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.

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There are 2 entries for this date: Hector Berlioz and Ellen Key
Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz

On this date in 1803, musical composer Hector Berlioz was born in Dauphine, France. His mother was Roman Catholic. His physician father expected Hector, who had a musical affinity, to follow in his footsteps. Repelled by the crude medicine of his day, Berlioz turned from medical studies to music when his cantata won a Conservatoire prize. He was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1830. The passionate composer was highly influenced by Shakespeare, writing three major works on Shakespearean themes. He was also influenced by Byron, and Goethe's Faust. He married actress Harriet Smithson. Now considered the father of French Romanticism, Berlioz was discouraged by French critics at the time, despite major compositions such as Symphonie fantastique (1830), Harold en Italie, Romeo and Juliette and overtures to King Lear and Rob Roy. In fact, his works were so original and sweeping that many regarded Berlioz as a musical lunatic. He was forced to become a music critic to support himself. Gradually, Berlioz found his recognition abroad, and toured throughout the 1840s and 1850s. Freethought historian Joseph McCabe termed Berlioz an agnostic. D. 1869.

 

“I believe nothing.”

—Letter by Hector Berlioz, cited by G.K. Boult, Life of H. Berlioz, 1903, p. 298 (from Joseph McCabe's A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Ellen Key

Ellen Key

On this date in 1849, author and social critic Ellen Karolina Sofia Key was born in Sweden. The daughter of the Countess S. Posse and a father who lost his fortune, Key turned to teaching in Stockholm to support herself for two decades. Meanwhile, she also taught at the Workers' Institute. Key wrote 30 books, seven of which were translated into English. Her best known include Love and Marriage (1911, reprinted with critical and biographical notes by Havelock Ellis, 1931), The Century of the Child (1900) and The Woman Movement (1912). Although Key's progressive views on state child support influenced Scandinavian social legislation, she was not so progressive on women's issues and opposed mothers entering the workforce. Described by freethought historian Joseph McCabe as "a Monist," Key believed "the myths of the Bible" should not be weighted in instruction of children any more than the "Scandinavian story of creation or the Greek legends of the gods" (The Century of the Child). D. 1926.

“. . . the most demoralising factor in education is Christian religious instruction. . . . even a more living, a more actual instruction in Christianity injures the child.

But the most dangerous of all educational mistakes in influencing humanity, is due to the fact, that children are now taught the Old Testament account of the world as absolute truth, although it wholly contradicts their physical and historical instruction. . . .

But the demoralising feature in Christianity as an ideal is, that it is presented as absolute, while man as a social being is obliged to transgress it every day. Besides he is taught in his religious instruction, that as a fallen being he cannot in any case attain the ideal, although the only possibility of his living righteously in temporal things, and happily in the world to come, depends on his capacity for realising it.”

—Ellen Key, The Century of the Child (1900, English version, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 9th printing, 1909)

Compiled by Annie Laurie 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.

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