isaac newton

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Effect on religious thought

Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP was an English physicist and mathematician .
Effect on religious thought

Newton and Robert Boyles approach to the mechanical philosophy was promoted by rationalist pamphleteers as a viable alternative to the pantheists and enthusiasts, and was accepted hesitantly by orthodox preachers as well as dissident preachers like the latitudinarians. The clarity and simplicity of science was seen as a way to combat the emotional and metaphysical superlatives of both superstitious enthusiasm and the threat of atheism, and at the same time, the second wave of English deists used Newtons discoveries to demonstrate the possibility of a Natural Religion.The attacks made against pre Enlightenment magical thinking, and the mystical elements of Christianity, were given their foundation with Boyles mechanical conception of the Universe. Newton gave Boyles ideas their completion through mathematical proofs and, perhaps more importantly, was very successful in popularising them.Newton refashioned the world governed by an interventionist God into a world crafted by a God that designs along rational and universal principles. These principles were available for all people to discover, allowed people to pursue their own aims fruitfully in this life, not the next, and to perfect themselves with their own rational powers.

Newton saw God as the master creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation. His spokesman, Samuel Clarke, rejected Leibniz theodicy which cleared God from the responsibility for lorigine du mal by making God removed from participation in his creation, since as Clarke pointed out, such a deity would be a king in name only, and but one step away from atheism. But the unforeseen theological consequence of the success of Newtons system over the next century was to reinforce the deist position advocated by Leibniz. The understanding of the world was now brought down to the level of simple human reason, and humans, as Odo Marquard argued, became responsible for the correction and elimination of evil.


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