Reference needed for "Newton's comets"

From: Loren Haarsma (
Date: Tue Sep 23 2003 - 14:47:31 EDT

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       I recall reading that when Isaac Newton calculated the orbits of the
    planets, he believed that they would become unstable after a few hundred
    or thousand years due to mutual gravitational attraction; that Newton
    proposed that God occasionally sent comets through the solar system with
    just the right mass and trajectories to correct these instabilities; and
    that LaPlace eventually showed that planetary orbits were stable for much
    longer periods of time.
       Does someone know of a published reference for this? All I can find so
    far is page 91 of Colin A. Russell's "Cross-currents: Interactions Between
    Science and Faith" (InterVarsity Press), and that doesn't give
    much detail.

    Thank you.

    Loren Haarsma

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