Oh the irony: Isaac Newton turns out to share the same birthday as Jesus! And the double irony? Neither of them was actually born on Christmas. Newton’s real birthday is January 4th and Jesus is rumored to have landed in that manger sometime in what would be our August.
Apparently, atheist icon Richard Dawkins thought that celebrating Newton’s birthday would be an “alternative, if somewhat nerdy, excuse for a winter holiday,” Olivia Judson writes for the New York Times. Now, I’ve read biographies of Newton, in my spare time, for fun. (See above: “somewhat nerdy.”) One of the things that struck me about scientists of that era, but Newton in particular, is that as they developed their theories, there was an implicit understanding that the formulas they devised would jive with parralel religious and philosophical theories.
Reading James Gleick’s Isaac Newton, I dubiously apprehended that not only did Newton lay the foundation for modern physics and invent infinitesmal caluculus (that bastard), but he did it with a careful attention to whether he could justify his reasearch on an intuitively religious basis. (Judson elaborates on this in her piece.) That aside, she recommends that we celebrate the 10 days of Newton, which I think is a cute idea, but unfaithful to Newton’s ideology.
I maintain that Newton would not want to be usurping JC in anyway. Thus, I offer an alternative for the Godless. It’s called: Get Obsessed With Someone Who Might Be Smarter Than You. This is an espeicially good strategy for people who are feeling lonely this holiday season, or spending the holidays alone. (Let me assure you nothing cures lonliness like a good, hearty voracious obsession.) Today, I pick the aforementioned Olivia Judson. Here’s her bio:
Judson has a degree from Stanford, and a Phd in Evolutionary biology from Oxford. After the Phd, she became a journalist, published a book, Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, which is a humorous book offer evolutionary-based sex advice to animals. It became a movie, and she played Dr. Tatiania on TV! She’s continued writing, won prizes for non-fiction. She’s now a reasearch fellow in biology and a blogger for the New York Times.
AND: She’s really pretty. “For unto us, an obsession is born.”