM00007

    Along that line:

    Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour – interactive image
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi.....iatour.jpg

    The Vitruvian Man – Leonardo da Vinci – Drawing
    “Speaking as one who has examined the original Vitruvian Man drawing, I can say that Leonardo was looking for a numerical design scheme that informs the proportions of the human body.
    The drawing began as an illustration from Vitruvius’ book, De Architectura where Vitruvius justifies the use of the square and circle as design elements because those shapes are integral to the human body: a man’s height is equal to his width (with arms outstretched) as a square, and a circle drawn with the navel as center and feet as radius is coincident with the hands’ reach.
    Leonardo also notes the other proportional relationships from Vitruvius such as the head height measures to the whole as well as the arms and hand sections.
    Leonardo then continued measuring (from the evidence of pin point indentations made by walking dividers, especially along the left vertical edge) to find more proportional relationships. He would take a measure of a part of the figure with the dividers and walk that measure along the height to see if the measure would fit an even number of times.
    From this drawing and others where Leonardo was working on the same type of problem it is evident that Leonardo believed there was a something like a unified field theory of design where everything in nature was related by numerical and geometrical design systems.
    He was one of the original ID thinkers.”
    – Dr. Ford
    Of note: The Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci c. 1487. It is the one commonly associated with the science of physiology
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-455233

    Human Anatomy – Impressive Transparent Visualization – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – video
    http://vimeo.com/26011909

    Introduction to Cells – Anatomy – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFuEo2ccTPA

    HOW BIOLOGISTS LOST SIGHT OF THE MEANING OF LIFE
    — AND ARE NOW STARING IT IN THE FACE – Stephen L. Talbott – May 2012
    Excerpt: “If you think air traffic controllers have a tough job guiding planes into major airports or across a crowded continental airspace, consider the challenge facing a human cell trying to position its proteins”. A given cell, he notes, may make more than 10,000 different proteins, and typically contains more than a billion protein molecules at any one time. “Somehow a cell must get all its proteins to their correct destinations — and equally important, keep these molecules out of the wrong places”. And further: “It’s almost as if every mRNA [an intermediate between a gene and a corresponding protein] coming out of the nucleus knows where it’s going” (Travis 2011),,,
    Further, the billion protein molecules in a cell are virtually all capable of interacting with each other to one degree or another; they are subject to getting misfolded or “all balled up with one another”; they are critically modified through the attachment or detachment of molecular subunits, often in rapid order and with immediate implications for changing function; they can wind up inside large-capacity “transport vehicles” headed in any number of directions; they can be sidetracked by diverse processes of degradation and recycling . . . and so on without end. Yet the coherence of the whole is maintained.
    The question is indeed, then, “How does the organism meaningfully dispose of all its molecules, getting them to the right places and into the right interactions?”
    The same sort of question can be asked of cells, for example in the growing embryo, where literal streams of cells are flowing to their appointed places, differentiating themselves into different types as they go, and adjusting themselves to all sorts of unpredictable perturbations — even to the degree of responding appropriately when a lab technician excises a clump of them from one location in a young embryo and puts them in another, where they may proceed to adapt themselves in an entirely different and proper way to the new environment. It is hard to quibble with the immediate impression that form (which is more idea-like than thing-like) is primary, and the material particulars subsidiary.
    Two systems biologists, one from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Germany and one from Harvard Medical School, frame one part of the problem this way:
    “The human body is formed by trillions of individual cells. These cells work together with remarkable precision, first forming an adult organism out of a single fertilized egg, and then keeping the organism alive and functional for decades. To achieve this precision, one would assume that each individual cell reacts in a reliable, reproducible way to a given input, faithfully executing the required task. However, a growing number of studies investigating cellular processes on the level of single cells revealed large heterogeneity even among genetically identical cells of the same cell type. (Loewer and Lahav 2011)” ,,,
    And then we hear that all this meaningful activity is, somehow, meaningless or a product of meaninglessness. This, I believe, is the real issue troubling the majority of the American populace when they are asked about their belief in evolution. They see one thing and then are told, more or less directly, that they are really seeing its denial. Yet no one has ever explained to them how you get meaning from meaninglessness — a difficult enough task once you realize that we cannot articulate any knowledge of the world at all except in the language of meaning.,,,
    http://www.netfuture.org/2012/May1012_184.html#2

    Verse and Music:

    Psalm 139:13
    For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    Live – Heaven (official video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff3NUP-xzqQ

  31. 31
    Barb says:

    Robert Byers writes,

    Does another book here on newton contribute anything valuable?
    A better book would be to investigate if Newton deserves the credit for his big idea .

    Why wouldn’t he get credit for formulating the laws of gravitation?

    I read Mr Halley told newton he suggested the important point to Newton. He got the apple on the head and Newton didn’t deny him but justified his patent because of the math opening up so much info on the subject.

    You don’t patent gravity. Newton described how it worked. And where did you read this, anyway? What’s the name of the book or article? It sounds interesting.

    I also read Voltaire said another guy was flirting with this attractive stuff.

    This is the funniest sentence you’ve ever written.

    I find newton to be a unsavoury person. i understand he attacked the longitude concept by a inventor.

    Unsavory? How?

    Anyone who makes statements such as, “No sciences are better attested to than the Bible.” is not unsavory, at least not in my book. This is from an article on one of Newton’s colleagues: According to the book William Whiston—Honest Newtonian, he strongly upheld “the traditionalist view that the Bible is the one infallible source of ancient history.” The term “Newtonian” here is a reference to Isaac Newton, best known for his Principia, in which he expounded the law of universal gravitation. Newton’s thinking had a profound effect on William Whiston.

    William Whiston was born in 1667, the son of a Church of England clergyman. After being ordained in 1693, he returned to Cambridge University to study mathematics and become an assistant to Newton. A close bond developed between them. When Newton relinquished his position as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics about three years later, he made sure that Whiston was appointed in his stead. Pursuing his career, Whiston lectured on astronomy and mathematics, but Newton’s influence also spurred him to take a deeper interest in Biblical chronology and doctrine.

  32. 32
    Robert Byers says:

    Barb
    Being in the Church of England was being the bad guy back then. The Puritans were the good guys. God gave them the vivtory in the war.
    I’ve seen youtube videos on Newton and other things.
    He seemed nasty and attacked people. he fought over the patent on calculus in a nasty way. He attacked the longitude inventor .
    In his wiki article it talks about his fight with Haley over credit, I call it patent, on his gravity stuff. Invoked math as his claim which I question as a good claim.
    Fine that he backs up the bible but who is he anyways. What does he know about the truth of scripture more then others. It sounds like the HE’S SMARTER and KNOWS thing one bumps into. He just knew his stuff.
    He had stupid ideas on alchemy and prophecy and numbers.
    Someone could write a better book that just regular bookwriters repeating the old things.
    All credit to Newton for what he deserves!
    I just read stuff and am suspicious of his math justification for a theory in science.
    Math is just a language of science and not a trail.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    RB & Barb: Newton is rightly regarded as a genius and arguably the most significant single modern scientist. While he had his flaws and oddities, we must respect his sheer impact. BTW, geniuses do tend to be odd and are often hard to work or live with. They have feet of clay. Which reminds me of another often under-rated genius from C1 who wrote that we have this treasure in jars of clay, so that it may be seen that the glory (that shines out through the cracks!) is not from us but from Above. Let us take a due balance. And let us understand that it is not just that it is possible for one to be a theist and a scientist, modern science as a self-sustaining enterprise grew up in and from Judaeo-Christian soil and roots, nurtured by principles drawn from the scriptures. KF

  34. 34
    Barb says:

    Robert Byers @ 32:

    arb
    Being in the Church of England was being the bad guy back then. The Puritans were the good guys. God gave them the vivtory in the war.
    I’ve seen youtube videos on Newton and other things.
    He seemed nasty and attacked people. he fought over the patent on calculus in a nasty way. He attacked the longitude inventor .

    YouTube is not the be all, end all of knowledge. Try reading a biography of Newton sometime.

    In his wiki article it talks about his fight with Haley over credit, I call it patent, on his gravity stuff. Invoked math as his claim which I question as a good claim.

    Math is the language in which the universe is written, some wise person once said. And Wikipedia certainly isn’t the be all, end all of knowledge either.

    Fine that he backs up the bible but who is he anyways. What does he know about the truth of scripture more then others. It sounds like the HE’S SMARTER and KNOWS thing one bumps into. He just knew his stuff.

    Yes, Newton did know his Bible and his science. Attacking him without just cause is silliness on your part.

    He had stupid ideas on alchemy and prophecy and numbers.

    Yes, he did. But he also formulated laws describing gravity that have been proven scientifically. Your point?

    Someone could write a better book that just regular bookwriters repeating the old things.

    Um, no. The point of this is that Newton understood things the way other people didn’t. That’s why he wrote the Principia, why he was the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, and why he is considered one of the greatest scientists who ever lived.

    I just read stuff and am suspicious of his math justification for a theory in science.

    Maybe the stuff you’re reading (Wikipedia?) isn’t giving you all the facts you need to make a well thought out decision.

    Math is just a language of science and not a trail.

    I highly suggest getting ahold of the book “God Created the Integers” for a primer on how important mathematics is in science and in the real world.

  35. 35
    Robert Byers says:

    Kairosfocus
    I was musing aloud about Newton’s claims to the patent on his gravity stuff. Did he or Haley see the apple fall.?? newton said his math gives him the credit. Maybe so but I don’t math gets credit for inventions and discoveries about man and nature. its just a language reducing nature to numbers. Its like a shadow of reality but not the substance of reality. He filled out at least but Mr Haley did approach him about credit from what I read.

    I don’t agree he was a genius as there is no such person. There is just people with ideas about something or a few things. Not a degree of superiority beyond their attentiveness.
    I don’t agree it was a Judaeo-Christian society at root for the rise in science.
    It was instead a Protestant, even Puritan, motivation that raised the intellectual and industrious common people in enough percentages to raise the general nation’s IQ. Everyone else just is a copycat after the fact.
    I don;t see Catholic civilization as having any credit to the modern world anymore then Asian or African. To their credit they copy but without the protestant reformation we would all still be in the dark ages completly.
    I don’t like the word Judaeo either as it suggests Jews were a part of the rise of the Western(Protestant) world. They contributed less, nothing, then Catholic society . Only later copycats.
    Newton did represent a rising English civilization and was just part of a curve in rising intelligence back then. Identity is more important then individuals in final results although it really is just souls with motivation and whats in reach.
    Who gets the credit does matter and I’m suspicious about the historic claim Newton gets the credit. Fine if so but HMMMMM.

Leave a Reply