Which non-religious leader influenced the World most?
Consider the following:
1. The amount of power they had
2. The movement of people to do what they said
3. The after effect of their rule / leadership
4. How well they are known / remembered
I would probably have to say that Lenin was the most influential character in history, outside of religion. At first, I would have said that someone like Julius Ceasar was, but I can't think of a single ancient historical figure that really changed the flow of history as much as Lenin did.
Because of Lenin's leadership and philosophy, Russian communism spread throughout most of Asia, and all of Eastern Europe. Chinese communism was, originally, based on Lenin's ideas. When we look at the sheer devastation that came from his origins, we see that well in excess of 60,000,000 people were murdered, starved, and otherwise destroyed throughout the world during the 20th Century, all in the name of communism. Much of the rest of the world was strongly influenced in order to stand up to the spread of this philosophy, creating several wars and countless conflicts. Even now, the aftereffects are still being felt. The situations in Afghanistan and Iraq were fostered by the Cold War, for example.
Looking at the current world map, we see that China and its sattelites (such as North Korea) still have this form of communism - again, originally based on Lenin's ideas. There is always the fear that communism will once again gain power in Russia, and could lead into more of the Cold War.
These are some of the reasons I have for this choice.
The definition of religion is a system of beliefs, therefore Lenin must be excluded from the list. My vote for most influential is Ghengas Khan (I hope I spelled that correctly). He had the worlds largest land empire. After him Eastern and Western cultures would be in contact though the silk road. His ideas for military tactics are still taught today. Here is the kicker for most influential non religious person of all time: some scholars estimate that one out of 200 people alive today are direct descendants of the Khan.
Personally, I would go for a funky Chinese lad by the name of Ts'ai Lun and another funky European lad that would sound more familiar, Guttenburg. Reason? Simple, it is out of the pure fact that without Ts'ai Lun - widely acknowledged throughout the historian's world as the first person to dabble with paper, paper as we know it today - we would not be living in such a world as today. It is true that paper plays only a miniscule role in most people's lives, with seemingly little insignifance, because it was taken for granted! In all honesty, I sincerely doubt anyone would even give a beer-bottlecap about paper and its origins. It is just sheets of white handy stuff for us to jot notes down on, write love letters and make paper airplanes out of right?
What do you think life was like before paper was around? Papyrus was hard to come by if you didn't had an entire estate of it, plus it was inconvenient. Bamboo - as the Chiense used - was waaay to heavy, and it was also inconvenient; it also burnt very easily. The Europeans - technologically the backwater of human civilisation - relied on parchment, which deterioated far too quickly.
And Guttenburg? Without him, I'm willing to make the brave assumption that we would not have the mass media today. The printing thing - can't remember the technical term of the top of my head - that he had "created" has not only influenced the lives of millions during his time and the centuries after, it is now influencing the billions of lives even today. For, without Guttenburg, all forms of newsletters and the like would be handwritten! Imagine, getting The Daily Mirror and seeing someone else's messy scrawls and pen smudges here and there. Talk about a lasting impact. ;)
In my opinion - and again, like most of my opinions, it is personal - these lads played a FAR greater role than any of the religious figures put together in different combinations or all together. Sure, it's great to have your churches and synagogues and temples and mosques to go to, but I somehow prefer reading the news and writing on paper instead of doing the former. Maybe I'm such a staunch atheist?
Valleta, nice choice with Gutenberg. He invented movable type. His first book was the Gutenberg Bible ( maybe thats why you forgot?). Before Gutenberg bibles were hand written by scribes and only the rich could afford them. After Gutenberg most people could have access to a bible (it was written in German). The people could have direct access to the word of God without interpretation from the church. As a result the Protestant Reformation occurs and so many other changes in History that they could not be written with a thousand posts. So I will change my vote from Ghenges Khan to Gutenberg. Sincerely, pockettape.
I would have to say Adolf Hitler is one of the greatest influence over the world. He showed the world just how well propaganda works that it convinced an entire country to murder thousands of people based solely upon their religion or race. He showed us just how far a country will go when desperate and when they gain power how far they will go to expand this power. Germany was power hungry and led by one of the most evil men in history. Hitler was a product of his own country and time period. He fought in World War I and after the war he was living on the street making money through small government fees to do little jobs and through his art work which, wasn't all too grand. When he joined the Germany Workers Party his ability to speak to the public and his heavy propaganda that promised to get Germany out of its rut caused him to gain the title of chancellor. This gave him the ability to appoint his own generals, who were all nuts. And in this he created a whole country that, threw much propaganda and threats of death, to hate minorities of all kinds.
Hitler was able to get the dirt poor Germany to a point where it conquered almost all of Europe and some places in Africa and, if not for the surprise of D Day, he could have taken the world. He proved how desperation pushes people to do horrible things such as leading a whole religion to its death.
And after this war the depression ended and people's eyes opened to the horrors of what happened to the Jews and the Gypsies. This caused the Untied States to open it's doors to these minorities and all of Eastern Europe and started Isreal's law that any Jew can be a citizen if they wish. Because these people were not able to escape anywhere from the Germans and were being turned away when they tried. Only in one country were they allowed and it was hard to get there as it was.
Hitler ruled as a strong power over a country that was dirt poor and brought it to an almost dominating power. He murdered thousands and showed the world just how evil humans can be. He started a world war that not only started many major events but also ended the Great Depression.
The most influential man in history, Samuel Colt.
God made man, but Samuel Colt made men equal.
He shaped weapons development in the United States and around the world, making weapons cheaper, more easily produced, and more reliable. This caused a shift in the way the world worked that lasts to this day.
Recently nobody has such an impact on the world as Nelson Mandela. The world and South Africa in particular has changed for the better because of him