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A Smart Guy and the Creation

Is it true that all genuine scientists only accept atheism and evolution?

Acts 17.24–29

By Don Ruhl

If you were not here last Lord’s Day, I preached a sermon that I titled, “A Smart Guy and the Bible.” It was about Isaac Newton and his belief in God and the Bible, especially about Newton’s belief in the creation of the heavens as revealed in both nature and in the Bible.

However, I called him a “smart guy,” (being informal), to show that he was not greater than any other person, and that anyone of us can have the same standing before God, for you see, if Newton did not believe in God, although one of the best physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers, then any believer is greater than Sir Isaac Newton, as you can see from what Jesus said about John the Baptist, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt 11.11). John was never in the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, if you are in Kingdom of Heaven, you are greater than John, not because you in yourself are greater, but the difference is being in the Kingdom or not. Any great person of the world who is not in the Kingdom of Heaven is less than the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.

In 1687, Newton published, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. That is the English title, for he wrote it in Latin, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. We shorten it to Principia. In the second and third editions, he added an Appendix called, General Scholium, Scholium is Latin for explanatory note. In it he explained why the heavens have perfect order and beauty.

Today, I want to show you some of the things that he said.

Natural Laws Alone Cannot Explain the Creation of the Heavens

In his General Scholium, Newton refuted René Descartes (“I think, therefore I am), on the movement of the Sun and planets, for believing that they each moved in a vortex. Descartes believed that no empty space exists, but that matter fills the places between the planets and sun, and the moving matter moves the heavenly bodies. Newton also answered some critics. Now listen to this, and I will explain it afterwards, “That the smaller Vortices may maintain their lesser revolutions about Saturn, Jupiter, and other Planets, and swim quietly and undisturb’d in the greater Vortex of the Sun, the periodic times of the parts of the Sun’s Vortex should be equal. But the rotation of the Sun and Planets about their axes, which ought to correspond with the motions of their Vortices, recede far from all these proportions.” Without knowing the details of his meaning, you can tell he discovered that the movement of the heavenly bodies does not repeat itself with every planet, but each does something different in its orbit, rotation, and tilt. I had someone explain it to me like this: Imagine children on a merry-go-round at the park. They keep telling their dad, Faster! He complies. They start flying off. You expect them to spin off in the direction of the merry-go-round, and taking into calculation their sizes, and other factors, you can predict how they will come offIf the Solar System appeared by mechanical natural laws alone.

Therefore, Newton said this, “But though these bodies may indeed persevere in their orbits by the mere laws of gravity, yet they could by no means have at first deriv’d the regular position of the orbits themselves from those laws.” The laws of gravity hold everything in place, but the laws of gravity would not have created or allowed such variety to happen.

He said further, “But it is not to be conceived that mere mechanical causes could give birth to so many regular motions: since the Comets range over all parts of the heavens, in very eccentric orbits…This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets, and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” Newton saw design in the Solar System. And where you have design, he concluded you have a designer! He argued that such a system as the one in which we live, not only came from this intelligent and powerful being, but Newton argued that it continues by this Being, “This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all: And on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God Pantokrator, or Universal Ruler.” Pantokrator is a Greek word meaning Almighty or All-Powerful, found in Second Corinthians 6.8 and nine times in Revelation.

Then Sir Isaac Newton answered a question that I have had for a very long time, but have never voiced to anyone.

Man is the pinnacle of the natural creation of God. Genesis 1 shows man as the last thing God created, saving the best for last, and Genesis 2 shows the special treatment He used in creating the man and the woman. God made man in His image, which God never says about anything else in natural creation. Keeping that in mind, listen to what Moses said about the heavens, “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1.14–18). According to this passage, all the lights of the heavens, God provided for the benefit of man on the Earth. Okay, here is my question: If God made the universe for us, why did He put everything so far away from us? Newton spoke of the light of the stars, and then explained why God put them so far away from one another, “And lest the systems of the fixed Stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those Systems at immense distances from one another.” For the stars to provide the guidance that they do, they have to be bright, and they have to move. Immense distances prevents gravity from pulling them together, otherwise they would no longer function as signs.

I have to agree with Newton, “Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find, suited to different times and places, could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing.” Pure chance, even great natural forces, could not produce the super abundance of variety that we see in the heavens, and I add that we see on the Earth.

The Creator of the Heavens

Newton wrote much on the nature of God in his essay General Scholium. Newton provided me with an abundance of material for speaking on the nature of God, but I will not overwhelm you with it in this sermon. Let me show you two things.

First, listen to what Newton said about God interacting with His creation, “Every man, so far as he is a thing that has perception, is one and the same man during his whole life, in all and each of his organs of sense. God is the same God, always and everywhere. He is omnipresent, not virtually only, but also substantially; for virtue cannot subsist without substance. In him b are all things contained and moved; yet neither affects the other: God suffers nothing from the motion of bodies; bodies find no resistance from the omnipresence of God.” God’s omnipresence is not virtual, like we do watching television of events of another location. No, God is present there and here. Everything is before Him, and He is before everything. We cannot escape God’s presence. We live in Him. The amazing thing to Newton was the fact that we are in God and God is in us, yet, our movement does not affect Him, we do not bump into His side, nor as Newton argues in another part of the General Scholium, does His activity hinder us. Newton included that footnote, which says this, “This was the opinion of the Ancients. So Pythagoras in Cicer. de Nat. Deor. lib. i. Thales, Anaxagoras, Virgil, Georg. lib. iv. ver. 220. and Aeneid. lib. vi. ver. 721. Philo Allegor. at the beginning of lib. i. Aratus in his Phaenom. at the beginning. So also the sacred Writers, as St. Paul, Acts xvii. ver. 27, 28. St. John‘s Gosp. chap. xiv. ver. 2.Moses in Deut. iv. ver. 39; and x. ver. 14. David, Psal. cxxxix. ver. 7, 8, 9. Solomon, 1 Kings viii. ver. 27. Job xxii. ver. 12, 13, 14. Jeremiah xxiii. ver. 23, 24. The Idolaters supposed the Sun, Moon, and Stars, the Souls of Men, and other parts of the world, to be parts of the supreme God, and therefore to be worshiped; but erroneously.”

Then Newton said something that we have probably all thought or said. When you meditate on the creation of God, when you meditate on the word of God, you realize how little you know of God, “As a blind man has no idea of colours, so have we no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things.” How about the way Job said it? This sums up all that Newton said, as I have reported to you today,

“Sheol is naked before Him,
And Destruction has no covering.
He stretches out the north over empty space;
He hangs the earth on nothing.
He binds up the water in His thick clouds,
Yet the clouds are not broken under it.
He covers the face of His throne,
And spreads His cloud over it.
He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters,
At the boundary of light and darkness.
The pillars of heaven tremble,
And are astonished at His rebuke.
He stirs up the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He breaks up the storm.
By His Spirit He adorned the heavens;
His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways,
And how small a whisper we hear of Him!
But the thunder of His power who can understand?”
(Job 26.6–14)

What then shall we say to these things? We serve an awesome God! An awesome God loves us! This God cares as much for us as He did for Sir Isaac Newton.

Also anyone who tells you that intelligent people, such as physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers do not believe in creation or the God of the Bible, you can ask that person whether he has heard of Sir Isaac Newton.

Because Isaac Newton believed, does not make it so, for there are other intelligent people who do not believe. Each camp could throw out names, but truly that does not gain us anything.

The beliefs of Isaac Newton are important because people never knew of his beliefs in the Scriptures, and he wrote significant words, and we want to know what anyone has to say about creation and the Creator. He has opened my eyes to see things I had not seen before. As I continue to read him, I anticipate learning more.

Learning from Isaac Newton is like learning from anyone. If he has gained insight that we have not acquired yet, we want to examine it, like what Luke tells us in Acts 8 that the treasurer from Ethiopia was reading Isaiah 53, and did not know of whom the prophet spoke. Philip went to the Ethiopian and asked whether he understood what he was reading, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8.31). The Ethiopian had been reading parts of Isaiah 53.7–8, “So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’” (Acts 8.34). Philip showed that Isaiah prophesied of Jesus, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8.35). Evidently that included teaching on baptism, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’” (Acts 8.37). Philip baptized the Ethiopian and he went on his way rejoicing, and Philip went to another place to preach and to teach.

Are you ready to do what the Ethiopian treasurer did?