It was on this date, January 8, 1697, that Edinburgh University student Thomas Aikenhead was hanged for blasphemy in Scotland. Thomas was born in March 1676 and baptized on the 28th. His upbringing is obscure, except that he was the son of an educated father and that he was an orphaned by age 10. Nevertheless, in 1693, he found himself studying at Edinburgh University, as a 17-year-old medical student. The University library may have been his undoing, because it is clear that Thomas read books by Descartes, Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes and other freethinkers…
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Originally published January 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.
"The spirit of dogmatic theology poisons everything it touches," said Bentham. "There is no pestilence in a state like a zeal for religion, independent of morality."