Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Newton not an Atheist!

Recently it seems there has been a flare up in the religion vs. Science discussion. In a recent article on CNN some of Newton's papers are being displayed in an exhibit in Jeruselam. Apparently some are finding it shocking that Newton was, well, a nut! He believed in all sorts of mystical things and looked for clues to the end of the world (~2060 according to Newton) in the book of Daniel. Here's an excerpt from the article:

Yemima Ben-Menahem, one of the exhibit's curators, said the papers show Newton's conviction that important knowledge was hiding in ancient texts.

"He believed there was wisdom in the world that got lost. He thought it was coded, and that by studying things like the dimensions of the temple, he could decode it," she said.

The Newton papers, Ben-Menahem said, also complicate the idea that science is diametrically opposed to religion. "These documents show a scientist guided by religious fervor, by a desire to see God's actions in the world," she said.

Let's look at what Newton did NOT do. . .

He did not stop doing excellent physics just because he had a mystical side. He did not, I don't think, deny any piece of data even if it would have been at odds with a belief. In other words he kept the two separate and probably understood that those two worlds HAD to be separate since there was no real common ground.

Galileo was also a believer. He believed that science was a fine way to study and appreciate "God's good work".

The only problem I have with today's theists is when it is their way or the highway in ALL manner of human endeavour. No studying evolution because it is at odds with you belief system. In fact just let me invent some science to replace it and then I'll study that! (Creationism). No big bang either.

There is only a battle between science and religion when the zealot tries to infuse a belief system into the rational world of science. As an atheist/scientist I have nothing to prove. I don't claim that invisible people exist. I have no business mucking about in the workings of the church. I could care less. So, let's not have the faithful mucking about in science!

By the way. . . don't you think Newton looks a little like Roger Daltry of the Who who is also ENGLISH! Coincidence???????