Thursday, July 10, 2008

Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Isaac Newton (1642-1727 A.D.)


By Richard E. Noble

Isaac had a rough start. His father died before he was born, and his mother dumped him on the relatives and ran off and married some Minister or something. This may explain why Isaac never married and supposedly died a virgin. How anyone could possible know that Isaac died a virgin is beyond me, but I have read this now in several Isaac Newton biographies, so take it for what it is worth.
Isaac was a very religious child, and a defender and seeker of religious inspiration throughout his life. In fact, it is my personal opinion that Isaac, like Thomas Aquinas and many other true believers before him, actually devoted his life to proving or trying to prove the existence of God. In fact, I think that Isaac's 'Principia' and its consequent description of the forces of gravity is Isaac's attempt at establishing God's existence. To Isaac, God had cast the stars and planets into space by hand (space being another attribute of God himself) and then manipulated their course through this Godly space by emanating an unexplainable, mystical controlling power that Isaac named - gravity.
He went on to prove that there was such a controlling, manipulative mystical power by deriving the orbits of planets and stars, and comets, the moon and even the tides on earth mathematically, according to this unexplainable, unseen force called gravity. To Isaac, Gravity was the invisible guiding hand of God constantly at work keeping everything, rotating, making elliptical or predictable orbits, and floating around in space. When asked to further explain this force, Isaac declined, saying that the knowledge of such a Power was sufficient, and the fact that he could demonstrate, mathematically, the physical effects of such a force was proof enough that such a force existed. Isaac had proved, at least to himself, through the 'fact' of Gravity that there was a God.
Strangely enough, if it weren't for Halley (the Halley of later comet fame) there would probably have never been any Principia. Halley not only encouraged but paid for the publication of Newton's monumental work.
It is said by many that Isaac Newton may be the brightest man who has ever lived. Yet as an adult, he nearly poked his damn eye out with a stick while doing an experiment on himself deflecting light rays through his cornea. He nearly blinded himself staring at the sun all day, another experiment with light, seeking a pattern in the spots appearing before his eyes. And then finally he ended up having a nervous breakdown - some suspect caused by his habit of identifying chemicals used in his 'Alchemy' experiments by tasting them.
A religious enthusiast to the last, he spent his old age, analyzing the Bible, and writing "A Short Scheme of the True Religion" a failing attempt which he wrote and re-wrote to prove the essence and truth of Religion. But with all his Biblical endeavors he did not believe in the Trinity, nor in the divinity of Jesus, nor in the authority of the Church. He held the Lucasion Chair at Trinity College, Cambridge, was elected to Parliament, and appointed Warden of the Mint of England.
I don't know, but between nearly poking his eye out with a stick, Alchemy and never having sex, he certainly couldn't have been all that bright. So he liked math, is that any reason to make the guy a Knight, I ask you?