Religious Affiliations of Influential People IV

Some great thinkers create their own religion or set of beliefs to follow, such as Plato, whose teachings would influence future religions. His Platonism was embraced by others far after he had passed away. In this article, you will learn more about religious affiliations of influential people, including Oliver Cromwell and Rene Descartes.


Plato was born around 424 BC and is considered one of the greatest minds in history, as a Classical Greek philosopher and mathematician. He was a student of Socrates and went on to write philosophical dialogues and establish the Academy in Athens , the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Plato believed in the form of Greek philosophy called Platonism , a way of thinking that he founded that ultimately influenced Christianity. During the Middle Ages, people continued to embrace the beliefs of Platonism. Many of the concepts eventually became associated with the Christian faith, as well as influenced many religious thinkers. One of the notions included what is called ‘dualism’ , which states that the spirit is good but matter is evil. In some cases, Plato’s reasoning is used to highlight contradictions, such as God calling everything He created as good.

Oliver Cromwell

The British political and military leader named Oliver Cromwell is most famous for his role in what is known as the “English Civil War.” Born in 1599, Cromwell grew up to become a military and political leader for the English. His participation in the joint efforts of republicans, the military and parliamentarians led to the overthrowing of the Stuart monarchy. Cromwell was trusted amongst his peers and landed the position of head of state in 1653. He ruled as ‘Lord Protector’ for five years , from 1653 to 1658.

When he was one of the commanders of the New Model Army, Cromwell played a vital role in the defeat of the King’s forces (the royalists) during the English Civil War. Following the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Cromwell was a prominent figure throughout the Commonwealth of England. He conquered Ireland and Scotland, and continued to rule as Lord Protector until his death in 1658.

Cromwell was a Puritan (Protestant). At one point, he had undergone a religious conversion where he embraced an independent style of puritanism as a central part of his life. He leaned towards embracing a more tolerant view of the many different sects of Protestants that existed during his time. Some has described Cromwell as a ‘Puritan Moses’ because he truly believed that God was guiding his victories.

Rene Descartes

The Rationalist philosopher and mathematician named Rene Descartes lived during the 1600s in the Dutch Republic for most of his adult life. He was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who earned the nickname of the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy’. Descartes worked with geometric shapes and algebraic equations, and played an important role in jumpstarting analytical geometry. Whenever the Scientific Revolution is mentioned, Descartes is noted for playing an important part. He belonged to the Catholic faith.