Re: [asa] David S Wilson

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Thu May 10 2007 - 10:36:23 EDT

> > Here's another question --- we could have a contest: what would the
> > best comeback line be to the gentleman who told Napoleon, "Sir, I have
> > no need of that hypothesis." [referring to God]
> Emphatically no! Laplace (the gentleman in question) did not need the
> hypothesis of God in order to explain any of the details of celestial
> mechanics, which was the context in which Napoleon had asked (if the story
> is true) why he'd said nothing about God in his book. What Laplace's
> religious beliefs were isn't entirely clear, but within the limits of the
> question he was 100% right.

As it first appeared in a fictionalized account, the historicity of
the story is rather questionable. However, it is a good illustration
of a couple of points:

Although the exact exchange between those individuals did not take
place, the idea was current that a fully explained mechanical
Newtonian universe left little role for God. This is especially
useful to bring up in conjunction with claims that randomness removes
God from the picture. If God is not involved in things that act
according to regular laws nor in things that don't, the scope of
ordinary providence is unbiblically rather limited.

"Scientific" disbelief does not have its origin in Darwin.

The issue that George brought out about the exact scope of the
question. It's not necessary to invoke God in order to produce a
physical description of the physical properties and ordinary behavior
of things. God is necessary to a full theological understanding of
the situation, which is much more important.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Thu May 10 10:37:02 2007

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