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 5 entries for this date: Bruno Bauer , Frances Wright , Jane Addams , Roger Waters and Robert M. Pirsig
Bruno Bauer

Bruno Bauer

On this date in 1809, Bruno Bauer was born in Germany. Educated at Berlin University, the biblical critic was appointed a teacher of theology. He became professor at Bonn in 1839 but lost his chair in 1842 because of his rationalist views. "In his numerous historical and Scriptural works Bauer rejects all supernatural religion, and represents Christianity as a natural product of the mingling of the Stoic and Alexandrian philosophies," wrote freethought historian Joseph McCabe (A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists.) D. 1882.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Frances Wright

Frances Wright

On this date in 1795, Frances Wright, the first woman to publicly lecture in the United States, was born an heiress in Scotland. An arresting five feet, ten inches as an adult, Wright influenced fashion of her day with her liberating style of ringlets, and later her adoption of "Turkish trousers." She traveled with her younger sister Camilla to America in 1818. Her play, "Altorf," was staged to acclaim in New York in 1819, where she shocked society by using her byline as a female author. Her travel book, Views of Society & Manners in America, (1820), caused a sensation in Great Britain and abroad. Freethinker Jeremy Bentham became her mentor and General Lafayette her confidante. Returning at 29 to America, Frances became a U.S. citizen. As an early and passionate abolitionist, she began a noble but ill-fated model communal plantation to educate slaves for freedom at Nashoba, Tenn. They would have no religion but "kind feeling and kind action," Wright decreed. The experiment unraveled for lack of money.

At 33, Wright launched her speaking career on July 4, 1828, in Cincinnati, seeking to "destroy the slavery of the mind," and counteract the effects of a religious revival on women, as well as the Christian Party in Politics movement. Wright called for the education of women and the rejection of religion. Her historic speaking tour won her adoration from progressives, such as the young Walt Whitman, who recalled how "we all loved her: fell down about her." But press and clergy dubbed Wright "The Red Harlot of Infidelity," and a "voluptuous preacher of licentiousness." Wright urged: "Turn your churches into halls of science, exchange your teachers of faith for expounders of nature . . . Fill the vaccuum of your mind!" Practicing what she preached, she purchased an old church in New York City for $7,000 and renamed it the "Hall of Science." It opened its doors in April 1829, for lectures, a radical bookstore and at one time offered a health clinic. She and Robert Dale Owen launched the Free Enquirer and the Working Men's Party, advocating a ten-hour workday, for which she was dubbed a "female Tom Paine" by the mayor of New York. After an unsuccessful marriage to a Frenchman, Phiquepal D'Arusmont, resulting in the birth of a daughter, Frances Sylva, Wright returned to the United States, where she lectured and wrote. When Wright divorced her husband, she tragically lost custody of her daughter. She broke her hip in a fall and died prematurely after great suffering in Cincinnati. The women's movement of the 19th century later lionized her as a path-blazer of unparalleled brilliance. D. 1852.

“I am not going to question your opinions. I am not going to meddle with your belief. I am not going to dictate to you mine. All that I say is, examine, inquire. Look into the nature of things. Search out the grounds of your opinions, the for and the against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in you.”

—Frances Wright, Divisions of Knowledge, 1828.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Jane Addams

Jane Addams

On this date in 1860, Jane Addams was born, the eighth child of a prosperous family in Cedarville, Illinois. Her mother died when Jane was three. Her father, Quaker by conviction but not affiliation, served for many years in the state Senate. At 17, Jane went to Rockford Seminary, intending to pursue a medical career. Her father's death and her own health problems changed her plans. She and classmate Ellen Gate Starr opened a settlement home in Chicago in 1889, expanding services for poor working class to include a girls' home, nursery and other amenities. Hull House was secular by Addams' decree. Addams documented social conditions, worked with reformers and radicals of every stripe, and wrote articles on everything from suffrage to prostitution. She co-founded the Woman's Peace Party in 1915 and was elected national chair. It eventually became the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Addams won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Although she credited Jesus in her address, "A Challenge to the Contemporary Church," she denounced the church fathers very firmly in it: "The very word woman in the writings of the church fathers stood for the basest temptations. . . ." D. 1935.

“A wise man has told us that 'men are once for all so made that they prefer a rational world to believe in and live in' . . .”

—Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House (pp. 448-450)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Roger Waters

Roger Waters

On this date in 1943, English rock musician, composer and songwriter (George) Roger Waters, best known for his highly successful 20-year career in the band Pink Floyd, was born in Great Bookham, Surrey, United Kingdom. Waters met fellow Pink Floyd member and first lead singer, Syd Barrett, while growing up in Cambridge, attending the same school. David Gilmour, who would replace Barrett as lead singer in 1967 (the band formed in 1965), attended a different school on the same road. Waters met the other band members, Nick Mason and Richard Wright, while studying architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London. While Barrett at first wrote most of Pink Floyd's music, the 1967 song that helped launch the band into the spotlight, "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk," was written by Waters. After Barrett's departure, Waters gained creative control over the band's music, writing almost all of the lyrics. It was also his idea to create "concept albums," such as The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall and The Final Cut. In addition to his role as bassist and lead vocalist, Waters wrote the lyrics to many of Pink Floyd's songs. A series of albums the band produced in the 1970s are among the best-selling records of all time. The original band dissolved in 1985 due to creative conflicts, but Gilmour ultimately won the legal right, after a contentious public battle with Waters, to continue to use the Pink Floyd name and a majority of the band's songs. Since the dissolution, Waters and Pink Floyd have made attempts at reunion shows, benefit concerts and tours. Waters embarked on a solo career after Pink Floyd, with the critically acclaimed hit album, Amused to Death (1992), and a solo world tour starting in 1999, which became so successful it extended to three years. Waters worked on an opera, "Ça Ira," for 16 years, which was released in 2005.

In an interview with Mark Brown of the Rocky Mountain News, Waters said: "Please, God — I'm an atheist so maybe I shouldn't be asking God — but let Barack Obama finally win the Democratic nomination and elect a person who seems to be not just enormously intelligent but also deeply humane and seems to have an imagination" (April 25, 2008). From his lyrics for "What God Wants, Part I": "Through the power of money, And the power of your prayers, What God wants God gets God help us all. God wants dollars, God wants cents, God wants pounds shillings and pence . . . God don't want small potatoes, God wants small towns, God wants pain . . . God wants TV God wants contributions, What God wants God gets God help us all. God wants silver, God wants gold, God wants his secret never to be told. God wants fame, God wants credit, God wants blame, God wants poverty, God wants wealth, God wants insurance, God wants to cover himself. What God wants God gets God help us all . . . " (from Amused to Death album, 1992).

"I had some pretty dark and desperate moments all those years ago . . . . I didn't ever smash up a hotel room or throw a TV out a window. That was Led Zeppelin. Thank god. If there was a god, you know, which there isn't."

—Roger Waters interview from "The Wall Tour," on AOL Web site, by Live Nation

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Robert M. Pirsig

Robert M. Pirsig

On this date in 1928, Robert M. Pirsig was born in Minneapolis, Minn. He was tested with an IQ of 170 when he was only nine years old. He enrolled in the University of Minnesota when he was 15, but left to join the army in 1946. Pirsig returned to the university and graduated with a degree in philosophy in 1950, as well as studying philosophy at Banaras Hindu University in India and earning his M.A. in journalism from the University of Minnesota in 1958. He later became a professor of English rhetoric and composition at the University of Montana, but stopped teaching after he was briefly diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression. He appeared to recover after some institutional care.

In 1974, Pirsig wrote the wildly popular philosophical book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, in which Pirsig details a motorcycle trip he took with his son, Chris, while illustrating philosophical ideas. In the book, Pirsig writes about his theory, “the metaphysics of quality,” which is still widely discussed today. He married his first wife, Nancy Ann James, in 1954, and they had two sons: Chris, who died in 1979, and Ted. Pirsig married Wendy Kimball in 1978 and the two have a daughter, Nell, born in 1980.

In Pirsig’s novel, Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals (1991), Pirsig writes, “A person isn’t considered insane if there are a number of people who believe the same way. Insanity isn’t supposed to be a communicable disease. If one other person starts to believe him, maybe two or three, then it’s a religion.” He is quoted in Richard Dawkins’ 2006 book, The God Delusion, as saying more succinctly, “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.”

“Religious mysticism is intellectual garbage. It’s a vestige of the old superstitious Dark Ages when nobody knew anything and the whole world was sinking deeper and deeper into filth and disease and poverty and ignorance. It is one of those delusions that isn’t called insane only because there are so many people involved.”

—Robert M. Pirsig, Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals, 1991.

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.