We wish a Merry Isaac Newtonmas to everyone, everywhere.
We know to 100% accuracy that the great British scientist and mathematician was born on the day that the British knew as 25 December, whereas there is only a 1 in 365 chance that Jesus was.
Let's spread the good news . . .
I'm only winding you up Joe, merry Isaac Newtonmas.
Heh heh heh. Ohhhh.
Hate to tell you this man, but I'm bipolar. I have nothing that you can wind up. The rubber band snapped decades ago. :-D
Whenever you read something of mine that you might read with anger in others, you should instead read in a tired voice. Heh.
I was genuinely curious where you could have possibly been going with it, too. If you had known something about Newton that would have changed my opinion on the subject, that would have been cool.
The argument thus far seemed to have been, "Some scientifically-minded people in the past had to feign religiosity in order to avoid persecution by the church. Therefore, it should be assumed that any intelligent, scientifically-minded person from at least a few hundred years ago should be assumed to have been an atheist, until proven otherwise."
... which is bunk, as you knew, since you were just screwing with me. Heh heh heh.
I guess the strongest emotion you had wound up into me was frustration at trying to get a coherent argument out of you. That sort of makes sense, since you weren't putting together a serious argument. I work in the same manner, when I'm screwing around with people. A coherent argument can be addressed, so you have to avoid one at all cost, when you're engaging in something of the sort. I just tend to work with that sort of silliness in person, since it's easier to convey that you aren't entirely serious, with facial expressions.
To the argument itself, though, that would more possibly be the case with others. We know that plenty of people did exactly as you described, attempting to avoid persecution for their heretical scientific discoveries through adherence to the dictates of the church. Not that it helped them a lot of the time, since the church has been more than willing to root out heresy within its own ranks, at times.
Copernicus ... Galileo ... Bruno and Kepler ...
It's possible that any of them were atheists, although I doubt it's possible to get much of a fix on them, at this point. Barring explicit writing on the subject, such as what we have with Mark Twain and Einstein, it's always a matter of conjecture. What makes me speak so heavily against Newton fitting in with the rest of those named is the volume of religious writing that we have of his ... plus the nature of it, being heretical in parts, as I mentioned, thus not being any good for keeping the church off of his back.
Hell, we know that there are a shitload of atheists within the Catholic clergy. My own father went to Catholic seminary to become a priest, before dropping out and going to a secular university. I suspect that he discovered too much and came to the conclusion that it's all bunk. Although, I guess it's also possible that since he wasn't attracted to prepubescent boys, he didn't fit in with the in-crowd amongst the priests, and he was driven out socially.
"Isaac Newtonmas"? I thought this was a lame joke until I read some of the comments. It is not necessary to try to prove or disprove Newton's attitude toward God and Religion, we'll never know what he believed and it doesn't matter now - especially as he didn't manage a resurrection. There seems to be an underlying assumption that all scientists are atheists, this is plainly nonsense. Even today there are plenty of scientists, especially in America, who believe firmly in God. So it is likely that there were many more scientists believing in God in Newton's day.
In my view, associating Newton's birthday with Christmas is detracting from his contribution to science and distracting from Science vs Education debate.