Freethought Almanac

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May 27: Paul Bettany (1971)

PaulBettanyIt was on his date, May 27, 1971, that English actor Paul Bettany was born. He first came to the attention of American audiences when he appeared in Brian Helgeland's 2001 film A Knight's Tale. His later films include A Beautiful Mind (2001), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), Dogville (2003), and the film adaptation of the novel The Da Vinci Code (2006). His most recognizable voice role is JARVIS in the Iron Man films (2008, 2010, 2013).

In an interview during which Bettany talks about his role in the film The Da Vinci Code (5/10/2006), Bettany remarks, “I was brought up Catholic. I’m lapsed. From the age of three I was with the nuns. Now I’m an atheist. I think religion does a lot for us but I can’t quite believe it, alas... It’s just a personal choice. I love the idea of heaven though. Who doesn't? It’s lovely.” In an AP interview on the same subject (5/23/2006) Bettany says he is now “fanatically atheist,” but was not prepared for incessant questions about the religious debate over the novel and film, which theorizes about a conspiracy to cover up Christ’s marriage and villainizes the Catholic group Opus Dei, whose leader helps orchestrate nefarious deeds in pursuit of the Holy Grail.

About his portrayal of Charles Darwin in the 2009 film Creation, in which his real-life wife Jennifer Connolly co-starred as Darwin’s religious wife, Bettany mused, “I couldn’t believe the amount of violence that you can find on the Internet directed at a man who’s been dead for a very long time. There's vicious diatribes full of hatred for Darwin. Actually, he was, by all accounts, one of the sweetest human beings you can possibly imagine. But there are still a lot of people who just can’t accept his thinking without getting irrational. He was an atheist and so am I, but I don’t think that makes me immoral.”

Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.

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This Week in Freethought History (June 9-15)

Read about peace activist Bertha von Suttner, the Treaty with Tripoli, the religion of Alexander Bain and Hugh Laurie, Wat Tyler’s Rebellion, the religion of William Butler Yeats, adding religion to the Pledge of Allegiance, condemning Martin Luther from a glass house, and more …

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