1. The book introduces Isaac at twelve or thirteen, small for his age, after receiving a kick in the stomach on the way to school. How does Isaac’s response illustrate his enormous intellect and reasoning capabilities? How could this incident from Newton’s life be used in dealing with the problem of bullying in today’s schools both with the bullies and with the targeted students?
2. Newton remarked that truth is “the offspring of silence and unbroken meditation.” Did his life line up with this statement? Can you think of other great men and women who have lived lives of isolation that have born great fruit?
3. Newton famously wrote that if he had seen further than most men, it was only because he had stood on the shoulders of genius. Do you believe this indicates a genuine sense of humility? Why or why not? Specifically to whose shoulders was he referring?
4. The author indicates that the term annus mirabilis (year of wonder) is misleading when applied to the period of Newton’s exile from Cambridge during the plague. What reasons does he give and do you agree or disagree?
5. In the times we live in, science and theology are often viewed as strange bedfellows. For Newton, “To be constantly engaged in studying and probing into God’s actions was true worship.” Do you know of any contemporary scientists who would agree with that statement? What is their view of science?
6. Newton developed his calculus in total seclusion. Does that surprise you? Why or why not?
7. How did Newton’s work on optics differ from his mathematical work and his work on gravity? What is an experimentum crucis? Give some examples of Newton’s sharp senses and how they aided him in his research.
8. When Newton began a new study in earnest, he would begin a notebook with headings of the major topics he intended to study. Has Newton’s life inspired you to a new area of study? If so, how could you set up and utilize a notebook for your study? What headings would you use?
9. Newton denied consubstantiality in the Trinity between the Father and Son. What was his primary or most important reason for this denial? What two Scriptures did he use to support his denial? Do you believe his resignation from Cambridge was an honorable action? How was his resignation resolved?
10. As an alchemist, Newton adopted the pseudonym “Iova Sanctus Unus,” “Jehovah the Holy One.” Do you believe Newton was calling himself God? Why or why not? How might scientists today develop a “god complex”?
11. What effect did Newton’s financial status have on his life? What decisions do you believe were influenced by that status? How did his finances change throughout his life? How important do you think a person’s financial status is in today’s world?
12. One Cambridge student, upon seeing Newton, said, “There goes the man that writt a book that neither he nor anybody else understands.” He was referring to the book that has been called the greatest scientific work in history, Newton’s Principia Mathematica. What were some of Newton’s quirks he displayed while engaged in writing this monumental work?
13. The atheist Richard Dawkins suggested that since Newton was born on Christmas day, his birthday would be an appropriate alternative to celebrating Christ’s birth. What is your reaction to this statement? What do you believe would be Newton’s reaction?
14. Newton hypothesized that “This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” What do we call this view of Creation? Who are some of its biggest proponents today?
15. Newton experienced a “black year” in 1693. Newton scholars have puzzled over the causes. What do you think were the most likely causes? Can you think of other great men or women who have experienced such times of darkness?
16. In his later years in London, Newton secured positions with the London Mint. He became a highly effective administrator and a master detective. How do you reconcile this success with his earlier years of isolation and seclusion?
17. Newton’s life was marked by numerous disputes in his professional life. What were his three most famous antagonists, the nature of the disputes, and his responses? Discuss “the most famous intellectual property dispute in history” and how history adjudicated the dispute. What do you think the dispute would have looked like in today’s world of the Internet and global communication?