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: Ben Bova and Edmund Halley
Ben Bova

Ben Bova

On this date in 1932, Ben Bova was born in Philadelphia. Bova grew up in a poor working-class neighborhood, ridden with crime, malnutrition and hardship. Raised a Roman Catholic, his first exposure to science, on a planetarium field trip, gave him hope for a better future for humanity. In a Freethought Radio interview on July 18, 2009, Bova said, "The Catholic Church teaches that faith is a gift from God, and it's a gift I never received apparently. It always seemed kind of strange to me that we're depending on this supernatural power and there's no real evidence that it exists." Young Bova became an avid science and science fiction reader, but when he reached college age, he feared majoring in science because of his lack of math skills. This led him to study journalism at Temple University (1954), which landed him a job as a newspaper editor. Not giving up on his passion for science, Bova became a technical writer for an aircraft company and then, in 1959, worked at MIT writing educational films. In 1987, Bova earned a master's in communications from the State University of New York at Albany, and a Ph.D. in Education, in 1996, from California Coast University. While holding various scientific research posts in the 1960s, Bova published popular science and science fiction books and articles. His increasing renown as a writer in the 1970s brought him his role for which he would be most acclaimed, editor of Analog, the popular science fiction magazine. As editor, Bova earned five consecutive Hugo Awards (1973 to 1977), and an additional Hugo in 1982 as fiction editor of Omni magazine.

Since his first novel (The Star Conquerors) was published in 1959, Dr. Bova has written 120 science fiction and nonfiction books. He previously served as president of Science Fiction Writers of America and a science analyst on CBS Morning News. Bova has taught science fiction at Harvard and film courses at other institutions, and has worked with Woody Allen, George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry. Currently he serves as President Emeritus of the National Space Society. Bova received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation (2005), was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2001), and, in 2008, won the Robert A. Heinlein Award "for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature." Dr. Bova's writings predicted solar power satellites, the discovery of organic chemicals in interstellar space, the space race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, stem cell therapy, the discovery of ice on the Moon, electronic book publishing and the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). Bova's novel, Mars Life (2008), explores the clash between science, politics and religion. His one page 1980 article in Discover magazine, "The Creationists' 'Equal Time,'" quickly became an inspirational classic among freethinkers. Bova said, "The difference between science and most religions is that science admits that we don't know everything." He called the failure of religion to question "not good for the human spirit or human understanding" (Interview on Freethought Radio, July 18, 2009).

“When I started understanding how science works, it occurred to me that there just is no evidence that there is a God.”

—Ben Bova, ://ffrf.org/radio/podcast/

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Edmund Halley

Edmund Halley

On this date in 1656, astronomer Edmund Halley was born in the United Kingdom. The Royal Society published a scientific paper by Halley when he was only 19. He cut short his college career to travel to St. Helena, the southernmost point of the British empire, where he cataloged 341 stars, discovered a star cluster, and made the first complete observation of a transit of Mercury. King Charles II conferred a degree from Oxford upon Halley without requiring an exam. At 22, Halley became one of the youngest members admitted to the Royal Society. He had worked with Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed at Oxford and Greenwich. Flamsteed became Halley's enemy and blocked his appointment to Oxford on account of Halley's rationalist views in 1691. Although not well off, Halley urged Newton to write his Principia Mathematica and published it for Newton. Halley remains famous for being the first to predict the return of a comet (named for him). After several posts, Halley finally secured a professorship at Oxford in 1703. When Flamsteed died, Halley became Royal Astronomer in 1720. He was known during his day as "the Infidel Mathematician." While not all his theories proved correct, Halley made many important discoveries, innovations and inventions, such as the diving bell. D. 1741.

“That he was an infidel in religious matters seems as generally allowed as it appears unaccountable.”

—Chalmers, Biographical Dictionary, cited by Joseph McCabe, A Dictionary of Modern Rationalists, 1920

Compiled by Annie Laurie 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  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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