The enlightened empiricist

For Isaac Newton, laying the foundation of modern physics and astronomy was a bit of a sideshow. He believed that his truly important work was deciphering ancient scriptures and uncovering the nature of the Christian religion. True, his skill in calculation was helpful for describing celestial mechanics, but far more critical was applying it to Hebrew prophecies.

How do we think about his career when we consider that Newton wrote vastly more on religious subjects than he did on what we would consider scientific ones? Rob Iliffe’s new book Priest of Nature pulls back the curtain on what Newton thought of as his life’s work, rather than that for which we remember him.


The enlightened empiricist
Matthew Stanley
Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton Rob Iliffe Oxford University Press, 2017. 536 pp.

Science  30 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6345, pp. 1341
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4659