Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


There are 5 entries for this date: Veterans Day , Kurt Vonnegut , Joseph McCabe , Pete Stark and Hugh Everett III
Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Originally known as Armistice Day, November 11 marks the anniversary of the ceasefire of World War I in 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, and Congress gradually made Armistice Day a legal holiday. In 1954, Congress renamed the holiday “Veterans Day.” Contrary to the myth that there have been “no atheists in foxholes,” nonreligious Americans have and are serving their country with valor and distinction. To recognize their contributions, and “with hope that in the future humankind may learn to avoid all war,” the Freedom From Religion Foundation has erected the first monument to Atheists in Foxholes which rests beside FFRF’s southern Freethought Hall in rural Alabama.

Armistice Day

Lauryn Seering

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

On this date in 1922, author Kurt Vonnegut Jr was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His books and short stories, including social satire, black comedy and science fiction, often take a tragi-comic turn. Life-altering experiences included his mother's suicide on Mother's Day 1944 while he was home on leave, and surviving as a prisoner of war the Allied bombing that destroyed Dresden. His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1954, followed by The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; Or, Pearls Before Swine (1965), Slaughterhouse Five (1969), Breakfast of Champions (1973), and many others. Several collections of his short stories and essays have also been published, such as God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (1999). In his novel Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut wrote: "During world War II, while I was serving with the Third Army in Germany, I removed a belt buckle from the uniform of a dead German soldier. The lettering on the buckle read Gott Mit Uns (God Is With Us)." Vonnegut was named Humanist of the Year of the American Humanist Association, and became its honorary president. He was also named a Humanist Laureate. D. 2007.

“I am an atheist (or at best a Unitarian who winds up in churches quite a lot).”

—Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Fates Worse Than Death: An Autobiographical Collage of the 1980s (1991)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Joseph McCabe

Joseph McCabe

On this date in 1867, former priest and freethought scholar Joseph McCabe was born in Macclesfield, England, to a Roman Catholic father and Protestant mother who converted to Catholicism. As the second son in the large and poor family, Joseph, at 16, was sent to a preparatory college at the Gorton Franciscan monastery. He was ordained a priest at age 23. As a teacher of philosophy at a Catholic school, McCabe began to doubt religion. In 1895, his moment of no-faith came on Christmas Eve after weighing a list of pro and con arguments for the belief in a god (see quote). MCCabe wrote Twelve Years in a Monastery (1897), which sold 100,000 copies. Among his 200 published books were many biographies, including books about Goethe, George Jacob Holyoake, Robert Owen, and others. He also translated about 50 works, including Ernest Haeckel's Riddle of the Universe (1902), and popularized science and history. His critiques of religion include The Rise and the Fall of the Gods (1930). Toward the end of his life he wrote primarily about the unholy alliance between fascism and other governments with religion, in such books as The Papacy in Politics Today (1937), and A History of the Second World War (1946). Although his acquaintances were a "who's who" in freethinkers and reformers, McCabe's testy personality got him expelled from the British Rationalist Association. He maintained a longterm relationship with American paperback magnate E. Haldeman-Julius, who published 121 "Little Blue Books" by McCabe and 122 larger books, earning McCabe $100,000 in royalties. McCabe requested that his epitaph read: "He was a rebel to his last breath." D. 1955.

“I took a sheet of paper, divided it into debt and credit columns on the arguments for and against God and immortality. On Christmas Eve I wrote 'bankrupt' at the foot. And it was on Christmas morning 1895, after I had celebrated three Masses, while the bells of the parish church were ringing out the Christmas message of peace, that, with great pain, I found myself far out from the familiar land--homeless, aimlessly drifting. But the bells were right after all; from that hour on I have been wholly free from the nightmare of doubt that had lain on me for ten years.”

—Joseph McCabe, Twelve Years in a Monastery (1897)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Pete Stark

Pete Stark

On this date in 1931, Fortney Hillman "Pete" Stark was born in Milwaukee, Wis. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in engineering (1953), and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1955 to 1957. In 1960, Stark earned a Masters in Business Administration from the University of California-Berkeley. In 1963, Stark founded Security National Bank (Walnut Creek, Calif.), which has grown into a $1 billion financial institution. Stark served in Congress from 1973 to 2012 representing the 13th Congressional District, a diverse area covering the east side of the San Francisco Bay, stretching from Alameda to Fremont. Stark has received less than 60% of the vote only twice since his first election. He served on the House Banking and Currency Committee in his first term in Congress and is a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee.

Stark is the only open nonbeliever in Congress. In 2007, members of Congress received a survey about their religious belief and Rep. Stark answered, "that I didn't believe in a supreme being. Within a week, I had 5,000 responses from around the world, almost all of them favorable" (Stark, accepting the 2010 Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation via a videotaped message). He told FFRF convention-goers: "Thankfully, we're moving in a direction where some feel it's not an act of courage simply to state that you don't believe in god. The work of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is helping to make this possible." Stark issued a statement about his nonbelief on March 12, 2007: "Like our nation's founders, I strongly support the separation of church and state. I look forward to working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts, the military and the provision of social services." Stark told a constituent who praised him: "It's not courageous to make a simple statement about personal beliefs. What is courageous is to stand up in Congress and say, 'Let's tax the rich and give the money to poor kids'" (Freethought Today, "Rep. Stark Makes History," April 2007). Stark received the 2007 Harvard Humanist of the Year award. In 2008, he was honored as the Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association for his "strong record of championing humanist values . . . shown by his advocacy for universal health care, peace, and religious freedom" (American Humanist Association website, June 6, 2008). In 2011, Stark introduced a bill into the U.S. House "Expressing support for designation of Feb. 12, 2011, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity." 

"Thankfully, we're moving in a direction where some feel it's not an act of courage simply to state that you don't believe in god. . . . We must continue to speak out, be honest about our beliefs."

—Rep. Pete Stark, in a videotaped acceptance speech for the 2010 Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, at the annual FFRF convention in Madison, Wis., Oct. 2010

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Hugh Everett III

Hugh Everett III

On this date in 1930, Hugh Everett III was born in Washington, D.C. He graduated in 1953 from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., with a degree in chemical engineering. Everett then attended Princeton University and earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1956. He was a co-founder of the Institute for Defense Analyses in 1956. Everett founded Lambda Corp., a defense analysis organization that assisted the Pentagon, in 1964. He married Nancy Gore in 1956 and they had two children, Elizabeth Everett and Mark Oliver Everett (the lead singer of band Eels).

Everett was a physicist interested in theoretical and quantum physics who is known for developing the influential theory, “The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.” His theory, part of his 1957 Ph.D. thesis, postulates that our universe is part of a multiverse, a vast system of universes. He hypothesized that every universe is constantly splitting into alternate universes that encompass every possible event. Everett’s theory, along with his book, The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (1973), is widely studied by quantum physicists.

Everett was a “life-long atheist,” according to The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III (2010) by Peter Byrne. During his time at Catholic University, Everett “drove devout Jesuits to distraction with scientific questioning” and even caused one of his professors to lose his faith after presenting a logical proof against the existence of god (quoted in The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III). In Mark Oliver Everett’s memoir, Things the Grandchildren Should Know (2008), he wrote: “My dad, who was a devout atheist, had once told my mom that he wanted his remains to be thrown out in the trash.” The family heeded Everett’s wishes. D. 1982

“Because of his loudly avowed atheism, he was labeled ‘the heretic’ by devout classmates.”

—Peter Byrne, writing about Hugh Everett III’s atheism in The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III (2010).

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

FFRF privacy statement

AAI-LOGO

FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.