Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

Newton’s book: A scientific masterpiece

The year 1987 marked the 300th anniversary of the publication of one of the world’s masterpieces in scientific literature.

wikipedia.org isaac-newton
Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727)

It was in 1687 that Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician, physicist and astronomer, published his monumental work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (mathematical principles of natural philosophy). In this work, Newton presented his famous three laws of motion: force-free motion is uniform; accelerated motion is proportional to the impressed force; and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. From these, together with the law of universal gravitation, the whole science of matter in motion is derived.1

Sir Isaac Newton is regarded by many scholars and historians as the greatest scientist who ever lived. Yet he also firmly believed that the Bible was God’s Word. He wrote much on biblical subjects, and even wrote a book defending Archbishop Ussher’s chronology of the world (Ussher set the date of Creation as 4004 BC). Newton believed in a literal six-day creation, and that the worldwide flood of Noah’s time accounted for most geological phenomena. He also firmly believed in Christ as his Saviour.

In thinking on the publication of Newton’s Principia, it would be well to reflect on this great scientist’s view of Scripture:

“I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever.”

References and notes

  1. The well-known story that Newton hit upon the idea of universal gravitation after observing an apple fall to the ground in his garden is not known for certain to be true. The anti-religious French philosopher and skeptic Voltaire first circulated the story after reputedly hearing it from Newton’s grandniece. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

15 Reasons to Take Genesis as History
by Dr Don Batten, Dr Jonathan D Sarfati
US $3.50

Readers’ comments

Errol B.
An important lesson can be learned from Newton as pointed out by Prof Danny Faulkner at 2011 Creation Super Camp, Canada. When applying his laws to the universe (pre-Einstein), he realised the stars should collapse into a common centre of gravity over an eternity of time, therefore one of 2 things must be true. Either the Universe must have had a beginning (Genesis 1:1) or the ‘eternal’ universe must be infinite in size reasoning there must be as much matter in all directions regardless of where you are in the universe, therefore there is no favoured common centre of gravity in which to collapse. Newton seemed to be hoodwinked into the [Pagan] eternal universe belief which had secular consensus for over 2 thousand years & he didn’t apply Genesis 1:1, but instead favoured the secular eternal universe belief.
Much like the Galileo affair with the geocentric model, so annoying when sceptics try to berate Christians for trusting what the bible plainly teaches as anti-scientific. As pointed out by CMI many times, an objective study shows it’s the reverse; that is, we would do better to trust the bible, i.e. Newton should have believed the very 1st verse in the entire bible. Greatest scientist ever? Absolutely but how ironic.
Warren Nunn
Actually, it's widely understood that Newton did not hold to an eternal universe. For the record, the following comes from William Lane Craig who is not a friend of biblical creationists:
Did time have a beginning? Isaac Newton, whose disquisitions on time and space in his Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica became determinative for the classical concepts of space and time which reigned up until the Einsteinian revolution, held that it did not. Although Newton held to the traditional Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, he did not think that the beginning of the universe implied the beginning of space and time. Notoriously Newton held that prior to the beginning of the universe, there existed an infinite duration devoid of all physical events, a beginningless time in which at some point a finite time ago the universe came into being. For Newton our familiar clock time is but a "sensible measure" of this absolute time, which, he says, "of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external, and by another name is called duration."

Terry D P.
It is interesting to note that Isaac Newton was born in the same year that Galileo Galilei died (extracts from Wikipedia):
«/Galileo Galilei, (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642), was an Italian astronomer, physicist, mathematician, engineer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific revolution during the Renaissance./»
«/Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/7) was an English physicist and mathematician (described in his own day as a "natural philosopher") who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution./»
Both men were Christians. Yet we have many atheists trying to tell us we Bible believing Christians do not adhere to the scientific method and that we believe the sun revolves around a “flat earth”. Well, as Jesus the Creator of the universe aka God said:
«/‘If I am not acting as my Father would, do not believe me. But if I am, accept the evidence of my deeds, even if you do not believe me, so that you may recognise and know that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’—Jn§10:37-38./»
So why do atheists/evolutionists not accept the evidence of God’s existence observed in the deeds of the Man who claimed to be the Son of God, and who successfully predicted his own death and resurrection?
Marc K.
All things being equal, if Newton were alive today he may have belonged to the Jehovah's Witnesses (or some other non-Trinitarian group), given his well-known heretical views on Christ. Would CMI be singing his praises so loudly if that were the case?
Warren Nunn
Perhaps you may have to reconsider your position on Newton because notions that he embraced Arianism have long been debunked. See this article: http://creation.com/sir-isaac-newton-1642-1727 which refers to another article, Was Isaac Newton an Arian? which appeared in Journal of the History of Ideas 68(1):57–80, 1997.

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