"stepping down" is a bit odd. Cambridge contracts have a retirement date of the end of the September after your 67th birthday. Which is today, for him.
Inspired by this post, I looked up Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in Wikipedia. Check this out:
The post was founded in 1663.... One of the stipulations in Lucas' will was that the holder of the professorship should not be active in the church.
I know Gene Expression doesn't usually join in the atheist/secular cheerleading of other ScienceBlogs sites, but wow. Just, wow. 1663. Four centuries later, and such a stipulation would be considered controversial. Bravo for Henry Lucas.
well they will have to put Bill Dembski in as the next one, he is the Isaac Newton of Information theory (or something like that) and clearly not a member of the church of england.
Hawking and stanford's Leonard Susskind had a huge disagreement about the physics of black holes in of all places the mansion of Werner Erhard back in the day. What a weird thought.
I think when you read the horror stories of what was going on around Newton's time vis a vis religion and the academy you can understand that worry. I suspect the setting of the civil war really allowed things like that to develop. I think Americans who take freedom of religion for granted miss how religion developed in most of Europe. Every time I read the histories I'm shocked.
It does make one wonder if there have been any who hid their religious beliefs much like Newton did, albeit for quite different reasons. Of course one could easily be religious with out being active in the Church. (Which I suspect in practice meant Anglicanism, although perhaps it also meant Catholicism although Catholics would have already had persecution through a lot of British history)
Stephen Hawking in the chair Isaac Newton used to occupy? I'm presuming the joystick and speech synthesizer have been upgraded in the intervening centuries.