1. Muhammad Founder of the Islamic faith, but also a military and political leader. Mohammed revised the social, economic and political life of a large area of the Middle East and North Africa, eliminating practices like female infanticide, and creating new rights to property and autonomy for women. He received and transmitted the Koran, the holy book of Islam. Muslims view him not as the creator of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original, uncorrupted monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, and others. He was influential in setting up the just society that would be moral in the eyes of Allah (Arabic for the God).
2. Isaac Newton Scientist who summarized all of the findings of all great scientists before him, such as Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Tyco Brahe. The author of the revolutionary work, Principia, he is also credited with developing differential calculus. In addition, he wrote about optics and gravitation. Newton's "clockwork" metaphor of the universe influenced science for over 200 years. As the Master of the Mint (Secretary of Treasury) in England, he set in motion how capitalism was to operate at the national level.
3. Jesus Christ Founder of Christianity, a worldwide religion that has influenced the world for over 2000 years. His philosophy of love and acceptance was radically new in a world that frequently feared God. Jesus made God approachable. "Love thy neighbor as yourself" was a moral philosophy that preached equal acceptance for all. Jesus is credited with addressing the hypocrisy that existed within the early Common Era Jewish leadership, where attention to the rule of law had often superceded intention.
4. Buddha Founder of Buddhism, an Eastern religion that focused on man's relationship with the self. He was born to a life of privilege and protection, but soon discovered that life also included suffering. He left his easy life, and tried to understand the nature of suffering and happiness. Through years of trial, he discovered that present-minded contemplation and sincere meditation were the keys to enlightenment. Buddha spent the reminder of his days sharing his discovery with followers and foes alike.
5. Confucius Founder of the religion or philosophy by the same name, he sought to bring order and reason to human society. Through his writings and example, he created a set of social conventions whereby the society and the people worked in harmony to give order and meaning to the world.
6. St. Paul Persecutor of Christians who nevertheless was converted "on the road to Damascus" and became an ardent Christian and the most influential Christians after Jesus. St. Paul wrote many Epistles in the New Testament and set forth what it was to be a Christian. His writings are still cited today as an authority for Christian behavior and belief.
7. Ts'ai Lun Inventor of paper. Civilization as we know it would not exist without the ability to write down what has occurred, to have a record for all to view and acknowledge. First manufactured sometime between 100 and 150 AD, paper slowly spread among nations.
8. Johann Gutenberg Inventor of the printing press. Gutenberg took Ts'ai Lun's invention to the next level. His invention of the press made literacy and education possible for everyone because they could access writings that had once been too expensive or too rare for the common man or woman. The first printed book published was the King James Bible.