Freethought of the Day

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There are 2 entries for this date: Steve Albini and Tom Robbins
Steve Albini

Steve Albini

On this date in 1962, Steven Albini was born in Pasadena, Calif. He began playing bass guitar in high school and started writing about local punk rock bands after graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He founded and performed with the punk band Big Black and has been guitarist and vocalist of the rock band Shellac since 1992.

Albini’s fame mostly comes from his extensive work as a music producer. He has produced over 1,000 albums and worked with numerous well-known artists such as Nirvana, Robert Plant, The Stooges, The Pixies and Cheap Trick. Albini is a unique producer in many ways. He prefers not to be credited for his work (or elects to be credited as a “recording engineer” rather than a producer) and chooses not to receive royalties. He founded the Chicago recording studio Electrical Audio and appeared in the documentary “You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk 1977-1984” (2007). Albini is also a chef who runs a food blog.

“I’m an atheist,” Albini said in a 2011 interview with the website What I Wanna Know. “You could say that I’m agnostic, but that’s just a certain kind of atheist.” He continued, “If I were a gambling man I would put all my money on there not being anything other than this universe.” 

Photo by Freekorps under CC BY 3.0

“People use God to fill in the spaces in the gaps of their knowledge. ... As we follow the trajectory of knowledge, the need for a God just dwindles, and it approaches zero.” 

—Albini, interview with What I Wanna Know (June 4, 2011)

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor and Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins

On this date in 1932, American novelist Thomas Eugene Robbins was born in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. Both of his grandfathers were preachers, but he did not listen to sermons “by choice.” “As a kid I was exposed to snake handlers, gypsies, moonshiners, and eccentric old men who were great storytellers,” he later reminisced (Seattle Times, June 9, 2014). He told National Public Radio that he began writing at age 5 (Aug. 28, 2010). He attended but did not graduate from college and spent three years in the Air Force, including a stint in Korea.

Upon discharge he studied at the Richmond Professional Institute (later Virginia Commonwealth University), where he became editor of the school newspaper and worked for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. After graduating with honors and pursuing a master’s, he moved to Seattle to attend the Far East Institute of the University of Washington, working as an art critic for the Seattle Times and hosting his own radio show at KRAB-FM.

His books include Another Roadside Attraction (1971), Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1977), Still Life with Woodpecker (1980), Jitterbug Perfume (1984), Skinny Legs and All (1991), Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas (1994), Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (2000), Villa Incognito (2003), Wild Ducks Flying Backward (2005), B is for Beer (2009) and a memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie ( 2014). His novella B Is for Beer was the basis for the 2018 album "B Is for Beer: The Musical." His awards include being named among the 100 best writers of the 20th century by Writer’s Digest.

A private individual whose views appear to be irreverent but deistic, he has made references to religion in his novels. A character, Stubblefield, from Villa Incognito, says, "Soul is not even that Crackerjack prize that God and Satan scuffle over after the worms have all licked our bones. That's why, when we ponder — as sooner or later each of us must — exactly what we ought to be doing about our soul, religion is the wrong, if conventional, place to turn. Religion is little more than a transaction in which troubled people trade their souls for temporary and wholly illusionary psychological comfort — the old give-it-up-in-order-to-save-it routine."

Robbins has been married several times and has three sons. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Alexa D’Avalon.

Public domain photo: Robbins at a 2005 San Francisco reading.

A sense of humor ... is superior to any religion so devised.

—Robbins, "Jitterbug Perfume" (1984)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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