(photo from threfreethinker)
Freethought Day is October 12th, the annual observance by freethinkers and secularists of the anniversary of the effective end of the Salem Witch Trials.
The seminal event connected to Freethought Day is a letter written by then Massachusetts Governor William Phips in which he wrote to the Privy Council of the British monarchs, William and Mary, on this day in 1692. He outlined the quagmire into which the trials had degenerated, in part by a reliance on "evidence" of a non-objective nature and especially "spectral evidence" in which the accusers claimed to see devils and other phantasms consorting with the accused. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)
Every man- in the development of his own personality- has the right to
form his own beliefs and opinions. Hence, suppression of belief, opinion
and expression is an affront to the dignity of man, a negation of man’s
First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to
control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The
right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected
from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.
For the First Amendment rests upon the premise that both religion and
government can best work to achieve their lofty aims if each is left
free from the other within its respective sphere.
Freedom of expression must be considered sacred and thought can only be
corrected by counter thought.
Freedom of thought and the right of private judgment, in matters of
conscience, driven from every other corner of the earth, direct their
course to this happy country as their last asylum.
Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That
would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the
right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.
-Chief Justice Robert Jackson
Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought.
I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of
the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than
by violent and sudden usurpations; but, on a candid examination of
history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by
the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced
factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than
any other cause, produced despotism. If we go over the whole history of
ancient and modern republics, we shall find their destruction to have
generally resulted from those causes.
If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we
don't believe in it at all.
It is true that many Americans find the (Ten) Commandments in accord
with their personal beliefs. But we do not count heads before enforcing
the First Amendment.
-Sandra Day O'Connor
No people in history have ever survived who thought they could protect
their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies.
The freedom of thought is a sacred right of every individual man, and
diversity will continue to increase with the progress, refinement, and
differentiation of the human intellect.
The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always
stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking,
speaking, and writing.
They (the Pilgrim Fathers) believed in freedom of thought for themselves
and for all other people who believed exactly as they did.
Unreason and anti-intellectualism abominate thought. Thinking implies
disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity
implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty- so, obviously, thinking
must be stopped. But shouting is not a substitute for thinking and
reason is not the subversion but the salvation of freedom.
-Adlai E. Stevenson II
We are so proud of our guarantees of freedom in thought and speech and
worship, that, unconsciously, we are guilty of one of the greatest
errors that ignorance can make- we assume our standard of values is
shared by all other humans in the world.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
When people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking or thinking I
cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now
exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after
you and I shall write and speak no more.
You simply disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course.
Nonviolently, absolutely. But when told how to think or what to say or
how to behave, we don't. We disobey the social protocol that stifles and
stigmatizes personal freedom.
(Or, if you prefer, today is the birthday of J.M. Barrie, author of "Peter Pan." See a collection of his quotes here.)
A dead atheist is someone who's all dressed up with no place to go.
A little philosophy makes a man an Atheist: a great deal converts him to
All thinking men are atheists.
America is a place where Jewish merchants sell Zen love beads to
agnostics for Christmas.
-John Burton Brimer
An atheist is one who hopes the Lord will do nothing to disturb his
-Franklin P. Jones
Atheism is a necessary condition for emancipation of the mind, but it's
not a sufficient one.
Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in
the presence of religious dogma.
Atheism is often merely a variety of Christianity.
Atheism is really a term we do not need, in the same way that we don't
have a word for someone who is not an astrologer.
Atheism, like agnosticism and skepticism, can be a dignified posture
when it is based on careful reflection and civilly expressed. It should
not be mean-spirited. Many of us prefer a kinder and gentler form of
Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.
Don't be an agnostic. Be something.
Faith is the surrender of the mind; it's the surrender of reason, it's
the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other
mammals. It's our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and
our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith
in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the
supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.
God made me an atheist. Who am I to argue with Him?
He was permitted, without restriction, to speak of himself as immoral,
agnostic and socialistic, so long as it was universally known that he
remained pure, Presbyterian, and Republican.
Hypocrite: a guy who writes a book on atheism and prays that it sells.
I am an Agnostic because I am not afraid to think. I am not afraid of
any god in the universe who would send me or any other man or woman to
hell. If there were such a being, he would not be a god; he would be a
I am an atheist for moral reasons. I am of the opinion that you would
recognize a creator by his creation, and the world appears to me to be
put together in such a painful way that I prefer to believe that it was
not created by anyone than to think that somebody created this
I considered atheism but there weren't enough holidays.
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god
than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible
gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an
agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure-
that is all that agnosticism means.
I have heard an atheist defined as a man who had no invisible means of
I think [the Bible] reads as if it were written by men and women, and
men and women, as we know, are one-half chromosome away from chimpanzees.
I'm a polyatheist- there are many gods I don't believe in.
I'm an atheist and I thank God for it.
-George Bernard Shaw
I`am a very hard-line, angry atheist. Yet I am fascinated by the concept
If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color.
If God saw the way some Republicans invoked his name, he'd turn atheist.
If I have been wrong in my agnosticism, when I die I'll walk up to God
in a manly way and say, Sir, I made an honest mistake.
If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to
save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the
pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous
atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose
every deed is foul, foul, foul.
If the American Atheists Society or Saddam Hussein himself ever sent an
unrestricted gift to any of my ministries, be assured I will operate on
Billy Sunday's philosophy: The Devil's had it long enough, and quickly
cash the check.
If there is a God, why did He make me an atheist?
In some awful, strange, paradoxical way, atheists tend to take religion
more seriously than the practitioners.
Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot
find a policeman.
Nah, there's no bigger atheist than me. Well, I take that back. I'm a
cancer screening away from going agnostic and a biopsy away from
No one is more dangerous than someone who thinks he has the Truth. To be
an atheist is almost as arrogant as to be a fundamentalist. But then
again, I can get pretty arrogant.
Not one man in a thousand has the strength of mind or the goodness of
heart to be an atheist.
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Properly read, it [the Bible] is the most potent force for atheism ever
Religion ends and philosophy begins, just as alchemy ends and chemistry
begins and astrology ends, and astronomy begins.
Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot
whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are
not preoccupied with science. (Life of Pi)
She was an atheist and I was an agnostic. We didn't know what religion
not to bring our children up in.
The atheist staring from his attic window is often nearer to God than
the believer caught up in his own false image of God.
The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but
the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
The two most evangelical groups in the world are atheists and
vegetarians, especially the least knowledgeable and least intelligent
individuals within those groups.
The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has
nobody to thank.
"There are no atheists in foxholes" isn't an argument against atheism,
it's an argument against foxholes.
There are no atheists in foxholes.
-William J. Clear
There seem to be only two kinds of people: Those who think that
metaphors are facts, and those who know that they are not facts. Those
who know they are not facts are what we call atheists, and those who
think they are facts are religious. Which group really gets the message?
To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.
We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever
believed in. Some of us just go one god further.
What do you get when you cross a Jehovah's Witness and an Atheist?
Someone who knocks at your door for no apparent reason.
When agnostics die, do they go to the Great Maybe?
When life is so harsh that a man loses all hope in himself, then he
raises his eyes to a shining rock, worshipping it, just to find hope
again, rather than looking to his own acts for hope and salvation. Yes,
atheism is a redemptive belief. It is theism that denies man's own
Whenever a reporter is assigned to cover a Methodist conference, he
comes home an atheist.