Hutchinsonianism, Newtonian Science, and the Question of Evidence in a Fragmenting World

  • Robert L. Knetsch
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 225)


The theory of gravity that emerged out of the natural philosophy of Isaac Newton is seen as a significant milestone in the progression of scientific discovery; it was not, however, received with universal acclaim. In England, a particularly influential group emerged that comprised a reaction against the perceived heterodoxy of Newton’s work and its lack of sufficient corroborative evidence. Started by John Hutchinson (1674–1737), these anti-Newtonians perceived within Newton’s system certain challenges to Christian metaphysical claims. The Hutchinsonians’ peculiar claim to cosmological evidence within the “heavenly” language of the Hebrew Bible, along with Newton’s perceived heterodox views, fueled their disdain for Newtonian mechanics. Starting from a consideration of Hutchinson’s Moses’s Principia as a response to Newton, this chapter considers how Hutchinson used a particular interpretive approach to the Bible as the source of evidence for his cosmogony. This chapter takes into account the broader issues that come into play as theologians sought to respond to the various options for evidentiary sources. This was a time when, in England, society at large began to experience a perceived split between science and religion, leading to numerous reactions, rejections, and accommodations.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Knetsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Wycliffe CollegeTorontoCanada

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