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: Adam Carolla , Isadora Duncan and Harlan Ellison
Adam Carolla

Adam Carolla

On this day in 1964, Adam Carolla was born in Los Angeles. He briefly attended community college before deciding to pursue various professions, including working as a contractor, carpenter and boxing trainer. After working with the improv group The Groundings, Carolla decided to become a full-time comedian. He co-hosted “The Man Show” (1999–2004) and “Crank Yankers” (2002–07) with Jimmy Kimmel, whom Carolla met when teaching Kimmel to box. He also co-hosted the radio show “Loveline” (1999–2005).

In 2009 he started hosting “The Adam Carolla Show,” a free daily podcast on the ACE Broadcasting Network. A talk show, it was the most downloaded podcast in 2011. Carolla is also a published author. His comedic works include In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks (2011) and Rich Man, Poor Man (2012). He married Lynette Paradise in 2002. They have two children.

“I’m an atheist,” Carolla told Penn Jillette on Penn Radio in 2006. He told Jillette that he had never been religious and that the very idea of religion seemed bizarre to him. “Obviously, you could take any Christian and just have them born into fundamentalist Hasidism, and they would be walking around with the beard and the whole getup. If you weren’t indoctrinated into that early on, then it makes no sense.”

“If you were not born into [religious] culture, it seems like the most outlandish thing in the world.”

—Adam Carolla, March 9, 2006, Penn Radio

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor; photo by Everett Collection /

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan

On this date in 1878, Isadora Duncan was born in San Francisco, the youngest of four children. Her mother, Dora Gray Duncan, a pianist and music teacher, was devout, having been raised in an Irish Catholic family. Dora lost her faith when her marriage disintegrated. Faced with four children to raise alone, "her faith in the Catholic religion revolted violently to definite atheism, and she became a follower of Bob Ingersoll, whose works she used to read to us," Duncan recalled in her autobiography.

When she was 5, her teacher told the class that Santa Claus had provided candies and cakes as a special treat. When Duncan solemnly challenged the assertion, she was made to leave the class. She made a little speech (see quote below), which she called "the first of my famous speeches." Her mother comforted her by saying, "There is no Santa Claus and there is no God, only your own spirit to help you."

Duncan was dancing in public by age 6, encouraged by her mother to pursue her precocious talent. Considered the "mother of modern dance," she pioneered interpretative dance, shedding shoes to dance barefoot, draping herself in loose Greek robes. She found fame and success in Europe and was the most famous dancer of her era.

Never conventional, Duncan gave birth to two "love children" by different fathers, neither of whom she married. Her children tragically drowned in 1913 in an accident in France. She died in Nice in another tragic accident, when her free-flowing scarf got caught in the spoked wheels of a French-made Amilcar convertible in which she was a passenger. D. 1927.

Public domain photo: Duncan c. 1906-12.

“I don't believe lies!”

—Duncan, age 5, defying a teacher who insisted Santa Claus was real, "Isadora Duncan: My Life" (1927)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison

On this date in 1934, Harlan Ellison was born in Cleveland. A prolific writer, Ellison penned 75 books and over 1,700 short stories, articles, columns and screenplays. His books and collections of short stories include I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream (1967), Approaching Oblivion (1974), Deathbird Stories (1975) and Strange Wine (1978). He worked as creative consultant for “The Twilight Zone” (1985–86) and as a conceptual consultant for “Babylon 5” (1994–99).

Ellison wrote scripts for such well-known shows as “Star Trek” — including the famous episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever” (1966) — and “The Twilight Zone.” He won numerous awards for his work, including eight Hugo Awards from 1966-86; the P.E.N. International Silver Pen in 1982 for An Edge in My Voice (1985), which was serialized in L.A. Weekly; and the Georges Melies Fantasy Film Award for Outstanding Cinematic Achievement in Science Fiction Television in 1972 and 1973.

Ellison was raised Jewish, but became critical of religion. “The people who bomb churches and synagogues, they quote the bible. The people who shoot doctors use the bible,” Harlan said during a 1997 episode of “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher."

In the 2008 documentary “Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth,” he said, “I find nothing more ridiculous and annoying than some guy who runs a kickoff back 105 yards from the end zone and drops to his knees and thanks God. Well, that’s foolish. God didn’t do it. He did it. Because if God did that for him, you mean God was against the other team? God is that mean-spirited that he has nothing better to do on Sunday afternoon than beat the crap out of a bunch of poor football players? I don’t believe in the universe being run by that kind of a God. I go with Mark Twain.”

The New York Times noted in his obituary that Ellison was "ranked with eminent science fiction writers like Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov," however Ellison prefered to call his genre of writing "speculative fiction, or simply fiction." Ellison wrote what could be considered his own epitaph: “For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered.” (The Essential Ellison, 1987.) He died in 2018, survived by his wife Susan.

Ellison at the L.A. Press Club in 1986; Pip R. Lagenta photo under CC 2.0.

“I think [religion] is presumptuous and I think it is silly, because it makes you believe that you are less than what you can be. As long as you can blame everything on some unseen deity, you don’t ever have to be responsible for your own behavior.” 

—Ellison, “Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth” (2008)

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

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