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: Matthew Tindal , Vanessa Carlton and James Cameron
Matthew Tindal

Matthew Tindal

On this date c. 1653-1657, Matthew Tindal was born in England, the son of a High Church minister. Educated in a country school and at Oxford for the law, Tindal was elected to a law-fellowship at All Souls College in 1678. He converted to Roman 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, argued for the supremacy of the state over the church. It provoked loud clergy rebukes and attacks against his character. The House of Commons even ordered the book burned by the hangman. Not to be deterred, in 1730, Tindal anonymously published Christianity as Old as Creation, or, The Gospel a Republication of the Religion of Nature, employing 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 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 account of religion) have done to themselves or to one another.”

—Matthew Tindal, Chapter 8, Christianity as Old as Creation, 1730

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa Carlton

On this date in 1980, musician Vanessa Carlton was born in Milford, Pennsylvania, the oldest in a family of three with a Russian-Jewish heritage. Her father, Edmund Carlton, was a pilot and her mother, Heidi Lee, was a pianist and teacher who first taught Carlton how to play the piano. When she was 9 years old, Carlton began ballet and was later accepted to study at the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York City. Carlton nearly became a professional before becoming discouraged by ballet’s intense, high-pressure environment. At 17, Carlton found solace in a return to music and began writing lyrics. Carlton attended Columbia University for a year and began to seriously pursue her music career. Carlton started playing at gigs in Manhattan clubs while making a living as a waitress. Eventually, this led her 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, going platinum in the United States and selling over 101,000 copies in the first week. “A Thousand Miles” earned 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” after leaving the system before transforming her career in music. Taking a more organic approach to music making, her fourth album, Rabbits on the Run (2011), is where Carlton mastered her creative aesthetic. She’s described it as her “first real album as an artist.”  The album was partially inspired by Stephen Hawking’s 1988 book on cosmology A Brief History of Time. The album’s exploration of scientific ideas on cosmology, neurology, physics and a sense of reverence toward the earth carry over to her fifth album, Liberman (2015). Carlton’s music often sanctifies the natural world while delving into intellectual concepts such as mathematical chaos theory and neurological magical thinking.  Carlton married musical John McCauley in 2013, with a ceremony officiated by Stevie Nicks. Carlton and McCauley live in Nashville with a daughter, Sidney, who Carlton gave birth to in 2015.  In 2011, when asked how her personal faith takes a role in her music, Carlton replied, “I’m an atheist.”

“I’m an atheist.”

—Vanessa Carlton, Live Stream June 7, 2011

Complied by Molly Hanson

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

James Cameron

James Cameron

On this date in 1954, filmmaker James Cameron was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada. Cameron directed the two 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:Judgement 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 much of his recent work has been shot in 3D. He plans to direct two "Avatar" sequels. He has won numerous awards for his work including several Academy Awards and Golden Globes.

In March 2012, Cameron became the third human to reach the Challenger Deep, the deepest point in the deepest trench, the Marianas Trench, in the world. He traveled there in a submarine he designed himself and has always had a passion for the deep sea, which is reflected in many of his films and documentaries. Cameron has four children and is currently married to former model Suzy Amis.


"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."

—— James Cameron in a March 23, 2010 interview with the Hollywood Reporter

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano; Photo by Phil Stafford /

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