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 4 entries for this date: Galileo Galilei , Jeremy Bentham , Matt Groening and Susan B. Anthony
Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei

On this date in 1564, Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy. Galileo was appointed professor of mathematics at the University of Padua, where he lectured for 18 years. Galileo pioneered the experimental scientific method, building a thermoscope, constructing a geometrical and military compass and building an improved telescope. His observations of the satellites of Jupiter, sunspots, mountains and valleys on the moon made him a celebrity, but his Copernican views were investigated and condemned by the Catholic Church.

Diplomatically seeking church permission, he published "The Assayer," (1623) describing his scientific method, which was tactfully dedicated to Pope Urban VIII. It took Galileo nearly two years to persuade the church to permit him to publish "Dialogue on the two Chief Systems of the World — Ptolemaic and Copernican" (1632), in which he wrote about impetus, momentum and gravity. The Holy Office banned the book, summoning the frail scientist to Rome for trial. Galileo was ordered to retract his theory and was condemned to house arrest for the rest of his life. Three hundred and fifty years after his death, the Catholic Church "forgave" Galileo. D. 1642.

“I have been ... suspected of heresy, that is, of having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the universe and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the same, and that it does move. ... I abjure with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, I curse and detest the said errors and heresies, and generally all and every error and sect contrary to the Holy Catholic Church.”

—Galilei's "Recantation" (June 22, 1633)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham

On this date in 1748, Jeremy Bentham was born in London. The great philosopher, utilitarian, humanitarian and atheist began learning Latin at age 4. He earned his B.A. from Oxford by age 15 or 16 and his M.A. at 18. His Rationale of Punishments and Rewards was published in 1775, followed by his groundbreaking utilitarian work Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Bentham propounded his principle of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number." He worked for political, legal, prison and educational reform.

Inheriting a large fortune from his father in 1792, Bentham was free to spend his remaining life promoting progressive causes. The renowned humanitarian was made a citizen of France by the National Assembly in Paris. In published and unpublished treatises, Bentham extensively critiqued religion, the catechism, the use of religious oaths and the bible. Using the pen name Philip Beauchamp, he co-wrote a freethought treatise, Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind (1822). D. 1832.

“No power of government ought to be employed in the endeavor to establish any system or article of belief on the subject of religion."

"[I]n no instance has a system in regard to religion been ever established, but for the purpose, as well as with the effect of its being made an instrument of intimidation, corruption, and delusion, for the support of depredation and oppression in the hands of governments.”

—Bentham, "Constitutional Code," "The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham," eds. F. Rosen and J. H. Burns (1983)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Matt Groening

Matt Groening

On this date in 1954, Matthew Abraham Groening was born in Portland, Ore., to Homer Groening, an advertising agent and amateur cartoonist, and Margaret Wiggum. Groening was one of four children. Best known as the creator and executive producer of the TV program "The Simpsons," Groening's career started when he moved to Los Angeles after graduating from Evergreen State College and began selling Xeroxed copies of his comic strip "Life in Hell," an irreverent look at a broken life. This original strip was subsequently syndicated, became successful and eventually caught the attention in 1987 of James L. Brooks, executive producer of the "Tracey Ullman Show."

Looking for a "filler" in the show, Brooks asked Groening to create animated TV "shorts" which became "The Simpsons," the longest-running animated series in TV history. Groening later created another successful animated TV show, the fantasy-based "Futurama." In 1993 he formed and became publisher of the "Bongo Comic Group," overseeing the "Simpsons Comics," "Itchy & Scratchy Comics," "Bartman," "Radioactive Man," "Lisa Comics" and "Krusty Comics."

In an IMDB.com mini biography by Kevin Newcombe, Groening is quoted as saying: "Cartooning is for people who can't quite draw and can't quite write. You combine the two half-talents and come up with a career." He produced the adult animated fantasy sitcom "Disenchantment" for Netflix in 2018. Twenty more episodes were scheduled to air between 2020 and 2021.

Groening and Deborah Caplan married in 1986 and had two sons, Homer (who goes by Will) and Abe. They divorced in 1999 and Groening married Argentine artist Agustina Picasso in 2011. They have a son, Nathaniel, and twin daughters, Luna and India.

"Technically, I'm an agnostic, but I definitely believe in hell especially after watching the fall TV schedule."

—New York Times interview (Dec. 17, 1998)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; photo by s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony

On this date in 1820, Susan Brownell Anthony was born in Massachusetts. She taught school from ages 15 to 30 before devoting her life to reform. She and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, starting in 1850, became lifelong feminist collaborators. The tireless crusader spent 30 years campaigning for women's suffrage. Raised Quaker, she became a Unitarian but at the end of her life was an agnostic. Anthony's professed "creed" was that of "the perfect equality of women," according to Stanton.

While privately scolding Stanton for editing the controversial Woman's Bible, Anthony publicly defended her: "I think women have just as much a right to interpret and twist the Bible to their own advantage as men always have interpreted and twisted it to theirs." (Interview in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, quoted in The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony.) She also confessed, "But while I do not consider it my duty to tear to tatters the lingering skeletons of the old superstitions and bigotries, yet I rejoice to see them crumbling on every side."

Her biographer Ida Husted Harper wrote that after Anthony visited a poor mother of six in Ireland in 1883, Anthony noted that "the evidences were that 'God' was about to add a No. 7 to her flock" and later commented, "What a dreadful creature their God must be to keep sending hungry mouths while he withholds the bread to fill them!"

There is no record she ever had a serious romance despite receiving marriage offers and would answer journalists' questions with statements like "It always happened that the men I wanted were those I could not get, and those who wanted me I wouldn't have." To another she answered, "I never found the man who was necessary to my happiness. I was very well as I was." She had no desire to "give up my life of freedom to become a man's housekeeper."

She died of heart failure at age 86 in 1906 at her home in Rochester, N.Y.

"I could not dash her faith with my doubts, nor could I pretend a faith I had not; so I was silent in the dread presence of death."

—Anthony contemplating her sister on her deathbed, "The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, Vol. 2" by Ida Husted Harper (1898)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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