Saturday, 27 March 2010

Juxtaposition: Richard Dawkins & Isaac Newton

I really don't think I'm arrogant, but I do get impatient with people who don't share with me the same humility in front of the facts.
Richard Dawkins (1941 - ), Scientist (Evolutionary Biologist), Atheist, Popular Author & Public Speaker.

I know not what the world will think of my labours, but to myself it seems that I have been but as a child playing on the sea-shore; now finding some pebble rather more polished, and now some shell rather more variegated than another, while the great ocean of truth extended itself undiscovered before me.
Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), Scientist (physicist, mathematician, astronomer, optician, inventor), Natural Philosopher, Amateur Theologian, Christian (the orthodoxy of Newton's Christianity is under dispute by scholars, but there is no doubt that he was a theist and most probably a Christian, albeit perhaps an unorthodox one).

The upshot of this juxtaposition is that a Christian worldview, which Newton was heir to, promotes an attitude of humility and wonder in the face of God's creation, as exemplified by Newton's words, written shortly before his death; whereas atheism inculcates in its adherents an attitude of hubris - the "pride that blinds" one to the evidence of God's work in the world.

Note: A post on why I think Dawkins, who recently graced our shores with his presence, is so popular these days is in the works.


Matthias said...

Yes Newton;s orthodoxy is being questioned.Soem believe he may have been a Unitarian or even a deist but i think it may have been the former.In those days unitarians still held Jesus as being Lord and Saviour even if not actually God,or He was a Manifestation of God Who they believed was only One. However Newton;s humility stands ion stark contrast to Dawkins arrogance. By the way i have heard nothing about the Atheist conference outside of two negative reports in the Press by two agnostics.
One can imagine Dawlins one minute after death " On my God " to which the Reply will surely be " No but you had your opportunity"

acroamaticus said...

The thing is, Wayne, it could be being questioned as part of the general move to discredit orthodoxy, and is it a subject being investigated by theologians or historians? A theologian has written a book claiming that Newton's apprehension of the Trinity is similar to that of the Greek Fathers, which to an untrained eye could indeed look like a form of Unitarianism, since the Greek Trinitarian thought is monarchical, with the Father being the fount of Godhood, whereas the Westerners, following Augustine, emphasised the co-equal nature of the Godhood. In the final analysis, these are complementary positions, a matter of emphasis rather than diffrerence. But the point is someone untrained in theology could easily mistake a Monarchical Trinitarianism for a primitive form of Unitarianism.