Freethought of the Day

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There are 3 entries for this date: Matthew Tindal , James Cameron and Vanessa Carlton
Matthew Tindal

Matthew Tindal

On this date c. 1653-57, deist author Matthew Tindal was born in England. Educated in a country school and at Oxford to study law, Tindal was elected to a law fellowship at All Souls College in 1678. He converted to Catholicism briefly during the reign of James II but returned to the Church of England in 1687, persuaded of "the absurdities of popery." His 1706 book Rights of the Christian Church asserted "against Romish and all other Priests who Claim an Independent Power over It" and argued for the supremacy of the state over the church. It provoked loud clergy rebukes and attacks against his character. The House of Commons ordered the book burned by the hangman.

Not to be deterred, Tindal in 1730 anonymously published Christianity as Old as the Creation, using the pseudonym "a Christian Deist." By publishing the book without his name, he avoided prosecution. In what came to be called "the deist's bible," Tindal insisted "That God requires nothing for his own sake. No, not the worship we are to render him, nor the faith we are to have in him." Tindal wrote of prayer: "There are few so gross to imagine, we can direct infinite wisdom in the dispensation of providence, or persuade him to alter those laws he contrived before the foundation of the world for putting things in a regular course." The book was reprinted four times.

According to freethought historian Joseph McCabe, the book "was useful to later Deists, including Voltaire." (A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists.) Tindal wrote a manuscript as a rejoinder to answer some 150 critics, which was ready for publication upon his death but was destroyed by order of Bishop Gibson of London. D. 1733.

“That the not adhering to those Notions Reason dictates, concerning the Nature of God, has been the Occasion of all Superstition, and those innumerable Mischiefs, that mankind, on the Account of Religion, have done to themselves, or one another.”

—Tindal, title of Chapter VIII in "Christianity as old as the Creation" (1730)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

James Cameron

James Cameron

On this date in 1954, filmmaker James Francis Cameron was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada. Cameron directed two of the highest grossing films of all time: "Titanic" (1997) and "Avatar" (2009). Cameron has also written and directed several other blockbuster movies, including "The Terminator" (1984), "Aliens" (1986), "The Abyss"(1989), "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991) and "True Lies" (1994). He has also directed several documentaries with themes that range from the deep sea to Mars. Cameron is a proponent of 3D films and co-developed the digital 3D Fusion Camera System. 

In March 2012 he became the third human to reach the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, the deepest known point on Earth. He traveled there in a submarine he designed. He has always had a passion for the deep sea, which is reflected in many of his films and documentaries.

Cameron married his fifth wife, model Suzy Amis, in 2000. He has four children.

"I've sworn off agnosticism, which I now call cowardly atheism. I've come to the position that in the complete absence of any supporting data whatsoever for the persistence of the individual in some spiritual form, it is necessary to operate under the provisional conclusion that there is no afterlife and then be ready to amend that if I find out otherwise."

—Cameron, interview with the Hollywood Reporter (March 23, 2010)

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano; photo by Phil Stafford / Shutterstock.com

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa Carlton

On this date in 1980, musician Vanessa Lee Carlton was born in Milford, Pennsylvania, the oldest in a family of three with a Russian-Jewish heritage. Her father is a pilot and her mother is a pianist and teacher who taught Carlton how to play the piano. Carlton started ballet at age 9 and was later accepted to study at the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York City. She became discouraged by ballet’s high-pressure environment and found solace in music and writing lyrics.

Carlton started playing at gigs in Manhattan clubs while working as a waitress. This led to a deal with A&M Records in 2001. Her first album, "Be Not Nobody," launched her into the spotlight at age 21 with the pop anthem “A Thousand Miles.” The album achieved monumental success, selling over 100,000 copies in the first week and earning Grammy nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s). Carlton’s second and third albums, "Harmonium" (2004) and "Heroes & Thieves" (2007), did not match the commercial success of the first and she eventually left the major label system in 2008.

Carlton has said that she “self-destructed” before transforming her career by taking a more organic approach to music making. Her fourth album, "Rabbits on the Run" (2011), is where Carlton mastered her creative aesthetic. It was partially inspired by Stephen Hawking’s 1988 book on cosmology A Brief History of Time. The album’s exploration of cosmology, neurology, physics and a sense of reverence toward the Earth carried over to her fifth album," Liberman" (2015).

In 2011, when asked what role faith plays in her music, she replied “I’m an atheist.” Carlton married John McCauley of the band Deer Tick in 2013 in a ceremony officiated by Stevie Nicks. Carlton and McCauley live in Nashville with a daughter, Sidney, born in 2015. 

“I’m an atheist.”

—Vanessa Carlton, live-streamed performance (June 7, 2011)

Complied by Molly Hanson

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