Newton on the Nature of ‘God’
By Nadeem Haque
Many conceptions are conjured up by the word ‘God’. According to the Quran, however, ‘God’ is one and unique; the independent of all, upon whom all are dependent; who has no offspring, nor was the offspring of anyone, and with whom absolutely nothing can be compared, (112:1-4). This unique conception of God is evidenced by the existence and the optimal design of the processes and structure of the Universe. Anyone, who comes to this realization and lives in conscious awareness of this God, without setting up any intermediaries or any other kinds of associates - anyone who realizes the accountability of all actions and does good in this way, is considered a ‘muslim’, that is: one who peacefully submits to the natural laws of this kind of God. Such individuals have existed throughout the ages - in all places on earth.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the renowned scientist, believed in the oneness of the Creator, as opposed to adhering to trinitarian concepts. It is not well known that he wrote many discourses against such an irrational notion. The following is an extract from one of his many manuscripts, where he discusses the nature of ‘God’ in some detail:
We are therefore to acknowledge one God, infinite,
eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, the
Creator of all things, most wise, most just, most
good, most holy. We must love him, fear him,
honour him, trust in him, pray to him, give him
thanks, praise him, hallow his name, obey his
commandments, and set times apart for his
service, as we are directed in the third and fourth
Commandments, and his commandments are not
grievous (John 5:3). And these things we must do
not to any mediators between him and us, but to
him alone, that he may give his angels charge over
us, who, being our fellow servants, are pleased
with the worship which we give to their God. And
this is the first and principle part of religion. This
always was and always will be the religion of all
God's people, from the beginning to the end of the
world. ...God made and governs the world invisibly
and has commanded us to love and worship him,
and no other God.
Newton, like any other thinking and truly rational person, realized that what we believe in and submit to has a profound bearing on everything we do in our lives - on our beliefs, opinions and actions. Upon reflection, we will realize that we all submit to some thing or another; however, all of these other objects, except their Originator, are themselves creations and transient and therefore - rationally speaking - should not be served as idols by human beings. As opposed to the subservience to other forces, anyone who is in total submission to the Creator and Originator of the entire cosmos is also in conformity with the rest of nature because such a person's mind will be able to transcend and reject that which is not true and that which does not make any sense. Any individual with this non-contradictory outlook will base life on justice and know that being in submission to the Creator is indeed the ultimate definition of human freedom and peace.
Newton's Philosophy of Nature: Selection from his writing, Edited by H.S Thayer, Hafner Publishing Co., New York, 1953. The quotation is from a manuscript by Newton entitled: “A Short Scheme of the True Religion”, published in Brewster's Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton, Vol 2, pp. 347-8 and p. 354.