By the 1750's the Enlightenment had become the continent's child as well, but it had been Britain's baby. Issac Newton's revelation in Principia Mathematica (1687) that the universe is rational, obeying fixed and predictable laws, had changed the way that people perceived the universe. God was no longer the interfering, jealous God of the Old Testament nor the loving God of the New, but God the Clockmaker, setting the universe of a course governed forever after by mathematically perfect immutable laws. If only mortals had enough data, they could predict everything that happened, and the tool whereby they could do this in a clocklike universe was reason. Reason, sweet and infallible, should be brought to bear on hoary traditions that governed the pursuit of knowledge, relationships between the sexes and the social classes, standards of art and music, and the exercise of political power.
-Charles Murray, Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950