Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Papers Show Isaac Newton's Religious Side, Predict Date of Apocalypse

Isaac Newton is known for many things. These include contributions in physics, math, optics, and astronomy. However, he was also a Bible scholar and he ventured into the tricky area of trying to predict when the end of the world would occur.

An Associated Press article titled Papers Show Isaac Newton's Religious Side, Predict Date of Apocalypse has the story. It notes, "In a new Jerusalem exhibit, he appears as a scholar of deep faith who also found time to write on Jewish law – even penning a few phrases in careful Hebrew letters – and combing the Old Testament's Book of Daniel for clues about the world's end. The documents, purchased by a Jewish scholar at a Sotheby's auction in London in 1936, have been kept in safes at Israel's national library in Jerusalem since 1969. Available for decades only to a small number of scholars, they have never before been shown to the public."

When will the world end? Newton believed it would happen no sooner than 2060. I find this reassuring as so many are jumping on the Mayan calendar end date and predicting a 2012 demise for humanity. Newton was right on so much so who am I to argue that the world will be around until I am at least 90?

This part of the article is interesting. It notes, "Newton interpreted biblical prophecies to mean that the Jews would return to the Holy Land before the world ends." Well, the Jews have Israel back so that part of Newton's scholarly interpretation is correct...

Newton did not believe that science and religion were necessarily in opposition. He tried to make both work together. Yemima Ben-Menahem, one of the exhibit's curators, said "These documents show a scientist guided by religious fervor, by a desire to see God's actions in the world."

I am happy the documents in this exhibit were preserved. This adds a lot to our knowledge of one of the most important scientists in history.

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