Adams, John (1735–1826)

John Adams was an American President with an interest in science who pondered how to reconcile pluralism with his Calvinist beliefs. In 1756, he wrote:


Astronomers will tell us ... that not only all the Planets and Satellites in our Solar System, but all the unnumbered Worlds that revolve round the fixt Starrs are inhabited... If this is the Case all Mankind are no more in comparison of the whole rational Creation of God, than a point to the Orbit of Saturn. Perhaps all these different Ranks of Rational Beings have in greater or less Degree, committed moral Wickedness. If so, I ask a Calvinist, whether he will subscribe to this alternative, "either God almighty must assume the respective shapes of all these different Species, and suffer the Penalties of their Crimes, in their Stead, or else all these Being[s] must be consigned to everlasting Perdition?"


Adams almost certainly discussed pluralism with his vice-president (later president), Thomas Jefferson, and with the astronomer William Herschel, whom he visited in England in 1786.