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Meditation 900
Closing the Gap

by: JT

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One of the problems with using God as an explanation of things we do not understand is that God gets diminished as we find explanations which do not require a god. Stephen Hawking provides a fine illustration in his book about mathematicians, God Created The Integers.

When Newton established that his law of universal gravitation explained the motion of the known planets, moons, comets, equinoxes and tides*, he was left with a couple of problems he could not resolve. First of all, there were perturbations in the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter which he considered would be cumulative, and thus the solar system would eventually break up unless there was some sort of occasional divine intervention to nudge everything back into its proper place. Secondly, he could not find the mathematics to show how the solar system came into being in the first place. It required intelligence to start things off.

So Newton needed a deity to start the solar system up, and to keep it running.

Then a number of years later, along came Laplace who solved both problems in the last part of the eighteenth century. First he solved the problems with Jupiter and Saturn, showing that the perturbations in their orbits were self correcting. Then he went on to show how the planets and moons could form out of whirling solar atmosphere, and that the result would be planets and moons all following their orbits in the same direction, and the orbits near the same plane. The solar system we see arises naturally out of the preceding conditions.

Newton's need for a God to answer these two problems was eliminated.


*Yes, Mr. O'Reilly - Newton's law of universal gravitation explains the tides.