1717–1783 - French
Thinker and essayist. In addition to contributing to mathematics and physics, he assisted Diderot with the scientific sections of the Encyclopedia, the central text of the French Enlightenment, and had the honor of authoring its introductory essay. As a passionate believer in the ideas of the Enlightenment, he excoriated superstition in all its forms, which in his view included religion and all social institutions and authorities, whether Church, family, or state, that sought to control and limit freedom of thought, inquiry, discovery, or speech.
Born 1935 - Tibetan
Buddhist Lama (religious leader and teacher). After his selection as Dalai Lama during infancy, he became the ruler as well as the spiritual leader of Tibet. The Chinese invasion and annexation of his country led to his escape to India where he formed a government in exile and gradually emerged as one of the chief spiritual figures of the world.
Through his books, speeches, talks, and travel, he has taught and he also became a shining example of forgiveness, compassion, unselfishness, and humility.
1857–1938 - American
Trial lawyer. A powerful speaker, he defended radical ideas and unpopular clients with zeal. In the famous Scopes case, he ridiculed presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan's belief that every word in the Bible was literally true. His client was convicted of teaching Darwinian ideas of evolution in opposition to Tennessee state law, but Darrow and Scopes were thought to have won the battle for public opinion. In addition to his work in court, Darrow was an interesting writer and radical social thinker.
1809–1882 - English
Naturalist. His theory of natural selection, popularly called evolution, was meant as a contribution to biology, not ethics, but quickly influenced moral philosophy. Some proponents, emphasizing competition rather than cooperation in natural selection, suggested that "survival of the fittest" somehow glorified egoism or doctrines of "might is right." Others used Darwin's work to try to debunk the Bible and Christianity, although the Biblical account of creation is surprisingly in accord with at least the chronology of evolution, if not the timetable.