Tomorrow is, honest and for true, Freethinkers Day, and as god as my witness (a ha ha ha ha haaa!,) I don’t really know what to post about it.
I mean, I don’t really even like the label: freethinker, as opposed to, what, a paid thinker? The idea is that a freethinker is not hampered by religious dogma or cultural restrictions, but in reality, nobody tells you, or can tell you, how to think – the best we can say about that is a freethinker might feel less concerned about the consequences of voicing what they think. Which we should be doing anyway. And this is where the holiday falls flat to me, in that there isn’t one day we should be doing this, but every day. The existence of a holiday openly implies that we should feel restricted the rest of the year.
Maybe it’s intended to raise awareness of freethought, to show that’s it’s okay to speak out in favor of rationality, which is fine, but again, for my own sake it takes place constantly, and I have more than a few posts here about this (see: slacktivism.) Plus just the idea of ‘raising awareness’ is almost hackneyed now. We even have to be careful what we encourage, because no one thinks they’re irrational, while no one can be entirely rational either. It’s like saying, “Be smart.” Probably most people would respond, “Well, I am smart, so done deal,” at least internally – what it often takes is highlighting particular examples of topics, conclusions, or even just cultural norms that don’t demonstrate a rational approach. Which isn’t a bad idea for the day at least, and perhaps I’ll be back tomorrow with something (I have nothing planned now, so I’ll have to find something.)
We could also potentially use the day to introduce people to the ideology of freethought, or to showcase some of the more influential freethinkers throughout history, among them Thomas Paine, who was born on tomorrow’s date in 1737 (what are the chances?) and whose seminal work Common Sense was instrumental in the formation of the US – far more so than any and all religious influences, despite spurious claims of being founded as a ‘christian nation.’
For recommended reading, I’d suggest Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne, and the works of Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman, at least to start. I say this with the recognition that we shouldn’t be idolizing people, but ideas instead – there are just some people that have more than a few good ideas. Or check out the blog of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
It’s pleasing to see that, despite the best efforts of various vapor-brained nitwits, religion is on the decline in this country. Long overdue of course, but it’s only a symptom anyway, which is why I espouse critical thinking instead – which is not as evidently growing, especially if we look at our political
system circus and some of the more visible forms of activism. It’s not just about eradicating religion, and indeed never was – it’s about making sense, which often means denying emotional reactions in favor of careful consideration. Religion is only one example of doing things only because someone else does – there are a lot more out there.
I’ll leave you with this, a recent discovery, though a friend (I have them, hush) indicated that I’m a bit behind. Jim Jeffries has an amusing yet insightful routine: