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Isaac Newton: A Great Man of Science and Faith

Apples on a tree, photo credit: Rachel Hamburg

Isaac Newton had one of the most brilliant scientific minds in history. He was a  gifted mathematician, astronomer, inventor, and scientist. He encouraged his fellow scientists to perform experiments and observations leading to scientific discoveries.

Born in 1642, in the town of Woolsthorpe, England to a woman whose husband died of a sudden illness two months earlier, Isaac Newton’s life started with no father and a single mother thrust into poverty. But as he grew into a man, people around him saw his great mind even more than he did.

Fast forward to the year 1665. It was a terrible time for all of Europe. Isaac Newton was studying at Cambridge University when another wave of Europe’s deadliest plague came. Called the Black Death, it killed more people than any disease before, and since this illness was concentrated in the cities, people fled to the countryside. Isaac took the time to visit the countryside place of his birth and visit the family that he had left years before.

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He was sitting under an apple tree in the family’s orchard, thinking and writing at a table. He was writing down his thoughts about the movement of the moon. It did not move in a straight line but circled the earth. But how?

Just then, an apple fell on the table where he was sitting. Isaac looked at the apple and picked it up. At this same moment, the half-moon had risen in the east.

He thought for a moment: the moon didn’t fly out into space because it, like the apple, was held in place by the pull of the earth’s gravity. The moon and apple were both subject to the same force of gravity.

Scientists at that time did not believe the same laws applied to both things on earth and in space.  Isaac disagreed, stating:

Providence puts everything in order, both on earth and in the heavens.

In fact, years later, when he completed his research on the gravity of planets and comets and wrote a book on the subject called The Law of Universal Gravitation, he stated that it was God that controlled the planets’ movements. Newton said,

This most beautiful system of sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.

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There were other things that most scientists of the time and Isaac Newton disagreed with. Many believed the ancient Greeks had all the answers and refused to look at any evidence on any subject that disagreed with them. Many more were influenced by superstition and magic.

Isaac Newton had a very difficult time trying to bring the scientific community into a mindset of finding and discovering facts by means of observation and testing rather than by just stating what they believed to be factual based on what they themselves had been taught. Newton strongly believed in a God who created the universe with constant laws and facts that were meant to be discovered by mankind for the glory of God.

Isaac Newton took his faith very seriously.  He loved to study Bible manuscripts and owned twelve different Bibles. He wrote many papers about the Bible and was once told he knew more about the Bible than all the professors at Cambridge.

Newton enjoyed researching the dates of certain Bible events. So he studied Egyptian historical records and the Bible text on when Moses led the people out of slavery. In one of the books he wrote, Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms, he used his knowledge of astronomy, the Bible text, and ancient history to find dates of such events as the flood.

Isaac Newton was a great man of God, as well as a great man of science.  He found out how gravity holds the universe together. He discovered what we now know as Newton’s three laws of motion, and we can now accurately calculate the path of a rocket to the moon. He studied light and color with a prism and wrote Opticks, which was one of the most important research projects on light. He invented the reflecting telescope, which is still being used today. Isaac Newton also brought the mathematical discipline of calculus to the world.

Isaac Newton died on March 20, 1727. England showed their respect for his great contributions to the world by laying his body to rest at the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminister Abby. This great man of science was a humble man, never wanting glory to go to himself but to God.

One of the Bible verses he quoted the most was:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork. Psalms 19:1

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Written by Doug Velting

Doug has a heart for kids and has taught elementary and Junior high students biblical creation for over 30 years.

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