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 2 entries for this date: Thomas Huxley and George Will
Thomas Huxley

Thomas Huxley

On this date in 1825, Thomas Henry Huxley was born in England. Huxley coined the term "agnostic" (although George Jacob Holyoake also claimed that honor). Huxley defined agnosticism as a method, "the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle . . . the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him." Huxley elaborated: "In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without any other consideration. And negatively, in matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable" (from his essay "Agnosticism").

Huxley received his medical degree from Charing Cross School of Medicine, becoming a physiologist, and was awarded many other honorary degrees. He spent his youth exploring science, especially zoology and anatomy, lecturing on natural history, and writing for scientific publications. He was president of the Royal Society, and was elected to the London School Board in 1870, where he championed a number of common-sense reforms. Huxley earned the nickname "Darwin's Bulldog" when he debated Darwin's On the Origin of Species with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce in Oxford in 1860. When Wilberforce asked him which side of his family contained the ape, Huxley famously replied that he would prefer to descend from an ape than a human being who used his intellect "for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into grave scientific discussion." Thereafter, Huxley devoted his time to the defense of science over religion. His essays included "Agnosticism and Christianity" (1889). His three rationalist grandsons were Sir Julian Huxley, a biologist, novelist Aldous Huxley, and Henry Fielding Huxley, co-winner of a 1963 Nobel Prize. Huxley, appropriately, received the Darwin Medal in 1894. D. 1895.

“Skepticism is the highest duty and blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”

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—Thomas Henry Huxley, Essays on Controversial Questions (1889)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

George Will

George Will

On this date in 1941, one of America's top conservatives, columnist, journalist and author George Frederick Will was born in Champaign, Ill. Will has a Bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. (1962), a Master's in politics from Oxford University (1964) and a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University (1968). Will taught political philosophy at Michigan State University and the University of Toronto. He taught at Harvard in 1995 and in 1998. He served on the staff of U.S. Senator Gordon L. Allott (R-Colo.) from 1970-1972. He edited National Review from 1972 to 1978. Beginning in 1974, Will wrote a twice-weekly column for the Washington Post and by 1976, he was a contributing editor and columnist for Newsweek. He still writes both columns for those publications. He has been a news analyst for ABC since the early 1980s, and a regular panelist of ABC's "This Week" since 1981. Will won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977. His Newsweek and newspaper columns have been published in five books, and he has authored books on other subjects such as political philosophy and baseball. His book Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball (1989) was the top national bestseller for over two months. Will has three children from his first marriage with Madeline Marion (divorced 1991). He has been married to Mari Maseng Will since 1991. They have one son together.

George Will: I'm a heathen.
Stephen Colbert: Are you an atheist?
Will: I'm not decisive enough to be an atheist.
Colbert: You're agnostic?
Will: Yes.

—George Will, interviewed on "The Colbert Report," June 3, 2008

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


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