Enlightening Science

‘Bringing Newton's science to life’

Isaac Newton on Religion

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was a deeply religious person who wrote far more words on religion than he did on science. Early on, as an undergraduate at Trinity College Cambridge, he wrote a list of sins, itself a mark of his religious convictions. Many of these since relate to his non-attendance at church on Sunday. At some point he moved away from the orthodox (conventional) thinking of the Church of England and became a radical heretic, denying that Jesus Christ shared any essential characteristics of God. Because he denied the existence of the Holy Trinity that was believed by all orthodox Catholics and Protestants, Newton's position is characterized as antitrinitarian. Because there were severe legal and social penalties for holding such beliefs, he was forced to keep his views quiet and they became known only after he had died.

By far the most systematic theological research undertaken by Newton concerned the field of prophecy, in which he wrote over 2 million words (which still survive). He wrote in one place that he had been chosen by God to offer an explanation of these texts to his contemporaries, though any plans in this direction were presumably thwarted by their radical nature. In other areas he analysed the character of the fourth century Roman Catholics whom he believed had worked on behalf of the devil and had perverted the Christian religion. He carried out a great deal of research on the nature of Christ's relationship to his father, and also wrote a lengthy Analysis of dimensions of Solomon's Temple, an attempt to ascertain the true dimensions of the temple based on the description given in Ezekiel chs 40-8. In the last three decades of his life he spent vast amounts of time attempting to give a true chronology of events preceding Christ, much of which depended on his redating of the voyage of the Argonauts to 936bce. On at least one occasion, he gave a sermon on his favourite subject, idolatry.

Sponsored by: JISC logo

© 2016 Enlightening Science - University of Sussex, East Sussex - BN1 9SH -
tel:+44 (0)1273 872868 - fax: +44 (0)1273 623246