"X" was a Christian...

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In alt.atheism an old line of argument runs along the following lines:

Such and such a person was a Christian, and s/he was a lot more intelligent than you, so don't you think you'd better revise your position?

While the argument is seldom presented in such a sophisticated form as that above, please find below an ongoing list of alleged Christians, and what the evidence indicates about their religious beliefs. Entries occur in the order in which they are added. Individual names can be found in the main index and here:

Albert Einstein Issac Newton Not In Use Not In Use Not In Use
Not In Use Not In Use Not In Use Not In Use Not In Use

Albert Einstein 1879 - 1955. German physicist and discoverer of the theory of relativity.

Einstein is frequently accused of Christianity, largely on the strength of the remark that "God does not play dice with the universe". The remark was made in the context of a discussion as to whether quantum mechanics was the last word about the nature of physical reality. Einstein did not believe that it was. There are however, at least in the imagination of humanity, many more Gods than the merely Christian.

Einstein himself stated that "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings." Other quotations include:

    To know what is imprenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself to us as the highest wisdom and the most radient beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primative forms - this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the ranks of devoutly religious men. [Einstein, Albert; "Strange is Our Situation Here On Earth" in Jaroslav Pelikan, ed., "Modern Religious Thought" (Boston, 1990), p204]
From this, the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that Albert Einstein regarded himself, not as a Christian, as a species of abstract deist, for the God of Baruch Spinoza (1632-77) was not the God of the Bible, but rather an abstract principle of law, the sum of all the eternal laws in existence. For Einstein and Spinoza God is not a material being, but rather identical with and equivalent to the order which governs the universe. What the God of Spinoza most certainly isn't is an anthropomorphic being who violates universal law for the convenience of a few chosen individuals in response to apparently petty emotions, or requests made by worshipers..

Issac Newton 1642 - 1727. British mathematician and physicist, and a principle source of the classical scientific view of the world.

There is no doubt that Issac Newton was a Christian, or at least fancied that he was a Christian, but probably not the variety of Christian that many fundamentalists or evangelicals would care to associate with, largely because he was very concerned with removing the miraculous from Christianity, and presenting it as a completely rational religion.

    This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being ... He is eternal adn infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presense from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done ... We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final causes; we admire him for this perfection; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and everywhere, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. (Newton, Issac; Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica trans. Andrew Motte, ed. Florian Cajavi (Berkley, 1934), pp344-46).
Notice that Newton does not mention the Bible: in his view we can only know God by contemplating the world. Anxious to rid Christianity of the miraculous, which he equated with ignorance and superstition, during the 1670s Newton began to seriously study the theology of the Trinity, which he concluded was forced on the Church by Athanasius in an attempt to win pagan converts. Newton further concluded that Arius has been correct and that Jesus Christ certainly wasn't God.
    Tis the temper of the hot and superstitious part of mankind in matters of religion ever to be fond of mysteries, adn for that reason to like best what they least understand.("Corruptions of Scripture," quoted in Richard S. Westfall, "The Rise of Science and Decline of Orthodox Christianity. A study of Kepler, Descartes and Newton," in David C. Lindberg & Ronald L. Numbers, eds., God and Nature; Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science (Berkley, Los Angeles and London, 1986), p231.)
Shortly before the publcation of the landmark Principia, Newton started working on a treatise he called "The Philosophical Origins of Gentile Theology;" which argued that most of what passed for Christianity in his day, was in fact a corruption of the original pure doctrine and that Jesus Christ was a prophet and not the incarnation of God.

In light of this, it is difficult to call Newton a Christian in any but the loosest of senses, and certainly wrong to pretend that he espoused any of the religious views held by mainstream or fundamentalist Christians today