Thursday, August 10, 2017

Newton the Faithful

From The Wall Street Journal-

The potted history of Isaac Newton’s life is well known. Following a puritanical upbringing, Newton went to Cambridge in 1661, already a mathematical prodigy. As a professor there, he became a champion of the new mechanical sciences and redefined man’s understanding of the physical world with works like “Opticks” and “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.” This is the Isaac Newton of whom Voltaire said: “Metaphysicians and theologians are much like those gladiators who were obliged to fight hoodwinked. But when Newton worked, with the bandage removed from his eyes . . . his sight pierced to the utmost limits of nature.” This version of Newton’s life is a narrative of scientific triumph, of intellectual light shining in the darkness. It is also gapingly incomplete. Rob Iliffe’s “Priest of Nature” fills in the crucial missing piece: the fact that Newton’s “Christian faith was the most important aspect of his life.”

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