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: Frederick the Great , Garrett Lisi and Joseph Mazzini Wheeler
Frederick the Great

Frederick the Great

On this date in 1712, "Enlightened Despot" Frederick II, King of Prussia, was born in Berlin. Frederick endured a severe military education at the hands of his unsympathetic father, who once beat him publicly when he was 18. Frederick was forced to witness the execution by decapitation of a friend with whom he had planned an escape from Prussia. When Frederick ascended the throne in 1740, he instituted many domestic reforms, including abolishing court serfdom, permitting freedom of speech and enforcing universal religious toleration, promoting education and the arts, improving infrastructure, and creating industries. Under his sway, his court was turned into an international hub of Enlightenment and culture. He separated from his wife, chosen for him in an arranged marriage, and is widely believed to have been gay. He corresponded for 40 years with Voltaire. He was admired for his military strategies and expansions. By the time he died, he had doubled the size of his country. Frederick the Great was the first to codify German law, and he reformed the criminal codes and abolished torture. While holding absolute power, he dedicated himself as "first servant of the state" and modernized Prussia. Frederick's collected writings fill 31 volumes. D. 1786.

“Religion is the idol of the mob; it adores everything it does not understand. . . . We know the crimes that fanaticism in religion has caused . . . ”

—Frederick the Great, letter to Voltaire, July 6, 1737. Cited by James A. Haught in 2,000 Years of Disbelief

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Garrett Lisi

Garrett Lisi

On this date in 1968, Antony Garrett Lisi was born in Los Angeles, Calif. He earned B.S. degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1991, and received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at San Diego in 1999. After graduation, he moved to Hawaii and worked as a snowboard instructor and hiking guide. Lisi briefly taught at the University of Hawaii at Maui in 2005, before deciding to pursue independent research. Lisi authored the paper “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything,” published on the online database arXiv on Nov. 6, 2007. The Theory of Everything, also called the E8 Theory, unites the electromagnetic force, strong force and weak force, as well as gravity and all elementary particles, through the use of the mathematical structure E8. It is an alternative to the popular string theory, which purports that these forces and particles are united by a complex system of vibrating strings. Lisi lives with his longtime girlfriend, Crystal Baranyk, an artist.

The July 21, 2008 issue of the New Yorker called Lisi a “committed atheist.”

Photo by Cjean42 of Antony Garrett Lisi being interviewed in Los Angeles, California under CC 3.0.

“Lisi, an atheist, says the whole notion of God misses the point. He’s not after the creator of the universe—he’s after the universe itself.”

—Maui Time, Feb. 16, 2011.

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Joseph Mazzini Wheeler

On this date in 1850, Joseph Mazzini Wheeler was born in Great Britain. Wheeler, an atheist, is best known as the author of the monumental Biographical Dictionary of Freethinkers (1889). Wheeler, who dedicated his life to freethought after moving to London in the early 1870s, was a close friend of freethought editor G.W. Foote. Wheeler also wrote Frauds and Follies of the Fathers (1888), Footsteps of the Past (1895), and co-authored Crimes of Christianity with G.W. Foote. He served for many years as vice-president of the National Secular Society, and was a frequent contributor to freethought periodicals. He served as subeditor of the National Secular Society's publication, The Freethinker, from its founding in 1881 to his death. D. 1898.

“The merits and services of Christianity have been industriously extolled by its hired advocates. Every Sunday its praises are sounded from myriads of pulpits. It enjoys the prestige of an ancient establishment and the comprehensive support of the State. It has the ear of rulers and the control of education. Every generation is suborned in its favor. Those who dissent from it are losers, those who oppose it are ostracised; while in the past, for century after century, it has replied to criticism with imprisonment, and to scepticism with the dungeon and the stake. By such means it has induced a general tendency to allow its pretensions without inquiry and its beneficence without proof. ”

—Preface, Crimes of Christianity, by G.W. Foote and J.M. Wheeler

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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