Isaac Newton is generally seen as a key founder of modern science, via his major work Principia Mathematica and theory of gravity – which led on to the theory of the ‘clockwork universe’ and much of the modern materialist/atheistic world view.
Newton was indeed a great polymath. What is less known is that his work was inspired by his studies of religion and mysticism, which were at least as important to him as the natural sciences. The idea of a clockwork universe would have been anathema to Newton, as would the idea of atheism.
This is all explained in Edi Bilimoria’s well-researched article ‘Newton’ in the current issue of Paradigm Explorer, magazine of the Scientific and Medical Network.
Interestingly, Newton’s gravity and its attraction were ‘a purely mathematical concept involving no consideration of real and primary physical or mechanical causes’ – which is why his book is about ‘mathematics’ and not ‘mechanics’.
As Edi explains, Newton’s religious ideas were well developed and have little in common with the Christianity of the time, being more related to the view that God is everywhere immanent and transcendent. Quoting Newton himself:
[God] endures forever , and is everywhere present; and by existing always and everywhere, he constitutes duration and space. In him are all things contained and moved…
Of course, many modern scientists have come to a similar viewpoint on the importance of religion. For example, that more modern polymath Albert Einstein:
“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
Edi’s article is well worth reading.
2 thoughts on “Isaac Newton, Mystic”
Well written post. I like that you get to the point.
I’ve read elsewhere that Newton was a unitarian Christian (i.e. he did not believe in the trinity), though I haven’t verified this.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thanks for the comment. According to Bilimoria’s article, Newton did not believe in the trinity and other aspects of Roman Catholic dogma.