Isaac Newton got the concepts right, perhaps better than anyone else in history. Mass is quantity of matter. Momentum is quantity of motion. Force is change in motion.
Think correctly to make progress.
Alone on his aunt’s farm, to escape the plague after graduating from college, he developed the laws of motion for both the planets in space, and falling bodies on earth. To explain his laws, he developed a whole new system of mathematics, the calculus. His breakthroughs launched the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution. He is still the greatest scientist of all time.
He seemed to know that his mind was different.
“Common people did not know how to abstract their thoughts from their senses. Speaking always of relative quantities or measures, they are thus unable to discern the true, real world that lay beyond their perceptual cloaks.”
He was certain that his ideas were correct.
He was not much interested in convincing others. He avoided argument – the ‘legal sphere’. Why waste one’s precious time? He kept his discoveries to himself for almost 20 years, until Edmond Halley, of Halley’s comet, pressured him to publish.
Born into the puritan tradition, an orphan raised by priests, he was a devout believer in God, and an exacting student of the Bible.
He was a ‘natural philosopher’ and that included theology. Getting the concepts right meant getting God right too. Be clear about God so as to be clear about Nature. God is both immanent – in all things, and transcendent – above all things. Absolute Space is the universal presence of God. Absolute Time is the universal and omniscient consciousness of God. The Laws of Nature are Transcendent, like their creator.
“The principles I consider, not as occult qualities supposed to result from the specific Forms of things, but as general laws of Nature, by which the things themselves are formed; their truth appearing to us by Phenomena, though their causes be not yet discovered.”
As We are in God’s image, our reason is God’s gift to us to discover the laws of nature. And as God is unitary, so is truth. Truth must be consistent and agree with observation. Science, for Isaac Newton, was a religious calling, Our human reason can be trusted.
His great treatise, Philosophiae Principia Naturalis Mathematica – the greatest book of science ever written – for him, was written in the tradition of Moses.
And yet he remained humble, mindful of what he didn’t know.
“Thus far I have explained the phenomena of the heavens and our sea by the force of gravity, but I have not yet assigned a cause to gravity. . . I have not as yet been able to deduce from phenomena the reasons for these properties of gravity, and I do not ‘feign’ hypothesis.”
Isaac Newton gave the same intensity that he gave to natural philosophy, to the study of Christian history. The concepts must be right. God is universal, omniscient, and omnipotent. Any polytheism is blasphemy, and always leads to corruption in all things. . . including in natural philosophy.
His studies convinced him that the notion of the Trinity was wrong – a giant conspiracy starting at the Council of Nicosia, with the falsely added 1 John 5:7, and 1 Timothy 3:16 verses to the King James Bible. In his time, in England, denial of the Trinity was a capital crime. He kept these views to himself.
Sir Isaac Newton didn’t like music, poetry, or literature. He never married, and had no known personal companion. He was buried in Westminster Abbey . . . ‘like a king’.