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 3 entries for this date: Sting , Christian de Duve and Graham Greene
Sting

Sting

On this date in 1951, composer, singer, musician, actor and environmental activist Gordon Matthew Sumner (Sting), was born to a milkman and hairdresser in Newcastle, England. Sumner took the name Sting after someone told him he looked like a bee wearing a striped sweater. Sting became a husband and father before turning 20, and then moved to London hoping to launch his musical career. He and two others started the hit band The Police, in 1976. Sting, the lead singer, wrote most of the music and lyrics. The group had early hits including "Roxanne" and "Message in a Bottle," but they struck musical gold with the 1983 smash hit "Every Breath You Take." Sting began acting in such films as "Quadrophenia" (1979), "Dune" (1984), and "The Bride" (1985). The Police broke up in 1984, and Sting released his first solo album the next year, "The Dream of the Blue Turtles," which was nominated for a Grammy. Sting's activism has persisted throughout his career. Since the 1980s, he has actively supported Amnesty International, and co-founded the Rainforest Foundation in 1989, in an effort to save the Brazilian rainforest. He has authored books including Jungle Stories: The Fight for the Amazon (1989), with co-author Jean-Pierre Dutilleux, and Spirits in the Material World (1994), with Pato Banton. In the CD booklet of his Winter Solstice album, "If On A Winter's Night" (2009), Sting twice identifies himself as an agnostic. 

" . . . if ever I'm asked if I'm religious I always reply, 'Yes, I'm a devout musician.' Music puts me in touch with something beyond the intellect, something otherworldly, something sacred."

—-Sting delivering a Berklee College of Music commencement address in Boston, May 15, 1994

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch, with help from Scott Grinstead

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Christian de Duve

Christian de Duve

On this date in 1917, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Christian de Duve was born in Surrey, Great Britain, to Belgian parents. He later moved to Belgium and during WWII he served as a medic in the Belgian Army. He received his PhD in chemistry in 1945 from the Catholic University of Leuven, the top university in Belgium at the time. His thesis focused on insulin, which is the chemical that regulates blood sugar and when not produced causes diabetes. His work focused on subcellular biochemistry, cell biology and the origin of life. De Duve became a professor at the Catholic University of Leuven in 1947, and in 1962 also joined Rockefeller University. He discovered two types of cell organelles: peroxisomes and lysosomes. He discovered peroxisomes, which perform metabolic functions, in 1967, and lysosomes, which break down waste in cells, in 1949. The research he did on cell biology helped create more knowledge about genetic disorders such as Tay-Sachs disease. His research also found new ways to examine cells, using centrifugal techniques. He wrote several books on science and cell biology. In the 1980s, de Duve became professor emeritus at both of the universities where he had conducted research. De Duve won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1974 with Albert Claude and George Palade for the work they did on cell structure, specifically for describing the roles of lysosomes and peroxisomes. The three scientists are recognized as the fathers of the field of modern cell biology. De Duve had four children: Thierry, Alain, Anne and Francoise. D. 2013.

 

“It would be an exaggeration to say I’m not afraid of death, but I’m not afraid of what comes after, because I’m not a believer.”

——de Duve explaining his choice to end his life using euthanasia, in a New York Times article by Denise Gellene, May 6, 2013.

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Graham Greene

Graham Greene

On this date in 1904, Graham Greene was born in Hertfordshire, England. He graduated with a B.A. in history from Balliol College in 1925, where he worked as an editor for The Oxford Outlook. After graduating, he became an editor for The Times. He left in 1930 to become a film critic for The Spectator. Greene was an esteemed novelist who wrote 24 novels, including The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948) and The Quiet American (1956). He gained inspiration for his novels partially from his travels in countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mexico and Vietnam. Greene also published short stories and screenplays including “The Third Man” (1949). Greene worked for the British Secret Intelligence Service during World War II.

Greene was an agnostic who converted to Catholicism in 1926, after becoming engaged to Vivien Dayrell-Browning, who was Catholic. In his autobiography A Sort of Life (1971), Greene wrote that his conversion was difficult: “I disbelieved in God. If I were ever to be convinced in even the remote possibility of a supreme, omnipotent and omniscient power I realized that nothing afterwards could seem impossible. It was on the ground of dogmatic atheism that I fought and fought hard.” Although Catholic, Greene questioned his faith. “When I became a Catholic and had to take another name, I took Thomas, after the doubter,” Greene is quoted as saying in part two of Graham Greene: On the Frontier (1988) by Maria Couto. After his conversion, many of his novels and stories included Catholic themes. However, in a 1987 interview, Greene said, “I've always found it difficult to believe in God. I suppose I'd now call myself a Catholic atheist” (quoted in The New York Times, 1991). Robin Turton, a politician and friend of Greene, said: “I think in my life I’ve never heard atheism put forward better than by Graham” (quoted in Graham Green: Fictions, Faith and Authorship (2010) by Michael Brennan). D. 1991

“I prefer to be an agnostic and think that the body itself produces its own miracle.”

—Letter to his publicist, Ragnar Svanström, on May 13, 1977, quoted in Graham Greene: A Life in Letters (2007) by Richard Greene.

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.