Is the WT misinterpreting Newton? What does "mortal" mean?

by Open mind 16 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    Yesterday's (18 October, 2009) WT lesson had a picture of Milton & Newton with a caption that said both men "knew" about the hope of living forever on earth. (Interesting it didn't say they "believed" it. That's just a side point to this thread.)

    In a paragraph they quote Newton as follows: "The earth shall continue to be inhabited by mortals after the day of judgment and that not only for 1000 years, but even for ever.”

    When I first read this I thought the WT had screwed up royally. To me, the word "mortal", as used by Newton, means a human who will die. And if that is correct, then the WT just shot themselves in the foot.

    In doing a little googling today I stumbled across this little gem at It's the same quote, but they've inserted a word in brackets that Newton didn't say. Just to "clarify" the meaning I'm sure.

    Likewise, famous scientist and keen student of the Bible Isaac Newton wrote: β€œThe earth shall continue to be inhabited by mortals [humans] after the day of judgment and that not only for 1000 years, but even for ever.”

    (Bold & italics added by moi.)

    Is their definition of "mortals" as used by Newton valid?



    AlanF? (I know, I shouldn't try summoning ghosts of JWD past.)


  • sir82

    I dunno, might be a stretch.

    I would interpret "mortal" as the opposite of "immortal".

    "Immortal" = cannot die, thus "mortal" = can die. Not necessarily will, but can.

    Viewing it that way fits in with WTS doctrine. Their teaching is that humans will be perfect, capable of living forever, but if anyone decides to rebel, he will be snuffed out immediately.

    Contrast that with the 144,000, who they say will be immortal, and not possible to be killed.

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    What are you sir82, a damn WT apologist?!?

    I figured this apparrent goof was too easy. Oh well. Can't blame a guy for trying. Thanks for your input sir 82.

    While I'm bashing the WT lesson, here's another swipe.

    I love how they bring in a couple "smart guys" (Milton & Newton) who (maybe) agreed with their doctrine, but a smart guy (Plato) who disagrees with them isn't worth listening to.


  • OnTheWayOut

    Only one book of Newton's about the Bible was ever published. In 1733, six years after his death, J. Darby and T. Browne, published Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John. In 1690 Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) wrote a manuscript on the corruption of the text of the New Testament concerning I John 5:7 and Timothy 3:16. It was entitled, "A Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture." I read that he also wrote religious tracts. I don't know what the books and tracts say. You can find them somehow. Or you can go with your initial thought that WTS is misinterpreting Newton.

    WTS is notorious for misquoting, taking out of context.

    I hope Wikipedia is mistaken in what they quote from Newton at's_religious_views
    otherwise, I would think that WTS used another religious whacko to quote.

    Newton's prophecy

    Main article: Isaac Newton's occult studies

    Newton was a strong believer in prophetic interpretation of the Bible and considered himself to be one of a select group of individuals who were specially chosen by God for the task of understanding Biblical scripture. [ 3 ]

    Unlike a prophet in the classical sense of the word, Newton relied upon existing Scripture to prophesy for him, believing his interpretations would set the record straight in the face of what he considered to be, "so little understood". [ 10 ]

    Though he would never write a cohesive body of work on Prophecy, Newton's beliefs would lead him to write several treatises on the subject, including an unpublished guide for prophetic interpretation entitled, Rules for interpreting the words & language in Scripture. In this manuscript he details the necessary requirements for what he considered to be the proper interpretation of the Bible.

    2060 A.D.

    Main article: Isaac Newton's occult studies

    Over the years, a large amount of media attention and public interest has circulated regarding largely unknown and unpublished documents, evidently written by Isaac Newton, that indicate he believed the world could end in 2060 AD. (Newton also had many other possible dates e.g 2034) [ 11 ] The juxtaposition of Newton, popularly seen by some as the embodiment of scientific rationality with a seemingly irrational prediction of the "end of the world", would invariably lend itself to cultural sensationalism.

    To understand the reasoning behind the 2060 prediction, an understanding of Newton's theological beliefs should be taken into account, particularly his antitrinitarian beliefs and those negative views he held about the Papacy. Both of these lay essential to his calculations, which are themselves based upon specific chronological dates which he believed had already transpired and were prophesied within the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel within the Christian Bible.

    Despite the dramatic nature of a prediction of the end of the world, Newton may not have been referring to the 2060 date as a destructive act resulting in the annihilation of the earth and its inhabitants, but rather one in which he believed the world was to be replaced with a new one based upon a transition to an era of divinely inspired peace. In Christian and Islamic theology, this concept is often referred to as The Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of The Kingdom of God on Earth. [ 11 ] In Judaism it is often referred to as the Messianic era or the "Yamei Moshiach" (Days of the Messiah).

  • Doug Mason
  • hamilcarr

    Good point. Scientifically speaking, eternal life with a physical body on earth is a senseless idea.

  • choosing life
    choosing life

    I doubt the society and Newton would agree on much if he was alive today. Interesting reading on Newton, OTWWO.

    The watchtower does consider mortal to mean one who "could" die. I always felt they were trying to keep a thumb on me, even into forever. Kinda like, yeah, you made it, but God could still kill you ant time, so maintain that fear.

    There is a bit of a difference between those who can be killed and those who "will" die. Newton spoke of the latter.

  • JosephMalik

    Is their definition of "mortals" as used by Newton valid?

    Open mind,

    No! What is promised in scripture is: 1Co 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. Only after this putting on of immortality by humans can Newton or anyone elses say; and that not only for 1000 years, but even for ever.”


  • JosephMalik

    physical body on earth is a senseless idea.


    In our present condition yes, But if something called immortality which we do not understand at present becomes part of our human existence, then yes. There is more to the story though and that we will learn later.


  • Leolaia

    Open mind....Nice catch, you can find the relevant quotes from Isaac Newton in the book The Religion of Isaac Newton (1974); the portion quoted by the WTS is on p. 126. Newton, referring to the residents of New Jerusalem established on the earth, said that "the beloved city is a city of mortals" (p. 100) and commentator Frank Manuel notes that this is "a condition no stranger, he said, than what obtained in the present everyday world". On p. 128, Newton contrasts these mortal inhabitants of New Jerusalem with the "saints risen from the dead": "That the citizens of this city are not the saints risen from the dead but a race of mortal men like those nations over whom they reign is evident from Isaiah's description of the new heavens and new earth". And Newton goes on to quote Isaiah 65:17-20, which specifically depicts the men living on the "new earth" and restored "Jerusalem" as mortal men. I've even started a thread several years ago on this subject:

    So it seems that Newton's views were not quite the same as the JWs in this respect. It seems that Newton viewed death as a normal part of life on the "new earth", as does Isaiah 65.

    Their teaching is that humans will be perfect, capable of living forever, but if anyone decides to rebel, he will be snuffed out immediately.

    It is worth pointing out this notion arose to specifically explain the references to death in Isaiah 65:17-20, yet there is really nothing about rebellion in this passage.

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