"Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night: God said, let Newton be! And all was light." - - Alexander Pope
The Enlightenment characterizes a philosophical movement of the 18th century that emphasized the use of reason to analyze and scrutinize all previously accepted traditions and doctrines. Through this application of scientific method to all aspects of life, the role of science gradually replaced the role of religion. Sir Isaac Newton, quite possibly one of the most intelligent men to exist, played a key role in the development of the enlightenment. He supplied the foundations on which all sciences since him have been built. Without science and reason the enlightenment would have been unthinkable. In fact, historians quote the publishment of Newton's masterpiece Principia in 1687 as the most logical and fitting catalyst to the enlightenment. The scientific advances made by Sir Isaac Newton contributed immensely to the movement of the enlightenment; however, his primary purposes for discovery were not for scientific advancement rather all for the glorification of God, thus Newton's incredible religiousness will be seen in this paper.
Sir Isaac Newton was born into a European society which had been grappling with the problem of growing scientific knowledge in relation to religion. Newton was no exception to this. He remained an extremely religious man while making his vast scientific discoveries. The exaltation of God and his hope to prove God's universe is perfect inspired a great deal of his writings. Newton was most certainly a genius.
During the years of 1665 and 1667 he worked out the essentials of calculus, he hit upon the crucially important optical law and most significantly grasped the principle of the law of gravitation. Newton alone grasped what dozens of brilliant searchers before had glimpsed only in part: that the heaven and earth were a single system governed by the same laws. He took the data from Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo and put it all together to figure out the world and how it works, not exactly a meek accomplishment. However, Newton was not interested in fame and actually waited years to publish some of his results. As professor Gale E. Christianson Ph.D. of the University of Indiana described "the 20th century has made out of Newton something that he was not- an enlightenment figure whose dedication to the principle of a mechanical universe became his reason for being and his single most important legacy to posterity" (Christainson xiv). Newton actually had long periods of indifference to science where he concentrated on his biblical and other religious writings.
Newton's masterpiece the Principia is his most recognized work. His biblical writings go virtually forgotten in comparison. The Principia completed the revolution begun by Copernicus in the 16th Century and dominated scientific thought for over 200 years. Newton completed the entire work in 18 months which gives a...