I know that after I make this list there are going to be people that I will realize I should have put them on the list. That is why I call these "some" of my heroes.
Issac Newton: When I was much younger Newton was my favorite scientist. He still is. The greatest scientist in all history and the greatest mathematician of his time. I consider Newton to be, without exaggeration, the greatest human being who ever existed second to me, of course. Newton inspired me to pursue science and mathematics. It is amazing how much he achieved considering that he spend like 90% of his time on theology and alchemy. Imagine if he spend all his time on what was actually worthy.
Albert Einstein: My other favorite scientist from when I was much younger. He influenced me also to be interested in physics. I consider Einstein to be the greatest scientist of the 20th century. My theological beliefs are also best identified with Einstein (and Spinoza). Like Einstein I do believe that there is a rational construct in nature that we can observe when we study it. However, I do not need the word "God", for me that word is completely unnecessary. I am an atheist but I do think the universe is ordered in a rational manner, though with no purpose to it.
Thomas Paine: I regard Thomas Paine as the greatest philosopher from the Age of Enlightenment. Christopher Hitchens wrote of Paine that if Paine only written the "Rights of Men" that alone would have earned him the title as the most important Englishmen from the Enlightenment. But Paine did a lot. Paine influenced America. And much more, too much to list here. Paine is my favorite of all the American Founding Fathers. Thomas Paine is important for me because it was Paine who first made me give up religion. I gave up Judaism after I read the "Age of Reason", which was an attack on Judaism, Christianity, and religion in general.
Christopher Hitchens: Of course Hitchens is not anywhere comparable to these great people. But this is not about the great people from history, this post is about my heroes of influenced me, so I can include people who are not so great, just my influences. Hitchens was one of the people who influenced my atheism, a path to intellectual freedom from the tyranny of religion. Hitchens is fantastic. Much better and much smarter than Richard Dawkins. I have never liked Dawkins. And I consider it sad that atheists like Dawkins more than Hitchens, but I think Hitchens is far superior than Dawkins when it comes to arguing for atheism.
Adam Smith: As a good capitalist I cannot possibly not like Smith, he is after all regarded as a father of capitalism (though a term that Karl Marx invented). Smith has been able to set forward the main ideas behind free markets. It is not a surprise that Smith has been wrong on many issues. Today we know much more than he did. But his general ideas are correct and have only been vindicated by the 200+ history after him. The main idea that society cannot be planned but that it is the spontaneous arrangement of individuals working together for their self-interest.
Pierre Fermat: My favorite mathematician. Though he is extremely outdated he is among the most important mathematicians in history that has influenced a lot of mathematics. Including, analytic geometry, calculus, number theory, and probability. Issac Newton had a lot of respect for Fermat and if it was not for Fermat, Newton would have probably not been able to invent calculus.
Evariste Galois: Galois theory is one of the most beautiful concepts of algebra. It is a real beauty to see how group theory and field theory are ultimately connected to one another. It is a tribute to Galois for recognizing this connection. And he did all this work at age 20, the age he died, sadly. Just imagine if he lived a normal life.
Emil Artin: My favorite mathematician of the 20th century. Oh, what a fantastic mathematician. He definitely would have received a Field's Medal award, he just lived before the time the medals were handed over. Since I mentioned Galois above I cannot possibly not mention Artin who revolutionized the classical approach to Galois theory in terms of automorphism groups. Artin was also an excellent mathematician who contributed much to arithmetic.
Thomas Jefferson: My favorite president in history. He greatly influenced me in the idea of decentralizing power. And a general distrust of authority. Whenever it comes to distrusting the state, or reducing state power, I look at Jefferson as an inspiration. I also greatly respect Jefferson for being anti-religious. And respect him (and the other main founders) for setting up the first ever country in history founded on secular principles. It is sad, truly sad, to see the country that was set up as a secular country to have turned into a religious one.
Milton Friedman: Milton beautifully explained in simple terms how liberty, from a practical point-of-view, is superior to authority. It was really clear to follow his economic arguments. At first it seemed impossible to argue against pre-established conventions but Milton had a talent to do it very easily. I respect Milton a lot for not being afraid to challenge his ideas. I have seen a lot of talks and debates that he was in. He was never afraid to argue with other people on these topics. And every time I seen Friedman he was always the superior one, always using such clear arguments. (When was the last time you seen someone like Chomsky argue his ideas with other people, I never seen, probably because Chomsky is too much of a coward to argue with others.)
Carl Gauss: I cannot possibly not put on this list the greatest mathematician from history. Gauss was the last complete mathematician. That is, the last mathematician that was associated with everything there was to be associated with at his time. From an early age till when he died he pursued mathematics (and later physics too). Gauss, for me, is mostly an influence in arithmetic, a subject to which he strongly contributed to.
Baruch Spinoza: My favorite pre-Enlightenment philosopher. He was one of the people who contributed towards my skepticism towards religion. Spinoza nicely refuted the divinity of the Scripture. Spinoza also inspired me to take a materialistic and deterministic approach to nature. After I gave up religion I was not a determinist and I was not a materialist. Spinoza was able to unify all of his ideas together and show how all of the concepts, such as materialism and determinism in Nature are all one and the same.
Bernhard Riemann: Another mathematical favorite of mine. I regard him as one of the most important mathematicians in history. Riemann was a big influence in my life to continue to study mathematics even more.
Terroja Kincaid: You might laugh at me and say it is embarrassing that I choose a YouTube vlogger as a influence in my life, but I do. But TJ (better known as TheAmazingAtheist) did influence me a lot. More specifically back in the old days. Back from four to three years ago, when he was just starting out on YouTube (today he is different, now he is just trying to get popular, so I should be more careful and say the Old TJ as opposed to the New TJ). He was the first person to make me care about defending freedom. I also had a lot of respect for him because he was never afraid to show his weaknesses on camera in front of the whole world.
Lejeunne Dirichlet: Yet another mathematician. He has been one of my favorites because I always enjoyed Dirichlet's results. A lot of his work and his theorems are really wonderful. And he was the first mathematician to use analytic methods in arithmetic when Dirichlet proved the prime progression theorem.
Penn Jillette: It is funny that I choose somebody who went to clown college as an influence. But Penn (and Teller) have been able to advance skepticism and freedom from a very comical approach (as seen on the TV show "Bullshit"). When was the last time you seen people argue against creationism and feature masturbating girls on TV at the same time? He happens to be a real loud-mouth and foul-mouth but a nice guy.
Friedrich Nietzsche: The common stereotype of an insane philosopher. I love people who have to destroy everything that people have ever taken so dear to them. With all values and morals destroyed, with God dead, what is now left? The true potential of the individual. We do not need to bring ourselves down to others, and be their slaves, but we can all be masters.
Leonard Euler: Another mathematician. But this guy is epic. Euler contributed more to mathematics than anyone has ever done so in history. His collected works are in 76 volumes. But what is even more amazing is that for the last 1/5 of his life, he was entirely blind. Every mathematician and everyone who learns mathematics wishes to be the next Euler.