Monday, 25 December 2006

Merry Newtonmass!

Well we are near the end of the year and today is December the 25th the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton. Why do I note his birthday rather than Jesus? For reasons which I will now explain.

On my birthday I carried out a completely unoriginal search for others, who were born on the same day, using wikipedia. Of course, the fact that they were born on the same day, is purely coincidence, someone significant had to be born on the same day as me and I selected the ones I liked. This started me thinking, who were the people that, not only I would like, but would generally be recognised and respected by everyone (or mostly everyone), as key positive contributors to this modern world we are part of? I came up with lists of scientists, artists, writers, engineers, philosophers and so on and as far as I can see the least contentious and most likely to be agreed upon list would be that of scientists - the big four being Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein. As it happens Newton's birthday is December the 25th!

Now applying the same criteria, that I did for my birthday, I wondered if there was anyone better than Newton to select for this day? I was looking for people who had made a positive contribution to society and avoided those who have caused suffering, violence, disruption and worse. Jesus, if he existed and is actually as portrayed in conventional christian views, most certainly fails in this regard, since he surely would have known all the suffering, persecution, violence and death that was to come that would have been carried out in his name. Compare that to Newton with his Optics, Laws of motion and gravitational attraction and the calculus, all one way or another incredibly significant ideas and tools that have shaped and contributed to our world today and no-one has died in his name either... So there really is no contest, if today needs to be a day to remember anyone at all it should be Isaac Newton.

I have found since that this itself is not an original idea and that Michael Shermer has looked at this and come up with NewtonMass! So this is is what I chose to celebrate today amongst many other celebrations such as the jewish Chanuka and the pagan Winter Solstice that occur this time of year. This is a time of celebration for one and all, naturalist and unnaturalist alike!

So Merry Newtonmass to all my friends and especially those with whom I have debated and often failed reach agreement with, it is due to you that I have started this weblog! Now here I can do a brain dump, still with the rigour of writing to potential public scrutiny and also help clarify my ideas to better debate amongst my friends.

Merry Newtonmass!!