Is Isaac Newton a Part of the Muslim Heritage: His Religious Views?

Alexander Pope‘s couplet: “Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in Night. God said, ‘Let Newton be!’ and all was light!”

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

I have seen on several occasions, the Trinitarian Christian apologists taking credit for Newton’s work, rather than giving it to the Unitarians where it belongs.  The credit of his scientific achievements belongs to pure Monotheism, be it Judaism, Unitarian Christianity or Islam, as he categorically rejected Trinity.  However, it should be noted that the scripture of Islam of all the scriptures makes the best case for Unitarianism and many a Christian apologists have acknowledged that as well.

Rev. Elwood Morris Wherry (1843- 1927) was an American Presbyterian missionary to India, who wrote a number of books and was a famous Christian apologist and Orientalist in his time. He wrote acknowledging the beauty of Unity of God in Islam:

A few passages, like the oases in the deserts of Arabia, stand out as truly beautiful both in their setting and in their thought. Take the first chapter, the Fatihat:

‘In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds! The compassionate, the merciful! King on the Day of Judgment! Thee do we worship, and to thee do we cry for help! Guide then us in the right way! The path of those to whom thou art gracious! Not of those with whom thou art angered, nor of those who go astray.’

The celebrated throne verse in Chap. II., 255, is as follows: ‘God! there is no God but he; the living, the self-subsisting: neither slumber nor sleep seizeth him; to him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth. Who is he that can intercede with him, but through his good pleasure? He knoweth that which is past, and that which is to come unto them, and they shall not comprehend anything of his knowledge, but so far as he pleaseth. His throne is extended over heaven and earth, and the preservation of both is no burden unto him. He is high, the Mighty.’

The question is often asked why a book of such singular composition should hold such sway over the millions of the Moslem world. In reply two reasons may be given: first, the beautiful rhythm, and often sweet cadences of the original language, which like some enchanting song hold multitudes with rapt attention who understand scarcely a word they hear; secondly, there is a vast amount of truth contained in the book, especially the truth of the divine unity and of man’s dependence upon God, as seen in the throne verse just now quoted.

Read more about Unity of God in Islam: God of Islam: God of Nature and the Creator of our Universe

Encyclopedia Britannica says about Newton and Trinity:

Newton found time now to explore other interests, such as religion and theology. In the early 1690s he had sent Locke a copy of a manuscript attempting to prove that Trinitarian passages in the Bible were latter-day corruptions of the original text. When Locke made moves to publish it, Newton withdrew in fear that his anti-Trinitarian views would become known. Reference.

The article below from Wikipedia sheds more light on Newton’s religious beliefs against Trinity and his pragmatic approach, to hide them to some degree, given an oppressive church.

The Holy Quran states:

If there had been in the heavens and the earth other gods besides Allah, then surely both would have gone to ruin. Glorified then be Allah, the Lord of the Throne, far above what they attribute to Him.  (Al Quran 21:23)

One of the interpretations of this verse is as below:
If there had been in the heavens and the earth other gods besides Allah, then there would have been chaos in the Universe. An organized study of nature would not have been possible. I propose that scientific development occurred because of Judeo-Christian-Muslim paradigm of Monotheism. To demonstrate what monotheism had to do for the scientific progress, here, I quote from Paul Davies from his book ‘the Mind of God.’ He writes:

Much of this early thinking was based on the assumption that the properties of physical things were intrinsic qualities belonging to those things. The great diversity of forms and substances found in the physical world thus reflected the limitless variety of intrinsic properties. Set against this way of looking at the world were the monotheistic religions. The Jews conceived of God as the Lawgiver. This God, being independent of and separate from his creation, imposed laws upon the physical universe from without. Nature was supposed to be subject to laws by divine decree. One could still assign causes to phenomena, but the connection between cause and effect was now constrained by the laws. John Barrow has studied the historical origins of the concept of physical laws. He contrasts the Greek pantheon with the One monarchical God of Judaism: ‘When we look at the relatively sophisticated society of Greek gods, we do not find the notion of an all, powerful cosmic lawgiver very evident. Events are decided by negotiation, deception, or argument rather than by omnipotent decree. Creation proceeds by committee rather than fiat.’

The view that laws are imposed upon, rather than inherent in, nature was eventually adopted by Christianity and Islam too, though not without a struggle. Barrow relates how Saint Thomas Aquinas ‘viewed the innate Aristotelian tendencies as aspects of the natural world which were providentially employed by God. However, in this cooperative enterprise their basic character was inviolate. According to this view, God’s relationship with Nature is that of a partner rather than that of a sovereign.’ But such Aristotelian ideas were condemned by the Bishop of Paris in 1277, to be replaced in later doctrine by the notion of God the Lawmaker.

In Renaissance Europe, the justification for what we today call the scientific approach to inquiry was the belief in a rational God whose created order could be discerned from a careful study of nature. And, Newton notwithstanding, part of this belief came to be that God’s laws were immutable. ‘The scientific culture that arose in Western Europe,’ writes Barrow, ‘of which we are the inheritors, was dominated by adherence to the absolute invariance of laws of Nature, which thereby underwrote the meaningfulness of the scientific enterprise and assured its success.’

For the modern scientist, it is sufficient only that nature simply have the observed regularities we still call laws. The question of their origin does not usually arise. Yet it is interesting to ponder whether science would have flourished in medieval and Renaissance Europe were it not for Western theology. China, for example, had a complex and highly developed culture at that time, which produced some technological innovations that were in advance of Europe’s. The Japanese scholar Kowa Seki, who lived at the time of Newton, is credited with the independent invention of the differential calculus and a procedure for computing pi, but he chose to keep these formulations secret. In his study of early Chinese thought, Joseph Needham writes: ‘There was no confidence that the code of Nature’s laws could ever be unveiled and read, because there was no assurance that a divine being, even more rational than ourselves, had ever formulated such a code capable of being read.’ Barrow argues that, in the absence of ‘the concept of a divine being who acted to legislate what went on in the natural world, whose decrees formed inviolate ‘laws’ of Nature, and who underwrote scientific enterprise,’ Chinese science was condemned to a ‘curious stillbirth.’

Read more about Science and Monotheism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Sir Isaac Newton at 46 in Godfrey Kneller‘s 1689 portrait

The life of
Isaac Newton
Early life
Middle years
Later life
Writing Principia
Religious views
Occult studies

Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727)[1] was, as considered by others within his own lifetime, an insightful and erudite theologian.[2][3][4] He wrote many works that would now be classified as occult studies and religious tracts dealing with the literal interpretation of the Bible.[5]

Newton’s conception of the physical world provided a stable model of the natural world that would reinforce stability and harmony in the civic world. Newton saw a monotheistic God as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation.[6][7] Although born into an Anglican family, by his thirties Newton held a Christian faith that, had it been made public, would not have been considered orthodox by mainstream Christianity;[8] in recent times he has been described as a heretic.[9]


Christian orthodoxy

Newton was born into an Anglican family three months after the death of his father, a prosperous farmer also named Isaac Newton. When Newton was three, his mother married the rector of the neighbouring civil parish of North Witham and went to live with her new husband, the Reverend Barnabus Smith, leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough.[10] Isaac apparently hated Reverend Smith and had no relations with him during his childhood.[8] His maternal uncle, the rector serving the parish of Burton Coggles,[11] was involved in some part in the care of Isaac. Reverend Ayscough had studied previously at Trinity College.[12]

During 1667 Newton was a Fellow at Cambridge,[13] making necessary the commitment to taking Holy Orders within seven years of completion of his studies. Prior to commencing studies he was required to take a vow of celibacy and recognize the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England.[14] Newton considered ceasing his studies prior to completion in order to avoid the ordination made necessary by law of King Charles II for all graduates.[15][1] He later capitulated to his desire for exemption from the binding of the statute, in some way assisted in this by the efforts of Isaac Barrow, when in 1676 the then State Secretary Joseph Williamson changed the relevant statute of Trinity College to provide dispensation from this duty.[14] Having foregone these duties, he embarked on an investigative study of the early history of the Church, during 1680s succeeding into inquiries of the origins of religion instead, at about the same time as having developed a scientific view on motion and matter.[15] Of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica he stated:[16]

When I wrote my treatise about our Systeme I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the beliefe of a Deity and nothing can rejoyce me more then to find it usefull for that purpose.

Newton’s religious views developed as a result of participation in an investigative discourse with Nature (the nature of the world) and developed from the apparent dichotomy of biblical reality from the increasing revealing of the structure of reality from investigation, and the subsequent challenges these truths of nature posed toward established religion for Newton, especially in light of Christian scriptural belief.[17][18] Unorthodoxy was made necessary for Newton, and those affiliated with him, by the need for rediscovery of a prisca truth that had been hidden somewhere in the time of classical history.[19] By this they might have the capacity to engage in open dialogue with an investigation into Nature. In this conflict of ecclesiastical order and the liberating effects of scientific enquiry, he and others turned to the prisca in all the security of a classical civilization having been supposedly founded on bona fide insights.[20] So, for them, the truth lay within the perception of reality attained by Pythagoras and communicated, supposedly in a secret way, to a specific circle of people.[21]

As is found among some of the established intellectuals of the Renaissance age, Newton believed that ancient philosophers and religious persons had gained insight into the truth of the nature of the world and universe, but this truth having become hidden within the language of the recording of the truth at the time and by later medieval scholars (Albertus Magnus, Arnold of Villanova and Roger Bacon) that required deciphering in order to be understood. The belief in the wisdom of the ancients, that thinking was intelligent and knowing in the civilization of classical religious figures (Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet Isiah and Solomon) and writers (Plato and Democritus) is known as prisca sapientia.[1]

Like many contemporaries (e.g., Thomas Aikenhead) he lived with the threat of severe punishment if he had been open about his religious beliefs. Heresy was a crime that could have been punishable by the loss of all property and status or even death (see, e.g., the Blasphemy Act 1697). Because of his secrecy over his religious beliefs, Newton has been described as a Nicodemite.[9]

According to most scholars, Newton was Arian, not holding to Trinitarianism.[9][22][23] ‘In Newton’s eyes, worshipping Christ as God was idolatry, to him the fundamental sin’.[24] As well as being antitrinitarian, Newton allegedly rejected the orthodox doctrines of the immortal soul,[9] a personal devil and literal demons.[9] Although he was not a Socinian he shared many similar beliefs with them.[9] A manuscript he sent to John Locke in which he disputed the existence of the Trinity was never published. In a minority view, T.C. Pfizenmaier argued Newton was neither “orthodox” nor an Arian,[25] but that, rather, Newton believed both of these groups had wandered into metaphysical speculation.[26] Pfizenmaier also argued that Newton held closer to the Eastern Orthodox view of the Trinity rather than the Western one held by Roman Catholics and Protestants.[26] However, S. D. Snobelen has argued against this from manuscripts produced late in Newton’s life which demonstrate Newton rejected the Eastern view of the Trinity.[9]

Newton refused viaticum before his death.[8]

God as masterful creator

Newton saw God as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation.[27] Nevertheless he rejected Leibniz‘ thesis that God would necessarily make a perfect world which requires no intervention from the creator. In Query 31 of the Opticks, Newton simultaneously made an argument from design and for the necessity of intervention:

For while comets move in very eccentric orbs in all manner of positions, blind fate could never make all the planets move one and the same way in orbs concentric, some inconsiderable irregularities excepted which may have arisen from the mutual actions of comets and planets on one another, and which will be apt to increase, till this system wants a reformation.[28]

This passage prompted an attack by Leibniz in a letter to his friend Caroline of Ansbach:

Sir Isaac Newton and his followers have also a very odd opinion concerning the work of God. According to their doctrine, God Almighty wants to wind up his watch from time to time: otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.[29]

Leibniz’ letter initiated the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, ostensibly with Newton’s friend and disciple Samuel Clarke, although as Caroline wrote, Clarke’s letters “are not written without the advice of the Chev. Newton”.[30] Clarke complained that Leibniz’ concept of God as a “supra-mundane intelligence” who set up a “pre-established harmony” was only a step from atheism: “And as those men, who pretend that in an earthly government things may go on perfectly well without the king himself ordering or disposing of any thing, may reasonably be suspected that they would like very well to set the king aside: so, whosoever contends, that the beings of the world can go on without the continual direction of God…his doctrine does in effect tend to exclude God out of the world”.[31]

In addition to stepping in to re-form the solar system, Newton invoked God’s active intervention to prevent the stars falling in on each other, and perhaps in preventing the amount of motion in the universe from decaying due to viscosity and friction.[32] In private correspondence Newton sometimes hinted that the force of Gravity was due to an immaterial influence:

Tis inconceivable that inanimate brute matter should (without the mediation of something else which is not material) operate upon & affect other matter without mutual contact.[33]

Leibniz jibed that such an immaterial influence would be a continual miracle; this was another strand of his debate with Clarke.

Newton’s view has been considered to be close to deism and several biographers and scholars labeled him as a deist who is strongly influenced by Christianity.[34][35][36][37] However, he differed from strict adherents of deism in that he invoked God as a special physical cause to keep the planets in orbits.[22] He warned against using the law of gravity to view the universe as a mere machine, like a great clock. He said:

This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. […] This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called “Lord God” παντοκρατωρ [pantokratōr], or “Universal Ruler”. […] The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, [and] absolutely perfect.[6]

Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors.[38]}}

On the other hand, latitudinarian and Newtonian ideas taken too far resulted in the millenarians, a religious faction dedicated to the concept of a mechanical universe, but finding in it the same enthusiasm and mysticism that the Enlightenment had fought so hard to extinguish.[39] Newton himself may have had some interest in millenarianism as he wrote about both the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation in his Observations Upon the Prophecies. In a manuscript he wrote in 1704 in which he describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible, he estimated that the world could end on 2060. In predicting this he said, “This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail.”[40]

Newton’s conception of the physical world provided a stable model of the natural world that would reinforce stability and harmony in the civic world.[39]

The Bible

Newton spent a great deal of time trying to discover hidden messages within the Bible. After 1690, Newton wrote a number of religious tracts dealing with the literal interpretation of the Bible. In a manuscript Newton wrote in 1704 he describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible. He estimated that the world would end no earlier than 2060. In predicting this he said “This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail.”[40]


Newton relied upon the existing Scripture for prophecy, believing his interpretations would set the record straight in the face of what he considered to be, “so little understood”.[41] Though he would never write a cohesive body of work on Prophecy, Newton’s beliefs would lead him to write several treatises on the subject, including an unpublished guide for prophetic interpretation entitled Rules for interpreting the words & language in Scripture. In this manuscript he details the necessary requirements for what he considered to be the proper interpretation of the Bible.

The End of the World

In his posthumously-published Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John, Newton expressed his belief that Bible prophecy would not be understood “until the time of the end”, and that even then “none of the wicked shall understand”. Referring to that as a future time (“the last age, the age of opening these things, be now approaching”), Newton also anticipated “the general preaching of the Gospel be approaching” and “the Gospel must first be preached in all nations before the great tribulation, and end of the world”.[42]

Over the years, a large amount of media attention and public interest has circulated regarding largely unknown and unpublished documents, evidently written by Isaac Newton, that indicate he believed the world could end in 2060 AD. (Newton also had many other possible dates e.g. 2034)[43] The juxtaposition of Newton, popularly seen by some as the embodiment of scientific rationality, with a seemingly irrational prediction of the “end of the world” would invariably lend itself to cultural sensationalism.

To understand the reasoning behind the 2060 prediction, an understanding of Newton’s theological beliefs should be taken into account, particularly his nontrinitarian beliefs and those negative views he held about the Papacy. Both of these lay essential to his calculations, which are themselves based upon specific chronological dates which he believed had already transpired and had been prophesied within Revelation and Daniel, books within the Christian Bible.

Despite the dramatic nature of a prediction of the end of the world, Newton may not have been referring to the 2060 date as a destructive act resulting in the annihilation of the earth and its inhabitants, but rather one in which he believed the world was to be replaced with a new one based upon a transition to an era of divinely inspired peace. In Christian theology, this concept is often referred to as The Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of Paradise by The Kingdom of God on Earth.[43] In Judaism it is often referred to as the Messianic era or the “Yamei Moshiach” (Days of the Messiah).

Other beliefs

Newton’s grave in Westminster Abbey

Henry More‘s belief in the universe and rejection of Cartesian dualism may have influenced Newton’s religious ideas. Later works — The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728) and Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733) — were published after his death.[44]

Newton and Boyle’s mechanical philosophy was promoted by rationalist pamphleteers as a viable alternative to the pantheists and enthusiasts, and was accepted hesitantly by orthodox clergy as well as dissident preachers like the latitudinarians.[39] The clarity and simplicity of science was seen as a way in which to combat the emotional and mystical superlatives of superstitious enthusiasm, as well as the threat of atheism.[39]

The attacks made against pre-Enlightenment magical thinking, and the mystical elements of Christianity, were given their foundation with Boyle’s mechanical conception of the universe. Newton gave Boyle’s ideas their completion through mathematical proofs, and more importantly was very successful in popularizing them.[44] Newton refashioned the world governed by an interventionist God into a world crafted by a God that designs along rational and universal principles.[45] These principles were available for all people to discover, allowed man to pursue his own aims fruitfully in this life, not the next, and to perfect himself with his own rational powers.[46]


His first writing on the subject of religion was Introductio. Continens Apocalypseos rationem generalem [ Innovation / Introduction. Continuous Revelations – general account[47]] having an unnumbered leaf between folio 1 and 2 with the subheading De prophetia prima,[48] written in Latin some time prior to 1670. Written subsequently in English, Notes on early Church history and the moral superiority of the ‘barbarians’ to the Romans. His last writing was in 1737 entitled A Dissertation upon the Sacred Cubit of the Jews and the Cubits of the several Nations.[4] Newton did not publish any of his works of Biblical study during the time he was alive.[49][3] All of Newton’s writings on corruption within biblical scripture and the church took place after the late 1670’s and prior to the mid part of 1690.[3]

See also

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  1. ^ a b c Gale E. Christianson Isaac Newton and the scientific revolution. – 155 pages Oxford portraits in science Oxford University Press, 19 Sep 1996. Retrieved 2012-01-28. ISBN 0-19-509224-4
  2. ^ Isaac Newton on Science and Religion – William H. Austin – Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 31, No. 4 (Oct. – Dec., 1970), pp. 521-542 (article consists of 22 pages) University of Pennsylvania Press Retrieved 2012-01-28
  3. ^ a b c [ENGLISH & LATIN] “The Newton Project Newton’s Views on the Corruptions of Scripture and the Church. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  4. ^ a b Professor Rob Iliffe (AHRC Newton Papers Project) THE NEWTON PROJECT – Newton’s Religious Writings [ENGLISH & LATIN] prism.php44. University of Sussex. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  5. ^ “Newton’s Views on Prophecy”. The Newton Project. 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
  6. ^ a b Principia, Book III; cited in; Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections from his writings, p. 42, ed. H.S. Thayer, Hafner Library of Classics, NY, 1953.
  7. ^ A Short Scheme of the True Religion, manuscript quoted in Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton by Sir David Brewster, Edinburgh, 1850; cited in; ibid, p. 65.
  8. ^ a b c Richard S. WestfallIndiana University The Galileo Project. (Rice University). Retrieved 2008-07-05 , 2012-02-07.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Snobelen, Stephen D. (1999). “Isaac Newton, heretic : the strategies of a Nicodemite” (PDF). British Journal for the History of Science 32 (4): 381–419. doi:10.1017/S0007087499003751.
  10. ^ Nichols, John Bowyer (1822). Illustrations of the literary history of the eighteenth century: Consisting of authentic memoirs and original letters of eminent persons; and intended as a sequel to the Literary anecdotes, Volume 4. Nichols, Son, and Bentley. p. 32., Extract of page 32 Retrieved 2012-02-21
  11. ^ C. D. Broad 1952 – Ethics and the history of philosophy: selected essays, Volume 1 Routledge, 30 Nov 2000 ISBN 0-415-22530-2Retrieved 2012-02-08
  12. ^ Gresham Collegelectures-and-events Retrieved 2012-02-08
  13. ^ Cambridge University Alumni Database Retrieved 2012-01-29
  14. ^ a b Professor Rob Iliffe (AHRC Newton Papers Project) THE NEWTON PROJECT prism.php15. University of Sussex. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  15. ^ a b Cambridge University Library .ac. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  16. ^ S.D.Snobelen (University of King’s College) – To Discourse of God : Isaac Newton’s Heterdox Theology and Natural Philosophy Nova Scotia Retrieved 2012-01-29
  17. ^ Matt Goldish 1998 – Judaism in the theology of Sir Isaac Newton – 239 pages Volume 157 of Archives internationales d’histoire des idées Springer, 1998 Retrieved 2012-01-28 ISBN 0-7923-4996-2
  18. ^ Christianity Today International – archives Retrieved 2012-01-28
  19. ^ David Boyd Haycock 2004 – ‘The long lost truth’ Sir Isaac Newton and the Newtonian pursuit of long lost knowledge Elsevier 2004 Retrieved 2012-01-29
  20. ^ Alfred Rupert HallIsaac Newton Centre for Mathematical Sciences Retrieved 2012-01-29
  21. ^ Hilary Gatti – Giordano Bruno and Renaissance science – 257 pages Cornell University Press, 2002 (Google ebook) & Niccolò Guicciardini Reading the Principia: The Debate on Newton’s Mathematical Methods for Natural Philosophy from 1687 to 1736 – 292 pages Cambridge University Press, 30 Oct 2003 (Google ebook) Retrieved 2012-01-29
  22. ^ a b Avery Cardinal Dulles. The Deist Minimum. 2005.
  23. ^ Richard Westfall, Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton, (1980) pp. 103, 25.
  24. ^ Westfall, Richard S. (1994). The Life of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-47737-9.
  25. ^ Pfizenmaier, T.C, “The Trinitarian Theology of Dr. Samuel Clarke” (1675-1729)
  26. ^ a b Pfizenmaier, T.C., “Was Isaac Newton an Arian?” Journal of the History of Ideas 68(1):57–80, 1997.
  27. ^ Webb, R.K. ed. Knud Haakonssen. “The emergence of Rational Dissent.” Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in eighteenth-century Britain. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 1996. p19.
  28. ^ Newton, 1706 Opticks (2nd Edition), quoted in H. G. Alexander 1956 (ed): The Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, University of Manchester Press.
  29. ^ Leibniz, first letter, in Alexander 1956, p. 11
  30. ^ Caroline to Leibniz, 10th Jan 1716, quoted in Alexander 1956, p. 193. (Chev. = Chevalier i.e. Knight.)
  31. ^ Clarke, first reply, in Alexander 1956 p. 14.
  32. ^ H.W. Alexander 1956, p. xvii
  33. ^ Newton to Bentley, 25 Feb 1693
  34. ^ James E. Force, Richard Henry Popkin, ed. (1990). Essays on the Context, Nature, and Influence of Isaac Newton’s Theology. Springer. p. 53. ISBN 9780792305835. “Newton has often been identified as a deist. …In the 19th century, William Blake seems to have put Newton into the deistic camp. Scholars in the 20th-century have often continued to view Newton as a deist. Gerald R. Cragg views Newton as a kind of proto-deist and, as evidence, points to Newton’s belief in a true, original, monotheistic religion first discovered in ancient times by natural reason. This position, in Cragg’s view, leads to the elimination of the Christian revelation as neither necessary nor sufficient for human knowledge of God. This agenda is indeed the key point, as Leland describes above, of the deistic program which seeks to “set aside” revelatory religious texts. Cragg writes that, “In effect, Newton ignored the claims of revelation and pointed in a direction which many eighteenth-century thinkers would willingly follow.” John Redwood has also recently linked anti-Trinitarian theology with both “Newtonianism” and “deism.””
  35. ^ Suzanne Gieser. The Innermost Kernel: Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli’s Dialogue with C.G. Jung. Springer. pp. 181–182. ISBN 9783540208563. “Newton seems to have been closer to the deists in his conception of God and had no time for the doctrine of the Trinity. The deists did not recognize the divine nature of Christ. According to Fierz, Newton’s conception of God permeated his entire scientific work: God’s universality and eternity express themselves in the dominion of the laws of nature. Time and space are regarded as the ‘organs’ of God. All is contained and moves in God but without having any effect on God himself. Thus space and time become metaphysical entities, superordinate existences that are not associated with any interaction, activity or observation on man’s part.”
  36. ^ Joseph L. McCauley (1997). Classical Mechanics: Transformations, Flows, Integrable and Chaotic Dynamics. Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780521578820. “Newton (1642-1727), as a seventeenth century nonChristian Deist, would have been susceptible to an accusation of heresy by either the Anglican Church or the Puritans.”
  37. ^ Hans S. Plendl, ed. (1982). Philosophical problems of modern physics. Reidel. p. 361. “Newton expressed the same conception of the nature of atoms in his deistic view of the Universe.”
  38. ^ Brewster, Sir David. A Short Scheme of the True Religion, manuscript quoted in Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton Edinburgh, 1850.
  39. ^ a b c d Jacob, Margaret C. The Newtonians and the English Revolution: 1689-1720.
  40. ^ a b “Papers Show Isaac Newton’s Religious Side, Predict Date of Apocalypse”. Associated Press. 19 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
  41. ^ Newton, Isaac (2007-04-05). “The First Book Concerning the Language of the Prophets”. The Newton Project. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
  42. ^ Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John by Sir Isaac Newton, 1733, J. DARBY and T. BROWNE, Online
  43. ^ a b Snobelen, Stephen D. “A time and times and the dividing of time: Isaac Newton, the Apocalypse and 2060 A.D.”. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
  44. ^ a b Westfall, Richard S. (1973) [1964]. Science and Religion in Seventeenth-Century England. U of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-06190-7.
  45. ^ Fitzpatrick, Martin. ed. Knud Haakonssen. “The Enlightenment, politics and providence: some Scottish and English comparisons.” Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in eighteenth-century Britain. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 1996. p64.
  46. ^ Frankel, Charles. The Faith of Reason: The Idea of Progress in the French Enlightenment. King’s Crown Press, New York: 1948. p1.
  47. ^ University of Notre Dame + William Whitaker’s Words : rationemcontinensapocalypseo – Retrieved 2012-01-29
  48. ^ THE NEWTON PROJECT THEM00046 Retrieved 2012-01-29
  49. ^ James E. Force, Richard Henry Popkin – Essays on the context, nature, and influence of Isaac Newton’s theology – 226 pages(Google eBook) Springer, 1990 Retrieved 2012-01-29 ISBN 0-7923-0583-3

External links


14 replies

  1. Quoting from a book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth

    The following is from the chapter of European Philosophy:

    Scotus advises that the validity of one’s faith should be examined from time to time according to the dictates of rationality. If the two appear to be conflicting then one must follow reason. Thus reason will always hold an edge over faith.

    This attitude is best illustrated in Newton’s (1642–1727) treatment of the Trinity. As long as he did not consciously and scientifically examine his inherited religious views, he continued to remain a devotee of the doctrine. But when at a later stage he decided to put his faith to the test of reason and rationality, he was left with no option but to reject the dogma of Trinity which in his view had failed the test of reason.

    Thus he became the all-time greatest victim of the prejudices of the Christian church sacrificed at the altar of the cross. As a tribute to the genius of Newton, he was elected as a Fellow of the “College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity”, University of Cambridge, a post which he held for many years. In 1675 however, he was given the choice to either vacate his seat and keep his convictions, or to compromise his convictions and assert his orthodoxy under oath one last time in ordination.

    But the “Holy and Undivided Trinity” itself stood in his way. His stubborn refusal to subscribe to the doctrine of Trinity cost him not only his fellowship, but also the handsome stipend of £60 a year. No small amount indeed, judging by the value of money in those days. He was dispossessed of his fellowship and chair from the university on the charge of heresy. The charge of heresy was levelled against him only because in Newton’s eyes worshipping Christ was idolatry, to him a fundamental sin. R.S. Westfall writes on Newton:

    ‘He recognized Christ as a divine mediator between God and humankind, who was subordinate to the Father Who created him.’1

    ‘The conviction began to possess him that a massive fraud, which began in the fourth and fifth centuries, had perverted the legacy of the early church. Central to the fraud were the Scriptures, which Newton began to believe had been corrupted to support trinitarianism. It is impossible to say exactly when the conviction fastened upon him. The original notes themselves testify to earlier doubts. Far from silencing the doubts, he let them possess him.’

    Hence, his faith in the Unity of God and rejection of the Trinity was based on his unbiased, honest investigation into the validity of Christian beliefs. There is many a note written in his own hand on the margins of his personal Bible:

    ‘Therefore the Father is God of the Son (when the Son is considered) as God.’

    Thus concludes Westfall:

    ‘… almost the first fruit of Newton’s theological study was doubt about the status of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.’


  2. Really a foolish article.This article is suffice to fool lads in Afghanistan or Pakistan,who will believe everything in the name of religion.But not an person of average intellect.This explains a lot why you never understood science.You are quite far from understanding Newton or a bit of his work.For you aim always to connect every thing to Islam.Thats because your brain is hard wired to do that.
    Open your mind and then observe things.
    So stop writing about great people like Sir Isaac Newton and instead focus inside your own pathetic world which is in ruins and calls for radical change.

    • Dear Friend, Good Evening, We are not trying to guide you to Islam but to Creation & the
      ALMIGHTY CREATOR & HIS vast Creation. Unlike all lost scientists Newton was a believr in ALMIGHTY GOD. Read Holy Quran & know the truth of Light of living & truth. Thank you

  3. Dear Matt

    Newton was a Unitarian Christian and not a Trinitarian. What is so difficult to understand about it?

    Joseph Priestly and many of the Founding Fathers of USA were also Unitarian.

    Please study history.

  4. Zia Shah instead of focusing on personal life on newton why dont you focus more on pulling your paki and muslim friends out of poverty.If this doesn’t convince you then compare the list of muslim vs non muslim nobel prize winners.I agree with Matt that this article may cause frenzy in afghanistan and pakistan but not elsewhere where civilized people live.

  5. Dear Rahul and Matt

    How the fundamentalists would respond to this information, should be tackled with some additional posts.

    Here, what we need to appreciate is that the greatest debt the world has to the Holy Quran is its elegant presentation of Unity of God.

    It is said that one third of the Quran is about Unity of God.

    We should not shy away from that message and bring the Unity of God out from different angles and perspectives.

    I hope you will also be able to see this article in this light.


  6. How frustrating, absurd and out of rationale comments from Matt and Rahul.

    As you have claimed of possessing average intellect perhaps above average intellect and modern Science we live with on as of today, a Renaissance inspired by Muslims, is based on observations, experiments and empirical evidences.
    Can you give a single reference from historical accounts to negate What Dr. Shah has put here and in defense of your sentimentally motivated remarks?
    I can see frustration and numb reflection of mind in your comments.

    I hope you belong(or may have belonged) to that CIVILIZED people. Could you please let us know how these people can be recognized and identified?

    By the way for your (Matt & Rahul)enormous knowledge Sir Issac Newton is a not a Noble Laureate so Prize itself not something that raises the rank or recognizes the glory one earns. If this is the case and this is the reality then some centuries back when West and East were plunged in darkness or significantly lagging the advancement of Muslims, Had there been any award like that Muslims might have been the whole and sole nominees and winners of that award for quadruple of century.

  7. The two supporters of Trinity did not deny that Issac Newton was a Unitarian. They did not present any valid argument in favor of Trinity. Instead they beat about the bush, like pointing to Muslim poverty, ignorance and lack of Noble prizes and Afghanistan.

    We Muslims may be ignorant but we are well educated about the great person Issac Newton, about his mathematical achievements (Calculus), about his laws of Physics, and now we have learnt about his sacrifice for the Unitarian faith against Trinity.

    Imagine who punished Issac Newton. No one other than the Church fathers. How bad ! Previously they (the fathers of Trinity and church) had punished Galileo Galilei, The Italian Physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher.

    From Wikipedia: On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Catholic Church tribunal that judged the scientific positions of Galileo Galilei, as the result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture.

    Now we note that the church fathers punished Newton too. It must be hard on them now when they reflect. I hope they will say “Sorry for that”. But it is a more costly subject, being Trinity which can never be proved by any means and which they cannot forsake.

  8. An excelant research work about a great scientist by Dr Shah is a good thing to clarify

    the true views and personality of Sir Issaq Neuton.This is a scholarly effort which every man of understanding should appreciate.
    Matt has his right to differ and he can argue against if he has?
    Rahul has used abusive language which is not normally used on this Type of discussion , so I would not like to argue with him.

  9. Hi my brothers…
    (At first excuse me for my poor English,I’m sorry…)
    These opinions and thinkings about the God and the religion resulted from the educations of the distorted religions. Everyone who just once read some phrases from the holy Quran or the Nahj-ool-balaghah, doesn’t have this ideas…
    Unfortunately, because of Muslims’s poor propaganda and widespread,strong and comprehensive propaganda of the behind the curtain hands in the leadership of the world – which lead the world to the new world order for their goals and want to change people to robots which don’t think and just work and quid their injection thoughts. – today many of people have the ideas like this…
    My brothers,I’m sure if you just a little think free about the goal of your life and the universe and the creation, in near future, you will be interested to find their real solutions. I suggest you to read some pages of holy Quran or Nahj-ool-balaghah. In this case your opinion will be reformed.
    The last was for Islam (islamic civilization)… and undoubtedly, the future too…
    Allad lead all of us to the correct path because of Mohammad and his family’s reputation…
    Peace be upon Mohammad and his family…

  10. And I thank you Mr Zia Shah, for your usefull article. Allah grant you your remuneration, brother…

  11. This is a very good piece!!!No matter what u believe trinity is some kind of a fallacy…God is one that is why everything in the universe is organized.The universe seems self-sustaining to us because there is a God,who live outside this 4-dimensional universe of our’s and watching over us on the highest dimension of space.He can see us but we cannot.

  12. My dear Ghulam serwer Calculus, Laws of motion and laws of gravitation were invented by muslims. Light prism and white light contains different colors were also invented by muslims

  13. There was mention of Sir Isaac Newton in a Friday sermon by Hazrat Khalifatul Messiah Rabah. RA.
    If you have this above reference, kindly send me the date of that sermon.

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