Quantcast

«

»

Jan 29 2012

History Channel Show about Newton and Bible Prophecy

So, we have a guy posting to the list who really, really, REALLY wants to talk to someone about a show on History Channel that he says involves Isaac Newton and Bible Prophecy. Martin wrote back noting this is the same channel that airs Ancient Aliens, but the correspondent continues to write asking if someone will give up an hour of their life to watch this so he can discuss it with them. I’ve seen History Channel’s offerings in recent years go from very well cited war documentaries to programming that the Ghost Hunters would laugh at. So, that person–who will kill an hour of their life for this–is not me. However, out of a sense of helpfulness, if anyone reading this blog has seen this show and is willing to talk to someone about it, please help. I’ll send the writer a link to this post to let him know I’ve put out a call.

Thanks.

42 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    davidct

    I’ve been taken off the list so I can’t help you.

  2. 2
    atheist from hell

    History and bible…and Newton?

    May be they are talking about Newton Gingrich.

  3. 3
    sqlrob

    History and bible…and Newton?

    Yes Newton was a tad, ummm, eccentric.

  4. 4
    nemothederv

    Does reading “Principia Mathmatica” backwards tell you who really shot JFK?
    We found some backward reading experts to reveal the truth.

    .gnihtyna yas t’nseod ti ,wonk uoy os tsuJ

  5. 5
    ChaosSong

    It probably has to do with this:

    http://www.isaac-newton.org/update.html

    snip:

    “One reason why Newton’s heresy, apocalyptic thought and prediction about the 2060 date became news in February 2003 is because most members of the media and the public had no idea that Newton was anything other than a “scientist”. For many, the revelation that Newton was a passionate believer who took biblical prophecy seriously came as something of a shock. It seems that both the media and the general public have a notion of Newton as a “rational” scientist that makes it difficult to absorb the knowledge that Newton was practising both alchemy and prophetic exegesis—studies many see as antithetical to the enterprise of science. The media has perpetuated a myth that science and religion are inherently in conflict (the fact is, sometimes they are; but religion has also often stimulated the development of science). The story about Newton predicting the Apocalypse in 2060 is the sort of thing that one would expect to see on the covers of the tabloids. In this case, however, the story is true. Ironically, the tabloids did not cover the story (perhaps because this story, although counter-intuitive to many people, is authentic).”

  6. 6
    Orlando

    Well,

    1. Eve ate an apple that caused man’s fall.

    2. Newton’s gravitational insight came from a falling apple.

    3. And Apple is now the largest company on earth, but if a recession hits is due for a fall.

    So, without seeing the show, I think reasonable Christians could connect some dots. Cider, anyone?

    1. 6.1
      atheist from hell

      And Beatles’ record label was Apple, and John Lennon was shot dead.

      Apple is Spooky.

      1. TerranRich

        And Captain Kirk was eating an apple when talking about Saavik’s performance on the Kobayashi Maru test… AND… during that same test in the 2009 Star Trek movie, Kirk is again eating an apple… something that the producers claim was a coincidence, as they figured he just looked “cool” casually eating an apple.

        IT ALL MAKES SENSE!

        1. TerranRich

          That first was during Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, for clarity’s sake.

      2. Orlando

        And to be even more spooky, Steve Jobs of Apple invented a computer called NeXT, a forbidden word in the Chatroom, aka the garden of eden. Just sayn’

  7. 7
    unbound

    Sorry, I don’t like the comedies that the History Channel runs…

  8. 8
    wholething

    I haven’t seen the documentary comedy desperate appeal to ratings. Googling around, I see references to the show discussing the year 2060 as the Second Coming. Newton detested date setters, though, and never intended those musings for public consumption.

    Newton detested the Pope and the Trinitarians. He read Daniel’s mention of 1260 days as years, then added that to the year 800 when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor.

    I just noticed that ChaosSong @ #5 found the same page before I did.

    http://www.isaac-newton.org/update.html

  9. 9
    Caru

    He didn’t predict an apocalypse, he was trying to get assholes to stop predicting apocalypses. He believed it couldn’t be before 2060, which was safely far in the future at the time.

    “This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail.” – Isaac Newton

    It’s really funny how long this has been going on for.

  10. 10
    LykeX

    Found it on youtube. It’s the biggest load of bullshit I’ve seen in long time. I can hardly believe that people could take so long saying so little. There’s hardly any real information in there.

    1. 10.1
      Jasper of Maine

      The hell? Right off the bat, that video says “For many, this reconstruction of an ancient monument is a prophecy fulfilled. The location – Israel. The year – 2060.

      Is the CGI animation the prophecy that was fulfilled, or that someone will build it in 2060 after being told that building it will fulfill a prophecy?

      I can see how this will go…

    2. 10.2
      Jasper of Maine

      This is in the YouTube video description:

      “Gravity explains the motions of Planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done” Sir Isaac Newton

      Yes, and between those two assertions, one is demonstrable, and the other is not. That’s why we only believe one of them. Otherwise, it’s an argument from authority.

    3. 10.3
      Jasper of Maine

      Speaking for Argument from Authority, the video immediately exaggerates Newton’s contributions, and how much of a super genius he was.

      No, he is not the “father of physics”. Physics long predated him. No, Newton did not “discover the laws of the universe”. He discovered some of them.

      It’s so transparent that the show is trying to prep the audience to accept whatever BS Newton had to say. Sure, he made so great contributions, but he wasn’t infallible.

      I’m only like a minute into this, and it’s driving me nuts.

      1. LykeX

        I’m only like a minute into this, and it’s driving me nuts.

        Run. Don’t look back, just run. It’s too late for me, save yourself.

        1. tracieh

          This really made me laugh. :D

  11. 11
    LykeX

    Ok, I finished watching this tub of excrement and I took a few notes, so let me give my impression. Two things strike me most: the immense amount of weasel words, vague statements and general deception, rampant throughout the show, and the paucity of any actual information. It’s as if they had 2 minutes worth of stuff, but decided to pad it with crap to produce this 45 minute intellectual abortion.

    Let’s look at the information offered. It comes in three bits:

    1) Prophecies state that there are 3 signs leading to the apocalypse: the return of the Jews to Israel, the Jews conquering Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple. Two of those have already happened, so clearly the end of the world is coming.

    2) Newton managed to get fairly close to the year of the institution of the new state of Israel, so he must be right about everything else. The “calculations” of this rely on the following: the book of Daniel mentions two numbers, 1290 and 1335. By adding these number to the year 609, we get 1899 and 1944. This corresponds with the early start of zionism (which says the Jews should return to Israel. OH WOW!) and WWII. Close enough. We can’t expect god to get the actual year right. It’s in the ballpark, so we’ll just chalk it up as a hit.

    Of course, they mention that 609 was only one of the starting points that Newton suggested. Apparently all the others were even further off the mark, so we’ll just ignore those.

    3) When is the end of the world? Bow before the biblical mathematics!
    Daniel mentions the phrase “a time, times and half a time”. Revelations mentions the same phrase, so it must be important. Clearly “time” means a year (what else would it mean). A year is 360 days (by older calendars). So, we get a year, two years and half a year, each 360 days, giving us 1260 days. A day clearly means a year, so that’s 1260 years. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
    Now we add that to the year 800, since that’s when the then pope crowned Charlemagne (don’t ask, I don’t get it either) and we get 2060, the end of the world.

    Now you know every piece of information offered in this “documentary”.

    A few things to take away from this:

    If you have enough numbers and juggle them around enough, you eventually get a date that’s… Well, not actually on the mark, but close enough that gullible people will believe you.

    If all you have a vague, imprecise prophecy, it’s important to keep emphasizing how precise it is. Just repeat it, people will believe you.

    If your crap still doesn’t hold water, remind your audience that he person responsible was a major scientific figure. Remind them again. And again. And again. Wake up those who have fallen asleep and remind the again. Lather, rinse, repeat. You get the idea.

    Be sure also to refer to the dating as “calculations”, not guesses. Emphasize how scientific it is. This is a good time to repeat that Newton was a scientist and you might also throw in a comment about how precise the prophecies are.

    Be very careful about giving examples of anything. Your audience doesn’t need information to make up their own minds. Just give them your conclusions. That’s plenty. If you do need to throw in an example, make sure to keep it vague and uninformative. Remember, it’s only there to remind your audience that… Newton was a great scientist.

    If at any point there’s something you don’t want to go into details with, just refer to it as “mysterious”. Not only does this get you off the hook for not explaining, it also creates a wonderfully spooky atmosphere that just sucks in those gullible morons who form the basis of your income.

    To lend further credibility to your story, be sure to invite a few legitimate scholars. Just be sure that they’re never allowed to speak for more than five seconds at a time. Remember the miracle of editing.

    While you’re at the editing table, you could also throw in a few bits of newsreel. Whenever you mention the middle east, show some angry Palestinians. When you mention calamities, show so footage from a natural disaster. When the prophecies refer to a war, show some pictures from a current conflict.
    This serves both to scare the crap out of the rubes who will fill your pockets and to lend an air of legitimacy to the prophecies. You create a connection between the ancient prophecy and current events, without ever having to justify this connection. Pure gold.

    To sum up: repetition, assertion and vague statements is the true enlightened path. If they can’t pin you down, they can’t keep you from padding your account in the Caymans.

    1. 11.1
      Jasper of Maine

      Thanks for taking one for the team

    2. 11.2
      tracieh

      LykeX:

      I can’t thank you enough for this contribution in comments and for sitting through what sounds like the same drivel always offered up by History Channel these days.

      I am confused, though, because, despite the fact that he didn’t say *much*, the guy who suggested this program to us seemed to think the focus was on the idea that Newton actually got his physics from the Bible, not that he was predicting dates. So, I’m almost wondering if there isn’t another program out there or if the writer who contacted us just made some small section of this program into the majority thrust of it?

      I recall wondering last night, if god did provide Newton with his ideas on physics, why would another physicist have to come along later and correct for Newton’s shortcomings? How could Einstein have come up with “better” models than god provided to someone? That seems quite odd to me. However, what you’re describing is that the show really spend little time on Newton’s field of expertise and focused mainly on his theological views. As someone pointed out earlier, this is a clear Argument from Authority fallacy. But also, it’s not what the person who sent us the letter led me to believe this show was focused on.

      In the end, it’s not any different, though, than the person who writes to us with a link to a book at Amazon written by William Lane Craig, who says “Go read this, and tell me what’s wrong with it.” We don’t argue with Craig via proxy. People who contact us need to tell us what they believe and why they believe it. If Craig wants to talk to TAE, he could do so as easily as anyone else. And he’s welcome to write to us and argue; but if John or Jane is writing to us to talk about what they believe and why they believe it, then Craig’s name or ideas don’t need to even come into the dialog. If John or Jane are influenced by Craig, that’s fine. They can give their beliefs, and within those beliefs will be Craig’s influence. But don’t just dump a load of Craig in my lap, not give your view/opinions/ideas/beliefs, and just tell me to reply to Craig. That’s crap. And if we replied to every link sent to us, we’d be spending time giving our own rebuttals to nothing *but* people who can’t even explain what they believe or why they believe it any better than “here’s a link…what HE said!!!” That’s not even a conversation.

      1. LykeX

        the guy who suggested this program to us seemed to think the focus was on the idea that Newton actually got his physics from the Bible

        I’m guessing he was referring to a different show, then. That certainly wasn’t the point of this program. There were some mentions of how Newton considered science and religion to be closely connected and might eventually merge together, but they didn’t spend much time on that.

        If the guy in question comes by maybe he can point us to the right show.

        In the end, it’s not any different, though, than the person who writes to us with a link to a book at Amazon written by William Lane Craig, who says “Go read this, and tell me what’s wrong with it.” We don’t argue with Craig via proxy

        I agree. At most, it could form the starting point of a conversation, but that would still require that they say what they find convincing about the material in question.

        Unfortunately, there’s a strong tendency to argue by repetition, rather than by your own thoughts and opinions. This characteristic is shared by a wide range of wooish communities; creationists, UFO people, bigfoot’ers, psychics, etc.
        I seem to remember a few callers to the show who did that, too.

        1. Orlando

          LykeX, fabulous review of the episode.

          Tracie, in past AE episodes the award for attempting to read WLC’s Kalam as if it were his own thoughts should go to Kenny “infin-inite” from Santa Barbara.

        2. heicart

          Well, considering I only posted this thread to help someone out–as nobody at TAE had watched the program or seemed interested, I hope he comes by as well. Martin has indicated he’d be ready to do a review of his own of the program, but wants an assurance it will be read and considered. While I personally wouldn’t mind watching/reviewing something relevant to theism, we have not received sufficient “argument from newton” letters to make this necessary to address. If it isn’t compelling enough to inspire people who already believe in god, then I can’t see why the atheist community should feel it’s worth even responding to.

          However, if we get future people interested in the program, it certainly would be nice to have it addressed already to say “we’ve posted a review of it here.” But I’m thinking this isn’t going to catch on. He only wrote to us yesterday, so he may not even be aware yet that this blog post exists. I’d certainly give him a few days to reply before I think he’s not interested in people’s thoughts.

          I don’t see much value in addressing the show without knowing what this guy specifically found compelling however. Someone might do an in-depth response to it–as you just did, only to find out it was an obscure section/reference this person was impressed by. Again, seeing your notes on it makes it sound like an entirely different program than what I was led to expect. However, it could just be the case that he didn’t fully grasp what it was actually about, and you did see the same program. Or, it could be another “Newton and the Bible” program as well. I just have no clue.

  12. 12
    Walter

    Sunday’s puzzle on NPR’s weekend edition is “take the digits 1 through nine. Keeping the digits in numerical order, add operators from the set +, -, /, *(times) so that the resulting formula evaluates to 2012. No parentheses allowed, operators apply from left to right.

    Let’s do a history channel show on the winner!!

  13. 13
    jacobfromlost

    I read the Principia years ago, and I seem to remember Newton writing that gravitational principles can explain the movements of the heavenly bodies, but CAN’T explain how they got there in the first place.

    In essence, this is a kind of “first cause” argument for god (if I remember correctly, he explicitly says this in his writings–god put the heavenly bodies in place, he claimed). We see the planets going around the sun, the moon around the earth, etc, and can describe how that will continue, but we can’t explain how they got there in the first place…therefore god.

    Well, now we CAN explain how they got there in the first place. Did that falsify god belief? Apparently not, as the believers just pushed the question back a few steps.

    Also, Newton wrote more on alchemy than on anything else. Can we at least say he was wrong about that?

    Sort of. We can make gold in the lab now under conditions similar to those in the stars where the gold formed in the first place. The only problem? It costs more to create it than the gold is worth. Doh! And the experiment actually is part of the evidence of how the planets came to exist, which is part of the answer to how they got to their current positions in the first place. Double “Doh!” for Newton.)

    Also, Newton believed there was such a thing as Absolute Space and Absolute Time (a concept believers still cling to without knowing it, as the “first cause” stuff makes some sense if one has the ideas of Absolute Space and Absolute Time firmly ensconced in their heads). Newton did admit that it may be impossible to determine if any object or objects are absolutely at rest, which would be the only means we would have to determine Absolute Space. For Absolute Time, he simply said that time marches forward at a constant rate everywhere…which we also know is wrong.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_time_and_space

    So there is a long list of things we know he was wrong about, and some of them directly involve “evidence” for god that has turned out not to be evidence. Why anyone would take other things seriously with regard to the god question is beyond me.

    1. 13.1
      Orlando

      This was given home by Neil Degrasse Tyson in his 2006 Beyond Belief talk, where he took the audience through a long line of philosophers and scientists throughout history who, when at the limits of their knowledge, invoked god.

      1. Orlando

        Oops, driven, not given home.

  14. 14
    Hypatia's Daughter

    LykeX, I think you could have a second career writing scripts for the History Channel. You got the formula down pat.

    1. 14.1
      tracieh

      I know, right? It wasn’t just good, it was entertaining. I agree!

    2. 14.2
      LykeX

      Oh, shush, you guys. You’re gonna make me blush.

  15. 15
    Felipe

    At least now we know when the next date of the apocalypse will be after 2012 goes by.

  16. 16
    Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.

    The Ancient Aliens producers have been trolling around the vertebrate paleontology community since last December trying to find a victi…, er, sucke…, er, talking head for an episode on Ancient Aliens and dinosaurs.

  17. 17
    ed

    Oddly, there’s a book called “Temple at the Center of Time” by a David Flynn, from 2008 that deals with Newton. Flynn seemed to think the year was 2012 (what a surprise!). A friend gave it to me to read, and in the spirit of being open minded I gave it a chance.

    Well, besides it’s crazy numerology, switching between nautical miles and statute miles (what did miles have to do with anything in the Bible anyway?), eventually the book got to it’s real purpose – a screed of anti-Muslim intolerance. Lovely guy.

    Interesting that the date is getting moved back. Not surprising that “History” Channel would air crap like this.

  18. 18
    heicart

    It doesn’t appear the guy who wrote to us, several times, begging for someone to talk about this with, was all that interested in talking about it, after all…?

    1. 18.1
      MAtheist

      That’s too bad, I still want to know if this is the same show he was talking about.

      1. tracieh

        Well, I’m forced to eat my words. He has sent the list an e-mail and said he read the comments and I had the wrong idea of what he was saying. So, (1) he is interested in conversation here and I was wrong and jumped the gun. And (2) LykeX may have found the right show in that case (if I didn’t understand the guy’s points about the program). So, maybe we’ll get some feedback and hear more of what he actually was trying to express that I failed to accurately express.

  19. 19
    renaissance13

    Unfortuately the History Channel will most likely ramp up 2012/Mayan calender/zombie apocalypse programs this year with similar content. The HC should just stick to battles, geography, autobiographical, the humanities and civilizations/empires past and present.

  20. 20
    JT

    Yes, I believe the show was called “The Nostradamus Effect Season 1 Episode 5 The Apocalypse Code”.

    After doing research, I think I have managed to disabuse myself of most of the eerie feeling that I had when I watched that show. If one listens carefully, the narrator doesn’t actually endorse Newton’s writings on Biblical prophecy specifically. Instead, we are told what Newton wrote. However, I do now think there was a certain amount of leading commentary on their part. In fact, I think they may have done Newton something of a disservice. There is some evidence to suggest that perhaps his writing about Biblical prophecy might have simply been private musings and not meant to be seen by other people. Curiously enough, it seems that he may have burned a good deal more of that type of material before he died. It’s possible he just overlooked a few papers that he meant to destroy but, of course, that’s just speculation on my part now. The papers were burned so there is no way of knowing for sure what they were.

    National Geographic actually did a show about Newton as well. However, I came away with a different impression after watching that show. To some, it seems strange that a man as capable of logical thought as Newton was would also devote so much time to things like alchemy and the Bible. That kind of duality of thought probably seems odd to some and may suggest an unstable yet brilliant mind. One of the people National Geographic interviewed put forward their own little pet theory suggesting that perhaps Newton, like Einstein and Darwin, exhibited signs of Asperger’s Syndrome which would explain Newton’s ability to focus on problems until he found a solution. That’s more speculation once again though.

    At any rate, I appreciate the comments here. Unfortunately, I may not be in much of a position to spend much more time here for a while.

  21. 21
    R.J. Moore II

    Most of their war documentaries are pretty terrible garbage. They’re completely one-sided propaganda. You don’t have to like Nazis to know that Churchill was a treacherous scumbag and FDR was a socialist thug. There were no good guys – but the American public doesn’t want to hear that. They want America to be the savior of the world and Jesus to be a historical figure.

  22. 22
    Gary Goodworth

    I had heard of Newton’s 2060 prediction but I had seen and documentaries on it. Date setting is always wrong but if he believed that most of the prophetic scriptures would be fulfilled by then, I think he may have been right. Too many things going now that indicate a rapid succession of Earth shattering events foretold by the Bible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>