Pierre-Simon, Marquis de Laplace (March 23, 1749 – March 5, 1827) was a French mathematician and astronomer who conclusively demonstrated the stability of the Solar System and vindicated Isaac Newton's theory of gravitation by his imaginative solutions to mathematical problems. He contributed to the differential calculus, probability, and other fields of mathematics and was considered the most advanced mathematician of his day. He left many formulas and techniques that are of great utility to scientists and engineers.
From a Unification perspective, several points can be made:
- Laplace's brilliant mental capabilities were linked to his God-given spiritual dimension, and also reflected the Creator's intelligence and capabilities. Such capabilities set the human species apart from all other species on Earth. The human desire to engage in scientific and other intellectual pursuits, regardless of their practical benefits, demonstrates that our lives can transcend the day-to-day, survival mode. Moreover, our long-term happiness is linked to going beyond that survival mode.
- God's desire is that all people express brilliance of mind far beyond what we think is normally possible. Our deliberate separation from God has dulled our spirits and minds, and we have been trapped into lowering our expectations, in the belief that where we are at (internally) is where we are supposed to be and will always be.
- Yet, Laplace was not without his human limitations. According to Biot, he frequently resorted to the statement "Il est aisé à voir" (It is easy to see), to cover up his inability to complete the details in his chain of reasoning. Our lesson here is that no matter how brilliant a person may be, he or she needs to recognize and acknowledge the limits of his/her intellect and power of reasoning.
- Laplace supported Napoleon when the emperor was at the height of his power, but he switched loyalties to Napoleon's adversaries, the Bourbons, when the emperor's power was crumbling. These actions suggest that Laplace was more interested in protecting his own status than in standing up for his principles and convictions.
- In his exchange with Napoleon regarding Méchanique céleste, Laplace expressed the view that scientific theories need to have predictive power, and used that as a justification for not mentioning God in his book. Others have likewise used this argument to separate God from scientific thought. That, however, is an argument based on short-sighted expedience. The Unification principle takes the position that God is not just an idea or concept, but we need to understand the Creator from a perspective that is larger than scientific viewpoints or sectarian doctrines. We need to recognize that the Creator works in and through the natural world, according to certain principles. Thus, while our understanding of the laws of nature is limited, this understanding gives us predictive power and is linked to the ultimate principles originating from the Creator and governing the universe. Newton, whose work Laplace translated, saw God's handiwork in nature.
- God works through prepared human beings to raise our thoughts and our standards of life. Thus, leading scientists and mathematicians (such as Laplace), as well as major religious leaders, have received inspirations that elevated our understanding of the world around us. Although Laplace had his limitations and argued against mentioning God in his scientific text, Laplace's talents were endowed by God, and God worked through Laplace to elevate our mathematical concepts and scientific understanding of nature.
- Ultimately, Laplace's work became a service to humanity. As the Unification principle points out, when we live for the sake of others, we substantiate the divine nature God has given us. Based on that, we can establish a world of peace that all humanity can benefit from.