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Infidels - Ditcionary of Freethinkers
Category: People and society > Freethinkers
Date & country: 13/09/2007, USA
Words: 470


Abbe, Professor Ernst
(1840-1905) He was not only a distinguished German physicist and one of the most famous inventors on the staff at the Zeiss optical works at Jena but a notable social reformer, By a generous scheme of profit-sharing he virtually handed over the great Zeiss enterprise to the workers. Abbe was an intimate friend of Haeckel and shared his atheism (or Monism). Leonard Abbot says in his life of Ferrer that Abbe had 'just the same ideas and aims as Ferrer.'

Abelard, Peter
(1080-1142) The most learned and far away the most brilliant master in Christian Europe in the twelfth century. He was 'the idol of Paris,' and troubadour as well as a philosopher, until a canon of the cathedral had him castrated for an affair with his niece Heloise. This soured his disposition, so that it is andurd to call his letters to Heloise 'love-letters,' but his teaching was still so free that he was twice

Ackermann, Louise Victorine
(1813-1890). A French woman writer of great distinction whose salon was one of the most brilliant intellectual centers of Paris. She is very resolutely Agnostic, without using that word in her Pensees d'une solitare (written later in life) and she wrote a poem for her tombstone which begins: 'I do not know.' In the strict sense she was an atheist.

Adams, John
(1735-1826) Second President of the United States. He signed the Treaty of Tripoli, which began (article 11), 'The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion,' he continued, 'The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus has made a convenient cover for andurdity.' The treaty was ratified by the Senate in 1797 without a single exception. His rejection of Christianity, which he professed to admire morally, runs all through his letters to Jefferson, of which there…

Adamson, Professor Robert
(1852-1902) Described in the Cambridge History of Modern Literature (XIV,48) as 'the most learned of contemporary philosophers.' He was an outspoken \Agnostic and a Utilitarian in ethics. In the symposium Ethical Democracy

Aikenhead, Thomas
(1678-1697) A Scottish undergraduate of Edinburgh University who merits inclusion here as a martyr of freethought. Brooding over his Bible he came to the conclusion that it was 'a rhapsody of ill contrived nonsense' and said so. After a travesty of a trial he was condemned and hanged.

Akbar, the Great
(1542-1602) greatest and wisest of the Mogui Emperors (Enc. Brit.). He ruled the empire of India, which he conquered, with a wisdom and beneficence which few monarchs surpassed, and all historiand admit that he rejected the Moslem religion and cultivated and tried to establish a pure theism with tolerance of all sects. His Grand Vizier had the same views.

Aleieri, Count Francesco
(1712-1761), Italian writer (science, history and philosophy) whose great learning won high favor with Frederic the Great, Augustus of Saxony, and even (at first) Pope, Clement XIV who pronounced him one of those rare men whom one would fain love even beyond the grave' Friend of Voltaire and a Deist. Frederic erected a monument to him.

Alembert, Jean Le Rond D'
(1717-1783) the second greatest of the French Encyclopaedists, a foundling who became one of the most learned men of France, a member of the French and Berlin Academies and highly honored by Frederic the Great and Catherine the Great. He was the finest mathematician of his time and a man of simple ways and lofty character.. Alembert preferred to call himself a skeptic rather than an atheist, thinking that the latter implied an express denial of the existence of God.

Alice, Princess.
See Victoria

Allen, Colonel Ethan
(1737-1789), leader of the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont in the War of Independence, later in the State Legislature. He published what seems to have been the first anti-Christian (Deistic) work in America, Reason the Only Oracle of Man

Allingham, William
(1824-1889) Irish poet and close friend of Froude, Tennyson, Rossetti and other famous writers whose conversations with him on religion are recorded in his Diary

Amicis, Edmonde De
(1846-1908) Leading Italian of the last century. He served in the army against the Pope's troops and then became, said the Athenaeum, 'one of the most extensively read Italian authors of the last three-quarters of a Century.' He professes Agnosticism in his Memorie and says that he is 'fascinated and tormented by the vast mystery of life.' Anaxagoras (B.C. 500-428), a Greek philosopher of peculiar interest. He found-not unnaturally at that time-that the materialistic philosophy of the Ionic Scho…

And-Er-Rahman III
(891-961) The greatest of the Moslem Arab Caliphs, who raised Spain from a state of profound demoralization to one of unprecedented prosperity, culture and brilliance while Christian Europe lay in the darkest phase of the Dark Age. It was from the splendor of his empire that civilization was rekindled in France, then in Europe generally. See S.P. Scott's Moorish Empire in Europe

Andrews, Stephen Pearl
(1812-1886)social reformer. He opened a brilliant career at the American bar and sacrificed it by his zealous work for the abolition of slavery. It is said that he knew 32 languages, and he invented a universal language and a universal (non-theistic religion). Besides several works on religion he contributed frequently to the Truthseeker. Angel Norman See Lane. R.N.A.

Annunzio, Prince Gabriele D'
(1863-1938). greatest of modern Italian poets, who received his title for his distinction in letters (novels, poetry, and tragedy). The Church, for which he always expressed a profound contempt, put all his work on the Index, the Pope expressly warned Catholics not to read them. In one of his works he describes himself (in the guise of one of his characters) as 'a princely artist of magnificent sensuality.' He led the Neo-Pagan movement in Italy and was an atheist.

Anthony, Susan Brownell
(1820-1906) reformer, leader of the American agitation for the rights of women. Of Quaker origin and in earlier years very puritanical-in mid-life she wore for a time the kind of pants that were then called 'bloomers' from her friend Amelia Bloomer- she threw herself into the Abolitionist, Temperance and Feminist movements and led a life of struggle and sacrifice. Like most of her American colleagues in the arduous years of the movement she was an Agnostic, and she freely criticizes religion in …

Arago, Dominique Francois Jean
(1786-1853), 'one of the most illustrious savants of the nineteenth century,' says the French Grande Encyclopedie. His early work in mathematics and astronomy was so brilliant that the French Academy, against its own rules, admitted him at the age of 23. He was equally distinguished in physics, in manuals of which his name still occurs, and was honored by all the learned academies of Europe. But he was an outspoken atheist and republican even under Napoleon (who greatly esteemed him) and Louis N…

Aristotle
(B.C. 384-322), the greatest thinker of the ancient world and the encyclopaedic organizer (like Herbert Spencer in the 19th century) of all knowledge. The common idea, that he and Plato are the two typical thinkers of ancient Greece, is very far astray. As the highest authority on Greek philosophy , Zeller, says, nine-tenths of the Greek thinkers were materialists, while all admit that Plato's spiritualism had extraordinarily few followers. Aristotle himself rejected the idea of spirit but inven…

Arnold, Matthew
(1822-1888) famous British critic and poet. He had immense influence on the educated public of his time and made no concealment of his Rationalist views in his widely-read works. He disbelieved in a future life and Christianity and believed in God only as an impersonal 'Power not ourselves, which makes for righteousness.' Religion he defined as 'morality tinged with emotion.'

Arnold, Sir Edwin, K.C.I.E., M.A.
(1832-1904) British poet. During years of service in India he conceived an immense admiration of Buddhism which he thought superior to Christianity, and wrote an epic poem, The Light of Asia, on the life of Buddha, which did much to broaden the public mind. He received the highest honors of India, Persia, and Turkey. His view about God is obscure, but in a small work Death and Afterwards, he rejects the belief in personal immorality.

Arnoldson, Klas Pontus
(1844-1916) Swedish reformer, Nobel Prize Winner. The prize was awarded for his heroic work in the cause of peace, to which he devoted the money, though he was a poor man, but he worked just as energetically for freethought in Sweden.

Arrhenius, Professor Svante August
(1859-1927), famous Swedish chemist and Nobel Prize Winner. He was Director of the Nobel Physioco-Chemical Institute. He was openly associated with Haeckel in his Monistic (atheist) Association and a man of high ideals. Several of his works are available in English.

Arriaga Manoel Jose D'
(1839-1917), President of the Portuguese Republic. Disinherited by his father, who claimed to be of royal blood, for becoming a freethinker and republican at the university, he turned to law and politics and had so brilliant a success that after the Revolution of 1911 he was appointed President. He was an atheist and both humanitarian and anti-clerical in the legislation he passed. Asoka (B.C. 200-232), most famous of Hindu monarchs.

Aspasia
(5th century B.C.), the most famous woman of the ancient world. She lived as wife with Pericles (See) but he could not marry her under Athenian law as she was a foreigner, or a Greek from Asia Minor (Ionia). She was one of the most beautiful and the most accomplished of the women who came to Athens and were known as Hetairai (which meand 'pals' or companions, not courtesand as is often said. Aspasia was one of the most respected figures in the brilliant circle round Pericles in the Golden Age. S…

Ataturk, President Mustafa Kamal
(1881-1938), President of the Republic of Turkey. He was in early years one of the young Turks of the Committee of Union and Progress, fought with great distinction in the European War, and led the revolution at the close. They made him first President of the Republic with dictatorial powers, and he humanized and modernized Turkey with great vigor. In his biography (Grau Wolf) Armstrong shows that he had a profound contempt for all religion and tried to extinguish it but was forced to compromise…

Averroes
(1126-1198) or (properly) Ibn Roshd. One of the two greatest Arab Scholars of the Middle Ages. The Arand had the quaint custom of choosing the most learned men for high political positions and he was Governor of Seville for 20 years, when the Moorish fanatics got him imprisoned. The pious Spaniards later burned all his works but Michael Scotus had translated some of them into Latin for Frederic 11, and they had a good deal of influence in Italy. Practically they taught Thomas Aquinas his philoso…

Avicenna
(960-1017) or (properly) Ibn Sind. The second of the two greatest scholars of the Arab-Persian civilization. He belonged to the Persian half and was the son of a peasant, yet he became, apparently, more learned than Averroes or any other medieval scholar; and it is piquant that, while Averroes is said to have studied far into every night except his wedding night, Avicenna was boisterously sensual and a frequenter of taverns. Yet his work on medicines were the standard works for ages, and he wrot…

Azana, Manoel
(1800-1940). President of the Spanish Republic. Son of a Catholic mayor he discarded the faith in his university years and graduated in law. He took a prominent part in politics as a strongly anti-clerical republican, and after the Revolution of 1931, became Premier and later President. To him chiefly were due the anti-Church laws which the Cortes passes and the nation approved.

Bakunin, Mikhail
(1814-1876), political reformer. The famous Anarchist was a Russian of nobel family, considerable accomplishments-he was educated in philosophy-and very extensive travel. In his chief work God and the State he gives full expression to his atheism and materialism.

Ballance, The Hon. John
(1839-1893) Premier of New Zealand. He was an Irish youth who emigrated to New Zealand and entered journalism and politics. He was Premier

Balmaceda, Jose Manoel
(1838-1891), President of the Republic of Chili. He was educated in the Jesuit College at Santiago but became an atheist and joined the anti-clerical Liberals in the fight against the Church. He was President 1886 to 1890 but his policy was harsh and autocratic, and when he was driven out he ended his life.

Balzac, Honore De
(1799-1859), French novelist. The Christ of Modern Art according to some French critics. His skepticism pervades the whole 47 volumes of his famous Human Comedy and 24 other novels. He wrote also a caustic history of the Jesuits.

Bancroft, Hubert Howe
(1832-1918), historian. The distinguished authority on Western America-he wrote 39 volumes on its history and had a library of 60,000 volumes-expresses an uncompromising Deism and scorn of the Churches in his last work Retrospect

Barlow, Joel
(1754-1812), poet. He was a Congregationalist minister and chaplain in the War of Independence and compiled a hymn-book for that body but shed his beliefs and took to law and letters. For years he was famous for his epic The Vision of Columbus and he was American-ambassador to France. His epic was vigorously denounced by the clergy as anti-Christian (Deistic) and he contributed to the spread of freethought in America by translating Volney's Ruins.

Barnard, Henry
(1811-1900), the reformer who in conjunction with Horace Mann (See) created the American school-system. As his wife was a strict Catholic he andtained from discussing religion but his views were well known. He was challenged to make a declaration of Christian faith and refused. (Dict. of Amer. Biog.)

Barre, Chevalier de La,
(1747 - 1766) Freethinking martyr. Chevalier was accused of not bowing to a religious procession, singing an 'ungodly' song, and possessing book contrary to religion, including the Dictionary of Philosophy by Voltaire. He was tortured, then beheaded at age 19 by request of the Catholic Church. A monument to him was erected in Abbeville France on July 7, 1907 and is inscribed: 'In commemoration of Martyr Chevalier de la Barre murdered in Abbyville the first of July, 1766 at the age of 19 years, f…

Barton, Clara
(1822-1912), the American Florence Nightingale. She was a farmer's daughter, a shy sensitive, slight little woman

Bayle, Pierre
(1647-1706), a French writer whose famous Dictionaire Historique et Critique spread over Europe-there is an English translation and contributed powerfully to the progress of freethought. There are no articles on God and immortality but he seems to have been an atheist. Writing in an age of despotic bigotry he conveys his immense anti-Christian erudition with a delightful irony and diplomacy.

Bebel, Ferdinand August
(1840-1913), German Socialist leader and one of the founders of the Social Democratic Party. He was, like all the Socialist leaders of the time, an atheist and freely expressed it in his work on Woman and Christianity .

Becearia-Bonesana, Marquis Cesare
(1735-1794) the great Italian law reformer. He adopted the views of the French Encyclopaedists and specialized on the reform of the treatment of crime. His Treatise on Crime and Punishment was a classic all over Europe for half a century. Whether he was an atheist or Theist is not clear. Italy was not a safe place for heretics-he had to publish his famous Treatise abroad and anonymously-and he, as he said, 'heard the noise of the chains rattled by superstition and fanaticism.'

Beethoven, Ludwig Von
(1770-1827). The great musician was reared a Catholic but quit the Church and adopted Goethe's Pantheism. Although he composed a Catholic mass (Missa solemnis) which an authority described as 'perhaps the grandest piece of musical expression which art possesses' he remained a Pantheist to the end. It is piquant that the musical expert who thus appreciates his mass, Sir G. Macfarren, describes him as a 'freethinker' (in the Imper. Dict. of Univ. Biog.) Beethoven's most authoritative biographers a…

Benavente Y Martinez, Jacinto
(1888-_____) Nobel Prize Winner and 'creator of the modern Spanish theater.' One of the first poets and dramatists of Spain in his time. In 1932, after the anti-clerical revolution, which he applauded, he produced a play with the title Santa Russia (Holy Russia) and in the preface to the published work praised the materialism and atheism of the Russians.

Bennet, Enoch Arnold
(1867-1931), leading British novelist. In the first two decades of the century Bennet was counted the first English novelist. He expresses his Agnosticism in his volume of reflections, The Human Machine, and was an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association.

Bentham, Jeremy
(1748-1832), famous British jurist and social reformer. A wealthy father (who began to teach him Latin at the age of four) having left him a large fortune he devoted his life to prison and legal reform, education, and other social ideas and was known throughout Europe. He was a declared atheist and in unpublished manuscripts he contemptuously called Christianity 'Juggernaut'. In collaboration with the historian Grote (See) he, under the pseudonym Phillip Beauchamp, wrote an Analysis of the Infl…

Bergson, Professor Henri Louis
(1859-1933), French philosopher. The way in which Bergonson's unfortunate book Creative Evolution has been used by obscurantists has given many a false impression. He rejected Christianity and admitted belief in God only as the vital force-not eternal and not personal in the theological sense-that energizes the universe.

Berlioz, Hector
(1803-1869) French Composer. Although he composed Catholic Church-music (TeDeum, Mass of the Dead, etc.) and is claimed in the Catholic Encyclopaedia , Berlioz often admits in his letters that he was an atheist. In G.K. Boult's Life of Berloiz

Bernard Claude M.S., D.Sc.,
(1813-1878) famous French physiologist. As he was educated by the Jesuits and the Church was allowed some share in his funeral ceremonies Catholics always claim the great scientist as 'one of us.' It is ridiculous because in his published works he makes no secret of his agnosticism. He does this repeatedly in his chief work Introduction a `L etude de la medicine experimentale

Bernhardt, Sarah
(1845-1923), the greatest French actress of recent times. A. Carel says in his Histoire anecdotique des contemporains

Bethell, Richard, Baron Westbury
(1800-1873), Lord Chancellor of Great Britain. After a brilliant career at the bar he became Attorney General and in 1861 Lord Chancellor (and Head of the House of Lords). He presided at one of the heresy trials got up by the authorities and, in the words of a legal humorist, 'took away from orthodox members of the Church of England their last hope of eternal damnation.' His verdict relieved clergymen of the need to believe in hell. We are told by Jowett that he once said about the Reformation: …

Beyle, Marie Henri
(1783-1842) better known by his pseudonym, M. de Stendhal. His works are greatly appreciated by the finest writers in France (Flaubert, etc.), and Prosper Merimee wrote a memoir of him (H.B.), after his death in which he quotes Beyle saying: 'The only excuse for God is that there is no such person.'

Bickersteth Henry, Baron Langdale
(1783-1851) , one of the many freethinking distinguished British jurists of the first half of the nineteenth century. He refused the position both of Attorney General and Lord Chancellor but was Master of the Rolls. Lord Langdale agreed with his friend Bentham (See) except that he was not so definitely atheistic. His biographer Hardy admits that his friends regarded him as 'destitute of religious feeling,' but he seems to have held some shade of intellectual theism.

Bierce, Ambrose
(1842-1914), the humorist 'Dod Grile.' His works were at one time very popular in America and many of the definitions in his Cynic's Word Book (1906) expressed a very advanced freethought. He defines faith as 'belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge of things without parallel.' A clergyman is 'a man who undertakes the management of your spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones.' A Christian is 'one who follows the teachings of Christ in so …

Bizet, Alexandre Cesar Leopold
(though generally known as Georges Bizet, 1838-1875), composer of Carmen etc.His early death cur short a career of great promise. His letters, which were published after his death by L. Ganderax (1908) are full of skepticism. In one (p. 238) he says, 'I have always read the ancient pagand with infinite pleasure while in Christian writers I find only system, egoism, intolerance, and a complete lack of artistic taste

Bjornson, Bjornstjerne
(1832-1910), Norway's greatest writer and most active freethinker. Son of a pastor, he remained a Christian until 1875 when he became an agnostic and a republican. In spite of his commanding position as poet, novelist, and dramatist he did all he could to promote freethought in Norway for the rest of his life. In 1903 he was awarded the Nobel Prize. Georg Brandes says that 'to mention his name in Norway was like running up the national flag,' and at his death the leading British literary weekly,…

Blanc Jean Joseph Charles Louis
(1811-1882), famous French labor leader. He took part in the Revolution of 1848 and was in the Provisional Government, though he was not the creator of the National Workshops, as critics say, In 1870 he took part in the fight for the Commune. His atheism is repeatedly expressed in his historical works.

Blind, Mathilde
(1841-1896), poet step-daughter of the French rebel and atheist Karl Blind, whose name she took and whose exile she shared. She explains in her autobiography that she shared also his atheism. Her 'character,' says Dr. R. Garnett, 'was even more noble than her poetry.' She was one of the founders of Newnham College for women and gave a large sum of money to it.

Bloch, Ivan
(1872-1912), German sexologist and social reformer. In a symposium in honor of Haeckel's 80th birthday he describes Haeckel as 'the St. George who has slain the dragon of the ills of modern man and has ruthlessly branded all the dualistic survivals of prescientific culture as obstacles to the mental and moral progress of humanity.' He was a Monist (atheist).

Boileau-Despreaux, Nicolas
(1636-1711) famous French writer. Of the four great writers of the golden age of French letters two-Boileau and Moliere (See) ,- were freethinkers in spite of the religious oppression. The King, against the fierce opposition of the clergy, made Boileau Royal Historiographer and compelled the Academy to admit him. He wrote a treatise to disarm the priests, On the Love of God-presumably he was a Deist-but he was persecuted all his life and the chief historian of French Literature, Lanson, shows by…

Boito, Arrigo
(1842-1918), Italian poet and composer. Fought with Garibaldi against the Papal troops and later infuriated the Italian clergy by the frivolity with which he treated religion in his opera Mefistofele. In later years he was considered one of Italy's leading composers and rose to high honors. Bolingbrokem Viscount, See St. John, Henry.

Bolivar, Simon
(1783-1830), President of Bolivia. In youth Bolivar traveled in the United States and Britain and became an atheist. He was the chief leader in the rebellion against the Spanish throne and church and he was the first President of Bolivia. The clericals intrigued with his personal critics and he was driven abroad and took his own life.

Bonaparte, Prince Jerome
(1784-1860), younger brother of Napoleon. Few of the Bonaparte family were orthodox, but Jerome 'cherished a systematic hostility to every religious creed in general and the and the Catholic religion in particular' (P. de la Garce, Histoire du Second Empire, I. 119). He was in America in 1803 and married an American lady but Napoleon declared the marriage invalid. He was made King of Westphalia and was a sound and enlightened ruler. In later years he was the mentor of his uncle, Napoleon III, th…

Bonheur, Marie Rosalie
(1822-1899), internationally distinguished French painter (especially of animals) in the last century and honored with ,any gold medals, etc. Her views on religion are discussed at length in T Stanton's Reminiscences of Rosa Bonheur (78-82). Her friends said that she was an Agnostic, though she seems at times to have used Pantheistic language. In order to be buried near a friend she agreed to have a religious funeral but she said: 'Though I make this concession as regards my body there is no cha…

Borrow, George
(1803-1881), British writer. It is piquant to learn that the famous peddler of the bible in Spain, whose book The Bible in Spain, almost became a missionary classic, was, broadly an atheist, though he may have had a religious mood at one time. He became a serious Pantheist from a study of philosophy in his youth, and in later years when Lavengro and Romany Rye had given him a high position as a writer he completely rejected Christianity and, while admitting a 'great spirit,' refused to call it G…

Bossier, Marie Louis Gaston
(1823-1908), one of the finest French Historiand of modern times. He wrote chiefly on ancient Rome and, although he rarely reveals his own sentiments, was rightly denounced by the clergy as much more in sympathy with paganism than Christianity.

Bradlaugh, Charles
(1833-1891) reformer. For many years one of the most powerful speakers (though a very poor writer) in England, especially on the subject of atheism. His lectures had nothing like the charm and sentiment of Ingersoll's lectures, but were a triumph of platform personality. He gave his followers the name of secularists (which he borrowed from Holyoake) but called himself an Atheist. He was also well known as a Radical Member of Parliament and advocate of Birth Control and Reform in India.

Bradley, Francis Herbert
(1846-1924), British philosopher whose chief work Appearance and Reality is still well known and esteemed in the world of philosophy. In virtue of his own principles he was an Agnostic. 'There is but one reality,' he says, and it is 'not the God of the Churches.' It is 'inscrutable.' In Essays on Truth and Reality he defines God as 'the Supreme Will for good which is experienced within finite minds' and rejects the belief in immorality (459).

Braga, Theophilo
(1843-1924), second President of the Republic of Portugal. A lawyer and very prolific and important writer-he published more than 100 works on literature, science and philosophy-who joined the Positivists but, as an atheist, took an active part in the International Freethought movement. He took an active share also in the Revolution of 19190 and was for a time President of the Republic. Braga was a man of immense erudition and very high humanitarian ideals.

Brahms, Johannes,
(1833-1897), the famous German composer. As he composed a superb German Requiem for Protestant churches most folks imagine that he was a Christian but he was even less religious than Beethoven (See). He reveals in letters to Herzogenberg (Letters of J. Brahms: the Herzogenberg Correspondence, English translation 10\909) that he was a complete Agnostic. The Four Serious Songs which he published before he died are described by one critic as his 'supreme achievement in dignified utterance of noble …

Brandes, Georg, LL.D.
(1842-1927), Danish critic. Although born and educated in Denmark he lived in so many countries and had so remarkable a knowledge of the literature of each that he was the nearest approach to a 'good European'. He was a member also of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Royal Society of Literature. His position did not deter him in the least from professing freethought and helping the cause. Both he and his brother Carl were outspoken Agnostics.

Braun, Lily
(1865-1916), German writer and reformer. She was a member of a German aristocratic family who defied her relatives and became an active freethinker, feminist, and Socialist. Her aunt, Countess Clotilde von Hermann disinherited her for her advanced ideas. Her contemptuous rejection of Christianity is often shown in her Memoiren einer Sozialisten

Brieux, Eugene
(1858-1938), French dramatist. Often called 'the French Bernard Shaw,' though he was a member of the French Academy and an officer of the Legion of Honor. His play La foi (literally the Faith), though the English translator calls it False Gods, expresses his disdain of religion in the form of a study of priestcraft in ancient Egypt.

Brinton, Daniel Garrison
(1837-1899), ethnologist. An army surgeon who became professor of ethnology, of which he was one of the chief pioneers in America, and President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In his book The Religious Sentiment (1875) he rejects the belief in immortality and 'crumbling theologies' but remains a theist.

Brooke, Rupert
(1887-1915), British poet of great promise who was a victim of the First European War. Many of his poems in 1914 and Other Poems shows his freethinking. In 'Heaven' he satirizes the Christian myth and in others is very doubtful about a future life. 'The laugh dies with the lips,' he says. Occasionally he refers to God but was clearly moving toward Agnosticism.

Brosses, President Charles de
(1709-1777), French historian and statesman, president of the Dijon Parliament. His published letters (Lettres familieres) curiously illustrate the superficial religion and barely concealed irreligion of the eighteenth century. He was a Deist and a contributor to the famous Encyclopaedia of Diderot and D'Alembert but he was also friendly with Pope Benedict XIV and gives us a remarkable picture of that liberal Pope, who always begged him for the latest saucy stories about the dissolute French cou…

Brown, Bishop William Montgomery
(1855-1937), Ex-bishop of Arkansas, Communist, and in his last years bishop in the Old Catholic Church. Brown Called for my help when his brother-bishops of the Episcopal church threatened to disrobe him in 1924 as, he explained, it was chiefly reading my works in his retirement that made him a skeptic. From that date I wrote all the learned works which he put out to the great embarrassment of the bishops. He was a man of mediocre intelligence and very high but simple character, and his wealth (…

Browne, Sir Thomas
(1605-1682), author of the Religio Medici , a classic of English literature. The Religion of a Physician to translate the Latin title, through the work itself is in English, was translated into most European languages and has run through innumerable editions. It purports to be Christian but in other works (Urn Burial and Pseudodoxia epidemica) Browne clearly shows that he was a Deist and very skeptical about a future life. In Urn Burial (p. 158) he says that 'a dialogue between two infants in t…

Browning, Robert
(1812-1889), the famous poet. He began to have doubts about his creed in mid-career, as we discern in his Christmas Eve and Easter Day, and he gradually shed all beliefs except God and immorality, as we see plainly in La Saisiaz

Bruno, Giordano
(1547-1600), Italian philosopher and martyr. A Dominican Friar whose eyes were opened by a study of the Arab philosophy which still lingered in southern Italy and went on to a study of the Epicurean philosophy. He had to fly for his life and wandered over Europe, but in 1592, when he returned to Italy, the Venetiand as part of a political deal handed him over to the Pope. He was seven years in the dungeons of the Inquisition, refusing to recant, and then burned alive. Bruno was a thinker of very…

Buckle, Thomas
(1821-1862, distinguished British historian. He read 19 languages and, although he was not a professor but a man of wealth and leisure, his History of Civilization

Buddha (about B.C. 560-480)
The Hindu Moralist Gautama, who came to be known as Buddha (the enlightened one). [He] is chiefly interesting to us from the fact that, though the religion which now goes by the name Buddhism is a crass and to a great extent corrupt mass of superstitions, he was an atheist. It is admitted that he was educated in the Sankhya philosophy, which was atheistic. Brahmanism had become so andtract a religion while the mass of the people clung to the grossest myths, that there was a wide spread of atheis…

Burbank, Luther
(1849-1926) horticulturist. His magnificent work, which added an incalculable sum to the wealth of America and left him a comparatively poor man, is well known. His own simple account of his discoveries runs to 12 volumes and is incomplete. I was one of the few men whom he admitted to his house in Santa Rosa in the few months before he died and I found him advanced even beyond the vague Emersonian theism of his earlier years. He agreed top see me, he said, though he was tired and ill, because of…

Burckhardt, Professor Jacob
(1818-1897) Swiss historian. His works on the Italian Renaissance are standard authorities in many languages. In his posthumously published Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen

Burdett, Sir Francis
(1770-1844), British banker and reformer. [A] wealthy man who worked so devotedly for social and radical reforms that he was imprisoned in the Tower of London and the workers threatened to attack it and deliver him. It is now the fashion to praise narrow-minded bigots like Shaftesbury, who had to barricade his windows against the workers, and ignore such an unselfish and effective worker as Burdett. He worked with Bentham and Place and was like them an atheist. Mrs. de Morgan says in her Reminis…

Burgers, Thomas Francis
(1834-1881) President of the Transvaal (South Africa) Republic. He was educated for the Church at Ultrecht University but he was suspended for heresy when he began to practice in the Transvaal. He entered politics and won such high regard for his ability and integrity that, as the historian of South Africa, Theal, says, the Boers, who are as a body, bigoted, decided to overlook his heresies and made him their president. They were uncomfortable when it appeared from a volume of stories he had wri…

Burns, Robert
(1759-1796) Scottish poet. In many of his poems the 'national poet of Scotland' shows his contempt of the narrow religious views held by most of his compatriots ('Holy Willie's Prayer', 'Holy Fair,' etc.), It is claimed that he became more reverent and read the bible much in his sober later years but such lines as O Thou Great Being! what thou art Surpasses me to know how he advanced (or retreated) little beyond Agnosticism.

Burroughs, John, Litt. D.
(1851-1921), naturalist, member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His works on natural history gave him a high reputation, and in later works, especially The Light of Day

Burton, Sir Richard Francis
(1821-1890) translator of The Thousand and One Nights. Military service in India and then long journeys in Newarer Asia and Africa gave Burton an exceptional familiarity with Arabia and the Arand. His famous translation of the Arabian Nights appeared in 10 volumes in 1885-1886). He left behind him the translation of other Arab works which would have been greatly esteemed but Lady Burton, a bigoted Catholic-I met her in my clerical days-burned them. Burton's views on religion and his scorn of his…

Butler, Samuel
(1835-1902) British philosopher writer. His chief works when he returned to settle in England after making a fortune raising sheep in New Zealand were so attractive in style and genially ironic in temper (The Fair Haven, Life and Habit, The Way of All Flesh, etc.) that he had a very wide popularity. His philosophy, however, pleased neither side as he was anti-Christian and bitterly anti-Darwinian, and G.B. Shaw is one disciple. He did not believe in a personal God yet maintained that there was m…

Cabanis, Pierre Jean Georges
(1757-1808), French physician. He is commonly quoted in religious works as a superficial dabbler in science who said that a brain secretes thought just as the liver secretes bile. He was, on the contrary, a high authority on medical matters, and what he said (in his Rapport du physique et du moral de l'homme) was that 'the brain is a special organ, specially designed to produce thought, just as the stomach and intestines are destined to effect digestion.' When he later says that 'the Brain diges…

Campbell Thomas
(1777-1844), Scottish poet and reformer. He was educated for the ministry but became a skeptic and turned to poetry. He had an important part in the project to break the religious tyranny of Oxford and Cambridge Universities by founding the University of London as a purely secular institution (which, of course, now includes a theological college). Campbell resented 'superstitions rod' (as he calls it in Hallowed Ground), rejected the idea of immortality (Mrs. de Morgan testifies in her Reminisce…

Carducci, Professor Giosue
(1836-1907) Famous Italian poet, Nobel Prize Winner. In 1865 he wrote a fiery 'Hymn to Satan' and never abandoned his atheism in the days of his fame. Professor Carelle (in Naturalismo Italiano) quotes him as saying in his mature years, 'I know neither truth of God nor peace with the Vatican or any priests. They are the real and unaltering enemies of Italy.'

Carlile, Richard
(1790-1843) grand fighter for freethought. A British working man who took up printing and publishing skeptical books in defiance of the law. Altogether he spent nine years and four months or nearly a third of his life in jail. His wife, though she was not a freethinker, and his employees carried on the work while he was in jail. Once when his house was seized because he would not pay church rates he put life-size figures of a devil and a bishop arm in arm in his shop window in the center of Lond…

Carlyle, Thomas
(1797-1881) British historian. Although he was anti-democratic and in several ways reactionary in his later years, Carlyle did splendid work, especially by his French Revolution and Sartor Resartus, which have had a colossal circulation, for freethought and the general progress of England. In the latter work he seems to follow the lines of Goethe's Pantheism, but he said to the poet Allingham (who tells us in his diary): 'I have for many years strictly avoided going to church or having anything …

Carnegie, Andrew
(1837-1919) philanthropist. In the course of his life he have away $350,000,000 generally for sound social objects such as public free libraries. Dr. Moncure Conway, who knew him says that he was an Agnostic, and a few references to his religion in his Life of James Watt confirm this. He refers to 'the mysterious realm which envelopes man' and says in regard to discussion of religion that 'we are but young in all this mystery business.' The Truthseeker of August 23, 1919, quoted a confession of …

Caroline. Queen of England
(1683-1737) A German noble married to the Prince of Hanover who became King George II of England. She had studied philosophy and discarded Christianity under Leibnitz, and her house near London was frequented by the many brilliant English Deists of the time. She refused to take oath when she had to administer the Kingdom in her husband's andence, and she refused the ministrations of the Church of England though pressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury on her deathbed. The latter fact is attested …

Cavandish, The Honorable Henry
(1731-1810) one of the great British pioneers of the science of chemistry. He made important discoveries and was so high a position that his name is still perpetuated in the Cavandish Society and the great Cavandish Physical Laboratory at Cambridge. His biographer Dr. G. Wilson quotes his attitude pm religion from a contemporary scientist: 'As to Cavendish's religion he was nothing at all'' (p. 180). He never went to church.

Ceddo D' Ascoli
(1257-1327) martyr of freethought. Francesco (shortened to Cecco) of Ascoli was for years a professor at Bologna University and was one of the ablest scientific men of his age. In the last but one edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica the notice of him said that he was 'a man of immense erudition and great and varied abilities...but his freethinking and plain speaking got him many enemies.' As the enemies were priests, who burned him at the stake, the Catholic revisers of the last edition of t…

Celsus, Aurelius
(2nd Century). Only remembered now from a work written against him by the most learned of the Fathers, Origen, who evidently found him the most formidable opponent of the Church. The pious faithful burned all of Celsus's works. He appears to have been an Epicurean and to have made hilarious attacks on the gospel story of Jesus. Froude has a chapter on him in his Short Studies

Champollion Jean Francios
(1790-1832), French Egyptologist. He read Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit as well as ancient Egyptian and it was he who learned the secret of the hieroglyphic inscriptions