Yes, folks: That's a Video!

I’m getting the impression that the That’s a Fact series is now reduced to just reusing old ICR material and reformatting it for video consumption. This current video – Isaac Newton – is seemingly taken from an old Acts & Facts series, Man of Science, Man of God. As you can probably already guess, the series is based around the idea that they have all these famous scientists who were religious. For the video series at least they have started with Newton – in my opinion this was not a very good choice.

(They’ve managed to find a way to prevent me embedding the videos, the bastards – however other videos on other posts seem to be still working. Hence I have put the video below anyway in the hope that this is only temporary. You can see the video on their site here regardless. Depending on how they’ve done it, it may be viewable below on feed readers. [Edit: Nope, but that raises my hopes that it will have to be lifted for Rhonda Forlow to be able to use it.] [Edit 2: It works now])

Before I begin it is worth pointing out that commenting on the videos has resumed, and Dr Shorey is back commenting on them again, like so:

Glad to see the ICR put comments back up. Also glad to see a completely factual “That’s a Fact”. I don’t see what point being made is though. Newton definitely believed the Bible was the word of God and wrestled with the oddities. Newton was also a really unpleasant undividual socially, did very mean things to Leibniz, stuck needles in his eye socket so see how it affected his vision, and his comment about the initial motion of the planets was destroyed by Kant and Le Place. Kant qualitatively, and Le Place quantitatively pointed out that you don’t need to worry about initial starting of planetary motion when you apply Newtonian physics to a concept known as the Nebular Hypothesis. Newton actually destroyed the idea that you needed angels to push the planets around, and Kant killed the idea that you needed supernatural forces to start the planets’ motions off to begin with. We can also note that Newton’s ideas of space as a stage on which we walk, and time as a river that runs along side us was superceded by Einstein’s ideas of relativity which conceives of us all being temporally and spatially extended, and Einstien definitely said he was an atheist. Gee. argument from scientific authority doesn’t work for anyone. So what is the point here? Look we have one on our side and ignore all the scientists who aren’t on the side of creationism? I call this cherry piking the data set of scientists. My final assessment is this is misleading work by the ICR that violates the 9th commandment, again.

There isn’t all that much to add to Shorey’s comment, but I’ll do so anyway:

Some of us think of Isaac Newton as the guy who discovered how gravity works – you know, like the apple falling from the tree.

Unfortunately that’s true. Some people also think of Darwin as they guy who said we evolved from monkeys – and that is equally unfortunate.

But Newton did much more than just that. He was a brilliant mathematician and physicist and many today recognise him as one of the greatest scientists of all time.

It’s a pretty big list. But Newton was certainly one of the giants he claims to have been standing on.

But the fact is that young Newton was not always a good student, and it took a school bully, who bested Newton in a fight, to motivate him to excel in his studies, eventually outranking everyone in his class.

This is where the whole ‘what’s their point’ thing comes from. This is basically filler – we’re already 33 seconds into a 1 minute 32 second video.

After that, school was never a problem for Newton – in fact, he later studied at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1665.

He was, it should be added, apparently “undistinguished” during this time. Also, the picture they have is of Kings College – Newton went to Trinity (both are part of the University of Cambridge).

While working on his Masters degree he earned membership in the Royal Society in 1671, and later became the group’s president in 1701.

The narrator means 1703. He retired from Cambridge in 1701. This is the only actual factual error in this particular video that I have spotted.

For thirty years he was the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a prestigious post later held by other famous scientists, like Charles Babbage, who was known for inventing the first mechanical computer, and Steven Hawking, the theoretical physicist.

We are now just over a minute in to the video, and only now are we to receive the point of the video, if it can be legitimately called one.

But unlike Hawking, who is known for his views against God, Newton was a serious student of the bible, and he acknowledged God in many of his writings – even the scientific ones.

And now we come to Isaac Newton’s religious views. To summarise that Wikipedia article, Newton would have been considered a heretic if his personal religious opinions were known at the time. He believed that he was specially chosen to understand scripture. He thought that worshiping Jesus as God was idolatry. He apparently believed that the second coming would take place in 2060. He did not believe in the immortal soul. Basically, about the only thing that the ICR and Newton would agree on with regards to theology is that the Bible is the infallible word of God. This is why I don’t think that Newton is a great example for the ICR to use.

He wrote that “gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion.”

Technically true. Here’s another quote from that article:

Tis inconceivable that inanimate brute matter should (without the mediation of something else which is not material) operate upon & affect other matter without mutual contact.

He lived 300 years ago – he did not know then what we know now.

Indeed, we owe a lot to Sir Isaac Newton for having the courage to give honour to God, our creator.

And there we go. There are several problems with this last sentence. For one, what do we owe to Newton’s religious views? And did he really need courage to credit God in such a time, considering ow touchy they were about religion. It would really have taken more courage not to have done so. And, to go back to Shorey’s comment, he did demolish many of the views held then with regards to supernatural influences. And he was wrong on quite a few matters – he, certainly, was no infallible God himself.

But imagine he was right on all his scientific views, and that he wasn’t a heretic – does that matter? No. This argument from authority – ‘we have this great guy who agreed with us’ – does not affect whether or not the Earth is really 4 billion years old, or whether evolution happens. So Newton was religious – so what?

Curiously, the ICR has omitted the usual argument made by creationists – nowhere do they explicitly state that the man was a young-Earth creationist. It’s nice to see that they realise that that falls immediately to the ‘well everyone was back then’ argument, but so does the more limited claim that they give here. But, then again, not everyone was a heretic back then…

5 thoughts on “Newton

  1. “…did very mean things to Leibniz, stuck needles in his eye socket so [sic] see how it affected his vision…”

    To the simple-minded like me, that part of Dr. Shorey’s comment at ICR makes it sound like Newton stuck needles in Leibniz’ eye socket which is, indeed, a mean thing. In fact what he did was to experiment on his own vision by working a darning needle around his own eye into the socket so he could see how different pressures affected his (Newton’s) own vision.

    Even without the Leibniz confusion, the way Dr. Shorey tells it, he makes it sound like Newton was the Vincent van Gogh of eyeballs.

    I think Dr Shorey should read his stuff with a critical eye before he pushes the Post button. “Does it really say what I intended to convey?”

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