[Milton-L] A bit of variety, was "the only great Christian writer this nation has produced"

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Sat Jan 23 09:06:25 EST 2010

I don't think you're really using the word "orthodox" correctly here,
Carrol.  There is no orthodoxy about a correct attitude toward Newton, but
since Newton is clearly subordinate to and created by God in these lines,
why would "orthodoxy" be bothered?  I think these lines point out a real
danger in using literary works alone to determine someone's theology or
"orthodoxy" -- they must be interpreted first, and the assumption of
orthodoxy (or not) is usually one we begin with rather than seek out.

Newton was widely and well received by the church/state complex of his time
because it could use his mechanical presentation of the universe as proof
that a divine mind created an orderly universe, besides the sheer
possibility Newton "created" for "seeing" the universe as an orderly
functioning whole operating under identifiable mathematical principles for
the first time.  "All was light" indeed.  Somewhat naive, as a strictly
mechanical universe could also be seen as one in which no God is required --
though Newton tried to close off that possibility by calling gravity "God's
invisible hand" --  but his more religious supporters weren't considering
that possibility.

I think the listmember who said it is a better question to ask what function
orthodoxy serves for the individual author was more on track.  However, in
states such as England, Denmark, etc., in which the King was also head of
the church, orthodoxy is really not that hard to define.

Jim R

On Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 10:45 PM, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:

> Is Pope's epitaph for Newton orthodox or basphemous?
> Nature and Nature's God lay hid in night,
> God said, Let Newton be, and all was light.
> Carrol
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