Freethought Almanac

Lighting a candle in toxic air.
November 10, 2011
November 10: Friedrich von Schiller

Friedrich von Schiller (1759) It was on this date, November 10, 1759, that Germany's second-greatest poet (after Goethe), Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, was born in Marbach, Württemberg, of pious Lutheran parents. Rather than study theology, Schiller went to military school, but was dismissed for writing an essay critical of religion (On the Relation Between […]

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October 27, 2011
October 27: Niccolò Paganini

Niccolò Paganini (1782) It was on this date, October 27, 1782, that Italian virtuoso violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini was born in Genoa. Like Mozart, who was born 26 years earlier, Paganini was a child prodigy, composing a sonata at age eight and performing onstage from the age of eleven. He learned much from his […]

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June 16, 2011
June 16: Founding the RSPCA (1822): Churches and Animal Cruelty

Churches were silent on animal cruelty.

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June 8, 2011
June 8: Robert Schumann

Although religious compositions made up a significant part of Schumann's works, he was a Pantheist like his countryman, Goethe.

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February 24, 2011
February 24: Arrigo Boito

Boito’s only completed opera, “Mefistofele,” based on Goethe's “Faust,” infuriated the Italian clergy by his frivolous treatment of religion.

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February 4, 2011
February 4: Georg Brandes

“But my doubt would not be overcome,” wrote Brandes. “Kierkegaard had declared that it was only to the consciousness of sin that Christianity was not horror or madness. For me it was sometimes both.”

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December 24, 2010
December 24: Matthew Arnold and his “Sea of Faith”

Arnold was a leading literary critic and wrote many essays, which displayed a seriously Rationalist streak. He denied belief in immortality and a personal God.

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December 16, 2010
December 16: Ludwig van Beethoven

Sir George A. Macferren calls Beethoven a "freethinker" in his article in the Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography; the Catholic Encyclopedia does not dare to claim him.

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December 4, 2010
December 4: Thomas Carlyle

Carlyle abandoned his Christian beliefs in 1818 after reading Gibbon. After further study... Carlyle gave up the Holy Ghost and immortality, as well, adopting a Pantheism like Goethe's.

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November 10, 2010
November 10: Richard Burton + Friedrich Schiller

Richard Burton (1925) It was on this date, November 10, 1925, that Welsh actor Richard Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins Jr. in Pontrydyfen, the twelfth of thirteen children, born to a hard-drinking miner. He took his stage and screen name from a schoolmaster who helped him enter Oxford, Philip Burton, and studied acting there. […]

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Ronald Bruce Meyer




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