Re: Web Page Nonlinear dynamics

Murphy (
Sat, 22 Feb 1997 08:37:17 -0500

Glenn Morton wrote:
> If I recall correctly, Andrew White in his Warfare of Science and Theology
> noted that some people felt that Newton was throwing God out of the universe
> because God was not needed to push the planets around. I suspect that this
> might have been due to the incorporation of Aristotelean physics into
> theology. 400 years after newton, no one finds this to be a difficulty.
> Today the difficulty is nonlinear dynamics and the implications it has for
> creation/evolution which is a problem.
These objections were strong enough to get Newton to include the
"General Scholium" in the 2d (or 3d?) edition of the Principia. You
could say that part of the problem was that Newtonian mechanics worked
so _well_, in comparison with Aristotelian physics where you didn't
really have the math machinery to calculate much of anything.
I'm not sure just what you're including under "nonlinear
dynamics". In the broadest sense that's been around a long time - the
basic equations of fluid mechanics (i.e., Newton's laws applied to
continuous media) are nonlinear. Seems to me that modern developments -
"chaos" &c - in a way go in the opposite direction, showing that at the
macrolevel mechanical laws have some "play" in them & thus some room for
divine freedom even when God operates in accord with those laws.
George Murphy