Freethought

Freethought

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Freethought is a philosophical
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

, and reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

, and should not be influenced by authority
Authority
The word Authority is derived mainly from the Latin word auctoritas, meaning invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command. In English, the word 'authority' can be used to mean power given by the state or by academic knowledge of an area .-Authority in Philosophy:In...

, tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

, or other dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

s. The cognitive application of freethought is known as "freethinking," and practitioners of freethought are known as "freethinkers."

Overview


Freethought holds that individuals should not accept ideas proposed as truth
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

 without recourse to knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

 and reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

. Thus, freethinkers strive to build their opinions on the basis of fact
Fact
A fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be shown to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts...

s, scientific inquiry
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

, and logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

al principles, independent of any logical fallacies
Fallacy
In logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is usually an incorrect argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption. By accident or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor , or take advantage of social relationships between people...

 or intellectually limiting effects of authority
Authority
The word Authority is derived mainly from the Latin word auctoritas, meaning invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command. In English, the word 'authority' can be used to mean power given by the state or by academic knowledge of an area .-Authority in Philosophy:In...

, confirmation bias
Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.David Perkins, a geneticist, coined the term "myside bias" referring to a preference for "my" side of an issue...

, cognitive bias
Cognitive bias
A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations. Implicit in the concept of a "pattern of deviation" is a standard of comparison; this may be the judgment of people outside those particular situations, or may be a set of independently verifiable...

, conventional wisdom
Conventional wisdom
Conventional wisdom is a term used to describe ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field. Such ideas or explanations, though widely held, are unexamined. Unqualified societal discourse preserves the status quo. It codifies existing social...

, popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

, prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

, sectarianism
Sectarianism
Sectarianism, according to one definition, is bigotry, discrimination or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religion, class, regional or factions of a political movement.The ideological...

, tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

, urban legend
Urban legend
An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true...

, and all other dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

s. Regarding religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, freethinkers hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 phenomena.

A line from "Clifford's Credo" by the 19th Century British mathematician and philosopher William Kingdon Clifford
William Kingdon Clifford
William Kingdon Clifford FRS was an English mathematician and philosopher. Building on the work of Hermann Grassmann, he introduced what is now termed geometric algebra, a special case of the Clifford algebra named in his honour, with interesting applications in contemporary mathematical physics...

 perhaps best describes the premise of freethought: "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."

Symbol



The pansy
Pansy
The Pansy is a large group of hybrid plants cultivated as garden flowers. Pansies are derived from Viola species Viola tricolor hybridized with other viola species, these hybrids are referred to as Viola × wittrockiana or less commonly Viola tricolor hortensis...

 is the long-established and enduring symbol of freethought, its usage inaugurated in the literature of the American Secular Union
American Secular Union
The American Secular Union was a social movement from the 19th century in the United States.After the implosion of the National Liberal League, the Liberals reorganized as a nonpolitical American Secular Union...

 in the late 1800s. The reasoning behind the pansy being the symbol of freethought lies in both the flower's name and appearance. The pansy derives its name from the French word pensée, which means "thought"; it was so named because the flower resembles a human face, and in mid to late summer it nods forward as if deep in thought.

Pre-modern movement


In Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 a type of freethought was advocated by Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, most notably in the Kalama Sutta
Kalama Sutta
The Kālāma Sutta , is a discourse of the Buddha contained in the Aṅguttara Nikaya of the Tipiṭaka...

:

"It is proper for you, Kalamas [the people of the village of Kesaputta], to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blameable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill, abandon them.

"...Do not accept anything by mere tradition... Do not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures... Do not accept anything merely because it agrees with your pre-conceived notions... But when you know for yourselves—these things are moral, these things are blameless, these things are praised by the wise, these things, when performed and undertaken, conduce to well-being and happiness—then do you live acting accordingly."


However, Bhikkhu Bodhi
Bhikkhu Bodhi
Bhikkhu Bodhi , born Jeffrey Block, is an American Theravada Buddhist monk, ordained in Sri Lanka and currently teaching in the New York/New Jersey area...

 (b. 1944 - ) argues against the idea that "the Buddha's teaching dispenses with faith and formulated doctrine and asks us to accept only what we can personally verify", saying this interpretation


forgets that the advice the Buddha gave the Kalamas was contingent upon the understanding that they were not yet prepared to place faith in him and his doctrine; it also forgets that the sutta omits, for that very reason, all mention of right view and of the entire perspective that opens up when right view is acquired. It offers instead the most reasonable counsel on wholesome living possible when the issue of ultimate beliefs has been put into brackets.


Bhikkhu Bodhi's interpretation is by no means universal to Buddhists or even to Theravada Buddhism, the tradition in which he is ordained. For example, Ven. Soma Thera, a Theravada monk from Sri Lanka, called the Kalama Sutta "The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry".

The web of transmissions and re-inventions of critical thought meanders from the Hellenistic Mediterranean, through repositories of knowledge and wisdom in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and the Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian civilizations (e.g. Khayyam
Omar Khayyám
Omar Khayyám was aPersian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and theology....

 and his unorthodox sufi
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 Rubaiyat
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is the title that Edward FitzGerald gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and of which there are about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyám , a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer...

 poems), and in other civilizations, as the Chinese, (e.g. the seafaring Southern Sòng
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

's renaissance), and on through heretical
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 thinkers of esoteric alchemy
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

 or astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

, to the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

.

French physician and writer Rabelais
François Rabelais
François Rabelais was a major French Renaissance writer, doctor, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs...

 celebrated "rabelaisian" freedom as well as good feasting and drinking (an expression and a symbol of freedom of the mind) in defiance of the hypocrisies of conformist
Conformist
In English history, Conformists were those whose religious practices conformed with the requirements of the Act of Uniformity and so were in concert with the Established Church, the Church of England, as opposed to those of Nonconformists whose practices were not acceptable to the Church of England....

 orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 in his utopian Thelema
Thelema
Thelema is a religious philosophy that was established, defined and developed by the early 20th century British writer and ceremonial magician, Aleister Crowley. He believed himself to be the prophet of a new age, the Æon of Horus, based upon a religious experience that he had in Egypt in 1904...

 Abbey (from θέλημα: free "will"), the devise of which was Do What Thou Wilt:

"So had Gargantua established it. In all their rule and strictest tie of their order there was but this one clause to be observed, Do What Thou Wilt; because free people ... act virtuously and avoid vice. They call this honor."


When the hero of his book, Pantagruel, journeys to the "Oracle of The Div(in)e Bottle", he learns the lesson of life in one simple word: "Trinch!", Drink! Enjoy the simple life, learn wisdom and knowledge, as a free human. Beyond puns, irony, and satire, Gargantua's prologue metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

 instructs the reader to "break the bone and suck out the substance-full marrow" ("la substantifique moëlle"), the core of wisdom.

Modern movements


The year 1600 is considered the beginning of the era of modern freethought, as it is marked by the execution in Italy of Giordano Bruno
Giordano Bruno
Giordano Bruno , born Filippo Bruno, was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model in proposing that the Sun was essentially a star, and moreover, that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited...

, a former Dominican Monk, by the Inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

.

England and France


The term free-thinker emerged toward the end of the 17th century in England to describe those who stood in opposition to the institution of the Church
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, and of literal belief in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. The beliefs of these individuals were centered on the concept that people could understand the world through consideration of nature. Such positions were formally documented for the first time in 1697 by William Molyneux
William Molyneux
William Molyneux FRS was an Irish natural philosopher and writer on politics.He was born in Dublin to Samuel Molyneux , lawyer and landowner , and his wife, Anne, née Dowdall. The second of five children, William Molyneux came from a relatively prosperous Anglican background...

 in a widely publicized letter to John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, and more extensively in 1713, when Anthony Collins
Anthony Collins
Anthony Collins , was an English philosopher, and a proponent of deism.-Life and Writings:...

 wrote his Discourse of Free-Thinking, which gained substantial popularity. In France, the concept first appeared in publication in 1765 when Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

, Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He was also co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie...

 and Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 included an article on Libre-Penseur in their Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert...

. The European freethought concepts spread so widely that even places as remote as the Jotunheimen
Jotunheimen
Jotunheimen is a mountainous area of roughly 3,500 km² in Southern Norway and is part of the long range known as the Scandinavian Mountains. The 29 highest mountains in Norway are all in Jotunheimen, including the very highest - Galdhøpiggen...

, in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, had well-known freethinkers, such as Jo Gjende
Jo Gjende
Jo Gjende , was a Norwegian outdoorsman and freethinker. He is believed to have been the model for Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt....

, by the 19th century.

The Freethinker
The Freethinker (journal)
The Freethinker is a British secular humanist magazine, founded by G.W. Foote in 1881. It is the world's oldest surviving freethought publication.It has always taken an unapologetically atheist, anti-religious stance...

magazine was first published in Britain in 1881.

Germany


In Germany, during the period (1815–1848) and before the March Revolution
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, also called the March Revolution – part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many countries of Europe – were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire...

, the resistance of citizens against the dogma of the church increased. In 1844, under the influence of Johannes Ronge and Robert Blum
Robert Blum
thumb|Painting by August Hunger of Robert Blum between 1845 and 1848Robert Blum was a German democratic politician, publicist, poet, publisher, revolutionist and member of the National Assembly of 1848. In his fight for a strong, unified Germany he opposed ethnocentrism and it was his strong...

, belief in the rights of man
Rights of Man
Rights of Man , a book by Thomas Paine, posits that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard its people, their natural rights, and their national interests. Using these points as a base it defends the French Revolution against Edmund Burke's attack in...

, tolerance among men, and humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 grew, and by 1859 they had established the Bund Freireligiöser Gemeinden Deutschlands (Union of Secular Communities in Germany). This union still exists today, and is included as a member in the umbrella organization of free humanists. In 1881, in Frankfurt am Main, Ludwig Büchner
Ludwig Büchner
Friedrich Karl Christian Ludwig Büchner was a German philosopher, physiologist and physician who became one of the exponents of 19th century scientific materialism.Büchner was born at Darmstadt, Germany, on 29 March 1824...

 established Deutschen Freidenkerbund (German Freethinkers League
German Freethinkers League
The German Freethinkers League was an organisation founded in 1881 by the materialist philosopher, and physician Ludwig Büchner, to oppose the power of the state churches in Germany. Its aim was to provide a public meeting-ground and forum for materialist and atheist thinkers in Germany.By 1885...

) as the first German organization for atheists. In 1892 the Freidenker-Gesellschaft and in 1906 the Deutscher Monistenbund were formed. Freethought organizations developed "Jugendweihe", secular "confirmation" ceremonies, and atheist funeral rites. The Union of Freethinkers for Cremation was founded in 1905, and the Central Union of German Proletariat Freethinker in 1908. The two groups merged in 1927, becoming the German Freethinking Association in 1930. More "bourgeois" organizations declined after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and "proletarian" Freethought groups proliferated, becoming an organization of socialist parties. European socialist free-thought groups formed the International of Proletarian Freethinkers (IPF) in 1925. Activists agitated for Germans to disaffiliate from the Church and for secularization of elementary schools; between 1919–21 and 1930–32 more than 2.5 million Germans, for the most part supporters of the Social Democratic and Communist parties, gave up church membership. Conflict developed between radical forces including the Soviet League of the Militant Godless and Social Democratic forces in Western Europe led by Theodor Hartwig and Max Sievers
Max Sievers
Max Sievers was chairman of the German Freethinkers League, writer and active communist.-Politics:...

. In 1930, the Soviet and allied delegations, following a walk-out, took over the IPF and excluded the former leaders.
Following Hitler's rise to power in 1933, most freethought organizations were banned, though some right-wing groups that worked with Volkisch associations were tolerated by the Nazis until the mid 1930s.

Belgium



The Université Libre de Bruxelles
Université Libre de Bruxelles
The Université libre de Bruxelles is a French-speaking university in Brussels, Belgium. It has 21,000 students, 29% of whom come from abroad, and an equally cosmopolitan staff.-Name:...

 and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is a Flemish university located in Brussels, Belgium. It has two campuses referred to as Etterbeek and Jette.The university's name is sometimes abbreviated by "VUB" or translated to "Free University of Brussels"...

, along with the two Circles of Free Inquiry (Dutch and French speaking), defend the freedom of critical thought, lay
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 philosophy and ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, while rejecting the argument of authority.

Netherlands


In the Netherlands, freethought has existed in organized form since the establishment of De Dageraad (now known as de Vrije Gedachte) in 1856. Among its most notable subscribing 19th century individuals were Johannes van Vloten, Multatuli
Multatuli
Eduard Douwes Dekker , better known by his pen name Multatuli , was a Dutch writer famous for his satirical novel, Max Havelaar , which denounced the abuses of colonialism in the Dutch East Indies .-Biography:Dekker was born in Amsterdam...

, Adriaan Gerhard and Domela Nieuwenhuis.

In 2009, Frans van Dongen established the Atheist-Secular Party, which takes a considerably restrictive view of religion and public religious expressions.

United States



Driven by the revolutions of 1848 in the German states
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, also called the March Revolution – part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many countries of Europe – were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire...

, the 19th century saw an immigration
Immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

 of German freethinkers and anti-clericalists to the United States (see Forty-Eighters
Forty-Eighters
The Forty-Eighters were Europeans who participated in or supported the revolutions of 1848 that swept Europe. In Germany, the Forty-Eighters favored unification of the German people, a more democratic government, and guarantees of human rights...

). In the U.S., they hoped to be able to live by their principles, without interference from government and church authorities.

Many Freethinkers settled in German immigrant strongholds, including St. Louis, Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, where they founded the town of Comfort, Texas
Comfort, Texas
Comfort is a census-designated place in Kendall County, Texas, United States. The population was 2,363 at the 2010 census. It is part of the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

, as well as others.

These groups of German Freethinkers referred to their organizations as Freie Gemeinden, or "free congregations." The first Freie Gemeinde was established in St. Louis in 1850. Others followed in Pennsylvania, California, Washington, D.C., New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, and other states.

Freethinkers tended to be liberal, espousing ideals such as racial, social, and sexual equality, and the abolition of slavery.

Freethought in the United States began to decline in the late nineteenth century. Its anti-religious views alienated would-be sympathizers. The movement also lacked cohesive goals or beliefs. By the early twentieth century, most Freethought congregations had disbanded or joined other mainstream churches. The longest continuously operating Freethought congregation in America is the Free Congregation of Sauk County, Wisconsin, which was founded in 1852 and is still active today. It affiliated with the American Unitarian Association
American Unitarian Association
The American Unitarian Association was a religious denomination in the United States and Canada, formed by associated Unitarian congregations in 1825. In 1961, it merged with the Universalist Church of America to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.According to Mortimer Rowe, the Secretary...

 (now the Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Association , in full the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in North America, is a liberal religious association of Unitarian Universalist congregations formed by the consolidation in 1961 of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of...

) in 1955. D. M. Bennett
D. M. Bennett
DeRobigne Mortimer Bennett was the founder and publisher of The Truth Seeker, a radical freethought and reform American periodical. Bennett was a devout member of the Shakers for 13 years before evolving into a "freethinker", founding The Truth Seeker newspaper in 1873...

 was the founder and publisher of The Truth Seeker in 1873, a radical freethought and reform American periodical.

German Freethinker settlements were located in:
  • Burlington
    Burlington, Wisconsin
    Burlington is a city in Racine and Walworth counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, with the majority of the city located in Racine County. The population was 10,421 at the 2009 census.-History:...

    , Racine County, Wisconsin
    Wisconsin
    Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

  • Belleville
    Belleville, Illinois
    Belleville is a city in St. Clair County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city has a population of 44,478. It is the eighth-most populated city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area and the most populated city south of Springfield in the state of Illinois. It is the county...

    , St. Clair County
    St. Clair County, Illinois
    St. Clair County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. In 1970, the U.S. Census Bureau placed the mean center of U.S. population in St. Clair County. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 270,056, which is an increase of 5.5% from 256,082 in 2000. Its county seat is...

    , Illinois
  • Castell
    Castell, Texas
    Castell is a small unincorporated riverside town in Llano County, Texas, United States. Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, its northern border is formed by the Llano River. Designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1964, Marker number 9440....

    , Llano County
    Llano County, Texas
    Llano County is a county located on the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2010, its population was 19, 301. Its county seat is Llano, and the county is named for the Llano River....

    , Texas
  • Comfort
    Comfort, Texas
    Comfort is a census-designated place in Kendall County, Texas, United States. The population was 2,363 at the 2010 census. It is part of the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

    , Kendall County
    Kendall County, Texas
    Kendall County is a county located on the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2008 census, its population was 32,886. Its seat is Boerne....

    , Texas
  • Fond du Lac
    Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
    Fond du Lac is a city in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, United States. The name is French for bottom of the lake, for it is located at the bottom of Lake Winnebago. The population was 42,203 at the 2000 census...

    , Fond du Lac County
    Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin
    Fond du Lac County is a county located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of 2000, the population was 97,296. Its county seat is Fond du Lac. The United States Census Bureau's Fond du Lac Metropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Fond du Lac County. The county name is French for "bottom of the...

    , Wisconsin
  • Frelsburg
    Frelsburg, Texas
    Frelsburg is an unincorporated community in Colorado County, Texas, United States. It lies at the intersection of Farm Roads 109 and 1291. The community was founded around 1837 by Capt. William Frels and his brother John Frels, who immigrated to Texas from Germany in 1834. -Further reading:*...

    , Colorado County, Texas
  • Hermann
    Hermann, Missouri
    Hermann is a city designated in 1842 as the county seat of Gasconade County, Missouri, United States. It is near the center of the Missouri Rhineland and south of the Missouri River. The population was 2,674 at the 2000 census....

    , Gasconade County
    Gasconade County, Missouri
    Gasconade County is a county in the U.S. state of Missouri located on the south side of the Missouri River, which once served as the chief route of transportation in the state. Located in the area called the Missouri Rhineland, the county had a population of 15,342 as of the 2000 U.S. Census. A...

    , Missouri
  • Jefferson
    Jefferson, Jefferson County, Wisconsin
    Jefferson is a town in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 2,265 at the 2000 census. The City of Jefferson is located partially within the town.-Geography:...

    , Jefferson County
    Jefferson County, Wisconsin
    Jefferson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of 2000, the population was 74,021. Its county seat is Jefferson.-Geography:According to the U.S...

    , Wisconsin
  • Indianapolis
    Indianapolis
    Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

    , Indiana
    Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

  • Latium
    Latium, Texas
    Latium , is an unincorporated community in Washington County, Texas, United States. It is one of five Latin Settlements founded by German Texan political refugees in Texas after 1848....

    , Washington County, Texas
  • Manitowoc
    Manitowoc, Wisconsin
    Manitowoc is a city in and the county seat of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States. The city is located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Manitowoc River. According to the 2000 census, Manitowoc had a population of 34,053, with over 50,000 residents in the surrounding communities...

    , Manitowoc County
    Manitowoc County, Wisconsin
    Manitowoc County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of 2000, the population was 82,887. Its county seat is Manitowoc. The United States Census Bureau's Manitowoc Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Manitowoc County.-Government:...

    , Wisconsin
  • Meyersville
    Meyersville, Texas
    Meyersville is an unincorporated community in DeWitt County, Texas, United States.The Meyersville Independent School District serves area students in grades kindergarten through eight. Ninth through twelfth grade students attend Cuero High School in the Cuero Independent School District....

    , DeWitt County
    DeWitt County, Texas
    DeWitt County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2000, its population was 20,013. DeWitt County is named for Green DeWitt, who founded an early colony in Texas. The seat of the county is Cuero. It was founded in 1846.-Geography:...

    , Texas
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Millheim, Austin County
    Austin County, Texas
    Austin County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas adjacent to the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. The population was 28,417 at the 2010 census. Its county seat is Bellville. Austin County is named for Stephen F...

    , Texas
  • Oshkosh
    Oshkosh, Wisconsin
    As of the census of 2000, there were 62,916 people, 24,082 households, and 13,654 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,662.2 people per square mile . There were 25,420 housing units at an average density of 1,075.6 per square mile...

    , Winnebago County, Wisconsin
    Winnebago County, Wisconsin
    Winnebago County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of 2009, the population estimate was 163,370. Its county seat is Oshkosh. Winnebago County is included in the Oshkosh, Wisconsin-Neenah, Wisconsin, Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

  • Ratcliffe, DeWitt County
    DeWitt County, Texas
    DeWitt County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2000, its population was 20,013. DeWitt County is named for Green DeWitt, who founded an early colony in Texas. The seat of the county is Cuero. It was founded in 1846.-Geography:...

    , Texas
  • Sauk City
    Sauk City, Wisconsin
    Sauk City is a village in Sauk County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 3,109 at the 2000 census. The first incorporated village in the state, the community was founded by Agoston Haraszthy and his business partner, Robert Bryant...

    , Sauk County
    Sauk County, Wisconsin
    Sauk County is a county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of 2000, the population was 55,225. Its county seat and largest city is Baraboo. Sauk County is included in the Baraboo Micropolitan Statistical Area and in the Madison Combined Statistical Area....

    , Wisconsin
  • Shelby
    Shelby, Texas
    Shelby is an unincorporated town in Austin County, Texas, United States. Shelby was settled in the early 1840s. The community was named for David Shelby, one of the first settlers in the area. Most of the early residents were members of Adelsverein, and for a time the community was identified with...

    , Austin County, Texas
  • Sisterdale
    Sisterdale, Texas
    Sisterdale, Texas, is an unincorporated farming and ranching community, established in 1847 and located north of Boerne in Kendall County, in the U.S. state of Texas. The community is located in the valley of Sister Creek. The current 2010 population is 25...

    , Kendall County
    Kendall County, Texas
    Kendall County is a county located on the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2008 census, its population was 32,886. Its seat is Boerne....

    , Texas
  • St. Louis
    St. Louis, Missouri
    St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

    , Missouri
  • Tusculum, Kendall County, Texas
  • Two Rivers
    Two Rivers (town), Wisconsin
    Two Rivers is a town in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 1,912 at the 2000 census. The City of Two Rivers is located mostly within the town...

    , Manitowoc County, Wisconsin
  • Watertown
    Watertown, Wisconsin
    Watertown is a city in Dodge and Jefferson counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Most of the city's population is in Jefferson County. Division Street, several blocks north of downtown, marks the county line. The population of Watertown was 21,598 at the 2000 census...

    , Dodge County
    Dodge County, Wisconsin
    Dodge County is a county located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of 2010, the population was 88,759. Its county seat is Juneau.-Geography:According to the U.S...

    , Wisconsin

  • Canada



    The earliest known secular organization in English Canada
    English Canada
    English Canada is a term used to describe one of the following:# English-speaking Canadians, as opposed to French-speaking Canadians. It is employed when comparing English- and French-language literature, media, or art...

     is the Toronto Freethought Association, founded in 1873 by a handful of secularists. Reorganized in 1877 and again in 1881, when it was renamed the Toronto Secular Society, the group formed the nucleus of the Canadian Secular Union, established in 1884 to bring together freethinkers from across the country.

    A significant number of the early members appear to have been drawn from the educated labour “aristocracy,” including Alfred F. Jury, J. Ick Evans and J. I. Livingstone, all of whom were leading labour activists and secularists. The second president of the Toronto association was T. Phillips Thompson, a central figure in the city’s labour and social reform movements during the 1880s and 1890s and arguably Canada’s foremost late nineteenth-century labour intellectual. By the early 1880s, freethought organizations were scattered throughout southern Ontario
    Ontario
    Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

     and parts of Quebec
    Quebec
    Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

    , and elicited both urban and rural support.

    The principal organ of the freethought movement in Canada was Secular Thought (Toronto, 1887–1911). Founded and edited by English freethinker Charles Watts
    Charles Watts (secularist)
    Charles Watts was an English writer, lecturer and publisher, who was prominent in the secularist and freethought movements in both Britain and Canada.-Life and career:...

     (1835–1906) during its first several years, the editorship was assumed by Toronto printer and publisher James Spencer Ellis in 1891 when Watts returned to England.

    In 1968 the Humanist Association of Canada was formed to serve as an umbrella group for Humanists, atheists, freethinkers, and to champion social justice issues and oppose religious influence on public policy -- most notably in the fight to make access to abortion free and legal in Canada. HAC, also known as Humanist Canada, is an active voice for Humanism in Canada and supports the activities of groups who wish to raise awareness about secular issues.

    The Canadian Secular Alliance is an active community.

    Anarchism


    Freethought has influenced the anarchist
    Anarchism
    Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

     movement. In the United States, "freethought was a basically anti-christian, anti-clerical movement, whose purpose was to make the individual politically and spiritually free to decide for himself on religious matters. A number of contributors to Liberty were prominent figures in both freethought and anarchism. The individualist anarchist George MacDonald was a co-editor of Freethought and, for a time, The Truth Seeker. E.C. Walker was co-editor of the free-thought / free love journal Lucifer, the Light-Bearer". "Many of the anarchists were ardent freethinkers; reprints from freethought papers such as Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, Freethought and The Truth Seeker appeared in Liberty...The church was viewed as a common ally of the state and as a repressive force in and of itself".

    In Europe, a similar development occurred in French and Spanish individualist anarchist circles. "Anticlericalism, just as in the rest of the libertarian movement, in another of the frequent elements which will gain relevance related to the measure in which the (French) Republic begins to have conflicts with the church...Anti-clerical discourse, frequently called for by the French individualist André Lorulot, will have its impacts in Estudios (an spanish individualist anarchist publication). There will be an attack on institutionalized religion for the responsibility that it had in the past on negative developments, for its irrationality which makes it a counterpoint of philosophical and scientific progress. There will be a criticism of proselitism and ideological manipulation which happens on both believers and agnostics.". This tendencies will continue in French individualist anarchism in the work and activism of Charles-Auguste Bontemps
    Charles-Auguste Bontemps
    Charles-Auguste Bontemps was a French individualist anarchist, pacifist, freethinker and naturist activist and writer.- Life and works:...

     and others. In the Spanish individualist anarchist magazines Ética and Iniciales
    Iniciales
    Iniciales was a Spanish individualist anarchist and naturist eclectic magazine which ran between 1929 and 1937. The first number appeared in Barcelona in February, 1929. Its predecessor was Barcelona's Ética...

    "there is a strong interest in publishing scientific news, usually linked to a certain atheist and anti-theist obsession, philosophy which will also work for pointing out the incompatibility between science and religion, faith and reason. In this way there will be a lot of talk on Darwin´s theories or on the negation of the existence of the soul.".

    In 1901, Catalan anarchist and freethinker Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia
    Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia
    Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia was a Spanish Catalan free-thinker and anarchist....

     established "modern" or progressive schools in Barcelona
    Barcelona
    Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

     in defiance of an educational system controlled by the Catholic Church. The schools' stated goal was to "educate the working class
    Popular education
    Popular education is a concept grounded in notions of class, political struggle, and social transformation. The term is a translation from the Spanish educación popular or the Portuguese educação popular and rather than the English usage as when describing a 'popular television program,' popular...

     in a rational, secular and non-coercive setting". Fiercely anti-clerical, Ferrer believed in "freedom in education", education free from the authority of church and state. Ferrer's ideas generally, formed the inspiration for a series of Modern Schools
    Modern School (United States)
    The Modern Schools, also called Ferrer Schools, were United States schools, established in the early twentieth century, that were modeled after the Escuela Moderna of Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, the Catalan educator and anarchist...

    in the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    , Cuba
    Cuba
    The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

    , South America
    South America
    South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

     and London
    London
    London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

    . The first of these was started in New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

     in 1911. It also inspired the Italian newspaper Università popolare
    Università popolare (Italian newspaper)
    L'Università popolare was an Italian newspaper founded by Luigi Molinari in 1901 and ran until 1918. It was part of the movement for free workers' self-education, partly inspired by Francisco Ferrer's Escuela Moderna in Spain...

    , founded in 1901.

    See also


    • Age of Reason
      Age of reason
      Age of reason may refer to:* 17th-century philosophy, as a successor of the Renaissance and a predecessor to the Age of Enlightenment* Age of Enlightenment in its long form of 1600-1800* The Age of Reason, a book by Thomas Paine...

    • Agnosticism
      Agnosticism
      Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable....

    • Atheism
      Atheism
      Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

    • Brights movement
      Brights movement
      The Brights movement is a social movement that aims to promote public understanding and acknowledgment of the naturalistic worldview, including equal civil rights and acceptance for people who hold a naturalistic worldview. It was co-founded by Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell in 2003...

    • Camp Quest
      Camp Quest
      Camp Quest, founded in 1996, is the first residential summer camp in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Norway specifically for the children of nontheistic or freethinking parents .-Purpose and identity:Camp...

    • Conflict thesis
      Conflict thesis
      The conflict thesis proposes an intrinsic intellectual conflict between religion and science. The original historical usage of the term denoted that the historical record indicates religion’s perpetual opposition to science. Later uses of the term denote religion’s epistemological opposition to...

    • Critical rationalism
      Critical rationalism
      Critical rationalism is an epistemological philosophy advanced by Karl Popper. Popper wrote about critical rationalism in his works, The Open Society and its Enemies Volume 2, and Conjectures and Refutations.- Criticism, not support :...

    • Deism
      Deism
      Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

    • Empiricism
      Empiricism
      Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

    • Ethical Culture
      Ethical Culture
      The Ethical movement, also referred to as the Ethical Culture movement or simply Ethical Culture, is an ethical, educational, and religious movement that is usually traced back to Felix Adler...

    • Fellowship of Reason
      Fellowship of Reason
      The Fellowship of Reason is a moral community based in Atlanta, in the United States. Its founder, Martin L. Cowen III, calls himself a "non-theist", and says that although he does not believe in God or other things supernatural, he nonetheless thinks that churches serve a useful function by...

    • Freedom from Religion Foundation
      Freedom From Religion Foundation
      The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an American freethought organization based in Madison, Wisconsin. Its purposes, as stated in its bylaws, are to promote the separation of church and state and to educate the public on matters relating to atheism, agnosticism and nontheism. The FFRF publishes...

    • Freedom of thought
      Freedom of thought
      Freedom of thought is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints....

    • Freethought Association of Canada
    • Freethought Day
      Freethought day
      Freethought Day is October 12th, the annual observance by freethinkers and secularists of the anniversary of the effective end of the Salem Witch Trials....

    • Godless Americans PAC
    • Golden Age of Freethought
      Golden Age of Freethought
      The golden age of freethought describes the socio-political movement promoting freethought that developed in the mid 19th-century United States. Freethought was a philosophical position that held that ideas and opinions should be based on science and reason, and not restricted by authority,...

    • Humanism
      Humanism
      Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

    • Infidel
      Infidel
      An infidel is one who has no religious beliefs, or who doubts or rejects the central tenets of a particular religion – especially in reference to Christianity or Islam....

    • Internet Infidels
      Internet Infidels
      Internet Infidels, Inc. is a Colorado Springs, Colorado-based nonprofit educational organization founded in 1995 by Jeffery Jay Lowder and Brett Lemoine. Its mission is to utilize the Internet to promote the view that supernatural forces or entities do not exist...

    • Irreligion
      Irreligion
      Irreligion is defined as an absence of religion or an indifference towards religion. Sometimes it may also be defined more narrowly as hostility towards religion. When characterized as hostility to religion, it includes antitheism, anticlericalism and antireligion. When characterized as...

    • Nontheism
      Nontheism
      Nontheism is a term that covers a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of — or the rejection of — theism or any belief in a personal god or gods...

    • Occam's Razor
      Occam's razor
      Occam's razor, also known as Ockham's razor, and sometimes expressed in Latin as lex parsimoniae , is a principle that generally recommends from among competing hypotheses selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions.-Overview:The principle is often summarized as "simpler explanations...

    • Philosophical theism
      Philosophical theism
      Philosophical theism is the belief that God exists independent of the teaching or revelation of any particular religion. It represents belief in a personal God entirely without doctrine...

    • Positivism
      Positivism
      Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

    • Rationalism
      Rationalism
      In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

    • Religious skepticism
      Religious skepticism
      Religious skepticism is a type of skepticism relating to religion, but should not be confused with atheism. Religious skeptics question religious authority and are not necessarily anti-religious but are those skeptical of a specific or all religious beliefs or practices. Some are deists, believing...

    • Scientism
      Scientism
      Scientism refers to a belief in the universal applicability of the systematic methods and approach of science, especially the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints...

    • Secular humanism
      Secular humanism
      Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism , is a secular philosophy that embraces human reason, ethics, justice, and the search for human fulfillment...

    • Secularism
      Secularism
      Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

    • Spiritual But Not Religious
      Spiritual But Not Religious
      Spiritual But Not Religious is a popular phrase and acronym used to self-identify a life stance of spirituality that rejects traditional organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth...

    • The Enlightenment
    • The Freethinker
      The Freethinker (journal)
      The Freethinker is a British secular humanist magazine, founded by G.W. Foote in 1881. It is the world's oldest surviving freethought publication.It has always taken an unapologetically atheist, anti-religious stance...



    Further reading

    • Jacoby, Susan (2004). Freethinkers: a history of American secularism. New York: Metropolitan Books. ISBN 0-8050-7442-2
    • Royle, Edward
      Edward Royle
      Edward Royle is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of York and author of books on the history of religious ideas, particularly in Yorkshire.-Career:...

       (1974). Victorian Infidels: the origins of the British Secularist Movement, 1791–1866. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-0557-4
    • Royle, Edward
      Edward Royle
      Edward Royle is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of York and author of books on the history of religious ideas, particularly in Yorkshire.-Career:...

      (1980). Radicals, Secularists and Republicans: popular freethought in Britain, 1866–1915. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-0783-6
    • Tribe, David (1967). 100 Years of Freethought. London: Elek Books.

    External links