Freethought of the Day

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There are 2 entries for this date: Edward Truelove and Sir Alfred Jules Ayer

Edward Truelove

On this date in 1809, Edward Truelove was born In England. A follower of Robert Owen and his son, Truelove worked at the Owenite utopian community of New Harmony, Indiana, for a year. Truelove opened his own bookstore in the Strand in 1852, and later opened another shop in Holborn. He published Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary and Thomas Paine's writings. In 1858, after he published Tyrannicide by W.E. Adams, Truelove was charged with blasphemy, but the prosecution was withdrawn. In the 1870s, Truelove served four months in prison for the publication of Robert Dale Owen's book, Moral Physiology, addressing population and birth control. According to historian Joseph McCabe, "His admirers presented him with £200 after his release." D. 1899.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Sir Alfred Jules Ayer

Sir Alfred Jules Ayer

On this date in 1910, Sir Alfred Jules Ayer was born in London into a wealthy family. His father was a Swiss Calvinist and his mother was of Dutch-Jewish ancestry. Ayer attended Eton preparatory school and studied philosophy and Greek at Oxford University. From 1946 to 1959, he taught philosophy at University College London. He then became Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford. Ayer was knighted in 1970. Included among his many works are The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge (1940), The Problem of Knowledge (1956), The Origins of Pragmatism (1968), Metaphysics and Common Sense (1969), Bertrand Russell (1972) and Hume (1980), about philosopher David Hume. In his still-popular book Language, Truth and Logic (1936), Ayer rejected the term “atheism” on the grounds that the existence of god as a hypothesis could never be proven. To argue that no god exists, to Ayer, was as meaningless as saying that one did exist. Later in life, Ayer frequently identified himself as an atheist and became active in humanist causes. He was the first vice president of the British Humanist Association and served as its president from 1965 to 1970. He was an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association from 1947 until his death. He was also an honorary member of the Bertrand Russell Society. In 1988, Ayer had a near-death experience in the United States after choking on salmon and subsequently losing consciousness. He wrote of his experience in “That Undiscovered Country” (New Humanist, May 1989): “My recent experiences have slightly weakened my conviction that my genuine death, which is due fairly soon, will be the end of me, though I continue to hope that it will be. They have not weakened my conviction that there is no god. I trust that my remaining an atheist will allay the anxieties of my fellow supporters of the British Humanist Association, the Rationalist Press Association and the South Place Ethical Society.” He died shortly after at age 78 in London. D. 1989.

"I do not believe in God. It seems to me that theists of all kinds have very largely failed to make their concept of a deity intelligible; and to the extent that they have made it intelligible, they have given us no reason to think that anything answers to it." 

—A.J. Ayer in "What I Believe," The Humanist, August 1966, p. 226.

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© 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.


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