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What influence did Newtons religion have on his science ?

  1. Jun 9, 2015 #1
    Do you think Newton's piety was important to developing or fueling his philosophical and psychological impulses to be a great scientist and mathematician ?

    Did his religious and alchemical goals orient his scientific researches; his outstanding mechanical, mathematical, and optical theories nothing more than tools, hand developed (as were the lenses and mirrors and measuring apparatus he made for his experiments) in response to questions he had about his religion and mysticism ?

    Obviously there is no correct or complete answer, just curious to know what your thoughts are on the query.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2015 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    This is a question best put to his biographers, surely?
    Have you looked?
  4. Jun 9, 2015 #3
    Ive only read one, James Gleick was the author I believe.
    I was looking at another by Westfall but its pretty thick and I didn't want to dive in without a recommendation or any burning passion. Do you know if it's any good?

    While im sure there are great resources on this I really wrote the question with the intentions of just getting peoples thoughts, or own personal opinions nothing too formal. More for fun/ discussion.
  5. Jun 9, 2015 #4
    What drove Newton, from my reading of biographies of him, was argumentativeness. All of his investigations, be they scientific or religious, were aimed at proving points to other people. He only ever openly did that with physics because physics was the only field in which he made definitive headway. His alchemy and attempts to 'decode' the Bible pretty much came to nought. He never ended up acquiring any ammunition for those potential debates, though he always secretly harbored the belief he was on the right track, unlike anyone else.

    I recommend a book called "The Clockwork Universe," which is about Newton, but more comprehensively, about Newton's times. It is an easy, entertaining read that puts much about him in perspective. All those scientists back then were deeply religious. Newton wasn't unique in that.
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