Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Freethought is a characteristic of individuals whose opinions are formed on the basis of an understanding and rejection of tradition, authority or established belief. This definition as for example is applicable to thought based on rejection of religious dogma.
Freethinkers tend to form opinions primarily using facts and reason. The term may describe viewpoints independent of established or dogmatic political, social or intellectual views. It most often also describes one who is skeptical about orthodox religious dogma. In Western society, it usually refers to one who questions or refuses to accept Christian dogma.
Many freethinkers believe that the weight of evidence for any claims of supernaturalism are insufficient. No freethinkers accept religious dogma as providing either an acceptable explanation for the origin of the universe or a realistic basis for how properly to live in it. The term derives its meaning from the freedom to question any and all assertions.
There are strong ties between freethought and atheism, deism, heresy, skepticism (scepticism), and both humanism and secular humanism, but none of these terms are synonymous with one another. Freethought may be defined differently by different people. For example, deists believe in the existence of a first cause through rational argument, rather than authority, tradition, or scripture. Atheist freethinkers however disagree that logic or evidence leads to the possibility of a first cause. Some atheist freethinkers hold that freethought is best considered as a religion itself since it offers alternative analyses of and conclusions about religious questions which simply happen not to include supernaturalism. Universism is a movement which seeks to resolve these disagreements by uniting open-minded individuals around the rational process rather than the conclusion.
The Freethinker magazine was first published in Britain in 1881. It was founded by G W Foote.
In issue 1 of the Freethinker (May, 1881) Foote wrote: "The Freethinker is an anti‑Christian organ, and must therefore be chiefly aggressive. It will wage relentless war against Superstition in general, and against Christian Superstition in particular. It will do its best to employ the resources of Science, Scholarship, Philosophy and Ethics against the claims of the Bible as a Divine Revelation; and it will not scruple to employ for the same purpose any weapons of ridicule or sarcasm that may be borrowed from the armoury of Common Sense."
Prosecuted for blasphemy, partly because of anti-religious cartoons which appeared in the Christmas 1882 edition of The Freethinker, Foote was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment with hard labour.
The Freethinker is currently edited by Barry Duke.
External links and references
- A History of Freethought
- The Freethinker
- PunkerSlut Freethought
- The North Texas Church of Freethought
- Freethought Association
- The Houston Church of Freethought
- The Freedom from Religion Foundation
- FreeThoughtFilter Latest links to news articles of interest to free thinkers.
- The Brights
- Universist Movement
- Freethinkers A History of American Secularism, a book on the subject
- Camp Quest
- Freidenker-Verband e.v. (Germany)
- The Infidel Guy , a popular radio show broadcast over the Internet.
- Free Inquiry, a magazine published by the Council for Secular Humanism, which addresses Freethought issues.
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