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 3 entries for this date: Rafael Nadal , Edward Livingston Youmans, M.D. and James Hutton
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

On this date in 1986, tennis star Rafael Nadal was born in the Balearic Islands, off the coast of Spain. Nadal began playing tennis when he was three years old and is consistently ranked as one of the best tennis players in the world. He has earned over $50 million in prize money from playing tennis, second only to Roger Federer. He represented Spain in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and won the gold medal in men's tennis singles. He won the Australian Open in 2009; the French Open in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012; Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, and the US Open in 2010. He earned the nickname "the king of clay" because of his success playing on clay courts. The French Open, where he has won the most titles, is played on a clay court.

Nadal became the face for Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans in 2011, a position that has been held previously by Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham. Shakira also featured Nadal in the music video for her hit song, "Gypsy." Nadal is a soccer fan, and his favorite teams are Real Madrid and RCD Mallorca. He has been dating Maria Francisca Perello, who works for an insurance company, since 2005. Nadal and Perello are known for being down to earth and not seeking out the spotlight. He is an active philanthropist. He has helped plant trees in Thailand and has his own non-profit, Fundacion Rafa Nadal. His foundation focuses on helping children in his native Spain, where he has supported the Special Olympics, which expanded to helping children in India, where the foundation helped build a school in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

 

“It's hard to say, ‘I don't believe in God.’ I would love to know if God exists. But it's a very difficult thing for me to believe…I say, ‘If God exists you don't need [to cross yourself] or pray.’ If God exists, he's intelligent enough to [do] the important things, the right things.”

—--Rafael Nadal in a Q&A with Sports Illustrated (July 16, 2010).

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Edward Livingston Youmans, M.D.

Edward Livingston Youmans, M.D.

On this date in 1821, Edward Livingston Youmans was born in New York state. A precocious scholar, he continued his studies and inventions even when he was afflicted with ophthalmia at age 13, and was blind for several years. He graduated from Vermont University with a degree in medicine, lectured from 1852 to 1869 on science in the lyceum system, and was one of the first popularizers of evolution in the United States. Dr. Youmans founded Popular Science Monthly in 1872. Freethought biographer Joseph McCabe called him an "indefatigable worker and comprehensive idealist [who] literally wore out his life in altruistic endeavor." Dr. Youmans' writings include The Correlation and Conservation of Forces (1864), Alcoholism and the Constitution of Man (1853), A Handbook of Household Science (1857) and The Culture Demanded by Modern Life (1863). Dr. Youmans also oversaw the publication of Herbert Spencer's books in the United States. D. 1887.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

James Hutton

James Hutton

On this date in 1726, James Hutton was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. After attending the Royal High School, Hutton enrolled in Edinburgh University in 1740, where he at first studied humanities with the intention of receiving a law degree. However, after discovering chemistry, he abandoned the law and in 1744 began to study medicine. He studied in Edinburgh and Paris before receiving his M.D. in 1749 in Leiden, in what is now the Netherlands. Hutton never practiced medicine, instead devoting himself in turn to the manufacture of ammonium chloride, the study of new agricultural methods, and the construction of canals. Beginning in the 1750s, Hutton became interested in geology, journeying through England, Wales and Scotland to study rock formations. Hutton never married, living with his sisters for much of his adult life. He did, however, father a child, also named James Hutton, during his student years.

One of Hutton’s major contributions to the field of geology was the discovery in 1785 that granite is an igneous, rather than a sedimentary, rock (that is, it is formed from cooling magma, not from compacted sediments). Hutton is perhaps best known for the theory of Uniformitarianism, or the idea that the only processes that can have acted on the Earth’s surface are processes we see around us today—for example, erosion, deposition of sediments, and volcanic activity. The prevailing theory of the 18th century was Catastrophism: the idea that many great catastrophes, such as floods, caused relatively rapid rock formation and landform change. In England especially, geologists were eager to reconcile their theories with the biblical accounts of Genesis; theories that posited catastrophic floods remained popular because they fit well with the biblical story of Noah. Theories such as Hutton’s, which required vastly more time than the bible allowed, were seen as especially suspect. Hutton himself was a deist, who believed that the world had been created for humans’ eventual emergence; however, he did not believe that god interfered in the world, so that the miraculous-seeming events of Catastrophism seemed impossible to him. Hutton explained his geological theories in Theory of the Earth, the first two volumes of which were published in 1795, and the third volume of which was published posthumously in 1899. He was a famously abstruse writer, whose works were not much read; but John Playfair, Hutton’s biographer, published Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth in 1802, which popularized Hutton’s difficult material. D. 1797.

“The past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now. No powers are to be employed that are not natural to the globe, no action to be admitted except those of which we know the principle.”

—James Hutton, “Theory of the Earth,” in Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1785

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.

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