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Isaac Newton's views on religion

USViking

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PART ONE OF REPLY

(from post #36):
ashurbanipal said:
Hers is a surprising thesis, and one opposed by Cohen. Given your comments so far, I think you'd like Cohen's stuff...and I don't mean to give the impression I think Cohen is a dimwit or anything. I think it's an honest disagreement by people who are intellectual peers, but who see things differently.

I appreciate the suggestion, but alchemy, astrology and other such intellectual frauds do not interest me.


ashurbanipal said:
Don't you think, though, that the bolded bit reveals a bias on your part? I mean, we all have our biases. But they prevent us, often, from seeing truth as it is. Again, you'll have to read Dobbs stuff to get the fine details of her argument, but she's pretty careful in her argumentation, and I think she makes a good case.

I take bias to mean animosity unsupported by the weight of evidence and the light of reason. There is no doubt that evidence and reason weigh overwhelmingly against alchemy. That is the truth as it is. Hence, no, I do not think my position is biased. Subject to rebuttal on the merits, but not biased. If you think Dobbs can provide such a rebuttal please provide a link to it.


ashurbanipal said:
I'm not quite sure what you mean here. Do you just mean, unless we have written affirmation that Boyle instructed Newton on alchemy in Boyle's and Newton's own hand, we shouldn't believe it?
This would not be good enough. Correspondence would have to include evidence that alchemical research somehow motivated legitimate scientific research, which in Newton’s case consisted almost wholly of physics and mathematics.


ashurbanipal said:
I hate to tell you, but we have their correspondence (and Locke's as well) and we know that's what happened. Boyle was an alchemist, and his development of the principles of modern chemistry was inspired by a particular branch of thought in alchemy that attributed attractive forces to corpuscles. It's all laid out fairly explicitly; I think the Royal Society maintains the archives on Boyle's side. The British Museum has the Keynes material (i.e. Newton's stuff).

Correspondence would have to include evidence that alchemical research somehow motivated legitimate scientific research. BTW I think Newton’s papers are somewhat widely scattered, with a significant amount preserved in Israel, among other places.


ashurbanipal said:
If instead you just mean it's hard to make a case for alchemy itself...well, consider that, largely thanks to Newton's work, we've come to accept a particular view about the nature of physical stuff. That view has it that what we observe can serve as an explanation for what we observe.
I would have assumed this to be a premise of all legitimate scientific inquiry going back to the ancients.


ashurbanipal said:
Rather interestingly, this was a view that Newton was loathe to accept, and one it's not clear that he himself ever held. Nineteenth century distortion of his view is probably more responsible for our own inheritance of this idea.

You have lost me.


ashurbanipal said:
Newton was accused (by Leibniz and others) of taking seriously the notion of occult forces, but that notion came to dominate how we think of physics. The forces are just kinda there, as is physical law. An alchemist would ask why we feel entitled to help ourselves to such a view.

Isn't this a reference to Newton's spooky action at a distance (apologies to A. Einstein in a different context) gravitational theory? If so it is no help to the alchemical side of the discussion. Leibniz might accuse Newton of this and that, and an alchemist might ask why we feel entitled, but Newton was not interested in digressing beyond hypotheses non fingo, and I think he would could have employed that phrase to his advantage elsewhere than gravity.


ashurbanipal said:
This is not to say that any particular view is correct. But I think if you spend some time and effort really grappling with how we got to where we are, and especially with the ideas that Newton, Leibniz, Boyle, Descartes, Gassendi, etc. were investigating and formulating, it'll probably change your view somewhat.
I doubt it!
 

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PART TWO OF REPLY

(from post #36):
ashurbanipal said:
The notion of spirit was banished from our concept of physics, but when you look at why and how it was, it looks pretty arbitrary. Food for thought.
The banishment of spirit was not at all arbitrary! Spirit was banished from science because it was not useful to science. You seem to be sidling up to a God of the Gaps point of view: whatever science cannot explain, there lies God. You can include me out of that one, and I think it is safe to say that 90% or more of modern scientific experts feel the same way I do.

Now, the 17th-18th century intellectual consensus, including Newton, might have been happy to retain the spiritual, but that is a different topic from alchemy, and lends no support to the alchemical side of this discussion.


USViking said:
Defense of dogmatically held religious belief is a branch of theology. Theology is the branch of philosophy which is devoted to religious thought.
ashurbanipal said:
I wouldn't quite divide things up that way. For one thing, there are plenty of philosophers of religion who would balk at being called theologists <sic- viz: “theologians”- USV>, especially as many of them are themselves atheists. But there are also theologists <sic> who think it's no part of the business of theology to try to uphold dogmatic belief--lots of mystics have thought so. I tend towards that camp.
Is there really a need to quibble here? Simply tack “from the point of view of the believer” to the end of the second sentence, or maybe say “Theology is a branch…” rather than “the branch”.


USViking said:
Our views are diametrically opposed here: I am sure I understand that theology is nowhere near being the worthiest of all fields of knowledge. (Alchemical knowledge is at the bottom of the list)
ashurbanipal said:
I like the way you phrase that, because it seems that understanding is really what is at issue. The philosopher Linda Zagzebski has done some work on the notion of understanding, which she defines as "grasping the non-propositional structures of the world." The "world" in this sense is just everything that exists, and includes basically any subject at all.
I hope Linda leaves some room for the propositional, such as: “no, there is no evidence that alchemy has contributed anything, directly of indirectly, to the scientific advance of the Western (now world-wide, although not universal) Age of Reason.


ashurbanipal said:
It seems to me that for some people, there is no sensus divinitatis, while for others, there is, and it changes how the two groups respectively grasp the non-propositional structures of the world. This, in turn, changes which inferences seem solid, and which seem suspect.
Scientific inference is solidly based on solid observation of Nature, on solid evidence available to all who are capable of inquiry. The evidence for numerous natural phenomena which cannot even be seen (e.g. atoms) is incontrovertible. I reject any suggestion of parity between such vastly corroborated phenomena as atoms, and such deficiently corroborated phenomena as miracles, the soul, and God.


ashurbanipal said:
For my part, I think very few people are truly capable of religion in the strict sense of linking-back (re-ligio) to God,
The “Elect” and whatnot? You have been reading too much Calvin.


ashurbanipal said:
and furthermore, it's unethical to attempt to get someone who cannot to attempt it.
I think there is a guilt-free fundamental right to attempt peaceful conversion of others to non-violent beliefs.
 

laska

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I am tiring of religious polemic and will probably not engage OP further than the following series of posts.

(post #32):

The first paragraph of your reply #23 was propaganda in that it misdirects the great reputation of Isaac Newton in support of your own religious convictions. Those convictions are LDS- based, regardless of your innovative personal touches.

Reply #23 has nothing to do with Isaac Newton. And nothing I've written in the entire thread supports your accusations of propaganda and misdirect of Isaac Newton's reputation. I have only implied that Newton's writings on believing the NT Church was taken off the earth and that there was an apostasy of the NT Church early on, and his belief that in a future day the true Church would be restored by an angel all fits The Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints narrative. I have not stated or implied Isaac Newton would believe or not believe the LDS church is the restored true Church that he was looking forward to in his writings.

Classic LDS boilerplate.

Don't think so. More like classic Laska boilerplate. But why would it matter?
 

laska

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By “apostasy” I mean renouncement of religious faith. This may entail:

(1) renouncing all religion, or
(2) converting to another religion, or
(3) a special case LDS use of the term, according to you above, for those who persecuted early Christians, and who LDS think corrupted the scriptures.

#3 is defining the Great Abominable Church, not the general term apostasy.


As for (1)- renouncing all religion, of most interest to me personally, LDS is unambiguously censorious:

Mormon President Calls for New
Battle Against Atheism

(from link, emphasis added):
Quote Originally Posted by Gordon B. Hinckley
Speaking to a meeting of the American Legion yesterday, the President of the Mormon Church (Church of Latter-day Saints) called for a "battle" against Atheism, and conjured "an unequivocal trust in the power of the Almighty to guide and defend us." According to a report in today's Salt Lake Tribune, Gordon B. Hinckley praised veterans of various U.S. wars, "but warned that their sacrifices may be in vain unless the nation turns itself again to God."

The event was the 78th national convention of the American Legion being held in Salt Lake City. Hinckley praised those "who have been defenders of our liberty at great cost," but warned that "those battles are over and another battle goes on."

"The new battle is one against atheism," noted the Tribune.

A fundamental principle of LDS doctrine is free agency. "...#11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our [own]conscience, and allow all men the same privilege[,] let them worship how, where, or what they may..."-13 Articles of Faith.Joseph Smith's Articles of Faith

Obviously the LDS rejects atheism as being a false belief and one that is limiting for growth in the eternities but in no way does that mean rejecting a person's right to believe and practice any religion or belief system they want. Obviously Hinckley, if he made the statement "fight against atheism" in a speech, meant something to the effect of LDS families fighting the growing trend of secularism and living this life without God with an increase in faith, prayer, attending temple, etc.

I do not oppose any religious activity which is free of ambition to social and political dominance and other abusive behavior. I believe most non-Communist atheists would concur. However, tolerance does not impel duty to respect , or to foreswear the most vehement philosophical denunciation. That is no more than fighting LDS fire with fire of my own. If you can’t take then don’t dish it out.



D&C 101:
76 And again I say unto you, those who have been scattered by their enemies, it is my will that they should continue to importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you—

77 According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.

A few other quotes:

"If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a "Mormon," I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul — civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race."

—Joseph Smith, 1843

"Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, that the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Latter-day Saints, Quakers, Episcopals, Universalists, Unitarians, Mohammedans [Muslims], and all other religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration, and equal privileges in this city ..."

—Ordinance in Relation to Religious Societies, City of Nauvoo, [Illinois] headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, March 1, 1841
 

laska

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By “apostasy” I mean renouncement of religious faith. This may entail:

(1) renouncing all religion, or
(2) converting to another religion, or
(3) a special case LDS use of the term, according to you above, for those who persecuted early Christians, and who LDS think corrupted the scriptures.

As for (2)- converting to another religion, I was gratified to read LDS President Dieter Uchtdorf’s conciliatory remarks:

LDS Leader Dieter Uchtdorf Addresses Those Who Leave the Mormon Fold

(from link):


Hopefully Uchtdorf’s comments on this subject represent a wholesome new trend in LDS moderation and tolerance in general. I am entitled to wonder, though, what he and others say in private, and feel in their hearts.

This spirit of tolerance is nothing new. It has characterized the LDS from the very beginning even while many were not so tolerant of their beliefs. Go and meet some LDS people, the vast majority are very friendly and nice.

In no way is Uchtdorf saying it doesn't matter if a person embraces Christ's gospel or not, only that the path to finding truth is different for everyone and people should be tolerant and patient with the different paths people take or where they are at in their spiritual journey. Uchtdorf, as a true authorized apostle of the Lord, would state the following words of Jesus in the New Testament are true:

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."-john 3:5

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.-Mathew 7:13-14

The Book of Mormon teaches the strait gate is baptism into the Lord's true Church and the strait and narrow path is enduring to the end in obeying God's commandments and following the Lord in all virtue and righteousness.

My guess is you likely think those verses are intolerant.
 

laska

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(post #34):

Those are just two prime examples out of billions of examples of God’s evil.



A man who shoots a child is a murderer from any vantage point.

Also, your point above is an evasion which does nothing to address the specific case of God’s mass murder of the first-born of Egypt.



The people of the earth could never be so wicked as to deserve the punishment of universal mass murder. Even if the adults were guilty, all children must be presumed innocent of capital sin, and must consequently be spared in any system of just moral law.



All preventable suffering of innocent people is gratuitous, and any agent who could prevent it but permits it is evil.



An omnipotent God can choose from an unlimited number of means of providing for the safety of future generations. Only a evil god would choose mass murder of the innocent children of the present generation.



The best timing for the prevention of suffering is immediate.



God is darkness and there is no light or truth in Him. Everything He does is for His own Vanity. His hatred is infinite and vile. He is without mercy.



The only reason there is eternal misery is because of the agency of God and the cause and effect that is the reality of His evil.

At the judgement bar of God you can compare your good deeds and light with that of God's and you can tell Him yourself. These verses from Proverbs come to mind though: "Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise: and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding."
 

laska

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As for (3)- the special case LDS use of the term “apostate”- your insistence on limiting the term to actors of the pre-Roman Catholic era is contradicted in the passage below by LDS founding father and Apostle Orson Pratt, who denounces both Catholics and Protestants as “apostate”:

The Mormon Curtain

(from link, emphasis added):

I hope complete, explicit, unqualified official LDS renunciation of this grotesque, evil passage has been made.

And speaking of the RC Church, it has in recent years dropped the baptismal requirement for salvation. As well it must and any church must in order to credibly aspire to moral justice: Even leaving apart the case of unbaptised infants, there are legions of virtuous people, fully deserving of salvation (if salvation in fact occurs), who God (inexplicitly) omitted from all revelation of his (supposed) love.

I am aware of the LDS practice of baptism of the virtuous dead. Well, LDS needs to adopt some sort of mass baptism of the unidentified virtuous dead, because it will simply not get to billions of them otherwise. And besides that, the virtuous dead should not have to wait or depend on the graces of LDS to receive their just reward.

Quotes are not binding unless it is official canonized doctrine. I have no idea if the meaning of John's whore of Babylon is a broad description all of apostate Christianity or primarily to the early apostasy. And if understood clearly, the Plan of Salvation of God allows everyone ample opportunity to use their moral agency to choose what percentage of God's blessings they choose to enjoy. All blessings are based on obedience to virtuous and righteous principles, and God wants all to receive a fullness of His blessings. But moral agency is required and not all will choose a fullness.
 

laska

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(reply #35):


According to the following LDS site Joseph Smith is thought to have taken his first plural wife in the mid-1830s, following revelatory commandments in the early 1830s:

The Beginnings of Plural Marriage in the Church

However, you are correct and I was incorrect in that polygamy had nothing to do with the Illinois and Missouri persecutions. The pre-trek Mormons were apparently able to keep the practice secret until they were secure in Utah.

I will gladly add that from what I have been able to discern from the past few days reading the pre-trek Mormons were innocent of any wrongdoing, secret plural marriage being irrelevant.




I concede this point as well.

However, you do not reply to the following other points from my post #30, which bear repeating:

Joseph and Hyrum Smith were innocent victims of the abomination of murder. However, calling the murderers part of a church of the devil has no value except as a literary flourish.

Christ and the Christian martyrs of the first centuries AD were innocent victims of the abomination of murder. However, calling the murderers part of a church of the devil has no value except as a literary flourish.

The Church of the Lamb committed numerous murderous abominations in its history, and earned the hatred of numerous innocent victims.

And with that I bid our discussion farewell.

While I commend you for admitting some false accusations(I rarely get anything but silence to response and more false accusations), I do not agree with the church of the devil being just a literary flourish. And I disagree with you that the the true Church in any dispensation has done evil. Individual members may fall and do evil, but the Lord and those who follow Him in all things will not do evil.
 

laska

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I am tiring of religious polemic and will probably not engage OP further than the following series of posts.

I hope you don't engage if it is the same quality of responses. I'm not going to engage either then.
 
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