Enlightenment & Our Founding Fathers</li></ul>Godfrey Kneller’s 1689 portrait of Isaac Newton (age 46)<br />
Early Years<br /><ul><li>Isaac was born December 25, 1642 to a widow who left him, when he was barely three years old, with his maternal grandmother so that she could remarry. The wealthy clergyman whom she married wanted nothing to do with young Isaac. 1-3,5
The maternal family (Ayscough or Askew) was educated and felt Isaac should have at least a basic education, so he attended school during his mothers absence.3
When her 2nd husband died she returned to the family estate and removed Isaac from school so that he could manage the farm. Some confusion in the records at this point indicates he was between 12 and 17 years old.</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Young Isaac turns out to be a poor farmer but, it’s not for a lack of intelligence but, a lack of interest. He preferred to spend his time reading the books he’d gotten from his stepfather, exploring nature around him, or building various toys such as windmills and water wheels. He would build little dams in the streams and diversion routes for the water and watch his waterwheels work.</li></ul>Rainbow over Isaac Newton's birthplace in Woolsthorpe , England<br />
<ul><li>His stepfather’s books (some 200-300) are mostly on alchemy and religious manuscripts. He is fascinated by such things as astrology, and spends hours pondering how the whole of nature functions.</li></li></ul><li>A Roman mosaic showing Plato's Academy<br />Aristotle<br />Isaac received the standard curriculum for the 17th century including Aristotle, Plato, Greek , Latin, the Bible , and reinforcement of the Protestant faith of England<br />
Trinity college at Cambridge University<br /><ul><li>In 1661 Isaac Newton entered Trinity College under the tutelage of William Barrow, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics
Often ignoring the required curriculum, and demeaned by his social status as an underclassmen, he preferred to stay in his room studying his passion of Biblical history and alchemy. On occasion he was even known to set his room on fire doing various experiments.3,7</li></li></ul><li>Astrological relationships<br />Fortunately for all of us, Newton kept meticulous notes in his journals as these photos attest.11His interest in knowing how everything in the universe related is demonstrated by his notes on astrology, and his list of names of noted alchemists. His interest in theology and ancient Bible history is shown in his chronicle and detailed descriptions and drawings of Solomon’s Temple.<br />Names of noted Alchemists<br />Solomon’s Temple<br />
<ul><li>It was during this time of intense study where his journals stopped including items from the school's curriculum and he began entering notes on the humanistic writings like those of Descartes, Kepler, and Voltaire.9
At the age of 20 he had a religious epiphany and wrote out a list of his sins where he included “Threatening my father and mother Smith to burne them and the house over them”</li></ul>He had written a longer list later which he did in cipher lest it be found. 13In this list he included mostly sins of non-compliance with religious practice appropriate for those attending a religious college.6<br /><ul><li>He realized that his views were contrary to those of the Church of England and that he would be branded a heretic. This would most likely result in his expulsion and thus the end of his opportunity to continue his research. </li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Newton gives the full measure of his effort to studying ancient history and attempts to correlate Greek mythology, with the Bible . He learns the ancient languages and uses the oldest know records of astronomy to align the timing of events. 2,10 This is reflected in his manuscript on the topic
His journals take another turn as he begins to view Descartes, and Plato as attempting to remove God and spirit from the operation of nature . His studies lead him in the opposite direction and he sees these authors as enemies of Christianity.
He begins his lifelong passion of study in Biblical prophecies. His reading of Henry Moore adds to his evolving view of biblical writings and he adds a portion to his journal known as “Quaestiones” where he lists 45 general headings on the nature of matter, place and time. But the most significant of these , are: “Of God, Of the Creation, Of the Soule, and of Sleep and Dreams”</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>New ton becomes convinced that the Council of Nicaea corrupted Christianity in the 4th century by promoting erroneous doctrines on the nature of Christ.
His most consequential theological belief was that only the Father was God in an absolute sense.Christ was not ”very God” according to Nicene formulation, but the Son of God, and more than man.4
In the biography of Sir Isaac Newton by Gleick2 the author states that it was Newton’s goal to “Plumb the mind of God and His eternal plan for the world and humankind as it was presented in the biblical prophecies”</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Newton had a strong, self professed, belief in biblical teaching but felt many “religious” acts did not reflect faith. He saw them as pomp and circumstance, with which he felt little duty to comply.
He left Cambridge in 1665-1667 to escape the plague and work on “fluxions” (now called differential calculus). He calls the time as “the prime of my age for invention”It is during this time and the next 2-3 years that he prepares his premier piece which became known simply as the “Principia”
In the last few pages of this book, Newton describes his strong belief in an almighty God: “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being”1,12</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Newton is elected to the Royal Society in 1672. This is crucial for him to associate with elites like Boyle, Locke, Fatio, Halley and others. It also gave Newton access to others whose views (privately) were not in accord with the Church of England.8According to Robert Boyle and Alain Bauer, the Royal Society may have been formed by Freemasons as a means to exchange ideas from Gnostics, Rosicrucians, Cabbalists, and other mystics.14,15 In 1704 he becomes President of the Society and Knighted by Queen Anne in 1705.</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Around the time of his mother’s death in 1678 Newton suffers a serious emotional breakdown. He responds by cutting off contact with others and engrossing himself in theological and alchemical studies.5
Newton’s fascination with Biblical prophecy culminates in his publication of his manuscript on the apocalypse.
In this manuscript he attempts to show that the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments had so far been fulfilled.</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Newton had set in his mind the denial of the Trinity as espoused in the Nicene formulation and privately proclaimed alliance with the Arians. His financial and social standing depended on his maintaining a public persona in keeping with the Church of England. </li></ul>Newton Presiding over the Royal Society<br /><ul><li>Newton believed what he determined was the true primitive form of Christianity, and used his influence as President of the Royal Society to covertly instill in his protégés his philosophy , along with his theological , and alchemical knowledge. He also let those bolder of his protégés speak openly while keeping himself safe from public scrutiny. He was known to be severe with his critics .9</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>The speculation of the role of freemasonry in the Royal Society and the covert dialogue with many free thinkers and humanists was much more acceptable in other European countries, especially France. It was here that the humanistic writings of Descartes, and Voltaire were openly discussed along with the ideas promulgated by those learning from Sir Isaac Newton. 15
His “Natural Philosophy”could almost be called “Deist” were it not for his firm belief in a God who intervened in our lives through Christ as His mediator. But his idea of primitive Christianity had only two commandments: “Love God and love your neighbor” any others could naturally be derived from these.6,11
Newton’s Arian Christology ,along with his view on “natural philosophy giving rise to natural law “ fit well with the humanistic ideals being spread amongst the European elite, and became part of the foundation of the Age of Enlightenment.6
Two ideas or views on the natural God given rights of humankind seem to be melded together within the Enlightenment; those of the freemasons along with the combined natural law of Newton.14</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Stephen Snobelen says of Newton, “he was a natural philosopher and natural philosophy included in many cases the discovery of God in nature as well as elements we today would include in the Arts.” In other words, the precursor of science was broader in scope than modern science.6
The Enlightened view permeating amongst the elite of Europe and colonial America was that “religious” practice was not a relevant factor in following Natural Law.
Masons often comment about the “Enlightend “ or “Almighty Creator” and we know that several of our founding fathers were both masons and strongly influenced by the French ideals of the Age of Enlightenment.16
Known American masons include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Paine.</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Enlightened thinking centered upon the idea that reason was the primary source for legitimacy and authority.
At its core was a critical questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals, with a strong belief in rationality and science, as well as the centrality of freedom, and democracy as primary values for society. It argued for an establishment of a contractual basis of rights that would lead to a free market system and capitalism, religious tolerance, and the organization of states into self-governing republics.16
The core principles of the Enlightenment are evident in the American Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.6,10,11,14-17</li></li></ul><li>Sir Isaac Newton made it his life’s passion to reconcile the Book of Nature with the Book of Scripture.<br />Though every student of science has been made aware of the tremendous contribution he made to the fundamental understanding of the physical universe, few if any, are made aware of his intense study of history and theology. Even fewer know of the connection he had with the ideals that drove our founding fathers to realize that the state’s primary role was to protect and preserve individual freedom.17<br />
References<br /><ul><li> Translation from the original Latin by Andrew Motte“PhilosophiaeNaturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principals of Natural Philosophy) Sir Isaac Newton 1687.” Prometheous Books 1995, Amherst, NY
Gleick, James. “Biography of Sir Isaac Newton” First Vintage Book Edition, June 2003, Random House, Inc.
Westfall, Richard S. “The Life of Sir Isaac Newton” Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1993
Chew, Robin. “Sir Isaac Newton,” On line version of the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1995-2010
Hatch, Dr. Robert A. “Biography of Sir Isaac Newton,” University of Florida
Snobelen, Dr. Stephen D. Department of History and Philosophy of Science, “Isaac Newton, heretic: the strategies of a Nicodemite” British Journal of the Historical Society 1999: 32, 381-419</li></li></ul><li>7 Force, James E., and Popkin, Richard H., eds. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: “Newton and Religion: Context, Nature, and Influence,” Dordrecht and Boston, 1999<br />8 Seeger, Raymond J., “Newton, Biblical Creationist.” The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 35 (December 1983): pages 242-243 (http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1983/JASA12-83Seeger.html ; viewed 26 September 2005)<br />9 Westfall, Dr. Richard S., Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University, The Galileo Project http://galileo.rice.edu/Catalog/NewFiles/newton.html<br />10 Westfall, Dr. Richard S., “Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton” Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University, 1980, revised 1985 Cambridge University Press, Chapter 15. Years of Decline. P.819-827<br />11 Fryman, Helen, (tuppence@NS.NET) “The Religious Beliefs of Sir Isaac Newton,” www.biography.com in the A&E Biography database pages 124-126<br />
<ul><li>2 Turnbull, H.W.ed”Correspondence of Isaac Newton,” Cambridge Press 1961; vol 7, 382</li></ul>13 “Newton’s Religious Belief’s” http://www.biographyonline.net/scientists/isaac-newton.html<br />14 Bauer, Alain Ísaac Newton’s Freemasonry, The Alchemy of Science and Mysticism, published by Inner Traditions, 2007. http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/book_bauer.html<br />15 Restoration of Charles II and Foundation of the Royal Society. http://www.newtonproject.sussex.as.uk/prism.php?id=15<br />16 “Age of Enlightenment” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment<br />17 Mowry, Scott “The Heroic Figures Who Have Enlightened the World” http://miraclesandinspiration.com/heroic _figures.html<br />