Skip to comments.True or false? Ten myths about Isaac Newton
Posted on 07/12/2014 11:14:54 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Nearly three hundred years since his death, Isaac Newton is as much a myth as a man. The mythical Newton abounds in contradictions; he is a semi-divine genius and a mad alchemist, a somber and solitary thinker and a passionate religious heretic.
Myths usually have an element of truth to them but how many Newtonian varieties are true? Here are ten of the most common, debunked or confirmed by the evidence of his own private papers, kept hidden for centuries and now freely available online.
10. Newton was a heretic who had to keep his religious beliefs secret.
True. While Newton regularly attended chapel, he abstained from taking holy orders at Trinity College. No official excuse survives, but numerous theological treatises he left make perfectly clear why he refused to become an ordained clergyman, as College fellows were normally obliged to do. Newton believed that the doctrine of the Trinity, in which the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost were given equal status, was the result of centuries of corruption of the original Christian message and therefore false. Trinity Colleges most famous fellow was, in fact, an anti-Trinitarian.
9. Newton never laughed.
False, but only just. There are only two specific instances that we know of when the great man laughed. One was when a friend to whom he had lent a volume of Euclids Elements asked what the point of it was, upon which Sir Isaac was very merry. (The point being that if you have to ask what the point of Euclid is, you have already missed it.) So far, so moderately funny. The second time Newton laughed was during a conversation about his theory that comets inevitably crash into the stars around which they orbit.
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When he was head of the mint, Newton invented the use of notched edges on the rim of coins, to keep people from shaving off the gold and silver, making it easily detectable.
Well, Newton was also a Creationist.
3. Newton believed the earth was created in seven days.
True. Newton believed that the Earth was created in seven days, but he assumed that the duration of one revolution of the planet at the beginning of time was much slower than it is today.
That was good too, about the slower rotation.
Here’s three more myth’s:
1. He invented gravity.
2. He baked the first fig bar.
3. He was Olivia’s father before she married John.
Interestingly though, her maternal grandfather was Nobel Prize-winning atomic physicist Max Born.
He baked the first fig bar....He didn’t?
“That was good too, about the slower rotation.”
Actually, the earths rotation is SLOWING ...
That’s actually my own view of Creation. I also believe that evolution, though still not fully understood, was His means of creating life. Both Genesis and the theory of evolution correctly state that man was created out of dirt.
Sheldon: I understand. You dispute Newtons claim that he invented calculus and you want to put Gottfried Leibniz on the top.
Leonard: Yeah, you got me. Im a Leibniz man.
5. Newton found secret numerological codes in the Bible.This shows that Newton believed that he had found numerological codes in the Bible, not that he actually did so; the writer poses the latter question and answers the former.
True. Like his fellow analysts of scripture, Newton believed there were important meanings attached to the numbers found there. In one theological treatise, Newton argues that the Pope is the anti-Christ based in part on the appearance in Scripture of the number of the name of the beast, 666. In another, he expounds on the meaning of the number 7, which figures prominently in the numbers of trumpets, vials and thunders found in Revelation.
So that would go the other way — faster in the past. Hmmm...
The theory of evolution does not postulate that man “was created out of dirt” - it has nothing to say at all about how life came into existence, and does not agree that man came into being “from dirt”, but states that man developed from the lower animals.
The first fig bar was baked by his brother Nabisco, hence the start of the myth about Isaac
I like his Three Laws of Robotics.
IF it’s a myth that he dabbled in alchemy then it’s a pretty enduring myth.
Anyways, I don't think I've seen any conclusive data that shows he was a heretic -- just oft repeated suspicions.
That was the original hypothesis, which has since been expanded. The model now proposes that life originated in a mix of water and dirt, the “primordial soup”, and everything else followed from the simple organisms that emerged. I was mistaken by using the term “created”; “originated” is more accurate.
The true science makes no mention of whether life originated randomly or by design; that notion was cooked up by “scientists” with a political agenda. Randomness v. Design cannot be resolve by scientific means and anybody who claims otherwise, from either side of the debate, is being disingenuous.
Finally, the theory of evolution is a theory, nothing more and nothing less. It is a model of what could (even likely) have happened based on the available facts. It changes as new facts emerge, just like any other theory. It can point to how things probably occurred and its primary value is the ability to apply its principles to some practical purpose, such as the selective breeding of livestock or the genetic modification of crops.
IF its a myth that he dabbled in alchemy then its a pretty enduring myth.
Newton treated alchemy as a science and treated it with the same seriousness he used for mathematics.
At the time, alchemy was a respectable art and pretty much the primitive ancestor of what we call modern day chemistry.
In fact, alchemy slowly evolved into what is now modern day chemistry as we learned the physical science underpinnings of molecular composition and behavior of chemical reactions which allowed us to predict what was and was not possible in the world of alchemy.
In fact, Newton’s invention of calculus did much to advance alchemy into the physical science of chemistry
BTW, with modern knowledge it really is possible to transmute lead into gold, it’s just not very economical.
Thanks, both of you!
Best thread I’ve seen anywhere in ages. Thank you!
Genesis: It took six days.
Big Bang Theory: Day one was a b!tch.
No one has every accused Newton of denying Christ. Newton only did not believe in the theology of the “Trinity” as taught in Trinity College. Trinity College was a divinity school. Newton believed in Christ and believed that Christ was the Savior of the world. He believed that God was Christs Father and a separate being from Christ Himself. He also believed that the Holy Ghost likewise was a separate being.
Newton was an avid student of the Holy Bible and believed mostly in the literal meaning of it.
Not ascribing to the Catholic interpretation of the Holy Trinity in Newton’s day would however classify him as a “heretic”. By the time of Newton however the classification of being a heretic was not the same as it was just a hundred years earlier.
What about the Fig Newton? Did he invent it, yes or no?
True story: Isaac Newton did not like apples again after one fell on his head....
Man is not told how long a Day was during the Creation. I doubt very much that it was one of “our” days. But it could have been millennia or an instant.
We won’t know this until we are Resurrected when “all things will be made known” to us.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
From the article, sounds like that’s how Newton saw it as well.
Big Bang Theory
Penny: Actually, thats not true, Leonard. In fact, recently Ive been thinking that given the parameters of your experiment, the transport of electrons through the aperture the nano-fabricated metal rings is qualitatively no different than the experiment already conducted in the Netherlands.
Their observed phase shift in the diffusing electrons inside the metal ring already conclusively demonstrated the electric analogue of the Aharonov-Bohm quantum-interference effect.
Thats it. Thats all I know. Oh, wait! Fig Newtons were named after a town in Massachusetts, not the scientist.
I say he was not an Alchemist, although he took the Alchemical writings very seriously, believing that the reflected some kind of encoded or remanant knowledge from a previous Age of Wisdom. So his beliefs were not mystcial or magical, and he was searching for a rational interpretation of the alchemical results, which he tried to reproduce.
Certainly, he was on the wrong track.
The word “day” can also mean “period of time”, or era in the Hebrew iirc. Of course there is also a passage in there that talks about it was dark and then light, the first day, which implies one revolution.
I am of the mind that the Creation story is just that - a story. Revealed to man in the terms they could understand at the time. And pretty amazing how close it matches up with our theories of today (”big bang” vs. riding around on a turtle’s back). (The first use of the word “light”, I wonder if it is trying to describe energy and matter - E=MC2).
If it was just made up, I think I would have created man first (because we are “most important”), and then figured out a place to live, things to eat, etc. afterwards.
Reminds me of the list of sins that he compiled, which included the remembrances, “Stealing cherry cobs from Eduard Storer,” and “Denying that I did so.”
Perhaps part of his Fig Bar research.
I think I said that, kinda. Since we don't KNOW, we can only speculate and that is often dangerous.
So I like to think that God's "Time" is not necessarily "OUR Time," and that there are many things we are still "in the dark about."
I just figure when Mankind is mature enough, Information will abound, and all "things hidden" will be shown, and at that time, we will understand it.
Until then, I reserve the right to give God the Benefit of my doubt. He will tell us all when the Time is Right.
That's a massive amount of projection, but Genesis 1 is impressive on many accounts, starting with the word "beginning", recalling that a "steady state" theory of the universe was in vogue through the 1950's.
I also note, as I've stated on this forum before, that it has a naturalistic bent, in that God speaks or commands, but does not tinker - "the earth brought forth grass"
Discernment between Creation and the Big Bang theory recognizes the latter presupposes a continuity of being, whereas Creation identifies a beginning point attributed to the Creator.
I recommend reading The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, by Leon Kass. Kass is a Jewish professor of Old Testament. In his book, he treats Genesis as literature, and tries to understand it on its own terms. In dealing with the "seven days of creation," he doesn't get wrapped around the axle on whether it means seven calendar days of 24 hours each, but asks, what was the writer tryin to get across?
He points out that the Babylonians and all other cultures of the Middle East believed that the stars, planets, sun and moon were gods. The writer of Genesis is saying they aren't gods, they are created entities. The enumeration of created things starts with separating the land (fixed) from water (not fixed). Then come the celestial objects: things that move but are not alive. Then come the plants: things that are alive but don't move. Then come the animals, birds and fish: things that are both alive and move. You can't think of anything that doesn't fit in one of those categories.
The issue, according to Kass, is not time units as such, but seven (counting the day of rest) categories of created things, which are exhaustive and include everything in the universe.
In short, Kass is not treating Genesis literally, but recognizing that it is written in poetic language, and asking, what did the writer intend to convey to his readers?
Is he right? I don't know. However, it makes a lot more sense to me than trying to shoehorn the creation of the universe into seven calendar days, especially given what we know about the Big Bang and the age of the universe.
My year in a Catholic high school provided me with one unexpected perspective: The Religion Class (for that year, at least) combined religion with world history. That particular class had a logic all its own, and I have, since then, based my religious beliefs on logic.
Because of that one nine-month period in my teens, I have explored and discarded several religions as not being logical. The Universe is logical. Earth is logical. Therefore, God must be logical. If so, then it is my “job” to learn from Him, rather than tell Him what I want to believe.
Time, as the Bible states, was introduced for Man; Man did not invent Time. Because of that statement, and because of the logic of the Creation, I say that God, in His Wisdom, can tell us through His prophets that he created the Universe in six “days,” and that on the seventh, He rested. Those six “days” are not Monday through Saturday, as we perceive it. Those six “days” are God’s Days, and we are really silly to try and second-guess Him and pigeonhole His Creation into a format that we are able to explain.
I understand the need for theologians of any ilk to tidily tuck certain events of the Bible into little cubbyholes and try to explain away the things they don’t understand. If you have ever watched a “marathon” of religious programs in the six weeks before Christmas or Easter, you will understand what I’m saying. There are as many theories as there are theorists, but rather than debunk them, I watch, listen and glean. That’s my job, as I see it, on this earth.
Sounds like Newton may have had Aspergers