Newtonian Science, Miracles, and the Laws of Nature

Journal of the History of Ideas 56 (4):531 - 553 (1995)
Newton, along with a number of other seventeenth-century scientists, is frequently charged with having held an inconsistent view of nature and its operations, believing on the one hand in immutable laws of nature, and on the other in divine interventions into the natural order. In this paper I argue that Newton, William Whiston, and Samuel Clarke, came to understand miracles, not as violations of laws of nature, but rather as beneficent coincidences which were remarkable either because they were unusual, or were beyond current understandings of nature. In this manner the Newtonians managed to reconcile their scientific pursuits with their religious convictions
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