Happy Easter

So the LORD God said to the serpent [in the Garden of Eden], “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

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Isaac Newton: Crazy man!

I’ve just finished reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. It’s a great read and has really firmed up some ideas on physics I’ve had for a long time. But I thought I’d paste this exert here as it’s a really crazy summary of Isaac Newton’s life. It’s a short biography at the back of A Brief History of Time. I’m always surprised seeing people act so childishly. I hope Newton was happy acting like an idiot.

Update 2012-05-20: Other historical sources don’t seem to agree with Hawking’s short biography of Isaac Newton and Hawking certainly has his own biases. Readers should be aware that Hawking’s biography is certainly not completely objective. As always, the truth seems to lie somewhere in the middle of two extremes.

I’ve just finished reading Stephen Hawking‘s A Brief History of Time. It’s a great read and has really firmed up some ideas on physics I’ve had for a long time. But I thought I’d paste this excerpt here as it’s a really crazy summary of Isaac Newton’s life. It’s a short biography at the back of A Brief History of Time. I’m always surprised seeing people act so childishly. I hope Newton was happy acting like an idiot.

Isaac Newton was not a pleasant man. His relations with other academics were notorious, with most of his later life spent embroiled in heated disputes. Following publication of Principia Mathematica – surely the most influential book ever written in Physics – Newton had risen rapidly into public prominence. He was appointed president of the Royal Society and became the first scientist ever to be knighted.

Newton soon clashed with the Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, who had earlier provided Newton with much needed data for Principia, but was now withholding information that Newton wanted. Newton would not take no for an answer; he had himself appointed to the governing body of the Royal Observatory and then tried to force immediate publication of the data. Eventually he arranged for Flamsteed’s work to be seized and prepared for publication by Flamsteed’s mortal enemy, Edmond Halley. But Flamsteed took the case to court and, in the nick of time, won a court order preventing distribution of the stolen work. Newton was incensed and sought his revenge by systematically deleting all references to Flamsteed in later editions of Principia.

A more serious dispute arose with the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz. Both Leibniz and Newton had independently developed a branch of mathematics called Calculus, which underlies most of modern physics. Although we now know that Newton discovered Calculus years before Leibniz, he published his work much later. A major row ensued over who had been first, with scientists vigorously defending both contenders. It is remarkable, however, that most of the articles appearing in defense of Newton were originally written by his own hand – and only published in the name of friends! As the row grew, Leibniz made the mistake of appealing to the Royal Society to resolve the dispute. Newton, as president, appointed an “impartial” committee to investigate, coincidentally consisting entirely of Newton’s friends! But that was not all: Newton then wrote the committee’s report himself and had the Royal Society publish it, officially accusing Leibniz of plagiarism. Still unsatisfied, he then wrote an anonymous review of the report in the Royal Society’s own periodical. Following the death of Leibniz, Newton is reported to have declared that he had taken great satisfaction in “breaking Leibniz’ heart”.

During the period of these two disputes, Newton had already left Cambridge and academe. He had been active in anti-Catholic politics at Cambridge, and later in Parliament, and was rewarded eventually with the lucrative post of Warden of the Royal Mint. Here he used his talents for deviousness and vitriol in a more socially acceptable way, successfully conducting a major campaign against counterfeiting, even sending several men to their death on the gallows.

− Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time

Genesis 22-25 (What’s it like to read the entire bible? How about we find out?)

“35 They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.” (Jeremiah 32:35)

Genesis 22

  • The Sacrifice of Isaac
    • The account raises so many questions. Why would God ask that? Would Abraham have followed through? How close was Abraham to following through when the angel interrupted him? Why does it seem Isaac didn’t put up a fight? Are all three actors in this story crazy? How far was far enough into the sacrifice to prove his faith to God? Would God really require human sacrifice? Maybe God would follow through with it in another time and place? What does it say about God’s character that He would think such a thing, let alone ask it?
    • It’s a powerful story and incredible with the fact that Abraham apparently would do as God asked. I can’t imagine going through with it if I were the one asked. Then again, it was a different time, place and culture. Perhaps the whole thinking pattern was different then.
    • Later on we’re going to see that God commands Israel to destroy nations for their consistently abhorrent cultures. One of the things God highlighted was child sacrifice, He says:
      • “35 They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.” (Jeremiah 32:35)
      • If it never entered His mind then why did he ask it here?
      • I think it’s safe to say He always was going to provide the sacrificial lamb.
      • …He always was going to provide Jesus.
        • “15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
        • I should’ve highlighted this at the time, but this is a foreshadowing of Jesus taking final victory over Satan.
        • I don’t know about you but it’s all these connections and internal references that make me look in awe at God’s Word.

Genesis 23

  • Sarah’s Burial
    • There’s tremendous detail here about Sarah’s burial which boils down to Abraham purchasing some land.
    • Be aware of tracts of text that provide whole bunches of detail for no apparent reason.
    • I’ve said it a few times already but text like this will be critical for constructing the truth out of some issue either in another verse or book or in our study of God’s Word today.

Genesis 24

  • A Wife for Isaac
    • A lovely little story about Abraham sending his servant to get a wife for his son.
    • All through the text it’s clear Abraham and his servant want God to provide the right wife. They don’t just want to find any wife.
    • Even better is when they do find the right girl and seeing how the girl responds.
    • Rebekah, Isaac’s wife to-be, presents herself admirably. Kind, willing to serve, decisive, modest.

Genesis 25

  • Abraham’s Other Wife and Sons
    • After Sarah’s death, Abraham takes a new wife and has more children.
    • He sends these children east, it is written, gives them many gifts.
    • But to Isaac, he gives everything of his own.
    • Abraham lives 175 years.