To what end are comets, and whence is it that planets move all one and the same way in orbs concentric while comets move all manner of ways in orbs very eccentric, and what hinders the fixed stars fro falling upon one another?... And these things being rightly dispatched, does it not appear from phenomena that there is a Being, incorporeal, living, intelligent, omnipresent, who in infinite space, as it were in his sensory, sees the things themselves intimately and thoroughly perceives them, and comprehends them wholly by their immediate presence to himself, of which thinking the images only carried through the organs of sense into our little sensoriums area there seen and beheld by that which in us perceives and thinks? And though every true step made in this philosophy brings us not immediately to the knowledge of the first cause, yet it brings us nearer to it, and on that account is to be highly valued. — from Opticks (1704)
Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian. Because of his breakthroughs in scientific thought, he is considered one of the most influential minds in the history of mankind. Besides asserting the laws of gravity and motion which would become the matrix for physical scientific inquiry until partially supplanted by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity nearly 300 years later, Newton synthesized the work of his predecessors, “standing on the shoulders of giants,” as he quipped, to launch what we now know as the Scientific Revolution. While he is best known for his scientific writings, Newton actually wrote more extensively on theological matters.