Marquis Pierre-Simon de Laplace (1749 - 1827)

"We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at any given moment knew all of the forces that animate nature and the mutual positions of the beings that compose it, if this intellect were vast enough to submit the data to analysis, could condense into a single formula the movement of the greatest bodies of the universe and that of the lightest atom; for such an intellect nothing could be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes."

Laplace's Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics), essentially translated the geometrical study of mechanics by Newton to one based on calculus. Napoleon asked Laplace why there was not a single mention of God in Laplace's entire five volume explaining how the heavens operated. (Newton, a man of science who believed in an omnipresent God, had even posited God's periodic intervention to keep the universe on track.) Laplace replied to Napoleon that he had "no need for that particular hypothesis". Laplace proved that the solar system is stable and does not require divine intervention to keep it from falling apart.



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