As rational freethinkers, it is important to know that one of the world’s greatest scientists, Isaac Newton, was born on 25 December 1642. This year, 2008, marks the 366th anniversary of his birth. Newton achieved his great scientific works against a background of disinterest by the church and general religious oppression in Western Europe.
The origin of Christmas Day as 25 December is discussed in the Nexus group ORIGINS (see under “Origins of Religion, Part 9”).
Michael Shermer among others has suggested that we honour Newton at this time of the year; and so we should—by word and email. The result is Newtonmass.
Because ‘mass’ implies church service and religious supplication and prostration, I prefer Newton-day, or Newtonday.
For a picture of Newton with a red-and-white hat see
Here follows an excerpt from a blogspot written by ‘Martino’ in December 2006 at
“Well we are near the end of the year and today is December the 25th the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton. Why do I note his birthday rather than Jesus? For reasons which I will now explain.
On my birthday I carried out a completely unoriginal search for others, who were born on the same day, using Wikipedia. Of course, the fact that they were born on the same day, is purely coincidence, someone significant had to be born on the same day as me and I selected the ones I liked. This started me thinking, who were the people that, not only I would like, but would generally be recognised and respected by everyone (or mostly everyone), as key positive contributors to this modern world we are part of?
I came up with lists of scientists, artists, writers, engineers, philosophers and so on, and as far as I can see the least contentious and most likely to be agreed upon list would be that of scientists - the big four being Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein. As it happens, Newton's birthday is December the 25th!
Now applying the same criteria that I did for my birthday, I wondered if there was anyone better than Newton to select for this day?
I was looking for people who had made a positive contribution to society and avoided those who have caused suffering, violence, disruption and worse. Jesus, if he existed and is actually as portrayed in conventional christian views, most certainly fails in this regard, since he surely would have known all the suffering, persecution, violence and death that was to come that would have been carried out in his name.
Compare that to Newton with his Optics, Laws of Motion and Gravitational Attraction, and the Calculus, all one way or another incredibly significant ideas and tools that have shaped and contributed to our world today and no-one has died in his name either. So there really is no contest. If today needs to be a day to remember anyone at all, it should be Isaac Newton.”
So yes, let us therefore offer a birthday-anniversary toast in the memory of Sir Isaac Newton
and A WISH TO ALL OF YOU FOR A MERRY NEWTONDAY.