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: Pete Seeger and Steven Weinberg
Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger


On this date in 1919, Peter Seeger was born in Manhattan to musicologist Charles Seeger and concert violinist, Constance de Dyver Edson Seeger. Best known for his legendary contributions to folk music, he wrote such songs as “If I Had A Hammer” and the anti-war song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and popularized the German folk song, “Sie Gedanken Sind Frei,” which celebrates freedom of thought. He was committed to social activism throughout his entire life, lending his music and his voice to the civil rights movement, anti-war efforts, and most recently, the environment. Seeger was exposed to folk music early on, as his father and stepmother collected and transcribed rural American folk music. He attended Harvard University with the intention of becoming a journalist, but dropped out after two years and moved to New York City. He began to work with other folk performers and his career was launched.

At 20, Seeger married Toshi-Aline Öta with whom he had four children and eight grandchildren. Due to his affiliation with the Communist Party in the 1940s, he was summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953 and indicted for contempt of Congress in 1957, though the indictment was overturned a year later. In his testimony, he said, “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

Seeger continued to write music and perform around the world into the 21st century. In 1972 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. In 1994 he was honored by the Kennedy Center. He was also awarded the National Medal of Arts that same year. In 1996 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame under the category of Early Influences. When asked about his religious views in a Beliefnet interview (March 16, 2007) Seeger described himself as a pantheist, saying, “I feel most spiritual when I’m out in the woods. I feel part of nature. Or looking up at the stars. [I used to say] I was an atheist. Now I say, it’s all according to your definition of God.” D. 2014

Give Me That Old Time Religion

Give me that old time religion

Give me that old time religion

Give me that old time religion

It's good enough for me.

 

We will pray with Aphrodite,

We will pray with Aphrodite,

She wears that see-through nightie,

And it's good enough for me.

 

We will pray with Zarathustra,

We'll pray just like we use ta,

I'm a Zarathustra booster,

And it's good enough for me.

 

We will pray with those Egyptians,

Build pyramids to put our crypts in,

Cover subways with inscriptions,

And it's good enough for me.

 

We will pray with those old druids,

They drink fermented fluids,

Waltzing naked though the woo-ids,

And it's good enough for me.

 

We do dances to bring water,

Prepare animals for slaughter,

Sacrifice our sons and daughters,

And it's good enough for me.

 

I'll arise at early morning,

When my Lord gives me the warning,

That the solar age is dawning,

And it's good enough for me

­-Pete Seeger’s rewriting of the lyrics to Give Me That Old Time Religion

Compiled by Dayna Long

“I leaf through [the bible] quite often--if only to shake my head in disgust. I quote Leviticus to people who think that every word in the Bible is absolutely gospel and you need to obey every word. In Leviticus it says you must kill a bull if you’re going to really love God. And you must kill it in a certain way, or else you will be killed.”-Seeger, interview, Beliefnet, March 16, 2007.

Compiled by Dayna Long

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Steven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg

On this date in 1933, Steven Weinberg was born in the Bronx, N.Y. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from Cornell University in 1954, which he attended on a scholarship. There he met and fell in love with another Cornell student. Louise Weinberg is now his wife and a professor of law at the University of Texas. Weinberg began his graduate study at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen (now the Niels Bohr Institute). He completed his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1957. In 1979, Weinberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics along with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Lee Glashow, “for their contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, inter alia, the prediction of the weak neutral current.” This was one of the most significant scientific advances in the second half of the 20th century. He has received many other prestigious awards for his scientific work, including the national Medal of Science in 1991. He is also a foreign member of the Royal Society of London. Known for his writing, Weinberg received the Lewis Thomas Prize, which is awarded to the researcher who best embodies “the scientist as poet.” Weinberg has written hundreds of scholarly articles and textbooks such as The Quantum Theory of Fields (three volumes: 1995, 1996, 2003) and Cosmology (2008); the more popular works The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe (1977) and Dreams of a Final Theory (1993, which contains a chapter called “What About God?”). His collections Facing Up: Science and its Cultural Adversaries was published in 2001, and Lake Views: This World and the Universe in 2011.

Weinberg is outspoken about his lack of religion and encourages other scientists to be more vocal in their opposition to religious ideas. He has said, in reference to the conflict between religion and science, “As you learn more and more about the universe, you find you can understand more and more without any reference to supernatural intervention, so you lose interest in that possibility. Most scientists I know don't care enough about religion even to call themselves atheists. And that, I think, is one of the great things about science — that it has made it possible for people not to be religious” (quoted in Natalie Angier, “Confessions of a Lonely Atheist," The New York Times, Jan. 14, 2001). On the subject of religion, Weinberg told The New York Times: "The whole history of the last thousands of years has been a history of religious persecutions and wars, pogroms, jihads, crusades. I find it all very regrettable, to say the least.” In 1999, Steven Weinberg became the first official recipient of FFRF's “Emperor Has No Clothes” award, a golden figurine reserved for public figures who make known their dissent from religion. He began his acceptance speech by saying, "I enjoy being at a meeting that doesn't start with an invocation!" He said, “Nothing has been more important in the history of science than the work of Darwin and Wallace pointing out that not only the planets but even life can be understood in this naturalistic way.” More excerpts from his acceptance speech can be found here.

"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

—Steven Weinberg, in an address at the Conference on Cosmic Design, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C., April 1999

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski

© 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  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  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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