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: Edward Albee , Harry Harrison and James Taylor
Edward Albee

Edward Albee

On this date in 1928, playwright Edward Albee was born in the District of Columbia, and grew up in Larchmont, New York, in the home of his wealthy, adoptive family. The rebellious teenager was reputedly dismissed from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., because he failed to attend chapel. At 20, Albee moved to New York's Greenwich Village, where he took odd jobs, such as being a messenger for Western Union, while writing. His first breakthrough play, "The Zoo Story" (1959), belonging to the theater of the absurd, was originally produced in Germany. Albee has been awarded three Pulitzer Prizes, for his plays "A Delicate Balance" (1966), "Seascape" (1975) and "Three Tall Women" (1994), as well as winning the Tony and Obie awards. He told Warren Allen Smith, editor of Who's Who in Hell, that he is a "nominal Quaker" because he admires their pacifism, but does not accept "all that divinity stuff" ( Dec. 10, 1996).

“I swear to GOD George, if you even EXISTED I'd divorce you.”

—Edward Albee. Character Martha's classic line in "who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; Photo in the Public Domain

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Harry Harrison

Harry Harrison

On this date in 1925, American science fiction author and editor Harry Harrison (given name Henry Maxwell Dempsey) was born in Stamford, Conn. His mother was Russian (from Latvia) and his father, of Irish descent, was born in New York state. Growing up in New York City, Harrison spent a lot of time alone, excelling in science at school and devouring science fiction books. At age 13, he was one of the founding members of the Queens chapter of the Science Fiction League. He graduated high school in 1943 and immediately joined the United States Air Corps, where high marks on technical aptitude tests secured him training in computers. Discharged in 1946, Harrison enrolled in the Cartoonists and Illustrators School in New York City where he met many artists who gained prominence in the comic book industry. Harrison became an exemplary comic book artist himself, designing hundreds of  pages of comics and comic book covers over the next few years, including Worlds Beyond: A Magazine of Science Fiction Fantasy.

As the Red Scare in the 1950s advanced, comic books became a political target, blamed for “corrupting America’s youth.” The comic book boom came to an end, forcing artists like Harrison to take up other trades. Harrison stuck with his childhood love of science fiction and began writing science fiction stories, which came naturally to him. He was one of the main writers of the Flash Gordon comic strip in the 1950s and 1960s. One of his novels, Make Room! Make Room! (1966), was the basis of the sci-fi classic film “Soylent Green” (1973). Some of his other prominent books (there are dozens) include The Stainless Steel Rat (1961), Bill, the Galactic Hero (1965), The Technicolor Time Machine (1967) and A Rebel in Time (1983). Harrison married Joan Merkler, a dress designer and ballet dancer, in 1954 and they had two children together. Joan died in 2002. He died in 2012 at 87 in his apartment in Brighton, England.

Photo by Szymon Soko and OTRS at Worldcon 2005 under CC 3.0

“We atheists lead happy lives, never concerned with the-dying-and-burn forever-in-hell nonsense. We know better. We enjoy happiness with our friends and neighbors and ignore all the greed and rituals that pay the parasite priests. Let them wallow in their medieval superstition while we enjoy all the wonders of our God-free universe.”

—Harry Harrison, news blog, "They're Afraid of Us!" (April 23, 2011)

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

James Taylor

James Taylor

On this date in 1948, musician James Taylor was born in Boston and grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He first took up the guitar while at Milton Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts. He began writing songs during an early bout with depression in 1965, and became addicted to heroin, a habit he had kicked by the mid-1970s. Taylor's breakthrough album was Sweet Baby James (1970), and his best-known song was "Fire and Rain," which stayed in the Top 10 from 1970-72. Rolling Stone magazine has called Taylor "the archetypal 'sensitive' singer/songwriter of the seventies" and The New York Times dubbed him "a Troubadour from the 70s."

Taylor told Time magazine (May 19, 1997) that he is "a lefty like my pop," a physician and "Adlai Stevenson Democrat." Taylor has done benefits for several causes, such as a rain forest concert at Carnegie Hall. He has been married three times, notably to Carly Simon for 11 years. Taylor wrote some of the songs for the Broadway musical, "Working," based on the work of Studs Terkel, and appeared as a truck driver in the PBS version of the play. Taylor's 17th album, "Hourglass" (1997), contains "spirituals for agnostics," he has said. The song "Up from Your Life" begins: "God's not at home." "Growing up in North Carolina, I missed the boat on most religions. My dad was basically an atheist or at best an agnostic," he told The New York Times (May 18, 1997).

“[W]hen individuated consciousness comes up against the idea of individual death, something’s got to give. That’s why people invent afterlives, and versions of the afterlife, which there is absolutely no evidence for whatsoever [laughs]. ... I think God is the name of a question. God is not an existing thing.” [Blue Railroad interview]

ROLLING STONE: One of the themes of this record is disbelief — trying to make sense of life without believing in God. In 'Up From Your Life,' you sing, 'For an unbeliever like you/There's not much they can do.' In 'Gaia,' you call yourself a 'poor, wretched unbeliever.'
JAMES TAYLOR: Well, I find myself with a strong spiritual need — in the past five years, particularly. And, certainly, it's acknowledged as an important part of recovery from addiction. Yet it's hard for me to find an actual handle for it. I'm not saying that it's not helpful to think of having a real handle on the universe, your own personal point of attachment. But ... I think it's crazy. But it's an intensity that keeps us sane. You might call a lot of these songs 'spirituals for agnostics.'
RS: Does not having faith in a personal god make it harder to stick with a 12-step recovery program?
JT: Twelve-step programs say an interesting thing; Either you have a god, or you are God and you don't want the job.

—James Taylor, interview, Rolling Stone (June 24, 1997)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; Photo by Everett Collection,

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