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 4 entries for this date: Benjamin Underwood , Aleksandr Pushkin , Frida Kahlo and Peter Singer

Benjamin Underwood

On this date in 1839, Benjamin Underwood was born in New York City, the second of seven children. Largely self-educated, he served in the Civil War and was imprisoned at Richmond after being wounded in the right leg. After being released through a prisoner exchange program, Underwood reinlisted and served through the war, receiving a commendation for bravery in action. After working as a reporter, lecturer and author, Underwood became a noted promoter of Darwin and evolution. He was appointed co-editor, with William J. Potter, of the Index in 1881, a weekly newspaper founded by a Unitarian. In 1887, the atheist founded The Open Court in Chicago, a well-respected journal which published the writings of many freethinkers. Underwood wrote, lectured and debated as a major 19th century advocate for the freethought movement. His books include The Influence of Christianity on Civilization (1871) and The Crimes and Cruelties of Christianity (1877). Underwood chaired the "Congress of Evolution" at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. Underwood was a supporter of feminism. His wife, Sara Underwood, wrote Heroines of Freethought (1876). D. 1914.

"There is no argument worthy of the name that will justify the union of the Christian religion with the State. Every consideration of justice and equality forbids it. Every argument in favor of free Republican institutions is equally an argument in favor of a complete divorce of the State from the Church. History in warning tones tells us there can be no liberty without it. Justice demands it. Public safety requires it. He who opposes it is, whether he realizes it or not, an enemy of freedom. ”

—Benjamin Underwood, "The Practical Separation of Church & State," an address to the 1876 Centennial Congress of Liberals

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Aleksandr Pushkin

Aleksandr Pushkin

On this date in 1799, Aleksandr Pushkin was born in Moscow. Born into a poor, aristocratic family, Pushkin saw his first poem published at age 14. He joined the foreign office in 1817, but was banished to South Russia as a young man for radical poetry that also satirized religion, such as "Ode to Liberty." He was permitted to return to his mother's estate and then to St. Peterburg after several years. Pushkin's epics include "Ruslan and Ludmila" (1820), "Boris Gudenov" (1831), and "Evgenii Onegin" (1833). He returned to a government position in 1831, and founded a review publication in 1836. He died fighting a duel over his young wife in 1837. Pushkin's complete works were published in 12 volumes. A rationalist admirer of Voltaire, the deistic writer is considered the founder of Russian literature. D. 1837.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

On this date in 1907, Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico, the daughter of an immigrant Jewish father and a Mexican/indigenous Roman Catholic mother. Her painting career was born of pain and boredom during a lengthy convalescence following impalement in a horrific streetcar accident. The 18-year-old suffered a broken spine and pelvis, 11 leg fractures and a crushed foot, but learned to walk again. Frida famously married painter Diego Rivera in 1929 and divorced him for infidelity in 1940. They remarried the next year. Diego encouraged her to adopt her trademark, colorful Mexican garb. The strikingly beautiful woman also boasted a trademark "unibrow," which she meticulously documented in her many self-portraits. Kahlo was a self-professed atheist who sometimes wove blasphemous themes into her surreal paintings. She depicted herself, for instance, as a secular, medical martyr. Unhappy with U.S. values during an extended stay there in the 1930s, she painted a montage of images that included a dollar sign wrapped across the cross on a church. She mixed Christian and Aztec images in some paintings. Frida once referred to Diego as the second major accident of her life. The tempestuous radicals were always controversial in private and public lives. Although Frida was rumored to have had a love affair with the exiled Trotsky, she painted an adulatory picture in 1954 called "Stalin and I." Her accident was a lifelong disability, forcing her to have more than 30 operations and causing immense pain. Shortly before her death, her right leg had to be amputated below the knee. She died at 47, probably of her own hand. The New York Times obituary reported that she was believed to be the first woman to sell a painting to the Louvre. Actress Salma Hayek fought hard to bring to life the movie "Frida" (2002), in which she portrayed the artist and acted as a co-producer. D. 1954.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Peter Singer

Peter Singer

On this date in 1946, professor, philosopher, ethicist, animal rights activist and world-renowned author Peter Albert David Singer was born in Melbourne, Australia. His Jewish parents fled Vienna to Australia in 1938 to escape the Nazi takeover of Austria. He graduated with honors from the University of Melbourne in 1967, earned his M.A. from the University of Melbourne in 1969 and got his B. Phil. at the University of Oxford in 1971. In 1977, Singer was appointed to a chair of philosophy at Monash University in Melbourne, and subsequently was the founding director of that university's Centre for Human Bioethics. Singer was the founding president of the International Association of Bioethics, and with Helga Kuhse, founding co-editor of the journal Bioethics. In 1999, Prof. Singer accepted a professorship at Princeton University, and is currently the DeCamp professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton. He first became well-known internationally after the publication of Animal Liberation in 1975, which many consider the leading catalyst of the modern animal liberation movement. In addition to his hundreds of published articles and numerous books, his most influential publications include: Democracy and Disobedience (1973); Practical Ethics (1979); Marx (1980); The Expanding Circle (1981); Hegel (1982); The Reproduction Revolution (1984, with Deane Wells), Should the Baby Live? (1985, with Helga Kuhse), How Are We to Live? (1993), Rethinking Life and Death (1994); A Darwinian Left (1999), One World (2002), Pushing Time Away (2003) and Stem Cell Research: The Ethical Issues (2007). He also authored a book about George W. Bush's religion called The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush (2004).

As a student at the University of Melbourne, Singer was a member and then became president of the Rationalist Society, and editor of its publication The Freethinker. Singer frequently asserts that morality and ethics have no correlation to religious belief. "Atheists and agnostics do not behave less morally than religious believers, even if their virtuous acts rest on different principles. Non-believers often have as strong and sound a sense of right and wrong as anyone, and have worked to abolish slavery and contributed to other efforts to alleviate human suffering" (Project Syndicate, "Godless Morality," by Peter Singer and Marc Hauser, January 2006). Singer condemns religious intrusion into politics and scientific research. On religious opposition to stem cell research, Singer wrote: "If anyone ever tries to tell you that, for all its quirks and irrationality, religion is harmless or even beneficial for society, remember those 128 million Americans — and hundreds of millions more citizens of other nations — who might be helped by research that is being restricted by religious beliefs" (Free Inquiry, "The Harm That Religion Does," by Peter Singer, June/July 2004, p. 17). In a letter to the editor appearing in the New York Times (Nov. 8, 2004), Singer wrote: "Paul Krugman says Democrats need to make it clear they value faith. Is everyone caving in to this religious nonsense? What is faith but believing in something without any evidence? Why should Democrats value that? Formidable as the task may seem at present, the long-term need is to persuade Americans that having evidence for your beliefs is a good idea." At the Freedom From Religion Foundation annual convention of 2004, Singer was awarded the Emperor Has No Clothes Award for "telling it like it is" about religion. During his acceptance speech, he said, "Having come to live in America five years ago, I can clearly see why an organization like FFRF is very much needed."

"I don't believe in the existence of God, so it makes no sense to me to say that a human being is a creature of God. It's as simple as that."

—Peter Singer in a transcript of a television program appearing in Religion & Ethics online magazine (PBS), Sept. 10, 1999

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.


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.