Letter: Science and theology: material and spiritual questions that are worlds apart

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The Independent Online
Sir: William Blake's depiction of Sir Isaac Newton, which you published alongside Richard Dawkins' letter (20 March), was, presumably, a comment upon it. Some of your readers will be aware that this image is to be realised three-dimensionally in a massive bronze to be erected in the entrance lobby of the new British Library. But to what will this figure be a monument?

Blake detested Newton, and his painting is, I believe, a gentle but forceful caricature wherein godlike man, dividers in hand, myopically fixes his gaze downwards on his own arid squiggles instead of raising his vision to behold the divinely created and spiritual, ie real, world. The effect of caricature will be emphasised, apparently, in the proposed sculpture by the substitution of a miniscule pyramid for Blake's dividers.

Blake's strongly held view of a certain kind of 'scientific' monocular vision is summed up in his famous lines (22 November 1802) to his patron, Sir Thomas Butts:

May God us keep

From single vision and Newton's sleep]

Yours faithfully,




22 March