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BA: See entry for Resurrection.


Baal was the Canaanite god of weather and fertility. At Ugarit in present-day Syria the Canaanite Poem of Baal, which dates to well before the 14th Century B.C.E., was recently unearthed. Parts of Joel and Zephaniah satirize Canaanite myth and ritual, and in Isaiah Yahweh (Hebrew for “God”) is credited with slaying the dragon of the oceans, a feat similar to that of Baal. The triumvirate of Air, Water, and Earth—Baal, Yam, and Mot—align closely with Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. {DGC}

Baba, Satya Raju (1926— ) Satya Narayana Raju was born in Puttaparthi, India, of Easwaramma and her illiterate husband, Pedda Venkappa Raju. Suspected of mental illness when fifteen, and despite being a troublesome student in school, Raju cited a 1918 prediction of Sai Baba of Shirdi, that eight years after leaving the Shirdi body he would be reborn in Puttaparthi. Claiming to be that predicted individual and revealing his avatarhood to the world, the Sai Baba with a new name [satya means truth, which he considered an improvement on the previous shirdi, a place name) set about to prove his supernatural powers. In 1971, “He” allegedly resurrected Walter Cowan, who had been declared dead due to cardiac failure. He also allegedly created out of nowhere a copy of the Bhagavadgita (although, as G. R. R. Babu has pointed out, “even the Lord is not immune to orthographic error”). He is said to have converted water into petrol by dipping His finger into water. He is capable of bilocation, appearing in two places at the same time. And He claims that He never sleeps. To all who would listen, he declared,

I, the Lord, was incarnated at Puttaparthi. Buddha, Christ, Mohammed and others were not avatars. They had some divine power. My power is infinite. My Truth is inexplicable, even unfathomable. My task is the regeneration of humanity by Truth and Love.

In the year 2022 He claims that He will be reborn as Prema Sai in Mandya district of Karnataka. Many eminent Indians deny the godman’s claims. These include representatives of the World Union of Free Thinkers; Dr. H. Narasimhaiah, an Indian rationalist who formerly was vice-chancellor of the Bangalore University; Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor, a person who successfully galvanized public opinion—he was a Sri Lankan, the most famous rationalist of the land; and B. Premanand, a magician, former devotee of Baba, and today a well-known Indian skeptic who disproved the Walter Cowan resurrection story. They have expertly pointed out the various weaknesses in each of Baba’s claims and lament that lesser educated individuals are being fooled by the godman. In 1993, six inmates of Prashanti Nilayam were murdered in Baba’s bedroom, all of whom had been part of the inner circle. As of 1997 the Supreme Court of India , which included one of the Satya Sai inner circle, Y. V. Anjaneyulu, had not found Baba guilty of anything. Anjaneyulu allowed the argument that Babu’s “materializing” gold ornaments to be given to devotees did not violate the Gold Control Act. Articles which have come about through spiritual powers, he ruled, cannot be said to have been manufactured, prepared, or processed. (See G. R. R. Babu, “Sex, Lies, and Video Tape: Retelling the Satya Sai Baba Story.”)

Babbitt, Irving: See entry for Neo-Classical Humanism.

Babe, M. A. (20th Century) Babe, a member of the Indian Parliament, spoke in 1995 at the Indian Rationalist Association’s conference in Bombay. He said he was happy to be associated with that group’s campaign for freedom of speech, adding there should be the right to expose fraud and superstition but not to impose ideas on others. Babe had reservations about provocative attacks on religion, but he endorsed the need to counter an intolerable growth of intolerance. {New Humanist, February 1996}

Babcock, M. (19th Century) Babcock, a freethinker, wrote Superstition: The Religion of “Believe or Be Damned” (c. 1880) and Why Don’t God Kill the Devil? (1891). {GS}

Babeuf, François Noel (1764—1797) Babeuf was a French economist, an atheist who founded Société des Égaux. He was a single-taxer who, at the outbreak of the Revolution, took the name of Caius Gracchus and edited a series of ephemeral papers advocating complete equality. Condemned to death for plotting against the Directorate, Babeuf committed suicide in court. {RAT}


At Babi Yar, near Kiev, more than 150,000 Jews, Gypsies, and Soviet prisoners of war were killed by Nazi SS squads between 1941 and 1943. Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s Babi Yar (1961), set to music by Dmitri Shostakovich, was a powerful humanistic statement condemning the Soviet government for having sanctioned anti-Semitism. {DCG}

Babic, Jovan (20th Century) Babic, who chairs the Faculty of Philosophy at the Unviersity of Belgrade in Yugoslavia, signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Babinski, Edward T. (20th Century) Babinski is the editor of Cretinism or Evilution (109 Burwood Drive, Simpsonville, SC 29681), a newsletter that is pro-Darwinian and anti-creationism. He is on the staff at the J. B. Duke Library at Furnam University. In Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists (1995), Babinski relates religious odysseys of those who left fundamentalism in favor of atheism or agnosticism as well as those who remained Christians but backed away from the pull of fundamentalism. (See entry for South Carolina Humanists.) {FD}

Babu: See entry for Gogineni.

Bacard, Andre (20th Century) Bacard is editor of Affirmist Newsletter and has written for Free Inquiry. He is on the editorial board of The Humanist and is author of Hunger for Power Who Rules the World and How (1986). {Free Inquiry, Winter 1984—1985}

Baccelli, Guido (1832—1916) Baccelli was an Italian statesman who, after the fall of the Papacy, entered the Camera (1875) and sat with the Anti-Clericals. He was four times Minister of Public Instruction, and to him is due the reorganization of Italian education, which the Popes had left in a disgraceful state. Baccelli was a prominent Freemason and a rationalist. {RAT}

BACCHUS • Bacchus, n. A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk. —Ambrose Bierce The Devil’s Dictionary

In mythology, Bacchus (also called Dionysus) was related to orgiastic religion, an indication that practices of some religionists have not changed dramatically over the centuries. In addition to being a god of fertility, Bacchus was also god of vegetation and wine. Priestesses and followers of Bacchus were called Bacchae. A bacchanal is a drunken or riotous celebration. A bacchanalia is a boisterous festivity, like the Bacchanalia that was a festival in honor of Bacchus.

	A Christian seaman, according to one drunken sailor, defined Bacchus as “a port in every woman.” But that sailor knew wittily well, according to the storyteller, that Bacchus is a Roman and Greek, not a Christian, god.

BACHELORS • Bachelors should be heavily taxed: it is not fair that some men should be happier than others. —Oscar Wilde

• A bachelor’s virtue depends upon his alertness; a married man’s depends upon his wife’s. —H. L. Mencken

Bachrach, Fabian (20th Century) The name of Bachrach is indelibly associated with portrait photography. Started in 1868 by Fabian Bachrach’s grandfather in Baltimore, the Bachrach studios have photographed every United States President since Andrew Johnson. Bachrach is a lifelong member of the First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts.

Bachrach, Fabian The name of Bachrach is indelibly associated with portrait photography. Started in 1868 by Fabian Bachrach’s grandfather in Baltimore, the Bachrach studios have photographed every United States President since Andrew Johnson. Bachrach is a lifelong member of the First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts.

Backus, E(dwin) Burdette (1888—1955) A Unitarian minister, Backus signed Humanist Manifesto I. He was President of the American Humanist Association from 1944 to 1946. “One of the basic needs of men in this catastrophic period, as always, is for a religion, a philosophy of life, which provides them with the guidance, the incentives, the methods which shall enable them to attain the deepest desires of their hearts,” he observed. Wilson has described Backus’s considerable efforts in helping with the editing of Humanist Manifesto I. {EW; FUS; HM1; HNS}

[[Bacon, Francis [Sir] (1561—1626) Bacon was no philosophic materialist and his metaphysics never rejected Christian supernaturalism. But his rejecting of the a priori method of medieval scholasticism led to the application of the inductive method of modern science. In his time, he was criticized for failing to keep up-to-date on scientific findings and for not carrying his investigations to their logical conclusions. During the French Revolution, Maréchal cited Bacon as one who seems to be an atheist only from the standpoint of the strictest religious orthodoxy. This was in part because Bacon believed that there must be an absolute separateness of “divinity” and philosophy, adding “that men should not unwisely mingle or confound these learnings together.” “It were better,” Bacon wrote, “to have no opinion of God at all than such an opinion as is unworthy of him. . . . And, as the contumely is greater towards God, so the danger (of superstition) is greater towards man. . . . Atheism did never perturb states, and we see that the times enclined to Atheism (as the time of Augustus Caesar) were civil times.” McCabe comments that the quotation shows Bacon was a theist “though probably not more, but it is useful to remember that in Elizabethan England in spite of the skepticism of the Queen herself, atheism was a dangerous creed to admit.” However, Bacon in “Of Superstition” did write, “Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation: all of which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but superstition dismounts all these and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men.” (As for his mingling with other men, see A. L. Rowse, Homosexuals in History [1977]. Or Graham Hammill’s chapter in Jonathan Goldberg’s Queering the Renaissance [1994], in which Bacon’s intimacy with male servants, his use of enemas, and his being accused of sodomy are discussed in academic detail. Also, see the entry for E. O. Wilson.). {CE; CL; EU, Aram Vartanian; JM; JMR JMRH; PUT}

Bacon, Francis (1909?—1992) Bacon has been called “the greatest British painter since Turner,” a figurative painter in a sea of abstract and conceptual artists, one who has given a new dimension to contemporary figurative painting. Known for his owl-like appearance, as illustrated in 1979 photos taken in Paris by Richard Avedon, the Dublin-born painter is famous for his strange obsessive art. Particularly controversial were three 1933 abstract works called Crucifixion and a 1951 exhibition of The Screaming Popes. John Russell, in Francis Bacon (1979), has explained that a “ ‘crucifixion’ [in Bacon’s painting] is not a descriptive title, and still less is it a reference to an actual event. It is, rather, a generic name for an environment in which bodily harm is done to one or more persons and one or more persons gather to watch.” The latter work shows a pope wearing a white lace—trimming skirt suggestive of transvestism. Although an avowed atheist, Bacon turned out a number of works using the crucifixion theme or portraying religious subjects, including some inspired by Velázquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X. “My figures are not twisted or tortured by torture,” he told a French magazine in 1971. “I do not deform bodies for the pleasure of it, rather in order to transmit the reality of the image in its most poignant phase. Perhaps it is not the best way, but it is the only way I know of to get to something that is as close as possible to life.” His comment was in reference to the howling mouths or silent screams that are found in his 1950’s works. A credible account of Bacon’s personal life has been described by David Plante in The New Yorker (1 November 1993). When George Dyer, a minor criminal, broke into Bacon’s house, Bacon greeted him with, “Not much of a burglar, are you?” Whereupon the two men became lovers and shared a sexual life together for years until Dyer committed suicide in 1971. Plante recalls talking one time with Bacon and Stephen Spender: “I can’t remember who started talking about Christianity–perhaps it was Francis, when he said, repeatedly, that Macbeth showed that Shakespeare was not Christian. When Stephen said, ‘Well, I think I’m Christian, at least in believing we must help one another,’ it was as though he had become responsible for all the worst aspects of Christianity.” Bacon reacted quite angrily, said Plante, exclaiming “that this was rubbish, and Bacon got very angry, more angry than the circumstances in any way justified, repeating again and again, ‘Rubbish.’ Stephen went silent, as I did, and I thought I saw behind Francis the depth of his hard darkness.” Plante, who confirmed Bacon’s being a nonbeliever, has detailed Bacon’s life of gambling, alcoholism, and homosexuality. “I’ve had a very hypnotic and curious [life]—being homosexual I have lived with the most marvelously disastrous people,” Bacon once told Time. In 1999 England’s High Court ruled that Marlborough Fine Art, the gallery that had managed Bacon for virtually his entire career, could no longer do so. The court appointed Brian Clarke, an architectural artist who was a friend of Bacon and of John Edwards, the painter’s closest friend, to whom Bacon willed his entire estate and who now would inherit Bacon’s fortune. {CE}

Bacon, Roger (c.1214— 1294?) A Franciscan scholastic philosopher and scientist, Bacon read Hebrew, Greek, and possibly Arabic texts in the original languages. Erroneously credited with inventing gunpowder, he was an alchemist and a natural scientist whose formula for gunpowder appeared in a work attributed to him. The Germans credited such an invention to an alchemist-monk by the name of Berthold Schwarz, but it is now held that as early as the 9th century the Chinese were making firecrackers, and that gunpowder was introduced to Europe in the 14th Century. Three of Bacon’s works were written for Pope Clement IV in one year (1267—1268). However, when Clement died Bacon wrote Compendium Philosophiae (1271), which according to Robertson “argued that the Christians were incomparably inferior to pagans in morals, and therefore in science; that there was more truth in Aristotle’s few chapters on laws than in the whole corpus juris; that the Christian religion, as commonly taught, was not free of errors; and that philosophy truly taught, and not as in the schools, was perhaps the surer way to attain both truth and salvation.” As a result, he was brought to trial and imprisoned for 14 years. Bacon’s Imago Majus was translated by Peter de Alliaco in 1410 and contained quotations from Aristotle, Pliny, and Seneca, all arguing for the possibility of reaching India by sailing westward. One who read Imago Majus was Christopher Columbus, according to a letter Columbus sent from Jamaica to Ferdinand and Isabella. According to Donald Keene, Columbus also was impressed by Marco Polo’s tales of all the gold in Japan, a further reason for his desire to reach the Orient. Scientists today find Bacon’s faith in astrology was unwarranted, and philosophers find his ideas in theology were of a previous era. Nevertheless, Bacon was in advance of his times in natural science, despite his interest in magic. McCabe held that, except for the article in the Dictionary of National Biography, no unbiased, reliable work on Bacon and the influence of Arab science has ever been completed. {CE; FUK; HNS2; JMR; JMRH; RE}

Bacrac, Norman (20th Century) Bacrac is President of London’s South Place Ethical Society. He edits Ethical Record and is a director of the National Secular Society.

Baden, Michael M. (1934— ) Baden is an educator and pathologist. He has been a lecturer for the Drug Enforcement Administration of the Department of Justice since 1973 and a professor of pathology at Albert Einstein School of Medicine since 1975. He wrote Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Violent Death (1978) and Unnatural Death (1989). Baden is a member of New York City’s Unitarian Church of All Souls.

Bagdoyan, Bagsar Manoog (19th Century?) Bagdoyan, a freethinker, wrote Atheism! and the Dream of the Bridge of Upward Flowing Waters. The work was published in California. {GS}

Bage, Robert (1728—1801) Bage, who at the age of seven knew Latin, decided against being part of his father’s business of papermaking. For four years (1775—1779), he was a partner with Erasmus Darwin in a large iron enterprise. When it failed, Bage took to writing novels. Mount Henneth (1781) was not successful, but his later stories earned a high reputation. Bage left the Society of Friends and became a deist. His pious and intimate friend Hutton said Bage “laid no stress upon revelation” and was “barely a Christian.” {RAT}

Bagehot, Walter (1826—1877)

Bagehot, a British economist and editor of the Economist, was a Unitarian. “Great and terrible systems of divinity and philosophy lie round about us, which, if true,” he wrote, “might drive a wise man mad.” In Physics and Politics (1872), a series of essays on the volution of society, Bagehot applies Darwinism to politics. Wheeler cites him as being “a bold, clear, and very original thinker who rejected historic Christianity.” As for religion, Bagehot wrote,

Few cultivated persons willingly think on the special dogmas of distinct theology. . . . They do not question the existence of Kamschatka, but they have no call to busy themselves with Kamschatka.


Baggeson, Jens Immanuel (1764—1826) A Danish poet, Baggeson married the grand-daughter of the Swiss scientist, Albrecht von Haller. An admirer of Voltaire, he wrote Adam and Eve (1826), a humorous mock epic. {BDF; RAT}

Bagot, Susan (20th Century) Bagot became “certified” for Ethical Culture Leadership in 1983 and has served in a society in Northern Virginia. (See entry for Ethical Culture.)

Bahadur Singh, Raja Jai Prithvi (20th Century) Bahadur in Bangalore founded in 1928 a Humanistic Club and wrote Humanism (1930). In addition, he edited a monthly journal, The Humanist.

BAHA’I A Persian-derived universalist religion, Baha’i was founded by the Persian mirza Hoseyn Ali Nuri (1817—1892), known as “Baha’ U’llah” (Arabic for “Glory of God”). The church advocates an international government and language, urges daily prayer, has no clergy, no sacraments, and no initiation ceremony. Because of its desire to abolish competition among religions and discrimination based upon race, gender, or class, it has grown greatly in Africa. At the same time, it has provoked severe repression from fundamentalist religious authorities, particularly in Iran. The world headquarters is in Israel. Address is 536 Sheridan Road, Wilmette, Illinois 60091. On the Web: <http://www.us.bahai.org>. (For an estimate of the number of Bahai’s in the world, see entry for Hell. {DGC}

Baham, Donald (20th Century) Baham resigned in 1996 as president of the Humanists of the Portland/Vancouver Metro Area (HPVMA) in Oregon.

Bahm, Archie J(ohn) (Born 1907) A professor of philosophy emeritus at the University of New Mexico, Bahm signed Humanist Manifesto II. He has been an editor for The Humanist and a contributing editor to Religious Humanism. In the former, he wrote “A Religious Affirmation” (March-April 1953). Three of Bahm’s works are The Heart of Confucius (1969), Metaphysics (1974), and Computocracy (1985). Bahm in 1933 contributed “A Religious Affirmation” to The New Humanist, listing items that “a person should”:

1. Be creedless; that is, be intelligent enough to make adaptations without dependence upon some formula. 2. Be self-reliant; that is, be not dependent upon supernatural agency for intellectual support or moral guidance. 3. Be critical; that is, question assumptions and seek certitude scientifically. 4. Be tolerant; that is, be open-minded and hold conclusions tentatively. 5. Be active; that is, live today and grow by exercising his capacities. 6. Be efficient; that is, accomplish the most with the lease effort. 7. Be versatile; that is, vary his interests to attain a variety of interesting thoughts. 8. Be cooperative; that is, find some of his satisfactions in social activities. 9. Be appreciative; that is, make the present enjoyable by his attitude. 10. Be idealistic; that is, create and live by ideals which he finds inspiring. {EW; HM2; HNS}

Bahnsen, Julius Friedrich August (Born 1830) Bahnsen was a pessimist, an independent follower of Schopenhauer and Hartmann. A German, he joined monism to the idealism of Hegel. Among other works he wrote The Philosophy of History (1872) and a two-volume Contradiction Between the Knowledge and the Nature of the World (1880—1882). {BDF; RAT}

Bahrdt, Carl Friedrich (1741—1792) Termed “much more notorious than any other German deist of his time,” Bahrdt has been described by Robertson as “a kind of raw Teutonic Voltaire and the most popularly influential German freethinker of his age.” His New Revelations of God in Letters and Tales (1773) was a kind of expurgated Bible, arousing Protestant hostility, and the second edition of his translation of the New Testament aroused Catholic hostility. He regarded Jesus as a great teacher, “like Moses, Confucius, Socrates, Semler, Luther, and myself.” He was called “the Theodore Parker of Germany,” a reference to the American Unitarian. As to how a preacher like himself could have become a rationalist, he said he had asked himself “how Three Persons could be One God,” this while believing devoutly in revelation, miracles, the divinity of Jesus, and the Atonement. Wheeler comments, “The writings of this enfant terrible of the German Aufklarung fill 120 volumes.” Bahrdt in 1788 suffered a year in prison for the controversial deism of his writings. {BDF; JMR; JMRH; RAT}

Baier, Annette (20th Century) Baier, the wife of Kurt Baier, is a noted philosopher and a David Hume scholar.

Baier, Kurt Erich (1917— ) A professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, the Vienna-born Baier is a humanist laureate in the Council for Secular Humanism’s International Academy of Humanism. He is author of The Moral Point of View: A Rational Basis of Ethics (1958, Values and the Future (1969), and Rational and the Moral Order: The Social Roots of Reason and Morality (1995). In 1993 Baier delivered the prestigious Prometheus Lectures on the subject of naturalistic philosophy. He is a contributing editor of Philo and a signer of Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Baigent, Michael (20th Century) Baigent, with Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, wrote Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1983).

Bailey, Eliza (1844-1920) Bailey was a Universalist minister.

Bailey, Gillian (20th Century) In Britain, Bailey is secretary of Humanist Holidays, a group formed in 1965 to organize holidays together for humanists at the festive times of year and in the summer.

Bailey, James Napier (19th Century) Bailey was a Socialist who edited the Model Republic (1843) and wrote Sophistry Unmasked (1842). {BDF}

Bailey, Jesse (20th Century)

Bailey, an atheist activist in Birmingham, Alabama, regards himself as a logical positivist. He has written for Freethought History #9 (1994) and Freethought Perspective (May 1998).

Bailey, Richard (20th Century) Bailey is a lecturer at the Department of Education, Christ Church College, in Canterbury, England. In a December 1995 New Humanist, he described the formative years of Karl Popper, finding that although it is often thought that Popper was never active in politics or social reform, he had taken part in political reforms and social reform. “He worked, wrote, and protested,” Bailey described, “fighting for reform and democracy, against the growing powers of the Fascist right and the Austrian Catholic Church. His efforts, it turned out, were largely in vain; the social reforms were curtailed by the sweeping reaction by supporters of the Closed Society. Dejected and feeling betrayed, Popper took the opportunity to abandon his work in educational and social reform, in favour of the world of academia. Nevertheless, the effects of his early, revolutionary period can be seen in his approach to philosophical and political problems.”

Bailey, Samuel (1791—1870) An English philosophical writer, Bailey held that man is not responsible for his opinions because they are independent of his will, that opinions should not be the subject of punishment. An acquaintance of both James and John Stuart Mill, he shared in most of the views of the philosophical radicals of the period. One of his freethought works was Letters from an Egyptian Kaffir on a Visit to England in Search of Religion, a work that shocked his townspeople because of its contempt for their Christian beliefs. Nevertheless, upon his death, he left £90,000. to his native town of Sheffield. Bailey was a deist, a determinist, and a utilitarian. {BDF; RE}

Bailey, William Shreeve (1806—1886) Bailey, who edited the Nashville, Tennessee, Liberal, was an atheist who, in a slave-holding state, was an earnest advocate of abolition. His opinions were greeted with hostility. Upon Bailey’s death, Photius Fisk erected a monument to his memory in Nashville. {BDF}

Baillie, George (1784—1873) Baillie, a Scottish philanthropist, gave substantial prizes for the writing of rationalist works on deistic lines. In 1863 he offered his entire fortune (£18,000) to the Glasgow faculty on condition that they allow the interest to accumulate for twenty-one years, then build an institute for the education of the workers. Baillie’s Institution was opened in 1887 but, notes McCabe, “as in the case of all such Rationalist charities, the views of the founder are not obtruded.” {RAT; RE}

Baillière, Gustave-Germer (Born 1837) A French scientific publisher, Baillière published the Library of Contemporary Philosophy. He was an anti-clerical member of the Municipal Council of Paris. {BDF}

Bain, Alexander (1818—1903) A Scottish philosopher, Bain discussed John Stuart Mill’s Logic with him when it was in manuscript. A teacher of logic in the University of Aberdeen, he was considered obnoxious by the orthodox and was said to provoke disorder among the students. In 1881 Bain was elected for the first of two times Lord Rector of the university. In discussing free will, he favored physiological over metaphysical explanations and pointed to reflexes as evidence that a form of will, independent of consciousness, inheres in a person’s limbs. Bain founded Mind, the first psychological journal, in 1886. Although sometimes wrongly described as a positivist, according to McCabe, Bain was an agnostic who merely agreed with Comte in the rejection of theology. {BDF; RAT; RE}

Bain, Force (20th Century) Bain, a freethinker, wrote Decadence of the Orthodox Church (1920). {GS}

Bain, Read (1920—1962) In the 1950s, Bain, who taught sociology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, was poetry editor of The Humanist. (See David T. Lewis’s The Published Works of Read Bain (1962.) {HNS}

Bainbridge, William (20th Century) Bainbridge, a sociologist, has referred to himself as “personally incapable of religious faith.” He collaborated with Rodney Stark to write A Theory of Religion. (See entry for Rodney Stark) {CA}

Bainham, James (Died 1532) A martyr, Bainham married the widow of Simon Fish, author of the Supplycacion of Beggars, an attack upon the clergy of the period. He was accused of heresy in 1531, having denied transubstantiation, the confessional, and “the power of the keys.” It was asserted that he had said he would as lief pray to his wife as to “our lady,” and that Christ was but a man. For such heresy, he was burned in 1532. {BDF}

Bainton, Roland H. (1894—1984) Bainton is author of Hunted Heretic (1953), a biographical study of Michael Servetus (Miguel Serveto).

Baird, Bill (1932— ) A pioneering crusader for abortion rights, Baird in 1933 received from the American Humanist Association their Pioneer Movement award. Originally raised in a strict Lutheran family, he left Protestantism and became a Unitarian. Speaking to a group at a time when his grandson was severely ill, he was told by a member of the audience, “I know why your grandson got cancer. God’s punishing you.” To a New York Times reporter (14 April 1993), Baird said that the Christian’s accusation “went through me like a knife. Believe it or not, I wake up in the night and think, ‘Could I be wrong and everyone else is right? Could I be the Devil?’ Then I realize, as I awaken, that I will not allow myself to be victimized by the hate propaganda of the anti-abortionists. I then recall those who tell me I am a good person whose life has benefited countless people nationally. It may sound corny, but sometimes you feel like death is on your shoulder.” To the accuser and others, Baird replied, “I told them if there was a God, what kind of God would give a baby cancer?” In 1967 after a speech at Boston University, he was arrested on charges of having exhibited obscene objects (abortion devices, diaphragms, condoms, etc.), thus challenging a Massachusetts “chastity” statute that barred giving of such materials to unmarried couples. In a 1972 case, Baird v. Eisenstadt, that the Supreme Court of the United States at first declined to hear, Justice William O. Douglas wrote, “The teachings of Baird and Galileo may be of a different order, but the suppression of either is equally repugnant.” The case led to the national legalization of birth control for single people. The following year in Roe v. Wade (1973), a landmark ruling that made abortion legal, the majority opinion cited “bear or beget” six times Justice William J. Brennan Jr.’s words in the Baird case: “It is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” Baird, saying he is estranged from his wife and five children, has explained, “They became quite conservative, very religious. They talk to me about Jesus Christ and tell me he is my savior. I tell them I don’t know any saviors. I’ve lost my children: They talk to me, but they don’t want to hear about their father and his wars. My life is sad. I wish I could tell you it’s happy.” His despondency has been compared with that of his friend Abbie Hoffman, who took his own life. Although some feminists claim Baird is self-serving, he counters that the major feminist leaders are remiss in not having more successfully pushed their cause. He ponders as to how he can be accused of being self-serving when such leaders have never paid the price that he has: of being jailed in five states for merely lecturing on reproductive rights, of being firebombed, chemically bombed, shot at, assaulted, and forced into debt after incurring tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees for his efforts to improve women’s rights. On 25 July 1993, the 25th anniversary of the Catholic Church’s order banning artificial birth control, a videotaped message by Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India, was played in Omaha, Nebraska. The eighty-three-year-old Roman Catholic nun and winner of the Nobel Prize for peace said contraception is a selfish act and “the same selfishness that wants to prevent the child by contraception will grow until it wants to kill the child already conceived. We must fight selfishness with a true, generous, and sacrificing love.” Meanwhile, and exactly twenty-six years after his 1967 picketing at the same location, Baird stood in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, protesting Pope Paul VI’s 1968 Humanae Vitae Encyclical, that he said involves “Vatican roulette,” a reference to the rhythm method of birth control. In the 1993 demonstration, Baird was joined by the present author and twenty supporters, some from Unitarian and Catholic churches, others who were atheists and secular humanists, all carrying signs opposing the Pope’s ban on birth control. As churchgoers filed out, Baird delivered a note to be given to Cardinal O’Connor, pleading with him to help “free women from the cross of oppression” and influence present Catholic leaders at a summit meeting to overturn the 1968 encyclical. To the press, Baird added, “This cardinal has no right to tell me–a Unitarian–what I can believe. I suggest to him that he clean up his house of priests, who have sex with little boys, before he tells us we’re immoral for using birth control.” In 1998 at a Brown University lecture, Baird said his three decades of fighting for abortion rights had left him penniless, adding, “I’m living on Social Security. You try to live on $14,000 a year. At the age of sixty-five I’m tired, you can tell, and I’m flat broke. I need you to fight. It’s your life we’re talking about. It’s your freedom we’re talking about. If you won’t stand up, who will?” He denounced the Catholic Church several times, noting in passing that “three of my [abortion] patients were nuns.” {U}

Baissac, Jules (Born 1827) A French littérateur, Baissac published Les Origines de la Religion (1878), that merited being placed on the Catholic Index. In Histoire de la Diablerie Chrétienne (1882), he devoted the first part to the person and “personnel” of the devil. {BDF}

Baker, Celia (20th Century) Baker signed Humanist Manifesto II. {HM2}

Baker, Daniel (19th Century) 

A prosperous steel-pen manufacturer, Baker supported building a hall for Birmingham secularists to meet in the 1860s and 1870s. {RSR}

Baker, Don (20th Century) Baker is treasurer of the National Secular Society.

Baker, Ernest (20th Century) An associate professor at the University of the Pacific, Baker signed Humanist Manifesto II. {HM2}

Baker, G. Dawson (19th Century) Writing in the Freethinker in 1898, Baker likened the difference between the English Ethical Culture and secularist movements as “the difference between church and chapel.” {RSR}

Baker, George Jr.: See entry for Divine, which describes “Father Divine, God Almighty.”

Baker, George Fisher (1840—1931) A financier and philanthropist, once called the third richest man in the world, Baker was a member of the New York Unitarian Church of All Souls. He had been one of the founders (1863) of the First National Bank of New York and became its president (1877) and chairman of its board of directors (1909). Closely associated with the house of Morgan, Baker helped finance James J. Hill in building a railroad empire and became a leading figure in the world of railroad organization and finance. Among his various philanthropic bequests were $6 million to found and support the Harvard graduate school of business administration; $2 million to Cornell University; $1 million to build the Baker Memorial Library at Dartmouth; and the money for Baker Field of Columbia University. {CE}

Baker, I. Newton (20th Century) Baker wrote An Intimate View of Robert G. Ingersoll (1920).

Baker, Jane (20th Century) Baker has been production manager of Religious Humanism, the quarterly published by the Fellowship of Religious Humanists.

Baker, Jesse (20th Century) A freethinker in Birmingham, Alabama, Baker has written for Freethought Perspective (June 1999).

Baker, Lee (20th Century) Baker, of Atheist TV Outreach Project, is on the Web: <lbaker4989@aol.com>.

Baker, Marjorie S. (20th Century) When she was president of the Humanist Community of San Francisco, California, Baker signed Humanist Manifesto II. {HM2}

Baker, Richard L. (Born 1827) Baker, whose parents were of English stock and among the early settlers of New Brunswick, moved to Maine when young. At the age of twenty-four after a careful reading of the Bible he concluded that religion was the foe of mental liberty, that the church was the invention of priests. He organized the Fort Fairfield Liberal League. {PUT}

Baker, Robert A. (20th Century) A professor of psychology at the university of Kentucky, Baker signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Baker, Rose (20th Century) Baker in 1972 was treasurer of the Humanist Society of Greater New York.

Baker, Russell Wayne (1925—	)

Baker, a noted newspaper columnist, humorist, and member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has written,

One of the many burdens of the person professing Christianity has always been the odium likely to be heaped upon him by fellow Christians quick to smell out, denounce, and punish fraud, hypocrisy, and general unworthiness among those who assert the faith. In ruder days, disputes about what constituted a fully qualified Christian often led to sordid quarrels in which the disputants tortured, burned, and hanged each other in the conviction that torture, burning, and hanging were Christian things to do.

He lost his faith when he was five and his father died, he wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Growing Up. “After that I never cried with any real conviction, nor expected much of anyone’s God except indifference, nor loved deeply without fear that it would cost me dearly in pain. At the age of five I had become a skeptic and began to sense that any happiness that came my way might be the prelude to some grim cosmic joke.” {CA; E; TYD}

Baker, (Sara) Josephine (1873-1945) A Unitarian, Baker was a physician, a health administrator, and a health reformer.

Baker, W. W. (19th Century) Baker edited a freethought periodical, The Delaware Free Press, from 1830 to 1833. {FUS}

Baksh, S. A. (20th Century) Baksh was a Vice President of the Andhra Pradesh Chapter of the Indian Radical Humanist Association.

Bakunin, Mikhail (1814—1876) A revolutionist imprisoned by the Czar for years and author of God and the State (1916), Bakunin once stated, reversing Voltaire’s phrase, “Even if God existed it would be necessary to abolish him.” He also wrote: “Theology is the science of the divine lie”; “Religion is a collective insanity”; and “People go to church for the same reasons they go to a tavern: to forget their misery, to imagine themselves, for a few minutes anyway, free and happy.” Bakunin was clear about his outlook: “We are materialists and atheists, and we glory in the fact.” Will Self, in Cock and Bull (1992), takes a novelist’s, not a historian’s, crack at Henry James and Mikhail Bakunin. Of the revolutionist, Self wrote, “[T]hat’s the other great nineteenth-century non-cocksman that springs and then comes to mind,” having just alleged that James lost half his penis in an accident while chasing after a fire engine:

Bakunin at the barricades of 1848, rapier in hand. Bakunin at the inaugural meeting of the First International, striking the board and severing the working movement for all eternity; whilst all the time it wasn’t a proud manhood that bumped for emphasis against the wooden lectern–but nothing at all. “Die Lust der Zerstörung ist zugleiche eine schaffende Lust!’” Now there, there, dear, of course it is. And you know there’s a pun there somewhere, but I’ll be buggered if I’ll grope for it . . . drink?


Balaam, Diesel (20th Century) “I am a post-gay humanist,” Balaam has declared. Finding that “gay” is dead and “anti-gay” is a dead end because of “its hard-bitten cynicism and misplaced faith in the flexibility of the heterosexual hegemony,” he says homosexuals need now to look forward to a post-gay period. Balaam, who works in the television industry, is co-author of Black Confetti, a book of short stories for gay men. {Gay and Lesbian Humanist, Winter 1997-1998}

Balasuriya, Tissa (1924—	)

A Roman Catholic Sri Lankan priest, Father Balasuriya was excommunicated at the end of 1996 because of his heresy. A sociologist in addition to being a priest, he argued in several books that Catholic dogma should adjust itself to the social and cultural realities of Asia. Mary and Human Liberation (1990), which sold fewer than one thousand copies, complemented Jesus and Human Liberation and The Eucharist and Human Liberation, a trilogy which led to his excommunication. “I firmly state that I have not committed any form of heresy, deviation from any doctrine of the Catholic faith,” Balasuriya objected. But the formal notification of his heresy was issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and carried “the weight and force of a papal act” since its findings were explicitly approved by Pope John Paul II. His books challenged the traditional Catholic image of the mother of Jesus, saying it was too docile, even “dehydrated.” He criticized the “Hail Mary,” which he said lacks “a socially liberative dynamic” and thus has played a role in “tranquilizing Catholics.” He also questioned the dogma of original sin, saying, “In our countries, the idea of humans being born alienated from the Creator would seem an abominable concept.” In reporting about the case from Rome, journalist Celestine Bohlen noted that a Catholic scholar who disagreed with much of what the Sri Lankan priest said, and insisted upon his anonymity, observed that “What the Vatican is doing is making a personage out of this man. They are making a somebody out of a nobody.” In 1998 in a surprise development, the excommunicated priest was reunited with the Vatican. “There was no retraction because they have not proved any error,” Father Balasuriya reported. Observers noted that for somebody to be excommunicated, then unexcommunicated, is indeed rare. Meanwhile, although his supporters claimed he was not cowed by the Holy Office, he did agree to submit future writings on faith and morals to his superiors for review, an obvious victory for the Vatican. {The New York Times, 15 January 1997; 5 March 1998}

Balch, Emily Greene (1867—1961) An American economist and sociologist, Balch was international secretary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (1919—1922) and shared with John R. Mott the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize. She was a member of the first class to graduate from Bryn Mawr College. Although she was a member of the First Church, Unitarian Universalist, in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, she became disillusioned by Unitarian support for the war and joined the London Quaker Meeting in 1920. According to the Rev. Terry Burke, minister of First Church, Balch continued to identify as a “unitarian” with a “small u.” {World, January-February 1997}

Baldwin, Faith: See the entry for Theism.

Baldwin, James (1924—1987) Born James Arthur Jones in New York City’s Harlem Hospital, Baldwin was an illegitimate child who never knew his biological father. In 1927 his mother married a Baptist preacher, David Baldwin, and together they reared eight other children. In No Name in the Street (1972), Baldwin wrote that his mother “scarcely belonged to us: she was always in the hospital, having another baby.” As for his stepfather, a Baptist minister “with his unreciprocated love for the Great God Almighty, it is no wonder our father went mad.” Young Baldwin read everything he could get his hands on “except the Bible, probably because it was the only book I was encouraged to read.” When fourteen, he had a religious conversion and began preaching as a Pentecostal minister. But, as he wrote in The Devil Finds Work (1976), “At this time of my life, Emile was the only friend I had who knew to what extent my ministry tormented me.” So he left home and worked at a New Jersey defense plant, then at a Manhattan meatpacking plant, all the time enduring intolerable racism. By the age of nineteen he had become a Trotskyist, finding it useful because he “learned that it may be impossible to indoctrinate me.” Moving to Greenwich Village in Manhattan, Baldwin became a bohemian and upon meeting Richard Wright got a job editing material for a publisher. He also wrote reviews for Nation In 1948 he used money from a literary fellowship to go to Paris, where Richard Wright was helpful in finding contacts for him and where he happily found little or no racism. Go Tell It On the Mountain (1953) relates how John at the age of thirteen is “saved” in the Baptist church where his father preaches and where the hero suffers from his blackness and his gayness:

His father had always said his face was the face of Satan—and was there not something in the lift of the eyebrow, in the way his rough hair formed a V on his brow—that bore witness to his father’s words. In the eye there was a light that was not the light of Heaven, and the mouth trembled, lustful and lewd, to drink deep in the winds of Hell.

As pointed out by Hilton Als, “John cannot understand why his father despises him, because the fact that the father despises himself does not occur to John. Nor can John imagine being able to escape him: there will never be any reprieve from the memory of his cruelty and its effect.” Baldwin’s work includes Giovanni’s Room (1956), in which he described his homosexuality; Another Country (1962, Notes of a Native Son (1955), and Just Above my Head (1979). Baldwin was a leader not only in the black civil rights movement but also a strong supporter of gay rights. Americans, he felt, were “still trapped in a history they do not understand,” that they needed to break out of their false view of reality. The myth of white superiority was in Baldwin’s mind the most important, and most destructive, of the many myths that informed American culture. He did not dislike whites, however, preferring them as lovers. A Swiss, Lucien Happesberger, was his great lover but was primarily attracted to women, adding to Baldwin’s feelings of the “love withheld” he had experienced throughout his childhood. The Fire Next Time (1963), wrote Als,

detailed Baldwin’s evangelical upbringing and his views on Christianity as a form of slavery forced on and then embraced by blacks: oppression as the condition of black American life. In order to escape “the ghetto mentality” and be a “truly” moral human being, it was necessary for anyone, white or black, to first “divorce himself from all the prohibitions, crimes, and hypocrisies of the Christian church. If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.”

Eldridge Cleaver called Baldwin “the white man’s most valuable tool in oppressing other blacks.” Norman Mailer found Baldwin “too charming a writer to be major.” But by 1962, upon publication of his Another Country and the essay collection Nobody Knows My Name, Baldwin was his nation’s leading black literary star. “But in the end,” Als described, “Baldwin could not distinguish between writing sermons and making art. He eventually returned to the pulpit—just where his stepfather had always wanted him to be.” Unpublished work will reveal more of Baldwin, Als stated while lamenting that Baldwin’s relatives are still sensitive about his homosexuality and are reluctant to reclaim wholly their bastard relative. {AA; Hilton Als, The New Yorker, 16 February 1998; DGC; TRI; TYD}

Baldwin, James Mark (1861—1934) An American psychologist, Baldwin taught successively on the staff at Toronto, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and Mexico universities. In his Fragments of Philosophy and Science (1903), his agnosticism is expressed and he disavows the creeds and accepted God only as “a construction of the imagination” (based on reality) or “the ideal self.” {JM; RAT; RE}

Baldwin, Maria (1856-1922) A Unitarian, Baldwin was an educator, a reformer, and the first African American woman principal.

Baldwin, Roger Nash (1884—1981) Baldwin, an American civil libertarian, helped found in 1920 the American Civil Liberties Union. He was its director until 1950. His grandfather had been president of Boston’s Young Men’s Christian Union, named “union” because as a Unitarian he wanted Unitarians not to be excluded because of their belief that Jesus was a man, not a god. Unlike the Young Men’s Christian Association, the “Union” welcomed all, not just Christians. During World War I, he asked to be a conscientious objector and, as a result, spent a year in prison despite the fact that the war ended on the day he left for prison. Baldwin and Corliss Lamont had their political differences and, asked about humanism by the present author, Baldwin perhaps with Lamont in mind replied, “I am afraid I know too little about humanism to be of any service.” However, reviewing Lamont’s Freedom Is As Freedom Does for The Humanist, Baldwin concluded, “While Lamont addresses his book to liberals, radicals, and conservatives alike, his conservative audience, if any, will dismiss it, not without evidence, as just another case of special pleading.” Baldwin taught at the New School for Social Research in New York (1938—1942) and the University of Puerto Rico (1966—1974). In 1973, he wrote Memorandum on the Origins of the ACLU, that emphasizes his view that no matter how offensive one’s ideas may appear to the majority those ideas are and must continue to be protected by the Bill of Rights. {EG; U; WAS, 3 May 1956}

BALI: See entry for Agung regarding a royal cremation ceremony.

Ball, Peter B. (20th Century) Ball’s “Are Humanists Atheists or Agnostics?” was published in the Gay and Lesbian Humanist (Summer 1990). His “Are Mormons Mad?” is a critique of the cult from which he escaped after many years. Web: <www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Heights/5073>.

Ball, William Platt (1844—1917) Ball, an English schoolmaster who retired rather than teach religious doctrines, joined the staff of the Freethinker in 1881. Approximately in the year 1883, he wrote Christian Murderers. Ball contributed Biblical contradictions and absurdities to G. W. Foote’s The Bible Handbook, which became a classic in the 1900s because it provided freethinkers adequate replies to Christians who applied epithets to them. {BDF; FUK; GS; RAT; RSR; TRI}

Ballance, John (1839—1893) 

Ballance was an Australian freethinker, reformer, and legislator. Son of a Primitive Methodist and a unitarian Quaker, he became a strict Anglican, then a Presbyterian, then an agnostic. Influenced by the ideas of Robert Owen and the secularist movement, he wrote for Robert Stout’s freethought journal, the Echo, and helped form the Wanganui Freethought Association. From 1883 to 1885, he edited the monthly Freethought Review in Wanganui. Ballance was New Zealand’s first Liberal Prime Minister (1891—1893), and he introduced many social reforms. The Honorable John Ballance openly professed and worked for atheism, rationalism, or agnosticism. {BDF; EU, D. A. Hamer; FUK; JM; SWW; RAT; RE; TRI}

Ballinger, J. F. (19th Century) Ballinger, a freethinker, wrote Nudis Verbis: Or The Bible and Real Truths (1893). {GS}

BALLOONS The fascination of mankind with flying has led to the successful invention of different kinds of aircraft. A balloon is a lighter-than-air craft without a propulsion system. By inflating containers with a gas lighter than air, or with heated air, the balloon lifts. As early as the 13th Century, balloons were envisaged. An atheist, Joseph Montgolfier—with his brother, Jacques Étienne Montgolfier—was the first to get an actual balloon off the ground, causing a linen bag about 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter to rise in the air. That same year the Frenchman Pilatre de Rozier made one of the first balloon ascents by man, rising to a height of 84 feet (26 meters). Numbers of balloons and balloonists have since successfully broken various speed, height, and distance records. In 1999 pilots Dr. Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland and Brian Jones of England—in the British-made Breitling Orbiter 3—were the first to make a manned balloon, non-stop flight around Earth, doing so in three weeks and landing in Egypt after flying 29,055 miles. {CE}

Ballou, Adin (1803—1890) A Universalist minister, Ballou organized the Hopedale community farm project in 1842. His views on pacifism greatly affected Universalist doctrines. He was critical of Hosea Ballou’s view that there would be no future punishment for sinning, fearing such might invite moral laxity. He wrote the Autobiography of Adin Ballou (1896), mentioning that he was a distant relative of Hosea Ballou. {CE; U; U&U; UU}

Ballou, Hosea (1771—1852) Ballou, an eminent Universalist minister, challenged the dogma of the Trinity. A kindly individual, he was not dogmatic. Once, a heckler challenged his view concerning universal salvation, saying, “What would you do with a man who died reeking in sin and crime?” Ballou responded, “I think it would be a good plan to bury him.” Ballou and John Murray had differing theological positions, but Universalism grew during their time. Citing Scripture, he preached that a loving God would not condemn humankind to eternal punishment, feeling instead that the consequences of sin are spiritual, psychological, and physical. A Treatise on Atonement (1805) was the first book published in America that openly rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. {CE; ER; EU, 696-701, Paul H. Beattie; FUS; U; U&U; UU}

Ballou, Hosea 2nd (1796—1861) The grandnephew of Hosea Ballou, Hosea Ballou 2nd wrote The Ancient History of Universalism (1829), in which he argued that the doctrines of endless punishment were largely the product of Augustine’s influence on early Christian thinking, that they were not original tenets of the early church. {CE; ER; U; U&U}

Ballou, Peter (20th Century)

Ballou is active in the Humanist Club of Long Beach (AHA). (See entry for California Atheists, Humanists.) {FD}

Balmaceda, José [President] (1840—1891) Although educated in the Jesuit College at Santiago, Chile, Balmaceda became an atheist and joined the anti-clerical Liberals in the fight against the Church. From 1886 to 1890, he was President of Chile, but his policy was harsh, autocratic, and unparliamentary. In 1891 a disastrous civil war broke out, Balmaceda took refuge in the Argentine legation, and rather than surrender for a trial he committed suicide. {CE; JM; RAT; RE}

Balmworth, Owen (19th Century) Balmworth, a second generation freethinker, was leader of the Huddersfield secularists in England. {RSR}

Baltzer, Wilhelm Eduard (1814—1887) Baltzer, a German rationalist, founded at Nordhausen in 1847 a free community. He wrote a history of religion and numerous other works, including a translation of the life of Apollonius of Tyana. {BDF; RAT}

Balzac, Honoré de (1799-1850) Great as he was, Balzac (the “de” he added to give his name something of an aristocratic touch) was never elected a member of the French Academy. Of the world’s great works, Balzac’s forty-seven volume collection of novels and short stories, the Human Comedy, stands out. At least 3,500 characters which he portrayed led Baudelaire, in awe, to observe that even Balzac’s doorkeepers have genius. Skepticism pervades the Comédie humaine as well as Balzac’s twenty-four other novels. He also wrote a caustic history of the Jesuits; Eugénie Grandet (1833); Père Goriot (1835); and Cousin Bette (1847). They have been criticized as moralizing and tending toward melodrama, but the works are vividly imaginative and illustrate his powers of observation. In Madame Bovary, the pharmacist is given these lines:

I have a religion, my religion, and I even have more than all the others with their mummeries and their juggling. . . . I believe in the Supreme Being, in a Creator, whatever he may be. I care little who has placed us here below to fulfill our duties as citizens and parents; but I don’t need to go to church to kiss silver plates, and fatten, out of my pocket, a lot of good-for-nothings who live better than we do. For one can know him as well in a wood, in a field, or even contemplating the ethereal heavens like the ancients. My God is the God of Socrates, of Franklin, of Voltaire, and of Beranger! I support the Profession du Foi du Vicaire Savoyard and the immortal principles of ’89. And I can’t admit of an old boy God who takes walks in his garden with a cane in his hand, who lodges his friends in the belly of whales, dies uttering a cry, and rises again after three days; things absurd in themselves, and completely opposed, moreover, to all physical laws, which proves to us, by the way, that priests have always wallowed in squalid ignorance, and tried to drag whole nations down after them.

Starting in 1841 and continuing until 1864, the Vatican prohibited all his works from being read because of their implied negativism toward the church. “Today,” Balzac wrote, “the writer has replaced the priest.” He also wrote, “After a woman gets too old to be attractive to men, she turns to God.” Graham Robb, in Balzac: A Life (1994), mentions that Balzac could improvise stories at the drop of a pen, turning out in one night the 14,000 words (at 33.3 words per minute) of “The Illustrious Gaudissart.” Although not physically attractive (or at least he was once described as a short, bulgy man who looked “like an army major in need of a haircut”), Balzac had a long string of romantic affairs and was father of several “illegitimate” children. He wrote about every category of human beings—in fact, Robb implies that Balzac’s feminine aspects have been ‘traditionally ignored,” that he had a succession of young male secretaries and wrote with knowledge about the life of the homosexual Jacques Collin (alias Vautrin, alias Abbé Carlos Herrera). More than two thousand characters are found in The Human Comedy. As a writer, one who wore a monk’s robe while working, Balzac ran to excess in everything—in eating, sex, writing, spending. How, he illustrated, can there ever be too much of a good thing! Yet, he sometimes slept only two hours a night and, fearing that digestion might slow his mental processes, avoided solid food but drank gallons of coffee. Balzac is buried in Père Lachaise, the Paris cemetery named after the Jesuit friar François d’Aix de la Chaize, who had been confessor to Louis XIV from 1675 to 1709. On his monument is sculptor David d’Angers’s large bust of the author. Although Balzac may have been known for his anticlericalism, a priest was present at the funeral, as described by Victor Hugo in his Chose Vues:

The procession crossed Paris and went by way of the boulevards to Pére Lachaise. Rain was falling as we left the church and when we reached the cemetery. It was one of those days when the heavens seemed to weep. We walked the whole distance. I was at the head of the coffin on the right, holding one of the silver tassels of the pall. Alexandre Dumas was on the other side. . . . The coffin was lowered into the grave. . . . The priest said a last prayer and I a few words. While I was speaking the sun went down. All Paris lay before me, afar off, in the splendid mists of the sinking orb, the glow of which seemed to fall into the grave at my feet, as the dull sounds of the sods dropping on the coffin broke in upon my last words. {CE; GL; ILP; JM; PUT; RAT; RE; TRI; TYD}

Balzac, Ralph (20th Century)

Balzac is an ethical humanist, active in the American Ethical Union. His e-mail: <balzacr@acpub.duke.edu>.

Ban, Stephen (20th Century) Ban, while a student at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, was one of the founders of Campus Freethought Alliance. {International Humanist News, December 1996}

Bancel, François Désiré (1822—1871) A French politician elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1849, Bancel translated the work on rationalism by Ausonio Franchi. His own freethought views are found in his Les Harangues de l’Exit (3 volumes, 1863). Bancel wrote La Revue Critique. {BDF; RAT}

Bancroft, George (1800—1891) A diplomat, the author of History of the United States (1834—1874), Bancroft was at one time a member of All Soul’s Church (Unitarian) in Washington, D.C. However, his funeral was at St. John’s (Episcopal). According to M. A. DeWolfe Howe’s The Life and Letters of George Bancroft (1908), “Upon his own relations to the outward expressions of religion, the testimony is somewhat conflicting. . . . As early as 1854 his beliefs could hardly be reconciled with those of the Unitarian branch of New England Congregationalism, in which he was reared. It is related that in Washington Mrs. Bancroft took a pew in All Souls (Unitarian) Church, and that when her husband visited it and found her name on the silver plate at its entrance, he had his own substituted. When he received notice in 1888 of his election to the Unitarian Club of Boston, he wrote in reply, “I pray you not to include me in the club you are forming. I was brought up a Congregationalist, and am not willing at this time to adopt any other name.” . . . To the minister [of All Souls] in which he paid for but rarely occupied the pew . . . he once declared, “I am not an Episcopalian! I am a Congregationalist!.” Although he complained about being labeled, Bancroft appears not to have been an orthodox believer, as was the case of other Congregationalist-Unitarians of his time. (See American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, 1891, p. 252). {CE; EG; RAT; UU}

Bancroft, Hubert Howe (1832—1918) Bancroft, a historian and authority on Western America—he wrote thirty-nine volumes and had a library of sixty thousand volumes—expresses an uncompromising deism and scorn of the churches. “There is but little religion in the Churches,” he wrote in Retrospect (1913), “and that little graft is strangling.” {JM; RAT}

Banes, Warren C. (20th Century) Banes, a freethinker, wrote Self Contradictions of the Bible, a rationalist tract, and Short Talks on Free Thought (1911). {GS}

BANGLADESH FREETHOUGHT The Humanist and Ethical Association of Bangladesh (IHEU), is at 55/D, Dhaka U. Staff Quart, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh. The Assembly of Freethinkers is at House No. 25B, Road No. 1, Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka 1205, Bangladesh. A freethought movement commenced in Bangladesh in the 1920s but has remained weak. This is the country that forced Taslima Nasrin—a noted critic of Islam as, in her opinion, it is being falsely practiced—to flee for her life. Freethought in any form is dangerous to express in Bangladesh. (See entries for Taslima Nasrin and for Nehal Karim. Human Rights and Development Review, an annual publication in English, is available at 68 Dhaka University Market, Sonargon Road, Kantabon, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh. Also, see Gordon Stein’s Freethought in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.)

Banko, Frank (20th Century) Banko, who was raised a Catholic, became a Grand Rapids, Michigan, businessman and a member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, “a human free from religion.” A Vietnam veteran, he devised a plastic-coated Peace Poster that urged peace among religions. It contained symbols for twelve organized religions and the declaration, in eighteen languages, that “There will be peace on earth when there is peace among the world religions.” When in 1992 he sent one to the televangelist Pat Robertson, the religious fundamentalist wrote back, “There can be no unity between Christianity and the other religions listed, because they do not believe that Jesus Christ is ‘the truth’ and the only way to be reconciled with God.” {Freethought Today, June-July 1995}

Banks, Iain M. (20th Century) Iain M. Banks, Scottish SF Author art

Banks addresses the second of two arguments against the possibility of Artificial Intelligence: "...two, that self-awareness resides in a supernatural soul...which one assumes can never be scientifically understood (equally improbable, though I do write as an atheist)". --from "A Few Notes on the Culture" posted on rec.arts.sf.written (August 1994) and reproduced in Critical Wave (UK Fanzine) and Alarums and Excursions #236 (April 1995).


From a profile by Liam Fay entitled Depraved Heart from the May 1996 issue of Hot Press (a music/culture magazine from Ireland): "I wanted to write about faith and the nature of belief," explains Iain Banks. "I find that fascinating, being an evangelical atheist myself. There was also the sheer fun of making up a new religion. I felt like L. Ron Hubbard. He did it for real, I know. But he started out being serious about it and then he eventually started saying things that were just so utterly absurd that he thought, 'Well, they can't possibly swallow this. It's so stupid'. There is considerable fun to be had devising a religion. I recommend it."


Banks calls himself an 'evangelical atheist'. He talks of wanting 'to proselytise about the badness of religion, and to say that faith is wrong, belief without reason and question is just evil'.

Banks, who was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, is noted for Wasp Factory (1984) and other works with a dark, absurdist portrayal of “crowded isolation.” His fifteenth novel, Whit (1996), recounts the pilgrimage of Isis, “Elect to God” in a bizarre Scottish cult, as he is sent out into the techno-cursed world of the Unsaved to win back a wayward member. The Crow Road was dramatized on BBC TV and is available on video. From his base in Fife, he writes fiction under the name Iain Banks but science fiction under Iain M. Banks (the M, he explains, is for Menzies which is “pronounced Ming-iss by those wishing to be excruciatingly correct”). Banks in 1999 became an honorary associate of the National Secular Society. He calls himself an “evangelical atheist” and, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in 1996, said

I want to proselytise about the badness of religion, and to say that faith is wrong, belief without reason and question is just evil. Within the next two or three generations everything will be explicable in scientific terms. What’s left for mysticism or religion? {CA; E; Freethinker, March 1999; Ra Page, New Humanist, December 1996}

Banks, Trevor (1934-1999) Banks was a British educator, public speaker, and actor whose stage monologue, “Bertie,” was a dramatization of the life of Bertrand Russell. He appeared as Russell in England at the South Place Ethical Society and the Leicester Secular Society; in Florida at the Humanist Association of St. Petersburg; in New York at the Humanist Association of New York City; and elsewhere in Canada and the United States. He dressed as if Russell and performed “Bertie” for members of the Bertrand Russell Society in Madison, New Jersey, and Buffalo, New York. He spoke about Russell at Bertrand Russell Society conferences at the universities of South Florida and Monmouth, New Jersey. Banks, who lived in Ottawa, was formerly on the editorial committee of Humanists in Canada, for which he wrote six articles including “The Inhumane Society” (Spring 1998). He died unexpectedly of a heart attack while riding his grey speed bike, an ending the man who helped found the National Capital Marathon and National Capital Running Association would have approved. “He feared more than anything else the idea of growing old and living on life support, with people praying over him, and not being able to choose when to pull the plug,” said a friend, Madeline Weld, at the time of Banks’s death. (See entry for Russell, Bertrand—Humor of.)


	The American Library Association’s Banned Books (1998) includes the following

Butler, William, The Butterfly Revolution—the book suggests “dislike of the Bible and belief in atheism.” Darwin, Charles R., On the Origin of Species—promotes evolution Fast, Howard, Citizen Tom Paine—totalitarian; withdrawn from USIA libraries Faulkner, William, As I Lay Dying—the book “questions the existence of God.” Fitzhugh, Louise, The Long Secret—the book “pokes fun at religion.” Gibbon, Edward, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire—the book contradicts official church history.

Greene, Bette, I Know You, Al—the book does not uphold the prin-		ciples of the United States which were “established on the 			moral principles of the Bible.”

Hall, Elizabeth, Possible Impossibilities—the book “would lead chil- dren to believe ideas contrary to the teadchings of the Bible.” Herbert, Frank, Soul Catcher—the book “is a mockery of Christianity and very much anti-God.” Howe, Norman, God, the Universe, and Hot Fudge Sundaes—the book “pushes several items of the humanist agenda: death edu- cation, anti-God, pro-evolution, anti-Bible, anti-Christian, and logic over faith.” Kesey, Ken, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—the book promotes “secular humanism.” Lawrence, Jerome, Inherit the Wind—its “anti-religious nature” Lightner, A. M., Gods or Demons?—the book “promotes a secular- humanistic belief in evolution and portrays the ‘Bible as myth’.” Lockridge, Ross Jr., Raintree County—“1066 pages of blasphemy and sacrilege inimical to faith and morals and within the prohibition of the Catholic Index.” Paine, Thomas, The Age of Reason—promotes use of reason Paterson, Katherine, The Great Gilly Hopkins—“Christians are por- trayed as being dumb and stupid.” Peck, Robert, A Day No Pigs Would Die—the book “is bigoted against Baptists.” Russell, Bertrand, What I Believe—author is a freethinker. Starkey, Marion, The Tall Man From Boston—“would lead children to believe ideas contrary to the teachings of the Bible.” Vonnegut, Kurt Jr., Slaughterhouse Five—the book was burned, banned, challenged, and restricted for this sentence among others: “The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the fly of God Almighty.” Walker, Barbara, The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets— the book “is of no benefit to anyone.”

BANNED BOOKS WEEK Freethinkers sometimes celebrate the week of September 26th to October 3rd as Banned Books Week, recommending it as a special ocassion to read a banned book.

[[BANNING OF BOOKS: Book banning was begun in 1491 by the Catholic Church. Trials under the Inquisition extended from 1547 to 1730, according to George H. Putnam’s Books and Their Makers During the Middle Ages. See entries for Books, Censorship of and Censorship.

Bantock, Granville [Sir] (20th Century) Bantock, an English musician, was an avowed freethinker. (See David Brock’s Sir Granville Bantock.) {TRI}

BAPTISM • Baptism, n. A sacred rite of such efficacy that he who finds himself in heaven without having undergone it will be unhappy forever. It is performed with water in two ways—by immersion or plunging, and by aspersion, or sprinkling.

—Ambrose Bierce

The Devil’s Dictionary

Baptism, for non-believers, is a curious sacrament in which water is used in a rite which involves petitioning God to cleanse the individual of Original Sin in order to “effect a union of the believer with Christ.” The Bible makes no mention of the baptism of Jesus—in the practice of Jesus himself, according to the University of Chicago’s Shirley Jackson Case, “baptism is never made a condition of discipleship.” From the second century of the Christian Era on, baptism was supposed to be performed only once, “since it meant forgiveness of sins and regeneration.” Post-baptismal forgiveness was questionable, which led some to postpone baptizing their children. Contemporary Christians differ in the ceremony. Some entirely immerse individuals, as for example the Baptists and the Dunkards, the latter of whom use a “trine immersion” which involves three successive dunkings “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Some symbolically “sprinkle” with water, first when the individual is a child and later when a teenager allegedly is old enough to understand the rite. Some believe that unbaptized infants who die will be saved in the life to come, whether baptized or not. Others believe that parents of unbaptized infants risk the possibility that their children will end not in Heaven but in Limbo, excluded from the vision of God in Heaven. The mystery religions (Eleusinian, Orphic, Mithraic, Egyptian, Syrian) required baptism, according to the University of Chicago’s A. Eustace Haydon, “for the washing away of moral evil as a preparation for the rites of communion with the deity whose mastery of death assured immortality to the initiates. These baptisms sometimes symbolized dying to the old life and rising again to the new. The same idea underlies the baptism by immersion which was part of the initiation of proselytes to Judaism.” Tibetan Buddhists are known to use a threefold immersion, and other non-Christian believers also use water as a cleansing fluid, according to Haydon, “as a means of removing the contagion acquired by contact with dangerous potencies (blood, death, things tabooed), and then by extension, the contagion of moral failure or sin.” Around the first century of the Christian Era in Corinth, St. Paul reported in I Corinthians 15:29 that baptisms were arranged on behalf of friends or relatives who had died without benefit of prior baptism. In the second century, the Marcionites and Montanists continued the practice, and it survives today among Latter Day Saints, whose genealogical library tracks by computer who was and was not baptized; the Salt Lake City, Utah, library is, as a result, the greatest in the world for checking any individual’s ancestry. If it were possible, the Mormons would list every human who is presently alive (five billion, going on six) and as many who have died as can be verified. In 1925, “Believe It Or Not” George Ripley estimated that there had been 302,231,454,657,293,676,543 human beings (302 quintillion, using the American system) who had been born by that time. Although his calculations were partly tongue-in-cheek and he erroneously explained that humanity’s pool increases exponentially as one goes back in time (whereas the opposite is the case), diligent designers of computer programs believe it is theoretically possible for the Mormons to carry out their, or what they believe is their God’s, plan. In 1996, Dr. Kirby Godsey, the president of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, wrote When We Talk About God . . . Let’s Be Honest, in which he rejected the belief that every word of the Bible is literally true and suggested that salvation may not depend on one’s acceptance of Christ as a personal savior. Inasmuch as Mercer is second in size only to Baylor in Baptist-affiliated universities, he was asked by the university’s trustees to “prayerfully reconsider his theological convictions.” The faculty supported him, but he has had to fight to avoid the heresy accusation. Nearly one hundred years ago, William Whitsitt was expelled as president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, after writing a book that questioned the long-held belief that the Baptist practice of immersing the faithful dated from the time of Jesus. Historians later demonstrated that Whitsitt was right, that the practice had not begun until the 17th century. (See entries for Debaptism and Unbaptism.) {CE; ER}

Barabas Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta (performed about 1592, published around 1633) is a drama in blank verse. The Grand Seignior of Turkey demands a tribute of Malta, the governor of Malta decides it has to be paid by the Jews of the island, and a rich Jew by the name of Barabas when resisting the edict has his wealth impounded and his house turned into a nunnery. Barabas, a prototype for unscrupulous Machiavellian villains in later Elizabethan and Jacobean dramas, praises gold and precious stones as “Infinite riches in a little roome.” For revenge, Barabas indulges in an orgy of slaughter, killing some nuns in addition to his daughter and her lover. At the end, after tricking his way into becoming the Governor of Malta, he is betrayed and falls through a collapsible floor—it had been meant to destroy the Turkish commander and his aides at a banquet—into a cauldron where he dies. {OEL}

Barabbas In the New Testament, Barabbas was the bandit held in jail along with Jesus. Pontius Pilate annually released one prisoner at Passover and, when he offered to free Jesus, the multitudes demanded he release Barabbas instead. Pär Lagerkvist achieved international fame with his novel, Barabbas (1950), a psychoogical study of the criminal’s journey. In 1953 he adapted the work into a two-act play. (See entries for Antisemitism and Pär Lagerkvist.) {CE}

Baraka, Imamu Amiri (1934— ) “God,” wrote the African American author who changed his name from LeRoi Jones, “has been replaced, as he has all over the West, with respectability and air conditioning.” {TYD}

Barbauld, Anna Laetitia Aiken (1743-1825) Barbauld was a British Unitaian, a poet and an activist.

Barber, Benjamin R. (1939— ) Barber, a professor of political philosophy at Rutgers University, is author of Jihad vs. McWorld: How the Planet is Both Falling Apart and Coming Together and What This Means for Democracy (1995). He shows his discomfort with capitalism as well as with Christian, Muslim, and any other kind of religious fundamentalism. Far to the political left, Barber stubbornly attacks the lack of positive political and the economic leadership that he sees in the world of democratic capitalism.

Barbier d’Aucour, Jean (1642—1694) Barbier d’Aucour was a French critic and academician whose writings are directed against the Jesuits. {BDF}

Barbier, Edmond (Died 1883) Barbier was the French translator of the works of Darwin, Lubbock, and Tyler. {BDF}

Barbour, Brian M. (1943— ) Barbour edited American Transcendentalism, an anthology of criticism, and Benjamin Franklin, A Collection of Critical Essays (1979).

[[Bard, Martin L. (20th Century) 

Bard, an atheist, is author of The Peril of Faith (1982). He has written for the American Atheist on whether or not atheism is best prepared to lead humans to fruitful relationships. Bard affirms that it is.

BARDOLATRY Freethinkers, who would gladly substitute bardolatry for christianity, find Harold Bloom’s comment in Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1999) quite apropos:

The more one reads and ponders the plays of Shakespeare, the more one realizes that the accurate stance toward them is one of awe. . . . Bardolatry, the worship of Shakespeare, ought to be even more a secular religion than it already is. The plays remain the outward limit of human achievement: aesthetically, cognitively, in certain ways morally, even spiritually.

Baretti, Giuseppe Marc Antonio (1719—1789) Baretti was an Italian writer who migrated to London in 1751 and became a friend of Dr. Johnson. He wrote an Italian dictionary but because of his advanced views received opposition in Italy, forcing him to stay in England. Baretti abandoned Catholicism but adopted no other church’s doctrines. {RAT}

Barker Clive Barker, Author/Movie Producer/Director/Screenwriter ent Internet Movie Database

The following statements were made by Mr. Barker on his Clive Barker Web Site for an interview that he gave his fans:

"I think that God that we have created and allowed to shape our culture through, essentially Christian theology, is a pretty villainous creature. I think that one of the things that male patriarchal figure has done is, allowed under it's, his church, his wing, all kinds of corruption and villanies to grow and fester. In the name of God terrible wars have been waged, in the name of that God terrible sexism has been allowed to spread. There are children being born all across this world that don't have enough food to eat because that God, at least his church, tells the mothers and fathers that they must procreate at all costs, and to prevent procreation with a condom is in controvention with his laws.

"Now, I don't believe that God exists. I think that God is creation of men, by men, and for men. What has happened over the many centuries now, the better part of two thousand in fact, is that God has been slowly and steadily accruing power. His church has been accruing power, and the men who run that church, and they are all men, are not about to give it up. If they give it up, they give up luxury, they give up comfort. I'm not saying that it's true of all of them, some of them are working leper colonies and doing extraordinary works in the name of that God. That's a paradox which we probably shouldn't be discussing now, but I'm aware of that. But I'm also aware that there are a lot of very powerful, corrupt men enjoying the power that this tradition, patriarchal tradition, has confered upon them." Barker, Clive (1952— ) Barker is an English-born artist, screenwriter, director, and producer. He wrote the play, “Incarnations (Frankenstein in Love, History of the Devil, Colossus)”; the novel The Damnation Game (1985); and the screenplays “Hellraiser II: Hellbound” (1980), “Candyman II: Farewell to the Flesh” (1985); and “Lord of Illusions” (1995). “Now, I don’t believe in God,” Barker has stated on his Web Site. “I think that God is [a] creation of men, by men, and for men. . . . I think that God that we have created and allowed to shape our culture, through essentially Christian theology, is a pretty villainouis creature.” {CA; E}

Barker, Clive (5 Oct 1952 - ) Barker, an artist, screenwriter, director, producer, and writer, was born in Liverpool, England. He has written such plays as The Inhuman Condition (1986); In the Flesh (1986); Cabal (1988); The Great and Secret Show (1989). Also, such novels as The Damnation Game (1985); Weaveworld (1987); Cabal (1988); The Great and Secret Show (1989); Imajica (1991); The Thief of Always (1992); Everville (1994); Sacrament (1996); A-Z of Horror (1997); The Essential Clive Barker (1989. He was writer and director of Hellraiser (1987), Nightbreed (1990); Lord of Illusions (1995); and Art Exhibition (1998). On his website, he wrote the following freethought ideas to his fans:

I think that the God that we have created and allowed to shape our culture through, essentially Christian theology, is a pretty villainous creature. I think that one of the things that male patriarchal figure has done is allowed under its, his church, his wing, all kinds of corruption and villainies to grow and fester. In the name of God terrible wars have been waged; in the name of that God terrible sexism has been allowed to spread. There are children being born all across this world that don't have enough food to eat because that God, at least his church, tells the mothers and fathers that they must procreate at all costs, and to prevent procreation with a condom is in contravention with his laws. Now, I don't believe that God exists. I think that God is a creation of men, by men, and for men. What has happened over the many centuries now, the better part of two thousand in fact, is that God has been slowly and steadily accruing power. His church has been accruing power, and the men who run that church, and they are all men, are not about to give it up. If they give it up, they give up luxury, they give up comfort. I'm not saying that it's true of all of them; some of them are working leper colonies and doing extraordinary works in the name of that God. That's a paradox which we probably shouldn't be discussing now, but I'm aware of that. But I'm also aware that there are a lot of very powerful, corrupt men enjoying the power that this tradition, patriarchal tradition, has conferred upon them."

Barker, Dan (1949— ) A fundamentalist minister turned freethought activist, Barker is author of Just Pretend, A Freethought Book for Children (1988) and Maybe Yes, Maybe No, A Guide For Young Skeptics (1991). In a 1992 debate with evangelist Cliffe Knechtl at the University of Wisconsin on the resurrection of Jesus, Barker quipped, “Next week will we debate, ‘Did Minerva emerge from the brain of Jupiter?’” Barker is production assistant for Freethought Today, of which his wife Annie Laurie Gaylor is editor. His Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist (1992) shows how, in moving from the position of a Christian to that of an atheist, he “threw out all the bath water” only to discover that “there is no baby there” and that he has no regrets whatsoever. Barker is a popular speaker who appears on television and addresses groups throughout the United States, often providing his own musical accompaniment. Inasmuch as Barker travels widely and is well informed about non-theism, he is one of the best-known of contemporary freethinkers. (See entry for Freedom From Religion Foundation.)

Barker, John (1847—1937) Barker was an early Australian secularist. {FUK; SWW}

Barker, Joseph (1806—1875) Barker was an editor of National Reformer, a London publication from 1860 to 1893. In 1854 at the Hartford Bible Convention, he defied anyone present to prove the authority of the Bible. “It is not a book of divine authority,” he challenged. Baker wrote Atheism: What Can It Say For Itself? (1858). {FUK; PUT; VI}

Barley, Keith Percival John (1926—1975) Barley, a New Zealand-born humanist and agronomist, co-founded with Bruce Muirden the Humanist Society of South Australia as well as Keep Our State Schools Secular (KOSSS).

Barlow, Connie (20th Century) Barlow, a science editor and writer specializing in evolutionary biology, is a Unitarian Universalist. She serves on the board of the Epic of Evolution Society and is editor of its publication. “The Way of Science and the Epic of Evolution,” taken from her Green Space, Green Time (1997), was featured in World (November-December 1998).

Barlow, George (Born 1847) Barlow, an English poet, included many freethought sentiments in his Under the Dawn and Poems, Real and Ideal. {BDF; RAT}

Barlow, Jane (1860—1917) An Irish poet and novelist, Barlow was the daughter of the Rev. J. W. Barlow, Vice-Provost of Trinity College. In 1894 she translated the Batrachomyomachia of Homer. Her agnosticism is found in Between Doubt and Darin g (1916), the first poem of which closes, “Be to the great Dark gathered man and brute.” Barlow, according to McCabe, “took a warm interest in the work of the Rationalist Press Association.” {RAT}

Barlow, Joel (1754—1812) One of the Hartford (Connecticut) Wits, an informal group of Yale students and rectors, Barlow was a diplomat as well as American humorist. Although raised a Puritan and was a Congregationalist minister and chaplain in the War of Independence, he was influenced by Thomas Paine and other freethinkers. While Paine was in a Paris jail, Barlow looked after details of the publication of his The Age of Reason. His own book, The Hasty Pudding (1796), is a mock epic that he claimed was inspired by his being homesick for New England and its corn mush. His Vision of Columbus and his being American ambassador to France made him well-known in Europe and America. His biographer, James Woodress, notes that in his Advice to the Privileged Orders,

Barlow makes a clear distinction between the state church as an ally of authoritarian government and plain religion. He argues that the wedding of church and state is a great evil and points to the blessings enjoyed by the United States without a state church. As a result, he asserts, “in no country are the people more religious.”

The clergy attacked him, citing his translation of Volney’s Ruins, and accusing him of being an atheist. While negotiating a commercial treaty with Napoleon I, Barlow died from exposure, caught in the disastrous retreat of the armies from Moscow. {BDF; CE; EU, William F. Ryan; FUS; JM; RAT}

Barlow, John Perry (20th Century) Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a member of the WELL Board of Directors and a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead. He is a descendant of Thomas Paine’s friend, Joel Barlow. A graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut, he received an honors degree in Comparative Religion (1969). With Mitchell Kapor, he promotes freedom of expression in digital media. Utne Reader has listed him among “100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life,” according to Truth Seeker, for which he has written. Barlow’s website is <http://www.eff.org/~barlow>. {CA}

MC Paul Barman, Recording Artist	music	

In the September 6, 2000 edition of The Onion A.V. Club titled "Is There A God?", celebrities were asked the question. Barman was among those asked.

MC Paul Barman is the man behind the popular EP "It's Very Stimulating".

The Onion: Is there a God?

Paul Barman: Obviously not.

O: Why obviously not?

PB: Isn't believing in God like wearing chain mail?

O: In that it protects you from being lanced?

PB: [Laughs.] In that you just don't do it anymore.

See the feature at http://avclub.theonion.com/avclub3631/avfeature_3631.html. \Barman, M. C. Paul A recording artist, Barman is associated with It’s Very Stimulating. His atheism was expressed in an interview arranged by The Onion A.V. Club (6 Sep 2000):

The Onion: Is there a God? Paul Barman: Obviously not. O: Why obviously not? PB: Isn't believing in God like wearing chain mail? O: In that it protects you from being lanced? PB: [Laughs.] In that you just don't do it anymore. {On the Web: <http://avclub.theonion.com/avclub3631/avfeature_3631.html>}

Barmby, John Goodwyn (1820—1881) Barmby, a Unitarian minister, edited The Promethean. {GS}

Barnaby, Charles Frank (20th Century) Barnaby of the United Kingdom addressed the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s (IHEU’s) International Peace Conference in Zutphen (1983). He is author of Man and the Atom (1971), Arms Controlled (1975), and Nuclear Proliferation and the South African Threat (1977).

Barnard, Henry (1811—1900) Barnard, the reformer who in conjunction with Horace Mann created the American school-system, was married to a strict Catholic. As a result and for the family’s peace, he abstained from discussing religion. Barnard was a member of the Connecticut legislature, edited the Connecticut Common School Journal, was chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, and was nationally known as a major educator. Challenged to make a declaration of Christian faith, Barnard refused. According to McCabe, Barnard’s freethinking views were well-known to others. {JM}

Barnaud, Nicolas (16th Century) Barnaud traveled in France, Spain, and Germany, and to him is attributed the authorship of Le Cabinet du Roy de France, that is largely directed against the clergy. {BDF}

Barnave, Antoine Pierre Joseph Marie (1761—1793) Barnave was a French politician, author of a deistic Dictionnaire de Pensées. He accepted the principles of the Revolution and in 1790 became President of the National Assembly. Barnave has been described as “one of the greatest figures of the French Revolution,” whose moderation and integrity brought him to the guillotine 30 November 1793. {RAT}

Barnes, Albert (1872—1951) Barnes had a factory that made Argyrol, a product that had antiseptic powers without the burning quality of nitrate. A disciple first of William James, then of Dewey, he established a six-hour day for employees and had a mid-day one hour seminar during which James, Dewey, Bertrand Russell, and Santayana were discussed. At times, Barnes was known to have disagreed with Russell as well as with Alexander Woollcott. Barnes also disagreed with philosopher Barrows Dunham and wanted him to be fired from Temple University because he felt he was a Communist. He got John Dewey to retract a favorable statement about Dunham’s Man Against Myth. Later, when Dunham refused to answer questions of the House Un-American Committee, Dunham was suspended from his professorship. Barnes’s first Picasso cost $10, his first Matisse $50. As an art collector, he amassed a distinctive collection said to have been the finest privately owned collection in the country. Once, he invited Dewey to attend a lecture of art with him at the Louvre. In the late 1940s, now an extremely rich man, he took one of Dewey’s classes at Columbia University, and Dewey said he never met Barnes’s equal for “sheer brain power.” Like Dewey, Barnes was a naturalist in philosophy. Barnes was killed immediately in 1951 when his car was struck by a ten-ton trailer truck, and his body was hurled forty feet into a nearby field. No funeral services were held, and his body was cremated.

Barnes, Harry Elmer (1888—1968) An eminent historian and naturalistic humanist, Barnes in the 1950s was on the advisory board of Charles Francis Potter’s First Humanist Society of New York. An admirer of liberals, he found in 1955 they are “a fast disappearing race. Only a few–such as John Haynes Holmes, Roger Baldwin, Norman Thomas, and the like–still survive, and they are getting old.” Barnes wrote The Twilight of Christianity (1929) and Freeing the Human Mind (1931). His connection with the formulating of Humanist Manifesto I has been described by Edwin H. Wilson in The Genesis of a Humanist Manifesto (1995). {CE; CL; EW; FUS; HM1; HNS; TRI}

Barnes, J. Edmestone (Born 1857) After entering the ministry in Jamaica of the African Methodist Church, Barnes perceived the errors of Christian theology and became a land surveyor and civil engineer. He practiced in the British West Indies and South America and then was appointed Surveyor General to the Republic of Liberia. Also, he worked in South Africa and became managing director of a mining syndicate in Sierra Leone. An accomplished linguist, he wrote The Economy of Life, in which his rationalist views are expressed. Barnes was a member of the Rationalist Press Association. {RAT}

Barnes, Jimmie (20th Century) Barnes is President of the Secular Humanist Association of San Antonio, Texas (PO Box 160881, San Antonio, Texas 78280-3081).

Barnes, Ken (20th Century) Barnes is Treasurer of the Thomas Paine Pennsylvania Memorial Committee (Box 242, Pocopson, PA 19366).

Barnes, Lucy (1780—1809) Barnes was a noted Universalist writer and poet. {U}

Barnes, Nigel (20th Century) In Britain, Barnes is active in the Hampstead Humanist Society.

Barnet, Vern (20th Century) Barnet, a Unitarian Universalist minister in Kansas, is author of Love Without Desire (1992), a collection of sonnets that proclaim his love for the many men in his life. He is the religion columnist for the Kansas City Star and minister-in-residence at the World Faiths Center for Religious Experience and Study.

Barnhart, Joe Edward (1931— ) A professor of philosophy and religious studies at the University of North Texas, Barnhart is on the National Advisory Board of the Council for Secular Humanism. He is on the editorial board of The Humanist as well as Free Inquiry. He is on the Council for Secular Humanism’s Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion and is one of its Secular Humanist Mentors. Barnhart signed Humanist Manifesto 2000. A provocative speaker, Barnhart combines profound scholarliness with a positive sense of humor. At the Tenth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Buffalo (1988), he addressed the group. Barnhart is author of A Naturalist View of Religious Conversion (1981) and Jim and Tammy, about the televangelist couple who were involved in scandals that resulted in Jim Bakker’s imprisonment. (Bakker’s I Was Wrong (1997) was followed by Tammy Faye Bakker Messner’s Tammy: Tell It My Way (1997), both embarrassing confessionals.) {HNS2}

Barnhart, Mary Ann (20th Century) Barnhart, a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist, writes for various publications concerning gerontological problems. She is the wife of Joe Barnhart.

Barni, Jules Romains (1818—1878) Barni was a French philosophic writer who translated the works of Kant into French. “Rationalism is my only religion,” he once wrote. {BDF; RAT}

Barnout, Hippolyte (Born 1816) 

A French architect and writer, Barnout published a Rational Calendar (1859) and L’Athé, that the clerical journals declared drew God’s vengeance upon France. {BDF}

Barnum, Phineas Taylor (1810—1891) Barnum, whose circus became Barnum and Bailey Circus, was a member of the Universalist Church on New York City’s Central Park West. He became famous not only for his sideshows of freaks but also for his sign, “EGRESS,” that pointed unsuspecting ticket purchasers to an exit, thereby forcing them to purchase another ticket in order to return. A Connecticut Yankee from Bethel and Bridgeport, he earned $285,000 by booking the “Swedish Nightingale,” Jenny Lind, on an extensive US tour–she earned but $177,000. He introduced the 3-ring circus as well as found the means to transport his entire group by railroad. “The orthodox faith,” Barnum observed, “painted God as a revengeful being, and yet people talk about loving such a being.” “The people,” he concluded, “like to be humbugged,” a reference to the small fee his museum charged to see hoaxes. His statement was misquoted as “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Curious as to what his obituary would state, Barnum asked the New York Evening News to print his obituary prior to his death and at a time he was seriously ill and dying. The newspaper obliged with the headline: GREATEST AND ONLY BARNUM. HE WANTED TO READ HIS OBITUARY. HERE IT IS. Barnum died two weeks later. His body was preserved on ice for two days and was then taken to the largest church in Bridgeport, South Congregational, where a public ceremony was conducted. Barnum was buried at the Bridgeport, Connecticut, Mountain Grove Cemetery. Overlooking his own grave was that of Tom Thumb (whose real name was Charles S. Stratton), who had died in 1883 and whose memorial Barnum had constructed. It was a 40’ high marble shaft, atop which was the midget’s life-size 2’ 11” statue. His will provided money for printing and distributing two pamphlets: “213 Questions Without Answers” and “Universalism, What It Is and What It’s Good For.” (Tom Thumb married Lavinia Warren, a 21-year-old Massachusetts schoolteacher who was 2’ 8”, before an overflow crowd of dignitaries in New York City’s Grace Church.) {CE; PA; TYD; U; UU}

Barnum, Phineas Taylor (5 Jul 1810 - 7 Apr 1891) Barnum, whose circus became Barnum and Bailey Circus, was famous not only for his sideshows of freaks but also for “EGRESS,” a sign that pointed unsuspecting ticket purchasers to an exit, thereby forcing them to purchase another ticket in order to return. A Connecticut Yankee from Bethel and Bridgeport, he introduced the 3-ring circus as well as found the means to transport his entire group by railroad. He earned $285,000 by booking the “Swedish Nightingale,” Jenny Lind, on an extensive US tour, paying her only $177,000. With his wife, he irregularly attended the Universalist Church on New York City’s Central Park West. “The orthodox faith,” Barnum observed, “painted God as a revengeful being, and yet people talk about loving such a being.” “The people,” he concluded, “like to be humbugged,” a reference to the small fee his museum charged to see hoaxes . . . and misquoted as “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Curious as to what his obituary would state, Barnum asked the New York Evening News to print his obituary prior to his death and at a time that he was seriously ill and dying. The newspaper obliged with the headline: GREATEST AND ONLY BARNUM. HE WANTED TO READ HIS OBITUARY. HERE IT IS. Barnum died two weeks later. His body was preserved on ice for two days and was then taken to South Congregational, the largest church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where a public ceremony was conducted, after which he was buried in Bridgeport at the Mountain Grove Cemetery. One of Barnum's spectacular shows was that of “the smallest human on Earth, Tom Thumb.” Before an overflow crowd of dignitaries in New York City's Grace Church, Barnum arranged for the 2' 11" Tom Thumb to be married to Lavinia Warren, a 21-year-old Massachusetts schoolteacher who was three inches shorter, 2' 8". Thumb (whose real name was Charles S. Stratton) died in 1883, and Barnum arranged a memorial, one that consisted of a 40’ high marble shaft, atop which was the midget’s life-size statue. It overlooks Barnum's own grave. In a will, Barnum provided money for printing and distributing two pamphlets: “213 Questions Without Answers” and “Universalism, What It Is and What It’s Good For." {CE; PA; TYD; U; UU}

Baron, Joseph L. (1894—1960) Baron, a rabbi, declined to sign Humanist Manifesto I, taking exception to some of its conclusions. “Your manifesto ignores some personal effects of the old forms of piety which are a vital need in the life of many members of the Jewish group,” he complained, “to say nothing of the Christian, whose arrogant, vulgar, and selfish reaction to the conditions of our environment makes it necessary that we follow a conservative and not a radical process in changing the meaning of holiness.” {EW}

Barot, François Odysse (Born 1830) A French writer, Barot wrote for several Radical papers, was secretary to Gustave Flourens, and published a work on the Birth of Jesus (1864). Barot was anti-clerical in his L’Agonie de la Papauté (1868) and was an authority on English literature. He translated Carlyle’s French Revolution. {BDF; RAT}

Barr, Alfred Hamilton (1902—1981) Barr, an American art historian, was the first director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He organized more than 100 museum exhibitions and wrote a number of standard art history texts including Cubism and Abstract Art (1936), Picasso (1946), Matisse (1951), and Painting and Sculpture in the Museum of Modern Art, 1929—1967 (1977). Barr was liked by Philip Johnson, whom he had appointed to head MOMA’s department of architecture. At the end of his life, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Barr lost his mind and, according to his daughter, died a hideous death. The son of a Presbyterian minister but said to have been a freethinker, Barr was buried without fanfare. {CE; FI}

Barr, Margaret A. (1897?-1972)) Barr, a British Unitarian, is known for her social work in India. A friend of Gandhi and an educator and administrator, she helped create the Unitarian church movement in Khasi Hills, India. {U}

Barratt, Alfred (20th Century) Barratt, author of Physical Metempiric (1883), was an ethicist interested in positivism.

Barrett, James H. (1920—1994) Barrett flew in northern Africa in World War II, in Korea and in Vietnam, and after twenty-eight years of service retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. In the 1950s, one of his responsibilities was to discharge homosexuals from military service in accordance with official policy. He then taught in Texas and Maryland, finally retiring to Pensacola, Florida. After the death of his stepson from AIDS complications in 1993, however, he became a supporter of AIDS causes and told friends he was deeply bothered by his past activities against homosexuals in the military. When an abortion doctor, David Gunn, was shot to death in Pensacola, he became so angry that he volunteered to be an escort for the doctor’s replacement. Several dozen others, many military retirees, also volunteered to assume the risks of escorting women and health-care workers into the clinics. Having fought in three wars on foreign soil, the seventy-four-year-old Barrett was not to survive a fourth. He was killed along with the new doctor, John B. Britton, by a former Presbyterian minister and abortion opponent, Paul J. Hill. Barrett’s wife, June, was wounded in the arm. When Hill was convicted on Federal charges of killing Barrett and Britton and wounding Mrs. Barrett, the National Organization for Women’s president, Patricia Ireland, warned, “It is a strong message to those who would be deterred by normal things, but many like Paul Hill want to be martyred and those people will not be deterred by this.” Illustrating this fear, Donna Bray, the founder of Defenders of the Defenders of Life, a Maryland-based group, reacted as follows: “Paul Hill laid down his life to defend innocent unborn children, and I thank him.” Hill, also, did not budge, stating, “This Government is unjust because it does not protect human life. To the extent that we take part in this evil, we will answer to God, and may God have mercy on us all.” The memorial services, at which over four hundred heard his son describe his father, “He was a real ‘neat’ guy,” were held at Pensacola’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. (See “Fighting the Right on Abortion Clinic Access,” The World, January/February 1995.)

Barrett, Stanley R. (20th Century) Barrett, professor of anthropology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, has spoken and written about Canada’s far right. {Humanist in Canada, Summer 1996}

Barrett, Stephen (1933— ) Barrett, a physician-psychiatrist and consumer health advocate, is on the Council for Secular Humanism’s Faith-Healing Investigation Project. One of his forty-four articles and books is Health, Sickness, Scams, and Frauds (1990). Dr. Barrett is editor of Nutrition Forum.

Barrett, Thomas Squire (Born 1842) 

The son of Quaker parents, both grandfathers being ministers of that body, Barrett published an acute examination of Gillespie’s argument, à priori, for the existence of God (1869). He was a member of the British Rationalist Press Association. {BDF; RAT}

Barrier, F. M. (Died 1870) A French Fourierist, Barrier became a professor of medicine at Lyons and wrote Catechism of Liberal and Rational Socialism, an abridgment of Principles of Sociology (1867). {BDF}

Barrier, Ron (20th Century) Barrier, an active members of American Atheists Inc., has a talk show, “Atheist Viewpoint,” with Ellen Johnson. (See entry for Ellen Johnson.)

Barrington, Denis (20th Century) Barrington created the symbol called “the Happy Human,” one used by many humanist organizations.

Barrington, Judith (20th Century) British-born Barrington lives in Oregon, where she has written two books of poetry. Also, she is author of Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art (1997) and is co-director of a summer writing workshop for women, The Flight of the Mind. Her many awards include the Freedom of Expression Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.

Barrios, Ervin (20th Century) Barrios is a Unitarian Universalist minister whose members are Spanish-speaking. (See entry for Unitarios Universalistas de Habla Hispana.)

Barrister, A. (19th Century) Barrister, a freethinker, wrote Notes on Bishop Magee’s Pleadings for Christ (c. 1875). {GS}

Barrow, Blake W. (20th Century) Barrow wrote Freethought in Texas: J. D. Shaw and the Independent Pulpit, his 1983 master’s thesis at Baylor University. {Freethought History #15, 1995}

Barrow, John D. (1952— ) Barrow, professor of astronomy at the University of Sussex, England, is author of The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (with Frank Tiper), Pi in the Sky, and The Left Hand of Creation (1994). In the latter, he and Joseph Silk of the University of California tell about the English clergyman John Michell, whose ideas about gravity pre-dated the discovery of black holes by American physicist John Wheeler some two centuries later. The work explains some of the current advances in cosmology. {Secular Nation, Fall 1994}

Barrow, Ruth Nita [Dame] [Governor-General] (1916–1995) Barrow, the first woman to serve as Governor-General of Barbados, was one of the Humanist Laureates in the Council for Secular Humanism’s Academy of Humanism. She founded the Jamaica Nurses’ Association and was a member of the International Peace Academy (1986–1990). She wrote “Some Issues on the Global Agenda of the 1990s” (1989). Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1980, Barrow had served as the Barbados representative at the United Nations and was president of the World YWCA. Dame Nita was the older sister of the late Prime Minister Errol Barrow, who led Barbados to independence from Britain in 1966. She was a member of the Council for Secular Humanism’s International Academy of Humanism.

Barry, Gerald [Sir] (Born 1899) Barry was vice president of the National Council for Civil Liberties. A freethinker, he supported the cause of legal abortions in his News Chronicle. {TRI}

Barry, Howard P. (20th Century) 

Barry, who once was president of the largest local union in the United States, has taught labor relations in government at the St. Francis Xavier Labor School. He is a freethinker who retired in Florida.

Barry, John (1975- ) Barry, a computer specialist who works for Symbol Technologies, has said that, like George Carlin, he was a Christian before he reached the age of Reason. He is a strong believer “that communism would work if it didn’t deal with greedy humans.” Basically an infidel, Barry was born in San Antonio, Texas. E-mail: <kingCrimson@starcraft.org>. {WAS, 6 May 1999}

Barry, John Vincent William [Sir] (1903—1969) Sir John Barry was a rationalist, civil libertarian, and in 1947 Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria in Australia. He helped pave the way for no-fault divorce, and for years was the only absentee from the legal-ecclesiastical Opening of the Legal Year when other faithful judges wended their way into various church ceremonies. He co-wrote An Introduction to Criminal Law in Australia (1948) and was a contributor to Pioneers in Criminology (1960). A rationalist and unbeliever, Barry was cremated without a service. {SWW}

Barry, Matthew (20th Century) Barry, an activist for state-church separation, lives in Washington. He has written for Freethought Today (March 1998) about faith healers who prey on the weaknesses, hopes, and superstitions of worshippers who all want “a quick fix.”

Barrymore, John (1882—1942) A matinee idol for playgoers and movie fans who liked his dashing nature and good looks, Barrymore in 1922 electrified the public with his portrayal of Hamlet. He was married four times, stunned people by revealing the intimate details of his lovemaking techniques, boozed during much of his waking hours, once vomiting into the footlights during a scene, and on his deathbed continued to shock. A priest, called to give him the last rites, asked, “Is there anything else you wish to tell me?” Barrymore replied, “Father, I have carnal thoughts.” “About whom?” the startled priest asked. Knowing he was about to die, having been inculcated with the doctrine that it is a sin to lust, and mindful that he believed he soon would see and be judged by Saint Peter and God Himself, the legendary actor and playboy Barrymore looked across the room to a nurse. “Her,” he replied. {Michael O’Regan, New York Daily News, 14 April 1996}

Barrymore, John (15 Feb 1881 - 29 May 1942)

		A matinee idol for playgoers and movie fans that liked his dashing nature and good looks, Barrymore in 1922 electrified the public with his portrayal of Hamlet. He was married four times, stunned people by revealing the intimate details of his lovemaking techniques, boozed during much of his waking hours, and, once, vomited into the footlights during a scene.

Two Christian believers—Sean Kelly and Rosemary Rogers, who wrote Who in Hell—consign Barrymore to Hell because he was slothful:

Barrymore, John: Prototype of the ham actor, the Great Profile indulged in such debauchery that he laid waste his considerable talents. His drunkenness was legendry even in Hollywood—his makeup, costumes, and hairpiece were often applied by film crews while the star was dead drunk. When asked what he thought of Prohibition, he replied, “Fortunately, I don’t think of it.” A cynical libertine, he once observed that “love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a haddock.”

His sins of pride, gluttony, overacting, sloth, and lust (he was kicked out of high school for frequenting a bordello) culminated in this final impenitence: his dying words, to longtime friend Gene Fowler, were “Tell me, Gene, is it true that you’re the illegitimate son of Buffalo Bill?

Many think he actually was a non-believer who enjoyed mocking religion. For example, on his deathbed when a priest came by and offered to give him the last rites, Barrymore was asked, “Is there anything else you wish to tell me?” Barrymore replied, “Father, I have carnal thoughts.” “About whom?” the startled priest asked. Knowing he was about to die, having been inculcated with the doctrine that it is a sin to lust, and mindful that he soon was supposed to see and be judged by Saint Peter and God Himself, the legendary actor and playboy Barrymore looked across the room to a nurse. “Her,” he replied. {Michael O’Regan, New York Daily News, 14 April 1996}

Barth, Ferdinand (1828—1850) An Austrian, Barth attained a reputation in 1848 as orator to working men, and he took part in the revolution. When Vienna was retaken, Barth went to Leipzig and Zurich, where he died professing to be a freethinker. {BDF}

Barth, Joseph Nicholas (1906— ) A Unitarian minister, Barth defined God as “a word that will stand in speech, in a shorthand way, for all reality in which we live and move and have our being. . . . The God I believe in is a naturalistically conceived God.” Barth has been an influential spokesman in contemporary liberal religion. {U&U}

Barth, Karl (1886-1968) A leading 20th-century Protestant, Barth was a Swiss whose fundamental concern was that the word of God and God’s revelation in Christ is the only means God has for Self-revelation. Such a theological position is related to less strict views by Emil Brunner, Friedrich Gogarten, and Rudolf Bultmann. {CE}

Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire, Jules (1805—1895) Like Cousin, Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire was a liberal non-Christian theist. He translated all Aristotle’s works (17 volumes) into French and wrote many philosophical works. {RAT}

Barthez, Paul (1734—1806) Barthez, a French physician and friend of D’Alembert, was once shown by the Archbishop of Sens a number of works relating to the rites of his see. Barthez reportedly and wittily observed, “These are the Sens ceremonies, but can you show me the sens [sense] of ceremonies?” {BDF; RAT}

Bartle, Richard (20th Century) Richard Bartle, Game Designer tech

Bartle is the co-creator of MUD, a popular multi-player interactive game on the Internet introduced in 1979. From the Online Computer Dictionary: MUD is like a real-time chat forum with structure; it has multiple "locations" like an adventure game and may include combat, traps, puzzles, magic and a simple economic system.

He was interviewed in June 1996 by by Zedd the wizard, known at the time as Asterix the arch-wizard...

AX: Finally, what would be an appropriate epitaph for your gravestone?

RB: Since I'm an atheist, and have no belief whatsoever in life after death, I couldn't care less -- it's not like it'll have any impact on me, since by definition I will be completely extinguished. I guess if someone twisted my arm and forced me to provide an epitaph, it would be "Don't forget." Sound advice...

Bartle is the co-creator of MUD, which starting in 1979 on the Internet became a popular multi-player interactive game. It is like a real-time chat forum with structure, one with multiple “locations” like an adventure game and could include combat, traps, puzzles, magic, and a simple economic system. Interviewed in 1996 by Zedd the Wizard, known at the time as Asterix the arch-wizard, Bartle when asked what would be an appropriate epitaphy for his gravestone responded

Since I’m an atheist and have no belief whatsoever in life after death, I couldn’t care less—it’s not like it’ll have any impact on me, since by definition I will be completely extinguished. I guess if someone twisted my arm and forced me to provide an epitaph, it would be “Don’t forget.” Sound advice.

Bartlett, Willart (20th Century) Bartlett, a freethinker, wrote King Solomon’s Goat (c. 1918). {GS}

Bartley, Robert F. (Born 1890) Bartley, a freethinker, wrote The Star Studded Hoax of Christianity With Its Allied Gods (1969). {FUS; GS}

Bartocci, Gianni (20th Century) Bartocci, a professor of languages and literatures at the University of Guelph in Canada, is an honorary associate of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists.

Bartók, Bela (1881—1945) Bartók, a Hungarian composer, collected and published Hungarian, Transylvanian, Romanian, and other folk tales. Also, he wrote stage and other classical works. His last years were spent in poverty and neglect in New York City, but his music is revered today for its atonality and distinctiveness. Early on, he felt that nature is self-sufficiently divine, that as humans we control our destinies. He once signed a letter, “Greetings from AN UNBELIEVER (who is more honest than a great many believers).” Were he ever to cross himself, he added, “it would be in the name of Nature, Art, and Science.” Bartók was a member of the Budapest Unitarian Church in Hungary. Ann Bartók, his wife, was a member also and served on a committee to choose its new church organist. {CE; Jay Gabler, Humanist Association of Massachusetts; U; UU}

Bartók, Bela (25 Mar 1881 - 26 Sep 1945) Bartók, a Hungarian composer, collected and published Hungarian, Transylvanian, Romanian, and other folk tales. Also, he wrote stage and other classical works. His last years were spent in poverty and neglect in New York City, but his music is revered today for its atonality and distinctiveness. Early on, he felt that nature is self-sufficiently divine, that as humans we control our destinies. He once signed a letter, “Greetings from AN UNBELIEVER (who is more honest than a great many believers).” Were he ever to cross himself, he added, “it would be in the name of Nature, Art, and Science.” Bartók was a member of the Budapest Unitarian Church in Hungary. Ann Bartók, his wife, was a member also and served on a committee to choose its new church organist. {CE; Jay Gabler, Humanist Association of Massachusetts; U; UU}

Bartol, Cyrus A. Jr. (1813—1900) Bartol was a Unitarian minister, one who liked the transcendentalist movement and who helped in the founding of the Free Religious Association, that he refused to head. He has been described as being an “intuitionist” rather than a “scientist” in his approach to Free Religion. In 1854, his Grains of Gold or Select Thoughts on Sacred Themes became the first book published under American Unitarian Association imprint. {U; U&U}

Bartoli, Hector Alexandre (1820—1883) A Corsican rationalist, Bartoli was a professor of pathology at Marseilles. A leader of the Corsican liberals, he entered the Chambre in 1876 and 1881. A zealous worker for the divorce law, Bartoli was an anti-clerical. {RAT}

[[Barton, Bruce (20th Century) 

In The Man Nobody Knows: A Discovery of the Real Jesus (1920), Barton illustrated how capitalist ideology embodied Christian precepts. Jesus, for example, was an exemplary CEO, or chief executive officer, a charismatic leader who “picked up twelve men from the bottom ranks of business and forged them into an organisation that conquered the world.” A salesman, he put himself in step with his prospects. And when he left, the new CEO was blocked in his attempts to go global by internal politics and a lack of ability. It was a time when the potential Gentile market was in danger of being saturated by Mithraism, Barton explained, so a franchise was granted to Paul. He simplified the product and marketing mix and proved skillful in setting up independent subfranchises. In fact, Paul emerged as the organization’s international marketing manager. Barton, himself an advertising executive, noted that the Muslims also were adept in business—the Prophet’s first wife was a businessperson who, even before they married, was employed as business manager. In 1926, Barton’s humorous work was a non-fiction bestseller in New Zealand.

Barton, Clara (1821—1912) Founder of the American Red Cross, famed Clara Barton was raised a Universalist. During the Civil war, the five-foot farmer’s daughter who weighed scarcely one hundred pounds heroically set up a supply service, was a nurse in army camps, worked for the International Red Cross, and organized the American Red Cross, heading it until 1904. During the war, “the angel of the battlefield” worshipped in Washington, according to the Universalist National Memorial Church there. Her parents had helped establish the Oxford Meeting House, one of the first Universalist churches. According to The Dictionary of American Biography, Barton “was brought up in the Universalist Church, but was never a Church member.” However, in 1905 she wrote to a Mrs. Norman S. Thrasher: “Your ‘belief that I am a Universalist’ is as correct as your greater belief in being one yourself. A belief in which all who are privileged to possess it, rejoice. In my case, it was a great gift, for, like St. Paul, I ‘was born free’. . . . I look anxiously for a time in the near future when the busy world will let me once more become a living part of its people, praising God for the advance in the liberal faith of the religious world of today, so largely due to the teachings of this belief.” McCabe labels Barton a rationalist and a theist, one opposed to Christianity. She is buried in Oxford, Massachusetts, the insignia of the Red Cross adorning her tombstone. In North Oxford, Barton’s home is the site of a Unitarian Universalist camp for diabetic children. {CE; EG; JM; U; UU; RE}

Bartosek, Theodor (Born 1877) A Moravian lawyer, Bartosek was a Socialist who took an active part in the rationalist movement and was conspicuous at the International Congresses in 1906 and 1907. Bartosek edited the Volné Skola. {RAT}

Bartram, John (1699—1777) A pioneer American botanist, whose father had been killed by Indians in 1711, Bartram without formal schooling planted the first botanical garden in the United States. It still exists as part of the Philadelphia park system. Exchanging specimens with European botanists, Bartram introduced some American plants into Europe and introduced some European plants to America. Observations (1751) and The Travels and Other Writings of William Bartram (1996) describe his various ventures. In 1758 he was disowned by his Quaker community for denying the divinity of Christ, but he continued attending the Meeting with his family. His son, William Bartram (1739—1823) was also a naturalist whose descriptions of the American wilderness influenced the works of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Chateaubriand, and others. {CE; The New York Review of Books (17 October 1996)}

Bartrina (1852—1880) Bartrina was a Spanish atheistic poet, according to Wheeler. {BDF}

Baryshnikov, Mikhail (1948— ) Although his mother was religious and had him secretly baptized as a child, Baryshnikov, the Latvian-born ballet dancer, is not a believer. Asked by the Latvian theatre critic Normunds Naumanis about his views, the world-famous ballet dancer said he is not a religious person but that onstage he found what people seek in religion: “some approximation to exaltation, inner purification, self-discovery.” He has acted onstage, starred in motion pictures, and been a guest artist with leading ballet companies throughout the world. He wrote Baryshnikov at Work: Mikhail Baryshnikov Discusses His Roles (1976) and Baryshnikov in Color (1980). His Who’s Who in America entry ends, “The dancer who would grow in his art must seek to explore and develop new phases of his talent, and to expand his performing horizons in terms of both the new and existing repertoire.” {The New Yorker, 19 January 1998}

Baryshnikov, Mikhail (28 Dec 1948 - ) Although his mother was religious and had him secretly baptized as a child, Baryshnikov, the Latvian-born ballet dancer, is not a believer. Asked by the Latvian theatre critic Normunds Naumanis about his views, the world-famous ballet dancer replied that he is not a religious person but that onstage he found what people seek in religion: “some approximation to exaltation, inner purification, self-discovery.” He has acted onstage, starred in motion pictures, and been a guest artist with leading ballet companies throughout the world. He wrote Baryshnikov at Work: Mikhail Baryshnikov Discusses His Roles (1976) and Baryshnikov in Color (1980). His entry in Who’s Who in America ends humanistically, “The dancer who would grow in his art must seek to explore and develop new phases of his talent and to expand his performing horizons in terms of both the new and existing repertoire.” {The New Yorker, 19 January 1998}

Barzelotti, Giacomo (Born 1844) A professor of philosophy, Barzelotti has been described as “a sort of Italian Cousin, attracted by Taine and Spencer to the positive school.” His David Lazzretti, which Renan admired, is on the Index Prohibitorum. {RAT}

Barzun, Jacques (1907— ) Barzun, the French-born American scholar, once a dean at Columbia, cares little for any categorization of humanism suggested herein. In 1989, he responded to the present author:

It is not surprising that the word Humanism means so many different things, some of which contradict each other, since the root idea is Man, and in this generic sense Man contains everything that has been or may be conceived. It is the human habit of trying to corner what is good that has led to the attempts by successive groups to claim the ism for their particular outlook or endeavor. This situation requires, first of all, a distinction between, on the one hand, the label affixed by history to the Renaissance scholars, and on the other all the other labels. The only tolerable extension of that original humanism is to someone who nowadays teaches the Humanities in a humanistic spirit, that is, looking in works of literature for whatever they say about Man. All the other humanisms and humanists need an adjective, and perhaps a further identification. One can imagine a Diabolic Humanism that would find Man’s highest self-expression in witchcraft, the black mass, and other fiendishnesses. I use this in all sorts of ways, which can be grouped in systems to form all sorts of Humanisms.

In 1992, he explained further:

The only meanings I, as a student of history, attach to the term Humanism are those given in your definitions number 2 and 3; that is, the two historical definitions. The rest suffer from vagueness in both contents and coverage; they belong to the language of partisanship and polemic, rather than to definition proper. As such, they have their importance, but their use by an historian or critic requires research and explanation before they can be said to denote anything. I should perhaps add that in current talk about the academic humanities, the name “humanist” is given to someone who teaches those subjects and conveys their spirit, but that spirit and those subjects should not be called Humanism.

{WAS, 6 March 1989 and 2 June 1992}

Basayne, Henry S. (20th Century) When he signed Humanist Manifesto II, Basayne was Associate Executive Officer of the Association for Humanistic Psychology. {HM 2}

Basedow, Johann Bernhard (1723—1790) Basedow, a German rationalist and educational reformer, wrote Philalethea, the Grounds of Religion and other heterodox works that, according to Wheeler, “excited so much prejudice that he was in danger of being stoned.” His followers were called Philanthropinists. {BDF; RAT} Bashkirtseff, Marie (1860—1894) A Russian artist, Bashkirtseff in Journal expresses her skepticism. She died young of consumption. {RAT}

Basil, Robert (1959— ) An editor at Prometheus Books and a Free Inquiry editorial associate, Basil is one of the editors of On the Barricades: Religion and Free Inquiry in Conflict (1990).

Baskerville, John(1706—1775) Baskerville, a famous printer to Cambridge University in 1758, wrote a will that expressed the utmost contempt for Christianity. The monumental urn over his tomb reads, “Stranger, beneath this cone is unconsecrated ground a friend to the liberties of mankind directed his body to be inurned. May the example contribute to emancipate thy mind from the idle fears of superstition and wicked arts of priesthood.” His will, according to Leslie Stephen, “professed open contempt for Christianity, and the biographers who reproduce the document always veil certain passages with lines of stars as being far too indecent for repetition,” covering the word “irreverent,” for example. {BDF; RAT; TYD}

BALIEU, ETIENNE-EMILE Newly added to Academy of Humanism

BASKETBALL God is omnipresent, freethinkers note, and therefore could not have played basketball. “In light of His always being omnipresent,” one freethinker noted, “He would, uh, always be out of bounds.”

Bassus (1st Century) Bassus, an Epicurean philosopher and friend of Seneca, was praised by Seneca for his patience and courage in the presence of death. {BDF}

BASTARDS: See entries for Miriam Allen deFord; Illegitimacy; and Patricia Thompson.

Bastian, Adolf (1837—1915) A leading German anthropologist, Bastian was President of the Berlin Geographical Society (1871—1873) and professor at the Museum of Anthropology. In Der Mensch in der Geschichte (1860, 3 volumes), he states that “we no longer fear when a mighty foe [science] shakes our protector [God] from the heaven, to sink with him into an abyss of annihilation.” Bastian was an agnostic. {RAT; RE}

Bastian, Henry Charlton (1837—1915) Bastian was a physician who in 1871 championed “spontaneous generation” against Pasteur and Tyndall. His conclusions were not accepted, but Bastian was an uncompromising rationalist. {RAT}

Bastiat, Frédéric (1801—1850) Bastiat was a French economist whose chief works are Sophismes Économiques (2 volumes, 1847—1848) and Harmonies Économiques (1850), in which his rationalism is expressed. A Deputy to the Legislative Assembly at the time of the Revolution of February 1848, he explained each socialist fallacy as it appeared and wrote that socialism must inevitably degenerate into communism, points that most of his fellow countrymen ignored. {RAT}

Bate, Frederick (19th Century) Bate, a socialist, wrote The Student (1842, a drama in which his skeptical views are put forward. Bate was one of the founders of the social experiment at New Harmony, an Owenite scheme of community. {BDF}

Bates, Ernest Sutherland (1879—1939) 

Bates, who was literary editor of the Dictionary of American Biography, taught at the University of Oregon (1915—1925). He wrote The Friend of Jesus (1928) and numerous other books. In American Faith (1940), Bates summarized the deist movement in the United States.

Bates, Henry Charlton (1837—1915) Bates was a physician, a professor at London University (1867—1887) and Censor of the Royal College of Physicians. In spite of his position, Bastian was an aggressive materialist, as shown in his Brain as the Organ of Mind (1881). {RAT; RE}

Bates, Henry Walter (1825—1892) A naturalist, Bates sailed with Wallace to South America, left him in 1850 and continued to travel in the upper Amazons. At Darwin’s suggestion, Bates wrote Naturalist on the Amazons (1863). Bates, an agnostic, was President of the Entomological Society in 1869 and 1878 and was a Chevalier of the Brazilian Order of the Rose. {RAT}

Bates, John (19th Century) A basketmaker turned news agent, Bates kept a shop in The Drapery and was one of the leaders of Northampton, England, secularists. {RSR}

Bates, Marston (1906—1974) Bates, who is the author of The Prevalence of People (1955), was a zoologist who has taught at the University of Michigan. He wrote The Forest and the Sea (1960).

Bates, Sanford (20th Century) Edwin H. Wilson has written that in the late 1910s he “heard Unitarian Sanford Bates, the U.S. prison commissioner (as I recall), state that ‘there is not one belief that I hold that I would not change on five minutes’ notice if I ran into a new fact.’ ” {EW}

Battelli, Angelo (Born 1862) A vigorous rationalist and anti-clerical, Battelli was an Italian physicist. He taught at the universities of Cagliari, Padua, and Pisa and was a Socialist Deputy for Pisa, then Urbino, in the Italian Parliament. {RAT}

Battaglia, Anthony Battaglia has written in The Secular Humanist Bulletin (Winter 1998-1999) that although monks appear to be chanting overtime, secular music now comprises 99.9% of all the great music ever recorded. However, inasmuch as one of every seven radio stations in 1997 had a Christian radio format (1,648 stations) and reach an estimated twenty million listeners, he holds that humanists should fill a needed vacuum and enter the broadcasting field.

Batz, Philipp: See entry for Mainlaender.

Baudelaire, Charles Pierre (1821—1867) Baudelaire, the French poet who influenced western poetry so greatly, is known for his religious mysticism and feelings of inner despair. He came from a Catholic aristocratic family but became a revolutionary who fought at the barricades in 1848. Baudelaire developed symbolism, symbolic correspondences among sensory images such as colors, sounds, and scents. Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil, 1857, enlarged in 1861 and 1868) was the only book of his published while he lived, and its appearance shocked the public and was condemned particularly by religionists. It included “Les Litanies de Satan.” Beauty and corruption, he held, are inseparable, and such a theme combined with the alleged obscenity of his work led to his further condemnation. He did succeed as a critic, translating Edgar Allan Poe and bringing him to an accepting French public. Baudelaire’s criticism was published posthumously as Curiosités esthétiques (1868) and L’Art romantique (1869). His poetic prose pieces also were published posthumously as Petits Poèmes en prose (1869). “In Charles Baudelaire’s poetry,” writes Thweatt, “the cult of grief and of the satanic alternates with a dream of absolute purity. Art itself also becomes an absolute.” In his portrayal of the Devil, Baudelaire included touches of ancient beauty. As for supernaturalism, he teasingly reasoned, “Even if God did not exist, religion would still be holy and divine. . . . God is the only being who does not have to exist in order to reign.” Some cite such a passage when calling Baudelaire a mystic, others call him an atheist, and still others are content to call him a rationalist who introduced symbolism. Edna St. Vincent Millay translated his Flowers of Evil (1936). While in his twenties and at a time when he contracted syphilis, the venereal disease that killed him later, Baudelaire composed his own epitaph:

Here lies, for having too much dwelled in street girls’ holes, A young fellow who now inhabits the kingdom of moles.

Although a cenotaph by de Charmoy is found in Paris’s Montparnasse cemetery, Baudelaire is buried elsewhere next to his mother and stepfather. His final epitaph contains only the death date, 31 August 1867. {BDF; CE; EU, Vivien Thweatt; JM; JMR; RAT; TRI; TYD}

[[Baudissin, Wilhelm Friedrich von [Count] (Born 1847) Baudissin was a German theological writer who, in Adonis und Esmun (1911), discusses with frankness the sources of the resurrection-myth. Rejecting the characteristic Christian doctrines, Baudissin discusses the characteristics of Jehovan and of Christ in Syrian mythology. {RAT}

Baudon, P. L. (19th Century) A French author, Baudon wrote Christian Superstition (1862) and dedicated it to Bishop Dupanloup under the pseudonym of “Aristide.” {BDF}

Baudrillart, Henri (1821—1892) Baudrillart was a French economist who in 1855 became editor of the Journal des Économistes. In 1863 he was elected to the Academy. Besides important works on economics, he published a panegyric of Voltaire (Discours sur Voltaire (1844). {RAT}

Bauer, Bruno (1809—1882) Bauer was a German theologian whose work Albert Schweitzer called “the ablest and most complete collection of the difficulties of the life of Jesus which is anywhere to be found.” His criticism of the Bible resulted in his being dismissed by Prussian authorities from a university post in theology at Bonn in 1842. Wells in Encyclopedia of Unbelief describes Bauer’s view that the principal letters ascribed to Paul are 2nd century forgeries. After he was expelled from teaching on the university level, Bauer according to Robertson “was a freelance, doing some relatively valid work on the Pauline problem, but pouring out his turbid spirit in a variety of political writings, figuring by turns as an anti-Semite (1843), a culture-historian, and a pre-Bismarckian imperialist, despairing of German unity, but looking hopefully to German absorption in a vast empire of Russia.” At the time of his death, he was convinced that all educated men—at least in Germany—had ceased to believe in miracles and the supernatural, however they might appear as conforming to orthodoxy. Bauer’s brother, Edgar, collaborated in some of his works. Edgar’s The Strife of Criticism with Church and State (1843) resulted in his being imprisoned for four years. {BDF; EU, G. A. Wells; JMR; JMRH; RAT}

Bauer, Edgar(1820—1886) 

Bauer, who was brother of Bruno Bauer, collaborated in some of his works. The police seized his brochure entitled “Bruno Bauer and His Opponents” (1842), and he was imprisoned for four years for his next publication, The Strife of Criticism with Church and State (1843). He took part in the revolutionary movement of 1848–1849 and was obliged to quit Germany. {BDF; RAT}

Bauer, Renate (20th Century) Bauer was secretary of the West German Freethinkers and is on the editorial board of the International Humanist. She addressed the Seventh International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in London (1978) and the Tenth held in Buffalo (1988). E-mail: <bauerpsy@aol.com>. {Free Inquiry, Summer 1988}

Bauer, Yehuda (20th Century) Bauer is an honorary president of the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews.

Baulieu, Etienne (20th Century) Baulieu, the French discoverer of RU486, signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Baum, Lyman Frank (1856—1919) An American journalist, Baum is best known for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) and thirteen other related books. In The New York Times (20 Dec 1991), his biographer, Michael Patrick Hearn, has written,

Although raised in a strict Methodist family, Baum early rejected the Christian teachings of his childhood. Except for a brief period in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he joined the local Episcopal church, he did not belong to any organized religion. He joined the Aberdeen church for its social, not its religious opportunities, and there is no record he ever attended services. Baum and his wife, Maud, did not have any of their children baptized and did not send them to church, but they did say that the children could choose any religion they wanted once they were old enough to decide for themselves. The only reference to a church in any of Baum’s Oz books in Chapter 20 of The Wizard of Oz, and here it is “smashed . . . all to pieces” by the Cowardly Lion. The Rev. E. P. Ryland, a friend of Baum in Hollywood, who spoke at Baum’s funeral, explained that the author of The Wizard of Oz “wasn’t a denominationalist. When he went to church at all in Hollywood,” Mr. Ryland said, “he attended mine, but he wasn’t a member of it. He had a gospel of his own, and he preached it through his books, although you certainly couldn’t call them religious either.” The Judeo-Christian tradition had failed Baum. He once wrote, “When the priests acknowledge their fallibility; when they abolish superstition, intolerance and bigotry; when they abhor the thought of a vindictive and revengeful God; when they are able to reconcile reason and religion, and fear not to let the people think for themselves, then, and then only, will the church regain its old power and be able to draw to its pulpits the whole people.” L. Frank Baum was a skeptic. After all, the Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz proves at the end to be a humbug.

However, Maud and her husband joined the Theosophists in 1896, held seances in their home and consulted with clairvoyants and astrologers. They both believed in the transmigration of souls and were certain that they had been together in past lives and would be in future ones. (See entry for Wizard of Oz, the message of which is entirely secular and humanistic.) {CE}

Baume-Desdossat, Jacques François (1705—1756) Baume-Desdossat wrote La Christiade (1753), a satire on the gospels in which Jesus is tempted by Mary Magdalene. The work was suppressed by the French Parliament and the author was fined. {BDF}

Baumer, Erica S. (20th Century) Baumer is secretary of Atheists and Agnostics of Wisconsin. On the web: <esbaumer@students.wisc.edu>.

Baumer, Franklin C. (20th Century) Baumer, a freethinker, wrote Religion and the Rise of Skepticism (1960). {FUS}

Baumgardner, Raymond C. (20th Century) In the 1950s, Baumgardner was a director of the American Humanist Association. {HNS}

Baur, Ferdinand Christian von (1792—1860)

Baur was a distinguished theological critic and professor of church history. His teachings and writings subverted all the fundamental positions of Christianity. A Hegelian pantheist, Baur acknowledged only four of the epistles of Paul and the Revelation as genuine products of the apostolic age, and he showed how very far from simplicity were the times and doctrines of primitive Christianity. {BDF}

Bautz, Yngve (20th Century) If, as believers hold, God is both good and almighty, how can one rationally believe in such an entity that would allow a Holocaust or other such negative acts? Bautz declared this and his opposition to “new Christianity” or to the idea that God is a conscious being in Freethinker (June 1999).

Bax, Ernest Belfort (1854—1918) A philosophic and social writer, Bax with William Morris founded the English Socialist League. For a time he was joint editor of the Commonwealth and, later, of Justice. He translated Kant’s Prolegomena (1883). In his Problems of Men, Mind, and Morals (1912), Bax remarks that “for those who accept Socialism . . . it is scarcely possibly to conscientiously describe themselves as Christians, or even Theists.” Bax preferred atheist to agnostic. {RAT}

Baxendell, Cedric Harold (1922— ) “Tup” Baxendell is an Australian rationalist and humanist. In 1968 he joined the Rationalist Society of Queensland, that in 1968 changed its name to the Humanist Society of Queensland, of which he is a life member. {SWW}

Baxendell, Margaret Dorothy (1922— ) Mrs. Cedric Baxendell, like her husband, was once a Congregational Sunday School teacher, which is where they originally met. She is a foundation member of Abortion Law Reform, now called Children by Choice. She was a member of Save Our Sons (SOS), a group opposing conscription in Australia for the Vietnam War. In addition, she is secretary of Australians for a Sustainable Population; the Union of Australian Women; and the May Belle Association, a domestic violence service organization. The building that houses Humanist headquarters has been named “Baxendell House.” {SWW}

Baxley, Clyde (20th Century) Baxley is president of Atheists of Alaska. (See entry for Alaska Atheists.)

Baxley, William Warren (20th Century) Baxley wrote Pitchfork Smith, Texas Liberal as his master’s thesis at the University of Texas in 1944. It draws upon memories of those who knew him personally. {Freethought History #15, 1995}

Baxter, Delia (20th Century) In Britain, Mrs. Baxter is active in the Fylde Humanist Group.

Baxter, George E. (19th Century) Baxter, of Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, was a contributor to Truth Seeker, Secular Thought, and other liberal publications. He lectured several times at Canada’s Fort Fairfield Liberal League and expressed the view that “there are no national lines in Freethought.” {PUT}

Bayle, Pierre (1647—1706) 

An important 17th-century French skeptic, Bayle was persecuted for his views, for being first a Protestant, then a Catholic, then a Protestant. Voltaire liked him, believing he was secretly an atheist while appearing to be a Calvinist. Gibbon acknowledged his indebtedness to the “celebrated writer,” calling him “the indefatigable Bayle.” In one of his early works, Bayle wrote that a society of atheists could be as moral as or more moral than a society of Christians. During the French Revolution, Maréchal cited Bayle as being only a “possible atheist.” Robertson, however, believes that no greater service was rendered in that age to the spread of rational views than that embodied in his grand Dictionnaire Historique et Critique (1697), in which he wrote that “in matters of religion, it is very easy to deceive a man, and very hard to undeceive him.” Chased from France because of his freethinking, and persecuted even in Rotterdam, Bayle through his consummate scholarship produced, according to Robertson, “a virtual encyclopedia for freethinkers in his incomparable Dictionary, baffling hostility by the Pyrrhonian impartiality with which he handled all religious questions.” Berman describes Bayle’s rather curious ad hominem argument:

The most evil and depraved being is the most complete practical atheist. But if such a being believes firmly in the existence of God (and probably also has an adequate understanding of God), then there can hardly be a necessary connection, or any firm link, between theoretical and practical atheism. And these conditions are indeed fulfilled, since Satan is the most complete practical theist, but he is also a convinced believer in God.

Bayle’s attempt to break down the connection between theoretical beliefs and practical consequences, Berman holds, “is derived from an essentially empiricist source.” In 1953, Arnold Toynbee in An Historian’s Approach to Religion, reprinted Bayle’s “If Christian Theology is True, God is a Monster.” Elisabeth LaBrousse, his biographer, has written that Bayle became a kind of tourist attraction during the last years of his life. He greeted his visitors affably and with a loquacity unheard of in his younger days. He assured the Abbé de Polignac that he was “a good Protestant” inasmuch as he was in the habit of protesting “against everything anyone says or does.” Des Maiseaux is quoted as saying that Bayle “saw death approaching without either fearing or desiring it.” Two months before his death, Bayle wrote to Lord Shaftesbury, “I should have thought that a dispute with Divines would put me out of humor, but I find by experience that it serves as an amusement for me in the solitude to which I have reduced myself.” According to Nouvelle Biographic Générale, “He died in his clothes, and as it were pen in hand.” A friend, M. Seers, said Bayle died “with great tranquillity and without anybody with him. At nine o’clock in the morning his landlady entered his chamber; he asked her, but with a dying voice, if his fire was kindled, and died a moment after, without M. Basnage (author of the first History of the Jews) or me, or any of his friends with him.” Freethought History (#24, 1997) notes material about Bayle: <http://www.cisi.unito.it/progetti/bayle/index.html>. {BDF; CE; EU, Richard Popkin and Aram Vartanian; FUK; HAB; JM; JMR; JMRH; RAT; RE}

Baylee, Joseph (20th Century) Baylee, a freethinker, wrote God, Man, and the Bible (191—?). {GS}

Bayley, John (20th Century) Bayley wrote Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch (1998) about his eventful life with his wife, how she was more concerned with the people around her than with her ego, and how at the end she developed Alzheimer’s and went “sailing into darkness.” Bayley and Murdoch were described by Jim Herrick as being “broadly humanist.” {New Humanist, October 1998, and December 1999}

Bayrhoffer, Karl Theodor (1812—1888) Bayrhoffer was a German philosopher who wrote The Idea and History of Philosophy (1838). A participant in the 1848 revolution, he then emigrated to America, where he wrote many polemical works. {BDF}

Bays, Jack (20th Century) Bays, a freethinker, wrote The Good Book and The Sadist God. {GS}

Baysinger, Jeff (20th Century) Baysinger is director of the chapter in Denver, Colorado, of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). He is also on the FFRF board of directors.

Bazaz, Gauri Malik Bazaz (20th Century) Bazaz, the daughter of Prem Nath Bazaz, is secretary of the Indian Renaissance Institute. A radical humanist, she is a physician.

Bazaz, Prem Nath (Died 1976) Bazaz was a radical humanist and a freedom fighter for Kashmir. He wrote A Critique of Gita and Secular Democracy.

B.C.: See entries for B.C.E. and A.D.

B.C.E. Lady Katie Magnus was the first to write B.C.E. (Before the Common Era), a more accurate description according to freethinkers, rather than B.C. (Before Christ). (See entry for A. D.) {William Safire, The New York Times, 17 August 1997}

Beach, Joseph Warren (1880—1957) A scholar at the University of Minnesota and author of American Fiction 1920—1940 and The Twentieth- Century Novel, Beach in 1956 just before his death wrote the present author:

Of the various brands of humanism, the one that best fits my way of thinking is naturalistic humanism. Humanism is for me a handy way of designating the view that the values we most cherish in ethics have originated in human minds in a natural manner, and that they make up the ideal of a good life to which we owe allegiance individually and as members of the community. For me it implies a naturalistic philosophy, without reference to theological sanctions or supernatural assumptions as to the origin and ‘ultimate’ nature of the universe of which we are a part. As for the origins of our moral sense, it seems a reasonable hypothesis that it is traceable to our experience as men under the conditions of family life and of larger social units, and may have its psychological motivation in the feelings we have for the members of our family and our community, and above all in the need we have to maintain the esteem and love of our fellows. Along with this goes the natural instinct to avoid what is harmful to us, to prize what is helpful, and to wish to have prevail in society those types of behavior that make for the general well-being. In this sense our moral ideals are a natural development out of the ego. Such a naturalistic philosophy enables us to make a more rational analysis of our ideals and obligations and to construct a more systematic and coherent system of values than any theological philosophy, which brings in considerations from the outside, not subject to critical examination and tending to introduce confusion into our thinking. Obviously religion, itself a product of the human mind, has been closely associated with our ideas of good and bad, and has often been a vehicle for diffusing and enforcing many of our finest ideals. But it is also regrettably true that the great historical religions have had a negligible effect in preventing national and commercial rivalries and wars, and in many instances have been the cause of tragic divisions among men. And I feel that most religions as they are now professed tend to keep men from maturing intellectually and emotionally; and that there is a great wastage of energy in each generation as men go through the painful process of throwing off the religious teachings of their childhood. I realize, however, that for great populations the entire structure of their mores is bound up closely with the churches to which they belong, and that for them to be abruptly deprived of their religious faith might well have disastrous effects on their personal and social character. It seems a pity that so powerful an agent for good as is the church community should have so largely failed to adjust itself to a world-mentality dominated by the naturalistic and critical spirit associated with scientific thinking. One wishes to be associated with others in the group affirmation of a common faith. But for many decades I have been kept almost altogether away from churches by the sense that intellectual and moral integrity requires that one should not pretend to beliefs that one’s mind rejects. The most nearly congenial to my way of thinking are the Unitarian and Universalist churches. But even with them I am made uneasy by vestiges in the service of a “mythology” which it is hard to reconcile with the critical spirit of their humanism. Of ancient philosophers, the Stoics and Epicureans are most congenial to me; but a combination of the two seems requisite for an adequate humanism. The Epicureans are admirable for building up a philosophy in naturalistic terms, and for stressing happiness (or the finer satisfactions) as the ultimate end of human activity. The Stoics depend too much on the notion of a transcendental moral order of the universe, for which we have no evidence; but they add to Epicurean ethics their important emphasis on the social order among men and the necessity for the individual to make sacrifices to this ideal. Perhaps the finest picture of the virtues peculiar to man is given by Aristotle in his Nichomachean Ethics. But his stress is rather too heavy on the individual freeman and too light on what we owe to the social body; and he writes within the framework of a slave state. In modern English literature, where I am most at home, the writers who have most influenced me in my impressionable years are probably Matthew Arnold (in his effort to divest religion of Aberglaube and to refine our critical sense and our social values and manners), and George Meredith, who in his poetry and fiction gave a fine representation of a naturalist system of ethics in theory and practice. But our English and American novelists almost from the start have been essentially humanists. They have been concerned with those qualities in the individual that make for the good life in society; and they have been pretty free from a more than conventional reference to theological assumptions. Among those who stand highest in these respects are George Eliot, Henry James, Thackeray, Dickens, and Hardy. Our poets have been more handicapped by religious commitments, though Tennyson and Browning, as well as the early Wordsworth, made a valiant effort at “liberalism.” Shelley was, of course, a queer combination of eighteenth-century rationalism and Platonic mysticism. Many of our recent poets have failed to meet the challenge of modern thought. They are too much haunted by the notion of “original sin,” which, to my thinking, is as false an assumption as the Rousseauistic premise of the “natural goodness of man.” Man is a naturally selfish animal, but with great capacities for social behavior when properly trained and motivated. Many of our modern poets are also under the impression that they cannot do business without a large allowance of “mythology,” and they don’t trust men to stand up to the problems of life without constant appeal to their Urvater. The war years and the great depression have been more than they could take, and when the socialist ideal seemed to fail them they were readily discouraged and too often simply “gave up the game.” Literary men and young men tend to be impatient; they live in great hopes for the immediate future; and when their hopes are not realized within a generation, they tend to turn cynical and religious. A stable philosophy must have a longer range. The Babbitt-and-More “new humanism” was provincial and puritan; it relied altogether on the “inner check,” as we all must; but the inner check was too much conceived of as a check on all natural impulse, and the positive impulses were strangled with the negative. Their literary criticism was a witch-hunt. In contemporary Germany and France Existentialism (à la Heidegger and Sartre) seems to me the most vital philosophy. German existentialism (in Pastor Bultmann) promises to be a good solvent for “mythology” in Lutheranism. But there is (in Jaspers) too much reliance on “transcendentals” and too much suspicion of the positive empiricism of science. The Sartre existentialism has one radical defect. It seems to imply that every man must go it alone and make a completely fresh start; there seems to be no general system of ethics available; whereas the humanistic ideal and set of values (owing much to the teachings of Jesus) have a long and august history. This may not be so clear in France as in English-speaking countries, where Protestantism has done so much to break down the all-or-nothing complex. With us, humanism is available to the well-informed. But it does lack organization, and is at a disadvantage in comparison with organized religion. It is bound to make headway in a world permeated with the critical spirit of science. But it suffers from the widespread notion promoted in every pulpit that, unless the world is purposeful and benevolently directed by an intelligent spirit, we have no stable grounds for our moral idealism. It suffers from the aversion of numerous creative writers today who feel that our humanism has no room for the “soul,” the will, or the imagination. What we need is a prophetic voice with the literary genius of an Emerson, but an Emerson not pledged to a transcendentalist view of the universe. (For a contrary view concerning Heidegger, see the statement of Paul Edwards in the entry for Heidegger.) {WAS, 2 July 1956}

Beadnell, Charles Marsh (Born 1872) From 1914 to 1917 Beadnell was Fleet Surgeon on H.M.S. Shannon, and he retired from the Navy in 1926. In 1940 he became President of the Rationalist Press Association in 1940. {FUK; RAT; RE}

Beadnell, Louise Myfanwy (1907—1988) “Miffy” Beadnell, who was born in Scotland, had as role models her geologist father and a rationalist, surgeon uncle. She was a founding member and secretary of the Humanist Society of Victoria in Australia, and she was editor of the Victorian Humanist. Once asked her belief, Beadnell replied that it consisted of just nine words: “I do not believe that there is a god.” {FUK; SWW}

Beal, Temy (20th Century) Beal is editor of the Alabama Freethought Association newsletter (255 Lake Joan Circle, Munford, Alabama 36258).

Beam, Ben (20th Century) Beam, who has held positions with the Universalist Church, is membership coordinator of the New York Ethical Society.

BEANS: See entry for Legumes.

Bear, Greg (20th Century) Known in science-fiction circles for his short stories and novels, Bear wrote The Forge of God and the Nebula award-winning Blood Music and Moving Mars. When asked on the SciFi Channel’s IRC server, The Domininion, what he thought of religion, Bear responded, “I’m fascinated by religion. Religion mixes storytelling with trying to understand our place in the world. The myths and religious background of the human race are a treasure trove of ideas, but as to whether I believe the dictates of any modern-day religion, the answer is flatly ‘no.’ ”{CA}

BEAT GENERATION The “beat generation” is a phrase used to describe writers in the 1950s who were essentially anarchistic and who rejected traditional social and artistic forms. The members looked for beatific illuminations such as those found in Zen Buddhism or other Eastern religions, and they used the rhythms of simple American speech and of be-bop and progressive jazz. Jack Kerouac, Chandler Broussard, Kenneth Rexroth, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, John Clellon Holmes, David Amram, and Gregory Corso are associated with the movement. The true nihilist of the group was William Burroughs. Some of the individuals were influenced by (Zen) Buddhism and other echoes of religious confessional, such as Red Indian and Mexican Peyote cults. In the 1960s, “beat” ideas and attitudes were practiced in a “beat” life style by people called “hippies.” The second and third generation artists included Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Wolf Biermann, Andrei Voznesensky, and Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko. The hipster who defined “beat,” a carnival term for someone fatigued and beaten down, was Herbert Huncke, whose last name appropriately rhymes with “junkie.” A teenage runaway who used drugs as early as twelve and sold sex by the time he was sixteen, Huncke was a well-known hustler at New York’s 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue Angle Bar. He introduced Burroughs to heroin, worked as a recruiter to find interviewees for sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, spent eleven years in prison, and wrote a variety of books. For Kerouac’s The Town and the City, Huncke was the dominant character, Junkey. (See entries for David Amram, William Burroughs, John Cage, Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, and Royston Ellis.) {CE; OEL; The Freedom to be Obscure (1997)}

Beat, Jackie (20th Century) Beat reveled in the fact that “her” drag show, “Jesus Christ, It’s Your Birthday,” was cited as being anti-Catholic by the 1998 Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. He had a small part in the Robert De Niro drag film, “Flawless.”

BEATIFICATION: See entry for Pope

BEATLES, THE: See entry for Royston Ellis.

Beattie, Lucinda (20th Century) Beattie is on the editorial advisory board of Religious Humanism, the quarterly published by the Fellowship of Religious Humanists.

Beattie, Paul H. (Died c. 1989) Beattie was a Unitarian minister and President, Fellowship of Religious Humanism, when he signed Humanist Manifesto II. In 1980, he signed the Secular Humanist Declaration. At the Tenth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Buffalo (1988), he addressed the group. Beattie has edited a Yellow Springs, Ohio, publication, Religious Humanism. {HM2; SHD}

Beauchamp, Philip: See entry for George Grote.

Beattie, Paul H. (Died c. 1989) Beattie was a Unitarian minister and President, Fellowship of Religious Humanism, when he signed Humanist Manifesto II. In 1980, he signed the Secular Humanist Declaration. At the Tenth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Buffalo (1988), he addressed the group. Beattie has edited a Yellow Springs, Ohio, publication, Religious Humanism. {HM2; SHD}

Beauregard, Claudius (1578—1664) Beauregard (also Berigardus) was a French physician and philosopher. His Circulus Pisanus (1643) is considered an atheistic work. {BDF}

Beausobre, Louis de (1730—1783) Beausobre was adopted by Frederick the Great out of esteem for his father, Isaac Beausobre, author of the History of Manicheanism. Louis wrote about skepticism of the wise (Pyrrhonisme du Sage, 1754), which the Parliament of France condemned to be burned. His anonymous The Dreams of Epicurus (1758) was an essay on happiness, reprinted with Holbach’s Social System in 1795. {BDF; RAT}

BEAUTY Although Aristotle, according to Diogenes Laërtius, believed that “Beauty is the gift of God,” David Hume in Of Tragedy has written, “Beauty

in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.” Wolfgang Mieder’sCollection of World Proverbs (1986), all apparently devised by males, illustrates the significance of Hume’s statement:

• He who marries a beauty marries trouble. —African (Yoruba)

• Beauty does not ensnare men; they ensnare themselves. —Chinese

• Beauty without virtue is like a rose without scent. —Danish

• Beauty is but dross if honesty be lost. —Dutch

• Beauty is but skin deep. —English

• One can neither put beauty into the pot, nor loveliness into the kettle. —Estonian

• Beauty and folly are often companions. —French

• Beauty is a good letter of introduction. —German

• Beauty will sit and weep; fortune will sit and eat. —Indian (Tamil)

• The beauty of a chaste woman makes bitter words. —Irish

• She who is born a beauty is born betrothed. —Italian

• Though she may be a beauty, it is but one layer of skin. —Japanese

• Genuine beauty appears from the morning; no eye fluids will spoil it. — Libyan

• The beauty of the man is in his intelligence, and the intelligence of the woman is in her beauty. —Moroccan

• Beauty will fade, but not goodness. —Philippine

• Beauty of the chaste is a virtue, that of a whore a quality. —Russian

• No one can live on beauty, but one can die for it. —Swedish

• It’s good to behold beauty and to live with wisdom. —Yiddish

Contemporary freethinkers are aware that the Western world’s concept of beauty is based upon Ancient Greek and Roman standards. They are particularly aware in the event their own physique nowhere nearly measures up, which aesthetes find unfortunate. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty, was identified with Venus by the Romans. “Aphrodite” by Praxiteles is said to have been modeled by his lover, Phryne, a prostitute. The work is also said to have been the first monumental statue of the female nude. When authorities accused Phryne of immoral conduct, she stood before them, pulled her clothing down to her waist, and asked the judges “Is desire immoral? Are you immoral? What is immorality?” Transfixed, they ruled in her favor and, in the words of poet Patricia Storace, Phryne became “the only woman in antiquity to have won a lawsuit with her own eloquent breasts.” (See entries for Aesthetics, Aphrodite, Doryphorus, Phallicism, and Phidias.) {Patricia Storace, The New York Review of Books, 3 October 1996}

Beauvoir, Simone de (1908—1986) An existentialist, feminist author, freethinker, and consort of Sartre, Beauvoir taught philosophy in several colleges. The Vatican in 1956 prohibited reading of her The Second Sex (1949), a profound study of the status of women. Film critic David Denby, however, described the book in 1996 as “the single most important feminist text of the century.” The Vatican also prohibited reading of her existentialistic novel, The Mandarins (1954). Beauvoir’s monumental treatment of the aged in several cultures is The Coming of Age (1970). Germaine Greer, in The Change: Women, Aging and the Menopause (1992), uses Beauvoir as an example of anophobia, the irrational fear and hatred of old women, citing her “fizzled out“ mid-life affair with Claude Lanzmann. In The Second Sex, according to biographer Margaret Crosland, Beauvoir displayed “an energetic anger, directed not only towards men, the jailers of women in man-made institutions, but also, as the book proceeds, at women themselves.” But despite her anger, intelligence, and strength, Beauvoir lamentably allowed herself to be dominated by Sartre and other men, Crosland writes. In Past Imperfect, French Intellectuals, 1944—1956, Tony Judt faults Beauvoir as well as Sartre for having argued away the brutalities of Stalin. Either they were deluded or perverse, Judt states, for they refused to test their political thoughts against political realities. Beauvoir’s love affair with novelist Nelson Algren is documented in her letters. On her death she was buried alongside her lifelong companion, Sartre, while wearing Algren’s wedding ring. (For details of her love affair with Bianca Lamblin, a student she seduced and then introduced to Sartre, who seduced her also, see entry for Jean-Paul Sartre.) {Simone de Beauvoir, “Facts and Myths About Women,” Free Inquiry, Winter 1998-1999; CE; EU, Hazel E. Barnes; ILP, Index Additus, 15 December 1961; Clancy Sigal, The New York Times Book Review, 27 December 1998; TYD}

Bebel, (Ferdinand) August (1840—1913) A German Socialist leader, Bebel was a freethinker, an antimilitarist, and a founder of the German Social Democratic Party. In the Reichstag, Bebel went so far as to say that “the aim of our party is on the political plane the republican form of State; on the economic, Socialism; and on the plane which we term the religious, atheism. . . . Christianity is the enemy of liberty and of civilization. It has kept mankind in chains.” According to McCabe, Bebel was zealously opposed to theology, and was, “like all the Socialist leaders of his time, an atheist and freely expressed it in his work on Woman and Christianity.” {BDF; CE; JM; JMR; JMRH; RAT; RE; TYD}

Beccaria, Cesare Bonesana [Marchese di] (1738—1794) An Italian criminologist, jurist, and economist, Beccaria wrote one of the most influential books of the eighteenth century, Crimes and Punishments (1764). His ideas, which were praised by Voltaire, affected penal methods for the better throughout the whole of Europe. According to Robertson, “Even were he not known to be a deist, his strictly secular and rationalist method would have brought upon him priestly suspicion; and he had in fact to defend himself against pertinacious and unscrupulous attacks, though he had sought in his book to guard himself by occasionally ‘veiling the truth in clouds.’ ” Beccaria owed his intellectual awakening first to Montesquieu and above all to Helvetius—another testimony to the reformative virtue of all freethought.” Other 18th-century Italian freethinkers Robertson names are as follows:

• Alfieri, one of the strongest anti-clericalists of his age; • Count Algarotti (1712—1764), a distinguished aesthetician;

• Bettinelli, the correspondent of Voltaire and author of The Resurrection of Italy (1775);

• Count Dandolo, author of a French work on The New Men (1799);

• Filangieri, whose work on legislation won high praise from Franklin but was put on the Index by the papacy;

• Ferdinando Galiani, a wit among the French philosophes;

• Antonio Genovesi (1712—1769), “redeemer of the Italian Mind” and chief establisher of economic science for Italy;

• Giannone, author of the great anti-papal History of the Kingdom of Naples (1723), who died in Sardinia after having been confined there for twelve years.

McCabe, however, speculates as to whether or not Beccaria was an atheist. Italy was not a safe place for heretics. Beccaria had to publish his treatise abroad and anonymously—and he, as he said, “heard the noise of the chains rattled by superstition and fanaticism.” {BDF; CE; JM; JMR; JMRH; RAT; RE}

Becher, Erich (Born 1882) Becher was a German philosopher who taught at the Münster University. A monist in philosophy, or critical realist, he was a utilitarian in ethics. Becher regarded reality as psychic but rejected the idea of a separable soul. {RAT}

Beck, Joe (20th Century) Beck heads the Humanist Counseling and Services Center and has been accepted as a secular humanist counselor at all the Catholic hospitals in the Buffalo, New York, area. E-mail: <jbeck@buffnet.net>. On the Web: <www.HumanismServices.com>.

Beck, Lewis W(hite) (20th Century) In the 1950s, Beck wrote reviews for The Humanist, at which time he taught philosophy at the University of Rochester. He is author of Early German Philosophy (1969), Actor and Spectator (1975), and Essays on Kant and Hume (1978).

Becker, Karl (20th Century) Becker’s Freigestige Bibliographie lists freethought works in German. {FUS}

Becker, Myrna (20th Century) Becker is a regional director in New York State of the Council for Secular Humanism.

Nick Becker, Student society

In May 1999, Becker ignited a controversy during his Calvert County, Maryland high school graduation ceremony by protesting what was supposed to be a religiously-neutral moment of silence. Instead, the audience of 4000 started saying the Lord's Prayer and Becker walked out in disgust. Local police officers attempted to prevent his return to the ceremony once the prayer was finished.

Though Becker was widely reported as being atheist, he actually considers himself agnostic.

The full story may be seen at the American Atheist Flashline: http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/prayer3.htm Becker, Richard J. (20th Century) An Albany, New York, humanist, Becker in 1996 participated in the international conference of ethical humanists in Mexico City. His e-mail: <rbecker518@aol.com>.

Becker, Walter Frederick [Sir] (Born 1855) A ship owner, Becker was known for his philanthropy. He founded, maintained, and was chairman of the Maternity and Rescue Home at Turin. During the War he founded, maintained, and directed a hospital at Turin for the British Expeditionary Force. Sir Walter was an agnostic. {RAT}

Beckers, Hubert (1806—1889) Beckers was a German philosopher who followed Schelling’s pantheism and wrote a number of works on Schelling and philosophy. {RAT}


The Len Beckett Memorial library in New Zealand has the largest collection of freethought literature in the Southern Hemisphere. {The New Zealand Rationalist & Humanist Newsletter, July 1998}

Beckett, James M. (19th Century) In 1845 in New York City, Beckett became recording secretary of the Infidel Society for the Promotion of Mental Liberty. The group had hoped to become a national freethought society. {FUS}

Beckett, Samuel (1906—1989) One of the greatest modern writers in English, Beckett was an unbeliever. He was born on Good Friday to affluent, Protestant, Anglo-Irish Dubliners. His mother was moody and demanding, his father was a steady person, his older brother was likable, and as a youth he enjoyed tennis courts, a croquet lawn, maids, gardeners, stables, pets, and a happy childhood. In 1923 at the time of Irish independence, Beckett went to Trinity College to read French, graduated with first-class honors, and in 1928 went to the École Normale Supérieure in Paris as an English Assistant. The 1920s in Paris allowed him not only a change from the parochialism of his home but also an introduction to the post-war views on post-order, post-hope, post-belief, and pre-postmodernism. Absurdism was a popular topic of the time. Lois Gordon in The World of Samuel Beckett, 1906—1946 (1995) tells of the friendship of James Joyce and Beckett. They liked each other, took long walks, smoked cigars, drank, enjoyed such repartee as “What do you think of the next life?” “I don’t think much of this one.” It was a time when writing was fragmented, when language was said to be a distortion of experience, when artists painted blank canvases, and Cézanne became popular in the very museums which once had banned his work. Nancy Cunard’s Hours Press published Beckett’s Whorescope, fewer than one hundred lines of arcane incoherence which Beckett described: “I wrote the first half before dinner . . . had a guzzle of salad and Chambertin at the Cochon de Lait, went back to the École and finished it about three in the morning. . . . That’s how it was and them were the days.” One of his sexual partners, Peggy Guggenheim, called him Oblomov. A friend, Walter Lowenfels, said Beckett, who had begun to drink heavily and refused to hold a job, told him,

All I want to do is sit on my arse 
and fart and think of Dante. 

After forty-two rejections, Murphy, his first novel, was published in 1938, and it eliminated the usual elements of plot, character, and setting. One reviewer described it as “verbal acrobatics . . . too allusive to be generally comprehensible,” but its royalties allowed him to pay his debts. Also in 1938, Beckett, stabbed by a neighborhood pimp, almost died and was possibly saved by a young woman who came to his assistance. She, it transpired, was Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil and became his companion, then his wife. The two joined the Resistance, and, although he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance, he kept the honors quiet for over thirty years, feeling war was dumb as well as distracting to a writer. Eugen Weber, author of The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s (1996), remarks about Beckett’s war service, “Rejecting the humanism of grand principles and sentimentalism, Beckett was a moralist of impotence, rather like Camus—but, unlike Camus, of impotence asserted. Anti-idealists can have ideals, too.” Beckett once heard Jung speak, Weber has written, but the people who entertained him most were the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and Buster Keaton. Little wonder that in 1969, Beckett came up with his thirty-second play, Breath, described by Weber as “a pile of rubbish, a breath, and then a cry.” Weber finds that the composer John Cage had much in common with Beckett, for Cage in a Beckett-like serious prank wrote Imaginary Landscapes for twelve randomly tuned radios, and his composition entitled 4’ 3” is one in which the performer does not play. According to the Irish poet John Montague, Beckett included “God bless” in his greetings, an “uncanny salutation, a familiar Irish phrase made strange by his worldwide reputation for godlessness.” Beckett wrote principally in French and lived in Paris. Jim Herrick, in New Humanist (January, 1990), states that Beckett’s “bleak vision (like that of Philip Larkin on a smaller scale represented the negative minimum of our beliefs—that we are alone in the universe except for one another, that there is no hope in the end, and that there is nothing of value except what we give it. From this minimum, however, he created works of such pathos and beauty that he almost contradicted himself.” He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1969, after the success of his Waiting for Godot (1952, written in French, and 1956, translated by Beckett into English), in which he comes across as a philosopher. Martin Seymour-Smith notes, “. . . for there is as little more than philosophy in it as is possible under theatrical conditions. However, these conditions, like the ones created by fiction, imply an inescapable empiricism: paradoxically, the philosophy is filtered through the reality, if only of the illusion, and becomes a parody of itself. God is more Charlot (Chaplin: real fun) than ‘God,’ who is conspicuously not there in any form.” At the play’s end, the joke seems to be on the audience, which has assumed Godot is “God.” But God is not there in any form, and this is one of Beckett’s purposes. “If Godot were God I would have called him that,” Beckett said in a little known statement. Murphy, one of Beckett’s memorable characters, requested in his fictional will, “With regard to the disposal of these my body, mind, and soul, I desire that they be burnt and placed in a paper bag and brought to the Abbey Theatre, Lr Abbey Street, Dublin, and without pause in what the great and good Lord Chesterfield calls the necessary house, where their happiest hours have been spent, on the right as one goes down into the pit, and I desire that the chain be pulled upon them, if possible during the performance of a piece, the whole to be executed without ceremony or show of grief.” Except that when his friend Cooper lugged the ashes but stopped off at a pub, a fight ensued and the bag of ashes scattered so that “by closing time the body, mind, and soul of Murphy were freely distributed over the floor of the saloon; and before another dayspring greyened the earth had been swept away with the sand, the beer, the butts, the glass, the matches, the spits, the vomit.” Unlike his works and life, Beckett’s own funeral and burial were traditional. {CE; TRI; TYD; Eugene Weber, “The Anti-Hero as Hero,” The New Republic, 6 May 1996}

Beckett, Samuel (13 Apr 1906 - 22 Dec 1989) One of the greatest modern writers in English, Beckett was an unbeliever. He was born on Good Friday to affluent, Protestant, Anglo-Irish Dubliners. His mother was moody and demanding, his father was a steady person, his older brother was likable, and as a youth he enjoyed tennis courts, a croquet lawn, maids, gardeners, stables, pets, and a happy childhood. In 1923 at the time of Irish independence, Beckett went to Trinity College to read French, graduated with first-class honors, and in 1928 went to the École Normale Supérieure in Paris as an English Assistant. The 1920s in Paris allowed him not only a change from the parochialism of his home but also an introduction to the post-war views on post-order, post-hope, post-belief, and pre-postmodernism. Absurdism was a popular topic of the time. Lois Gordon in The World of Samuel Beckett, 1906—1946 (1995) tells of the friendship of James Joyce and Beckett. They liked each other, took long walks, smoked cigars, drank, enjoyed such repartee as “What do you think of the next life?” “I don’t think much of this one.” It was a time when writing was fragmented, when language was said to be a distortion of experience, when artists painted blank canvases, and Cézanne became popular in the very museums that once had banned his work. Nancy Cunard’s Hours Press published Beckett’s Whorescope, fewer than one hundred lines of arcane incoherence which Beckett described: “I wrote the first half before dinner . . . had a guzzle of salad and Chambertin at the Cochon de Lait, went back to the École and finished it about three in the morning. . . . That’s how it was and them were the days.” One of his sexual partners, Peggy Guggenheim, called him Oblomov. A friend, Walter Lowenfels, said Beckett, who had begun to drink heavily and refused to hold a job, told him,

All I want to do is sit on my arse and fart and think of Dante.

After forty-two rejections, Murphy, his first novel, was published in 1938, and it eliminated the usual elements of plot, character, and setting. One reviewer described it as “verbal acrobatics . . . too allusive to be generally comprehensible,” but its royalties allowed him to pay his debts. Also in 1938, Beckett, stabbed by a neighborhood pimp, almost died and was possibly saved by a young woman who came to his assistance. She, it transpired, was Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil and became his companion, then his wife. The two joined the Resistance, and, although he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance, he kept the honors quiet for over thirty years, feeling war was dumb as well as distracting to a writer. Eugen Joseph Weber, author of The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s (1996), remarks about Beckett’s war service, “Rejecting the humanism of grand principles and sentimentalism, Beckett was a moralist of impotence, rather like Camus—but, unlike Camus, of impotence asserted. Anti-idealists can have ideals, too.” Beckett once heard Jung speak, Weber wrote, but the people who entertained him most were the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and Buster Keaton. Little wonder that in 1969, Beckett came up with his thirty-second play, Breath, described by Weber as “a pile of rubbish, a breath, and then a cry.” Weber finds that the composer John Cage had much in common with Beckett, for Cage in a Beckett-like serious prank wrote Imaginary Landscapes for twelve randomly tuned radios, and his composition entitled 4’ 3” is one in which the performer does not play. According to the Irish poet John Montague, Beckett included “God bless” in his greetings, an “uncanny salutation, a familiar Irish phrase made strange by his worldwide reputation for godlessness.” Beckett wrote principally in French and lived in Paris. Jim Herrick, in New Humanist (January, 1990), states that Beckett’s “bleak vision (like that of Philip Larkin on a smaller scale represented the negative minimum of our beliefs—that we are alone in the universe except for one another, that there is no hope in the end, and that there is nothing of value except what we give it. From this minimum, however, he created works of such pathos and beauty that he almost contradicted himself.” He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1969, after the success of his Waiting for Godot (1952, written in French, and 1956, translated by Beckett into English), in which he comes across as a philosopher. Martin Seymour-Smith notes, “. . . for there is as little more than philosophy in it as is possible under theatrical conditions. However, these conditions, like the ones created by fiction, imply an inescapable empiricism: paradoxically, the philosophy is filtered through the reality, if only of the illusion, and becomes a parody of itself. God is more Charlot (Chaplin: real fun) than ‘God,’ who is conspicuously not there in any form.” At the play’s end, the joke seems to be on the audience, which has assumed Godot is “God.” But God is not there in any form, and this is one of Beckett’s purposes. “If Godot were God I would have called him that,” Beckett said in a little known statement. Murphy, one of Beckett’s memorable characters, requested in his fictional will, “With regard to the disposal of these my body, mind, and soul, I desire that they be burnt and placed in a paper bag and brought to the Abbey Theatre, Abbey Street, Dublin, and without pause in what the great and good Lord Chesterfield calls the necessary house, where their happiest hours have been spent, on the right as one goes down into the pit, and I desire that the chain be pulled upon them, if possible during the performance of a piece, the whole to be executed without ceremony or show of grief.” Except that when his friend Cooper lugged the ashes but stopped off at a pub, a fight ensued and the bag of ashes scattered so that “by closing time the body, mind, and soul of Murphy were freely distributed over the floor of the saloon; and before another dayspring greyened the earth had been swept away with the sand, the beer, the butts, the glass, the matches, the spits, the vomit.” Unlike his works and life, Beckett’s own funeral and burial were traditional. {CE; TRI; TYD; Eugene Weber, “The Anti-Hero as Hero,” The New Republic, 6 May 1996}

Beckford, William (1759—1844) Beckford, the son of the Lord Mayor of London, wrote Vathek (1786), an Oriental story written in French and erroneously said to have been written in three days. The work celebrates pederastic love. Melville, who cleared his character of many gossipy charges, stated that Beckford “leant towards Agnosticism.” He believed in an “Eternal Power” and rejected all creeds. In 1784 when his powerful uncle, Lord Loughborough, a chief justice, revealed Beckford’s love for a cousin, William (“Kitty”) Courtenay, Beckford for sixty years was forced to live as an outcast. Some of the boys he loved remained his friends, but he is said never to have adjusted to the ruin of his reputation. Beckford bought Gibbon’s library and wrote about Italy, Spain, and Portugal. {GL; RAT}

Beckman, David (20th Century) Beckman, while a member of the Doubters’ Club at Amherst College in Massachusetts, was one of the founding members of Campus Freethought Alliance. {International Humanist News, December 1996}

Beckwith, Burnham P(utnam) (Born 1904) Beckwith in 1984 wrote The Decline of US Religious Faith, 1912 to 1984. {Free Inquiry, Spring 1986}

BED • Politics doesn’t make strange bedfellows: marriage does. —Groucho Marx

Bedborough, George (19th Century) Bedborough, a secularist, was the first editor of The Adult, The Journal of Sex (1897). One of its contributors, Lucy Stewart, argued with consistency that freethinkers ought to support free love on the utilitarian grounds that it would maximize happiness, since with birth control there would be no need to worry about producing unwanted children. In 1898, when he was arrested for selling Havelock Ellis’s Sexual Inversion, a Free Press Defence Committee formed, members of which included Grant Allen, George Bernard Shaw, Edward Carpenter, Hyndman, Foote, Frank Podmore, W. M. Thompson, Truelove, Holyoake, Robertson, and Herbert Burrows. However, at his trial Bedborough capitulated and pleaded guilty. The Adult, which had been taken over by Henry Seymour, came to an end upon Bedborough’s pleading guilty. {RSR}

Beddoes, Thomas (1760—1808) A physician, Beddoes was reader in chemistry at Oxford (1788—1792) but resigned, under pressure, on account of his sympathies with the French Revolution and his attacks on the clergy. A deist and friend of Erasmus Darwin, Beddoes was an enthusiast for human progress. Said Southey, “From Beddoes I hoped for more good for the human race than any other individual.” {RAT}

Bedingfield, Richard (1823—1876) Bedingfield was a pantheistic writer. He wrote as “B.T.W.R.” in National Reformer and in 1870 established Freelight. {BDF}

Beecher, John (20th Century) Beecher, a Southern freethinker from a prominent New England family, wrote Collected Poems, 1924—1974 (1974) and Tomorrow is a Day (1980). {Freethought History #14, 1995}

BEELZEBUB or Beelzebul Beelzebub is the name in the New Testament for the chief of the devils, or Satan. The Old Testament mentions Beelzebub (Baal Zebub) once, as a “lord of flies” of the Philistine city of Ekron. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, Beelzebub was a fallen angel ranking next to Satan. {ER}

Beem, Albert Kent (20th Century) Beem, a freethinker, wrote Inspirations of a Free Religious Movement (1901) and The Natural vs. the Supernatural in Religion (1904?). {GS}

Beesley, Winfield (20th Century) Beesley, a freethinker, wrote A Brave New Look at Belief (1973). {GS}

Beesly, Edward Spencer (1831—1915) An English positivist, Beesly taught history in 1860 at University College in London. He was one of the translators of Comte’s System of Positive Polity. {BDF; RAT}

Beeson, Jack (1921—	) 

An American composer in the department of music at Columbia University in New York City, Beeson responded to the present author as follows concerning humanism:

Your inquiry and its additional material is welcome, for it justifies (to me) my longstanding aversion to the word humanism. I’ve always thought it had some of the disadvantages—perhaps only to those who have learned German, rather than having been born into that language—of Geist and such. I think it is striking that your respondents do not so much wrestle with the word itself as to seize upon an adjective—somewhat predictably, in most cases.

Beeson has been both a Guggenheim and Fulbright fellow. {WAS, 28 August 1992}

Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770—1827) Beethoven “used Humanist themes such as his Third Symphony (the Eroica, 1804), celebrating the memory of a great man; his Fifth Symphony (1808), portraying the triumph of mankind over fate; and his Ninth Symphony (1824—1826), assertive of the brotherhood of man and attaining its climax in a stirring setting to music of the poet Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy.’ There is no doubt that Beethoven himself was a real democrat at a time when it was not easy to be one,” according to Corliss Lamont. When about forty, Beethoven became totally deaf, but he continued to compose until his death. Robertson points out that Beethoven had no formal religion but believed in three ancient, pantheistic formulas: “I am that which is”; “I am all that is, that was, that shall be”; and “He is alone by Himself, and to Him alone do all things owe their being.” When his friend Moscheles at the end of his arrangement of Fidelio (1805) wrote, “Fine, with God’s help,” Beethoven added, “O man, help thyself.” Comments Robertson, “His reception of the Catholic sacraments in extremis was not his act. He had left to mankind a purer and a more lasting gift than either the creeds or the philosophies of his age.” Sir George Macfarren, writing of Beethoven in the Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography, speaks of him as a “free thinker,” saying the remarkable mass in C “might scarcely have proceeded from an entirely orthodox thinker.” Sir George Grove, in his Dictionary of Music and Musicians, says, “Formal religion he apparently had none” and “the Bible does not appear to have been one of his favorite books.” McCabe flatly says that Beethoven, reared a Catholic, quit the Church, was an apostate from their creed, and adopted Goethe’s pantheism. Agreeing, Nicolas Walter labels Beethoven a pantheist, not a Christian. Beethoven was known to have been quite boorish, particularly because of his deafness. No girlfriends are known to have been attracted to him. Rather, his attention allegedly was focused on a young nephew named Karl, who not only refused to return the affection but may have attempted to blackmail Beethoven by threatening to publicize such advances. After enduring four surgical operations and expecting a fifth, Beethoven did write to Moscheles of his “hard doom.” Ten days before his death, he wrote his friend Moscheles that he calmly accepted his fate “and only constantly pray to God that his holy will may ordain that while thus condemned to suffer death in life, I may be shielded from want. The Almighty will give me strength to endure my lot, however severe and terrible, with resignation to his will.” As pointed out by Robertson, Beethoven’s deistic phrasing was followed by an example of his final comfort, “the noble liberality of the [London] Philharmonic Society,” which had promptly sent him £100 in his need. When Beethoven was dying, he yielded to the pressure of Catholic friends and let a priest administer his sacraments. But when the priest left the room, Beethoven said, in the Latin words of the ancient Roman theater, “Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over.” An apologist said Beethoven meant the comedy of life was over, not the comedy of a priest administering sacraments, an argument McCabe found implausible.

	Two versions exist concerning his final day. Biographer Robert H. Schauffler wrote that the day after Beethoven signed his will, he was given a bottle of wine as a present and remarked, “Pity, pity—too late,” then lapsed into unconsciousness. A violent thunderstorm began that afternoon and, following a loud crack of thunder, Beethoven rose in his bed, wide-eyed, lifting his right hand in a clenched and defiant fist, then fell back, relinquishing his hold on life. 

Denying this, Nicolas Slonimsky, author of Music Since 1900 and My First Hundred Years—he lived to the age of 102—checked with the Vienna weather bureau. Their records, he reported, did confirm that an electric storm had raged while Beethoven was in extremis. However, Slonimsky added that “the story that he raised his clenched fist aloft as a gesture of defiance to an over-bearing Heaven must be relegated to fantasy; he was far too feeble either to clench his fist or to raise his arm.” (Slonimsky also found that, contrary to myth, snow did not fall at Mozart’s funeral, for it was a clear day according to the Austrian weather bureau.) {AA; Alexander Cockburn, The Nation, 29 January 1996; CE; CL; HNS2; JM; JMR; JMRH; TSV; TYD}

BEETLES Insects of the order of Coleoptera are the largest of the insect orders. Over 330,000 described species exist, the secret of their diversity being that as they evolved they developed a taste for flowers. Or so states Dr. Brian D. Farrell, a curator at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Noting that the evolution of new species adapting to unexplored habitats or new ways of life accounts for much of the diversity of life, he told New York Times reporter Carol Kaesuk Yoon (28 July 1998), “Here was this huge, underexploited resource, the flowering plants. Insects that were able to evolve to make the shift to eat them, enjoyed the fruits, so to speak.“The reason there are so many species on earth is, he feels, quite simple: Diversity begets diversity. It is no coincidence that the flowering plants are themselves so diverse because the beetles and other insects attacking them might have provided pressure for the evolution of new better-defended plant species. More plants led to the spawning of more beetles. At the base of the beetle family tree were leaf beetles, snout beetles, and long-horned beetles that still eat the primitive gymnospers that they ate 200 million years ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth. “Swarming the world,” Yoon wrote in her interview with Dr. Farrell, “is a dazzling array of shapes, colors and sizes from gargantuan Goliath beetles to jewel-like tortoise beetles to dearly family ladybugs, beetles, with more species than any other plan or animal group on earth, are the undeniable rules of the planet.” Asked by theologians what he had gleaned from biology about The Creator, J. B. S. Haldane, an atheist and rationalist, responded in a way they could understand: “He must have had an inordinate fondness for beetles.”

Beevers, David (20th Century) Beevers is a writer for the Atheist Network Journal, which is edited by Victor King.


Begbie, Elphinstone Waters [Major-General] (1842—1919) Begbie became a Brigadier-General in 1895 and served in the Abyssinian Campaign, the Duffla Expedition, and the Third Burmese War. He was a supporter of the Rationalist Press Association. {RAT}

Beggs, Keith (20th Century) Beggs, when an executive director of the American Humanist Association, signed Humanist Manifesto II. {HM2}

BEHEADINGS Saudi Arabia, for Islamic religious infractions, beheaded an average of 20.2 individuals per month in 1995. The average number per month in 1996 was 1.5, according to Playboy (January 1997).

Behmer, E. H. (20th Century) 

In the 1950s, Behmer was a correspondent (Sweden) for The Humanist.

Behn, Aphra (1640—1689) Behn was said by Vita Sackville-West to be the first English novelist to have supported herself by writing. The Rover (1677) was humorous and bawdy. Oroonoko (1688), based on her experiences in Surinam, is said to have been the first English philosophical novel. Although married several times and widowed early, Behn had a relationship with John Hoyle, a gay man who was the center of many scandals. She was a friend of Nell Gwyn, the King’s mistress. Known as “the incomparable Astrea,” the name she used when she was Charles II’s spy in Antwerp, she wrote homoerotic verse and was a dramatist at a time when women were just beginning to act in the theatres. In The Golden Age Behn wrote, “[T]he gods, by teaching us religion first, first set the world at odds.” {BYD; CE; GL}

Behrendt, Walter Curt (1884—1945) When he signed Humanist Manifesto II, Behrendt was Vice President of the European Parliament, West Germany. {HM2}

Beier, Immy (20th Century) At a 1997 seminar of the European Humanist Professionals held in London, Beier described her work as a counselor for humanists in the military. Trauma is like a knife which cuts through you, she said, and it is necessary to counsel those who surround the victims as well. {International Humanist News, September 1997}

Beit, Alfred (1853—1906) Beit was the son of a German Jew who practiced the Lutheran religion, but his sons rejected both creeds. A close associate of Cecil Rhodes, Beit made a large fortune and left £2,000,000 for charitable and educational purposes and the development of South Africa. His brother, Sir Otto Beit (1865—1930), also a freethinker, carried out the benevolent plans and was also a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust. {RE}

Bekker, Balthasar (1634—1698) A Dutch rationalist, Bekker obtained a doctorate of divinity but was then accused of Soccinianism. Fleeing to Amsterdam, he wrote World Bewitched (1691), a work in which witchcraft and the power of demons are denied. He was then deposed from his place in the Church. Bekker was said to have been ugly, even to have looked like the devil he did not believe in. {BDF; RAT}

BELGIAN HUMANISTS Belgium has the following groups and journals:

• Centre d’Action Laique, ULB, Boulevard Du Triumphe, 1050 Brussels • De Vrijzinnige Lezer (a monthly in Dutch), Lange Leemstraat 57, B 2000 Antwerpen • De Vrijzinnige Micro, Lange Leemstraat 57, B 2000 Antwerpen • Espace de Libertés, Campus de la Plaine, ULB-CP 236, Avenue Arnaud Fraiteur, 1050 Brussels <espace@cal.ulb.ac.be>. • Federation des Amis de la Morale Laique, Rue du Meridien 17, 1030 Brussels • Het Vrije Woord, Lange Leemstraat 57, 2018 Antwerp <human@glo.be>. Contact is Marianne Marchand. • Humanistisch Jongreren Service (IHEU), Rogierstraat 134, 12110 Brussels, Belgium. • La Pensée et les Hommes, Avenue Adolpfe Buyl 105, 1050 Brussels • Lique de l’Enseignement et de l’Education Permante (IHEU), Blvd. M. Lemonnier 110, 1000 Brussels • Mores, a bi-monthly in Dutch of Humanistisch Verbond Belgie, is at Lange Leemstraat 57, 2018 Antwerpen • UCOS Nieuwsbrief is at <lawauter@vub.ac.be>. • Unie Vrijzinnige Verenigingen (Union of Humanist Associations) is a full voting member in Brussels of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. It operates as an umbrella organization within the Flemish part of Belgium and pays particular attention to moral counselling, youth and educational matters, and the separation of church and state. • University Centre for Development Cooperation, Pleinlaan 2, Gebouwy, 1050 Brussels

Belgian astronomer Jean Dommanget signed Humanist Manifesto 2000. In 1997, a five-floor headquarters of the Centre d’Action Laïque (CAL) was opened. The inauguration of the building was attended by Charles Picqué, Ministre-Président of the government, and Hervé Hasquin, Minister for the Brussels Capital Region. The European Humanist Federation, which now has two offices in the building, was represented by its Secretary General, Claude Wachtelaer, and Treasurer Werner Schultz. The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) was represented by its President Rob Tielman and Babu Gogineni. Philippe Grollet, the president of the Centre, spoke about the high profile humanism has in Belgium. CAL was founded on 29 March 1969. Its monthly magazine Espace de Libertés has a circulation of ten thousand. It also publishes a bi-monthly Passarelles. CAL’s Vice President Georges Liénard represented the IHEU and the European Humanist Federation at a 1997 International Symposium on Bio-Ethics that had been organized by the Council of Europe. The Flemish-speaking equivalent of the CAL is the Unie Vrijzinnige Verenigingen, which coordinates the activities of about thirty Flemish-speaking humanist groups. The non-believer community in Belgium is represented by Counseil Central Laïque (CLL), a ten-member committee responsible for providing moral counseling within the armed forces, at the Brussels airport, and for representing the secularist case to the federal authorities. Humanistisch Verbond is a full member of the IHEU, its largest individual member organization with almost eighty branches in Flanders. Laïque Humanistische Präsenz was formed in 1988 to work in the German-speaking parts of Belgium. Its work covers nine communes in the German-speaking parts of Belgium. On the Web: <http:www.ulb.ac.be/cal/>. For information on the Web about Humanistisch Verbond-Vlaanderen: <>.

BELGIAN UNITARIANS Unitarians in Brussels can be contacted by telephoning (32) 2-260 0226. Ulrich Kroener is at <ulrich@www.eiba.be>.

BELIEF “Belief, when it is not simply traditional, is a product of several factors: desire, evidence, and iteration,” Bertrand Russell wrote in 1938. Lord Russell added,

When either the desire or the evidence is nil, there will be no belief; when there is no outside assertion, belief will only arise in exceptional characters, such as founders of religions, scientific discovers, and lunatics. To produce a mass belief, of the sort that is socially important, all three elements must exist in some degree; but if one element is increased while another is diminished, the resulting amount of belief may be unchanged. More propaganda is necessary to cause acceptance of a belief for which there is little evidence than of one for which the evidence is strong, if both are equally satisfactory to desire; and so on.

Freethinkers are frequently asked if they “believe” in God. Why, they respond, are they never asked if they believe in clouds or electricity? “Beliefs,” noted sci-fi author Robert Heinlein, “get in the way of learning.” Mark Twain, discussing belief, wrote that “Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.” Asked if he believed in infant baptism, retorted, “Hell, I’ve seen it!” Similarly, Steve Allen says he does not believe 2 + 2 = 4. He knows it. To believe, he reasons, is to reveal that you do not know, that you simply believe. In such a case, you might believe almost anything. {Lee Eisler, The Quotable Bertrand Russell}


• The believer is happy; the doubter is wise. —Hungarian Proverb

• The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind. —H. L. Mencken

• Religious beliefs and behavior can themselves be psychopathological.

—David Berman

• If there were a verb meaning “to believe falsely,” it would not have any significant first person, present indicative. —Ludwig Wittgenstein

Belinski, Vissarion: See entry for V. G. Byelinsky

Bell, Alexander Graham (1847—1922) Bell was the inventor of the telephone and devices directed to the needs of the deaf. Although he attended Presbyterian and Episcopalian services, in 1902 he wrote his wife that “I am a Unitarian Agnostic.” In a 1998 biography, Alexander Graham Bell, James Mackay regaled readers with tales about Bell’s inventions. Jean-Louis Forain, who had one of the first telephones in Paris, invited Edgar Degas for dinner and when he jumped to answer the ringing device Degas was amused: “Ah. The telephone. Now I understand—it rings, you jump.” Queen Victoria in England was given two phones made of ivory and trimmed in gold. Bell answered the phone by saying not “Hello” but “Ahoy!” and was said to have been a night owl, a man who loved solitude. His mother had been next to deaf at the age of thirteen, forced to listen through an ear trumpet. Her son dropped out of school at the age of fifteen but showed his genius by inventing a device which helped the deaf hear. He taught the deaf speech, lip-reading, and anything else that might enhance their lives. “Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you,” he told an assistant on 10 March 1876 in the first successful telephone call. Few know that in 1882 he invented a “vacuum jacket,” today known as the iron lung. He also helped perfect the gramophone, developed a hydrofoil boat, and ordinarily worked from noon until 4 a.m. Critics object to his view of eugenics, for in an 1883 lecture he proposed, “Those who believe as I do that the production of a defective race of human beings would be a great calamity to the world will examine carefully the causes that lead to the intermarriages of the deaf with the object of applying a remedy.”

	Bell died of diabetes. On 4 August 1922 on the day of his funeral in Nova Scotia, all telephone service in the United States was stopped for one minute in his honor at exactly 6:25 p.m. {CE; The New Yorker, 18 May 1998; U; UU}

Bell, Burton C. (20th Century) Bell is a recording artist, the lead singer of Fear Factory, a Death Metal band. Asked if he questioned religion, he answered, “Totally.” Asked if he is a non-believer? “I’m agnostic, really. I have no belief. I believe in personal spirituality, but letting a group of people tell you how you should worship or what your spirituality is is wrong.” {CA}

Bell, Burton C. A recording artist, Bell is the lead singer of an industrial-metal band, Fear Factory. He spoke of his agnosticism in an interview in Metal Hammer (August 1996):

Interviewer: You seem to write a lot of songs about [religion, specifically those off the album Demanufacture called "Pisschrist."]. Do you question the power of religion? Bell: Totally. I: So you're a non-believer? B: I'm agnostic really. I have no belief. I believe in personal spirituality, but letting a group of people tell you how you should worship, or what your spirituality is, is wrong.

He added that he was raised a Lutheran, likes to collect religious artificacts “for some reason . . . and I was confirmed and all that stuff, but I never enjoyed it.”

Bell, Daniel (1919— ) Bell, a Harvard sociologist and political philosopher, wrote Marxian Socialism in the United States (1996). When asked about the seven categories of humanism, he responded to the present author: “May I add one category to your seven with which you have begun? This would be the category, ‘All Too Humanism.’ ”

{WAS, 12 April 1989}

Bell, Evans: See Thomas Evans Bell.

Bell, J. D. (20th Century) Bell, interested in the relationship between Jews and rationalists, has written on the topic for The American Rationalist.

Bell, Joann (20th Century) Bell, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, is a freethinker who has written for Freethought Today.

Bell, Paul T. (20th Century) Bell is editor in England of The Sceptic and correspondent on bio-astronomy for Mensa’s newsletter Spacesignal. He has written in New Humanist concerning philosophical considerations about whether humans are the most advanced, in intelligence and technology, species on this planet.

Bell, Thomas Evans (1825—1887) Bell, a major in the Madras army, wrote Task of To-Day (1851) and became Deputy-Commissioner of Police at Madras, retiring in 1865. He once contemplated selling his commission to devote himself to freethought propaganda, but he was deterred by the advice of his friends. An agnostic and secularist, of Holyoake’s school, Bell wrote, “The age of faith has passed away, and Christianity is now a mere abstraction.” {BDF; GS; RAT; VI}

Bell, William S. (Born 1832) Bell, a Pennsylvania-born Methodist minister who was denounced for mixing politics and religion, preached in 1873 in the Universalist Church of New Bedford, Massachusetts. But in 1874 during his final service, he renounced Christianity and became a freethought lecturer. Bell, who wrote the Handbook of Freethought (1890), wrote about the French Revolution and wrote strong anti-slavery works. {BDF; PUT}

Bell-Cox, James A. (20th Century) Bell-Cox is President of Atheists and Agnostics of Wisconsin. On the Web: <mbr@execpc.com>.

Bellah, Robert Neelly (1927— ) Bellah, along with Frederick E. Greenspan, has written in Uncivil Religion (1986) about the interreligious hostility in America between Catholics and Protestants, Christians and Jews, new religions and old religions, and liberals and conservatives in the same denominations.

Bellant, Russ (1949— ) Bellant, a freelance researcher and writer in Detroit, Michigan, has written books describing the political right wing. In Free Inquiry (Winter 1995-1996), he described a Christian men’s movement, Promise Keepers, which has been backed by the Christian Right. Bellant is author of Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party (1991).

Bellman, Carl Michael (1740—1795) Bellman, a Swedish poet, was an unbeliever. (See entry for Scandinavian Unbelievers.)

Belot, Gustave (Born 1859) Belot was a French positivist philosopher, a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, Officer of Public Instruction, and member of the Conseil Supérieur de l’Instruction Publique. He translated Mill’s Logic (1897) and wrote various positivist works. {RAT}

Bellows, Henry Whitney (1814—1881) The first minister of All Soul’s Unitarian Church at Broadway near Prince Street in New York City, Bellows was appointed by President Lincoln to head the Sanitary Commission. His influence led to the formation of the Unitarian Association, composed of individual Unitarians, not churches as the National Conference of Unitarian Churches had been. {CE; U; U&U; UU}

BELTRANE: May 1st, Beltrane, is a Pagan holiday. See entry for Halloween.

Benaceraff, Baruj (1920- ) Benacerraf was born in Venezuela, became a naturalized United States of America citizen in 1943, and served in the American Army from 1946 to 1948. He received the Nobel Prize (physiology) in 1960 and currently works for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Massachusetts. Benacerraf signed Humanist Manifesto 2000. Newly added to Academy of Humanism

Benavente y Martínez, Jacinto (1866—1954) A Spanish dramatist, Benavente y Martínez was awarded the 1922 Nobel Prize in Literature. Los intereses creados (1907, Bonds of Interest) led him to be called “creator of the modern Spanish theater.” In 1932, after the anti-clerical revolution which he applauded, he produced a play, Santa Russia (Holy Russia), in the preface of which he praised the materialism and atheism of the Russians. He described himself as a materialist. Benavente y Martínez wrote social satires, psychological dramas, children’s plays, and allegorical-morality plays, but he was at his best in satirizing the aristocratic and upper middle-class life. {CE; JM; RE}

Benbassat, Jacques (20th Century) Benbassat is associated with Secular Humanists of Greenville, South Carolina. (See entry for South Carolina Humanists.) {FD}

Bencze, Marton (20th Century) Bencze is Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church. (See entry for Hungarian Unitarians.)

Bendana, David (20th Century) Bendana, while a student at Florida International University, was one of the founders of Campus Freethought Alliance. {International Humanist News, December 1996}

Ben-David, Joseph (1920— ) Ben-David, who was born in Prague of Jewish parents, became a Unitarian when young. At the time of the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, he emigrated to Palestine where like Martin Buber he worked for cordial relations between Arabs and Jews. Upon moving to the United States, he became active in the New York Chapter of the American Humanist Association, becoming its president in the 1960s and leading it more toward a religious humanism. Its previous roots had been more directed toward a naturalistic, non-theistic humanism. As such, he developed many sensitivity and encounter groups that confronted problems such as intimacy, sexual deprivation, and a healthy sex life (which were frowned upon by some of the earlier members), increasing the membership dramatically. Ben-David conducted hundreds of meetings and involved dozens of individuals, as had Charles Francis Potter in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1970 Ben-David married Alyson Ben-David in a wedding ceremony which Corliss Lamont conducted. The couple is active in the Fourth Universalist Society of New York City. {HNS2}

Bender, Dennis (20th Century) Bender is associated with the Capital District Humanist Society (Council for Secular Humanism). (See entry for New York Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists.) {FD}

Bender, Hedwig (Born 1854) A German writer, Bender was a conspicuous worker in the German woman-movement. She wrote a number of philosophical and rationalist works. Bender was a monist or pantheist (in the sense of Spinoza). {RAT}

Bender, Robert (1945— ) Bender is an Australian humanist, atheist, and lecturer who was adopted into a Jewish family. After reading some of Bertrand Russell’s writings in 1965, he became an atheist. The author of seventeen textbooks on business subjects, he is active with the Victoria humanists and delivers an annual lecture at the Atheist Society’s series of Melbourne University. {SWW}

Bender, Wilhelm (Born 1845) A German rationalist and professor of theology at Bonn, Bender created a sensation at the Luther centenary in 1883 by declaring that the work of the Reformation was incomplete and must be carried on by the rationalists. {BDF}

Bendz, Fredrik (1973— ) Bendz studied pharmacology at the Biomedical Centre in Uppsala, Sweden. He plays basketball, says he is 6’ 8” tall (204 cm.), weighs 205-210 pounds (94 kg.), and has size 47-48 shoes (13 in the United States, 12 in the United Kingdom). A dedicated humanist activist, he is webmaster for the Swedish humanist association. As an indication of his personable character, he likes heavy metal music, such as that of Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath, and Whitesnake; his favorite author is Tolkien; the people he admires are his grandmother, Einstein (despite his Zionism), Bertrand Russell, Darwin, Julian Huxley (despite his advocating eugenics), Voltaire, David Coverdale (despite his Christianity), Ken Hensley, and Michael Jordan. Bendz is one of the most articulate ethical humanists of anyone his age in any nation. He has written

In my teenage years I considered theists to be stupid. I believed that no intelligent man could believe in superstition, which I thought religion was. Later, I came to realize that, although it is admittedly irrational, theism satisfies certain needs in people. However, it leads man in the wrong direction. When I discovered secular humanism, I found the right direction for man to fulfill his needs without turning to the irrational and absurd theories of gods. My basic philosophy is closely related to that of Julian Huxley. Everything in the world is part of an evolutionary process, and religious needs can only be satisfied by evolving all religion. This must be done in the light of science, not faith, and the more religions evolve the closer they will come to atheism. The ultimate religion, however, is secular humanism, for it has the highest image of god (none) and does not claim absolute certainty. Humanism is but a catalyzer of the evolution of religion, not an endpoint in itself. God is an old man in the sky who has a beard? No theist today honestly believes God to be a man sitting in the sky, running the machinery of the universe. But whatever image theists have of their God is anthropomorphic. Whatever qualities they give their God, they are more or less painting a picture of a man with a long beard. The greater a religion’s idea of God is, the further it is from an old bearded man and the closer it is to atheism. If you remove all human characteristics from somebody’s image of God, nothing remains. Nothing but atheism.

For more autobiographical details, in which Bendz lists why he hates war, injustice, religion, “and everything else that hurts people,” see his webpage: <http://www.update.uu.se/~fbendz>. E-mail: <fbendz@update.uu.se>.

Benedict, Ruth: See entry for Margaret Mead.

Beneke, Friedrich Edward (1798—1854) Beneke” was a German philosopher, a critical empiricist who was opposed to metaphysical speculation (like that of Hegel). He regarded soul (a complex of forces) and body as two aspects of one reality, and he held that we have no knowledge of the nature of “the unconditioned.” Beneke’s Lehrbuch der Psychologie (1833) and other works had an influence on German psychology and pedagogy.

Benes, Eduard [President] (1884—1948) Benes, the president of Czechoslovakia (1935—1938; 1946—1948), adopted the political and social philosophy of T. G. Masaryk. After the Communist coup of February 1948, he reluctantly endorsed the new regime but resigned in June on the ground of illness, refusing to sign the new constitution and dying shortly afterward. Benes was an active freethinker who contributed to Volná Myslenka, organ of the freethought movement. {TRI}

Benham, Agnes (c. 1850—1910?) Benham was an early Australian secularist, a member of the Australasian Secular Association in the 1910s. {SWW}

Benjamin, Lemoyne (19th Century) Benjamin, a freethinker, wrote A Commentary on Matthew (c. 1895). {GS}

Benn, Alfred William (1843—1915) Benn’s History of English Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century is a classic study of rationalism and freethought. An agnostic, Benn was an honorary associate of the British Rationalist Press Association and a member of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies. {FUK; RAT; RE}

Bennet, Margaret (20th Century) Bennet is active with the Secular Humanists of Merrimack Valley. (See entry for New Hampshire Humanists.) {FD}

Bennett, Angeline (20th Century) Bennett is author of Thinking is Good for the Mind, a collection of atheistic poetry.

Bennett, Arnold (1867—1931) According to David Tribe, Bennett was an avowed freethinker. Bennett wrote realistic novels about the industrial Midlands. He was influenced by Zola’s literary naturalism. Among his works were The Old Wives’ Tale (1908) and These Twain (1916). With Edward Knoblock, he wrote the play, Milestones (1912), and he also wrote the successful Great Adventure (1913). {CE; TRI}

Bennett, DeRobigne Mortimer (1818—1882) An American freethought publisher and author, Bennett lived in Cincinnati for a number of years in the 1850s, manufacturing proprietary medicines and becoming wealthy. He started as a Shaker but founded the atheistic Truth Seeker in 1873. Anthony Comstock had Bennett arrested for sending a pamphlet by Ezra H. Heywood, a birth-control work, “Cupid’s Yokes,” through the mails. A tract entitled “An Open Letter to Jesus Christ” was read in court to bias the jury. A petition bearing 200,000 names was presented to President Hayes asking Bennett’s release, but was not acceded to. Bennett was jailed in Albany Penitentiary. Upon his release, he was greeted by a large reception at Chickering Hall, then selected as U. S. delegate to the International Freethought Congress at Brussels. His admirers sent him on a voyage around the world, after which he wrote A Truthseeker’s Voyage Round the World (1882?). {BDF; EU, Gordon Stein; FUK; FUS; GS; PUT; RAT; RSR}

Bennett, Eliza Jane (1894—1983) “Dolly” Bennett was a rationalist, an atheist, and the honorary secretary-treasurer and literature secretary of the Rationalist Association of New South Wales in Australia. She was active in arranging for “outback” children to “see the sea.”

Bennett, (Enoch) Arnold (1867—1931) Bennett was a British novelist who “was clearly Humanist in his philosophy,” according to Corliss Lamont. Influenced by Zola’s literary naturalism, Bennett wrote about the grim, sometimes sordid, lives of shopkeepers and potters in the “Five Towns,” an imaginary manufacturing district in northern England, an example of which is The Old Wives’ Tale (1908). He was an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association (RPA), which in 1899 had been founded by Charles A. Watts. His agnostic views are found in The Human Machine. {CL; JM; RAT; RE}

Bennett, Gary L. (20th Century) Bennett, in “Preventing School Violence: Is Religion the Answer?” (Free Inquiry, Fall 1999), notes that religionists “with their Bronze Age myths have had almost two thousand years to eliminate evil from Western civilization—and they have failed miserably.” An aerospace consultant, he wrote The Star Sailors (1980).

Bennett, Henry Scott (1877—1959) An Australian, Bennett from 1946 to 1948 edited a Sydney publication, Ingersoll News. A rationalist, socialist, and atheist, he was the first notable Australian-born freethinker. One of the finest of public speakers, he discoursed on social issues such as birth control, sexual mores, venereal disease, and mental health. In 1936, Bennett became secretary of the Rationalist Association of New South Wales. He considered that the sole inspiration of the world is found in “the ascertainment of the facts of the universe, the facing of those facts, and the doing of justice according to those facts.”

	Upon his death, his ashes were scattered on the Northern Suburbs cemetery, and his library was bequeathed to the National University. (FUK; SWW}

Bennett, John (20th Century) Bennett, a Life Member of the Foundation for Freedom From Religion, taught at the University of Montana, Western Washington University, and the University of Arkansas. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the College English Association, of which he was a President. Bennett is the founder and director of the Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights. {Freethought Today, November 1997}

Bennett, Mary (19th Century) Bennett edited the atheistic Truth Seeker from 1882 to 1883.

Bennett, Rosemary (20th Century) Bennett is active in Britain with the Harrow Humanists.

Bennett, Ruth (20th Century) Bennett addressed the Tenth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Buffalo (1988).

Bennion, Francis (Alan) (Roscoe) (20th Century) Bennion is author of The Sex Code: Morals for Moderns and writes for New Humanist. He has little regard for the Golden Rule, quoting George Bernard Shaw to the effect that the only Golden Rule is “that there are no golden rules.” Instead, Bennion invites humanists to study moral philosophy in earnest and develop an ethics “that starts to mean something” (New Humanist, February 1994). A past chairman of the Professional Association of Teachers, he has noted the following:

• Haggadah, the Talmud writer, said: “I’ve learned much from my teachers, and from my colleagues more than from my teachers, and from my students more than from all.”

• Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, perhaps with more wit than judgment: “I pay the schoolmaster, but ‘tis the schoolboys educate my son.”

• Stravinsky said that he had learned throughout his life as a composer chiefly through his mistakes, and pursuits of false assumptions, not by his exposure to founds of wisdom and knowledge.

• Beverley Nichols, educated at Marlborogh and Balliol, began his autobiography with the words “I am entirely self-taught.”

Bennis, Warren Gameliel (1925— ) Bennis, a consultant and author on organizational development, is a secular humanist. On the staff of the School of Business of the University of Southern California, Bennis is a trustee of Antioch College and an editor of Journal of Humanist Psychology.

Benson, Andrew D. (20th Century) Benson is author of The True Origins of Christianity and the Bible. On the Web: <http://www.prudentialpublishing.com/>. {Secular Nation, July-September 1999}

Benson, Steve (20th Century) Steve Benson, Editorial Cartoonist art

Benson is the editorial cartoonist of The Arizona Republic and syndicated by United Features. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 and has been a finalist four other years.

He describes his transition from Mormonism to atheism in an essay titled 'Good-bye to God (Editorial Cartoonist's Journey From Jesus to Journalism--and Beyond)'. Here's an excerpt:

To understand why I jumped from the Mormon wagon train requires an understanding of what Mormons are and how they think. While Mormons have some quaint, quirky and fanatical ideas, they really aren't much different from millions of poor, guilt-ridden souls who, throughout the march of human history, have hitched their hopes to mass movements of one sort or another. Eric Hoffer, in his brilliant treatise, "The True Believer," explains the attraction of joining a cause: "A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following 'by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated by freeing them from their ineffectual selves--and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole'. "Of all the cults and philosophies that competed in the Graeco-Roman world, Christianity alone developed from its inception a compact organization."

Once I realized this, it wasn't much of a leap out of religion altogether once I flew the Mormon coop. I simply wanted to be free from organizational groupthink. I escaped from the stuffy attic of religion's "pray, pay and obey" mentality into journalism's open laboratory of "who, what, where, when and why."


Science discovered long ago that carbon is a source of life. The ashes of my faith have prepared the ground for the planting of seeds that have produced new forms of truth, morality and meaning on my own terms, not according to the dogma laid down by religious ruffians or a vengeful God. If, as believers claim, the word "gospel" means good news, then the good news for me is that there is no gospel, other than what I can define for myself, by observation and conscience. As a journalist and free-thinking human being, I have come not to favor and fear religion, but to face and fight it as an impediment to civilized advancement.


See his work at http://umweb1.unitedmedia.com/editoons/benson/index.html.

The name of Benson calls to mind the late President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson, who was U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1953 to 1961. His grandson, Pulitzer-prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson, caused a sensation by leaving that church in 1993. The Arizona Republic, for which he is a political cartoonist, published Benson’s reasons, including his disagreement with the church over doctrine, history, faith, and treatment of women. Because of his outspokenness, threats were made that he would be expelled from the church, and attempts were made to intimidate his family into silence. When Benson’s teenage daughter, the great-grand-daughter of the then current Mormon president, told her Mormon-youth religion class “that just as the denial of the Mormon priesthood to black men had been racist, so the denial of the Mormon priesthood to women was sexist,” she said she received no adequate answer. Benson’s wife, Mary Ann, “was appalled at a Mormon patriarchal system that protected pedophiles and minimized the pain suffered by victims of sexual abuse.” The oldest son said, “Dad, I’ll tell you why there’s religion in the world—to control people by scaring them into believing that if they don’t obey, they’re going to hell.” “Does this mean now we’re Christian?” their six-year-old daughter asked when they left the church. Benson has reported that he is relieved at having left the church with its “offensive notions of polygamy, racial superiority, blood sacrifice, polytheism, and Masonic-cult temple rituals.” Abandoning the church, the family found, was exhilarating and freeing. In 1999 Benson received an award for excellence in the media at the Freedom From Religion Foundation conference in San Antonio, Texas. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1993, he is a nationally syndicated cartoonist. {CA; Freethought Today, June-July 1994 and August 1999}

Bentham, Jeremy (1748—1832) Bentham is author of An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789). His utilitarianism strongly influenced John Stuart Mill. Mill’s and Bentham’s work, according to Corliss Lamont, “was quite humanistic in its total effect . . . the philosophic counterpart of the profit-motive theory of Adam Smith and other exponents of laissez-faire economics.” According to G. W. Foote, “Bentham exercised a profound influence on the party of progress for nearly two generations. He was the father of Philosophical Radicalism, which did so much to free the minds and bodies of the English people, and which counted among its swordsmen historians like Grote, philosophers like Mill, wits like Sydney Smith, journalists like Fonblanque, and politicians like Roebuck. As a reformer in jurisprudence, politicians like Roebuck. As a reformer in jurisprudence he has no equal. His brain swarmed with progressive ideas and projects for the improvement and elevation of mankind; and his fortune, as well as his intellect, was ever at the service of advanced causes. His skepticism was rather suggested than paraded in his multitudinous writings, but it was plainly expressed in a few special volumes. ‘Not Paul, but Jesus,’ published under the pseudonym of Camaliel Smith is a slashing attack on the Great Apostle. ‘The Church of England Catechism Explained’ is a merciless criticism of that great instrument for producing mental and political slaves. But the most thorough-going of Bentham’s works was a little volume written by Grote from the Master’s notes—‘The Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind’—in which theology is assailed as the historic and necessary enemy of human liberty, enlighten.” His Deontology, or the Science of Morality was prohibited by the Vatican to be read, as were other of his works from 1819 to 1835. However, in none of his published works does the distinguished jurist profess atheism. Just the same, Berman as well as A. Benn make the case that Bentham was an atheist. McCabe, similarly, wrote that Bentham was “a declared atheist and in unpublished manuscripts he contemptuously called Christianity ‘Juggernaut.’ In collaboration with the historian Grote he, under the pseudonym Philip Beauchamp, wrote an Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind (1822), in which all religion, natural or supernatural, is attacked.” Bentham argued for a tolerant attitude to homosexuals. He attributed prejudice against them as being irrational hatred and antipathy. Louis Crompton of the University of Nebraska wrote that Bentham identified what is now called homophobia and directed his efforts to analyzing it: “In Bentham’s view, it was this negative bias that needed explanation, not the phenomenon of same-sex desire. He finds its origin in religious asceticism inspired by the superstitious fear of a vengeful deity and in the desire of men who lead profligate lives to gain a reputation for virtue by damning a sin they are not inclined to. He excoriates the contemporary press for intensifying popular prejudice by an unvaried tone of vituperation that made rational debate impossible. With respect to contemporary literature. Bentham takes to task Henry Fielding, Tobias Smollett, and certain French and Germany novelists for introducing homophobic episodes in their fiction.” For Bentham, so long as homosexual acts had no bad consequences such as unwanted pregnancies, abortion, infanticide, and female prostitution, there were “beneficial effects of certain of these modes of enjoyment.” Bentham pre-planned his death, writing in “Auto-Icon, or Further Uses of the Dead to the Living” about the ultimate of utilitarianism: preserving “a population of illustrious Auto-Icons,” or preserved bodies. Upon his death, he directed that his body should be dissected in front of friends. His head was mummified. The skeleton was reconstructed and a wax head replaced the original, whereupon he is still displayed in his own clothes in University College, London. There is the wide-brimmed straw hat with a black ribbon tied in a bow, the black coat, the vest, the brown leather trousers, the woven leather slippers, brown gloves, and a ruff-embellished shirt. His skull resides in a small box, decorated with the college crest. Atop the philosopher’s body is a surrogate head consisting of a puffy wax image. Twice a year the philosopher’s followers still remove him from the case and in the main refectory of University College enjoy a Bentham Society dinner with their leader at the head of the table. Tom Weil has written, “After Bentham’s demise technicians found his head difficult to embalm as the object exuded an unfreezable, oil-like substance which made the flesh intractable. When one observer suggested that the freeze-proof liquid might well serve to oil chronometers used in cold areas, a wit noted that this might lead to the killing of philosophers for their oil,” and the suggestion was not followed. Fred Whitehead, visiting in 1995, described making “a pilgrimage to his (un)hallowed remains”:

There, in a dark corridor, was a large wooden cabinet, with a man dressed up in 18th-century clothes, almost as if he had just sat down for a little rest. That is, indeed, the moral remains of Bentham. I was told that the head is a wax substitute for the original, which is housed in a vault on the College premises. . . . [At] the 150th annual meeting of the College Committee in 1976, the minutes recorded him “Present but not voting.”

Although he died in 1769, his will dating to 1769 had left his body for the purpose of science, “not out of affectation of singularity, but to the intent and with the desire that mankind may reap some small benefit in and by my decease, having hitherto had small opportunities to contribute thereto while living.” Dr. Southwood Smith delivered a lecture over Bentham’s remains, three days after his death, in the Webb Street School of Anatomy, in which he said,

Some time before his death, when he truly believed he was near that hour, he said to one of his disciples, who was watching over him: “I now feel that I am dying; our care must be to minimize the pain. Do not let any of the servants come into my room and keep away the youth: it will be distressing to them, and they can be of no service. Yet I must not be alone: you will remain with me, and you only; and then we shall have reduced the pain to the least possible amount.” Such were his last thoughts and feelings.

{BDF; CB; CE; CL; EU, Delos B. McKown; FO; 

Freethought History #18, 1996, contains photos of the head and of Jeremy; FUK; Louis Crompton, GL; HAB; ILP; JM; JMRH; PUT; RAT; RE; TRI; TYD; U; UU}

Bentley, Arthur F. (1870—1957) 

Philosopher and author with John Dewey of Knowing and the Known (1949), Bentley wrote to the present author concerning humanism:

I align myself with the more liberal elements of naturalistic humanism, and I regard John Dewey as continuing to be our leader in such inquiry. More loosely (though without further detail of personal examination) I find myself in broad sympathy with Professor Harry Overstreet’s confession of faith as he sets it forth in his letter to you of August 1951, a copy of which you were kind enough to send me. Humanism covers a wide extension. I, in contrast, work in a limited range. Let us hope that this differentiation of effort will prove itself useful in our parallel investigations of the future. In the earlier stages of my work (say, fifty years ago), I characterized my inquiry as an attempt to fashion a tool. In slow stages I have watched this tool develop. In more recent years it has localized itself as cross-section of society (quiescent) and as group-pressure and pressure group (action) with the two types uniting as both material and method in transactional development. Progress has already been made with the examination of knowings-known in transactional framework and we may regard the book, Knowing and the Known, as the most advanced presentation now available in this direction. Some of the older forms of treatment are still being deemed worthy to fight over, but these lie outside my range and include subject-object, subjective-objective, individual-social, and psychological-sociological. These minor disturbances will before long, we hope, wear themselves out and cease to waste our time. . . . . . . To be transactional will involve the rejection of split postulation in cases where the split fails to be mentioned by the workers in the field but is simply presumed to be in charge behind the scene. Such cases include assumptions about subject and object, individual and social, which cases must be won on their merits or rejected on their de-merits, and not hidden in the bushes. Except for the extreme individualists scattered among the American Humanist Association membership, I am inclined to think that a reasonable degree of harmony can be established between the Humanist and his friends.

In 1954, Bentley was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association. Also that year, he wrote Inquiry into Inquiries. {HNS; HNS2; WAS, 17 November 1956}

Bentley, Richard (1662—1774) The greatest of English classical scholars, Bentley exposed the 4th-century Epistles of Phalaris (1699), and the Vatican placed his work on its list of prohibited reading. {ILP}

Bentley, William (1759—1819) Bentley, a Unitarian clergyman, wrote a valuable historical source which covered the years 1784—1819 and was entitled Diary. Thomas Jefferson had asked him to be chaplain of Congress and later asked him to be President of the University of Virginia, but Bentley declined, saying he preferred to remain as minister of the East Church in Salem, Massachusetts. At a time when people were intolerant of Catholics, Bentley invited a priest to stay with him for a few days and found him a meeting place. His diary is cited because he includes details of life at that time. For example, he scoffed at sightings of a supposed 100-foot sea serpent off Marblehead; he described Abigail Adams and told what kind of clothing she wore; and he stated that it was the Quakers who had first introduced stoves to heat the religious meeting houses. {EG; CE; FUS}

Béranger, Jean Pierre de (1780—1857) 

Béranger, a celebrated French lyrical poet, wrote a satire on the Bourbons that twice led to his imprisonment. However, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1848. Among his selections are “Le Roi d‘Yvetot,” “Ce n’est plus Lisette,” “Le Grenier,” and “Le Dieu des bonnes gens.” Wheeler states that like Burns, with whom he has been compared, “all his songs breathe the spirit of liberty, and several have been characterized as impious.” A rationalist, Béranger claimed in a letter to Sainte-Beuve to have “saved from the wreck an indestructible belief.” {BDF; CE; JMR; JMRH; RAT}

BERDACHE Although anthropologists have popularized the term to represent a transvestite American Indian man who functioned in a feminine role, “Berdache was never used in any Native communities,” Wesley Thomas, a Diné, said at the University of Washington. He stated that it derives from an Arabic word, bardadj, which was used to describe male slaves who served as (anally receptive) prostitutes. The roles varied within each Nation. For example, We’wha (1849—1896) lived his life as a female member of the Zuni Nation and was accepted by his people as a lhamana. Thomas described himself as n’dleeh-like, which is Diné and also Navajo for “being in a constant state of change.” When with American Indians, Thomas identified himself as Two-Spirit, but when in Western society he called himself gay in order to be understood. Homophobia, according to F. Thomas Edwards, a Cree, “was taught to us as a component of Western education and religion. We were presented with an entirely new set of taboos, which did not correspond to our own models, and which focused on sexual behavior rather than the intricate roles Two-Spirit people played. As a result of this misrepresentation, our Nations no longer accepted us as they once had. Many of the Indians had to come to terms with their sexuality in urban settings, separate from our cultures. We had to ‘come out’ in the Western world. But the journey into the mainstream left many of us lonesome for our homes.” (See entries for Homosexuality and We’wha.) {Village Voice, 2 July 1996}

BERBERS: See entry for the Berber singer Lounes Matoub, who was murdered in Algeria “for his freethinking and his defiant mountain music.”

Berent, Irwin M. (20th Century) Berent, with Rod Evans, wrote Fundamentalism: Hazards and Heartbreaks (1994), which investigates what has gone wrong with religious fundamentalism and why.

Berg, Knut (Anders) (1954— ) A Norwegian, Berg wrote “Even in Hell You Find Humanists” in the International Humanist (December, 1989).

Bergegren, Hinke (1861—1936) Bergegren, a Swedish journalist, was a non-theist. (See entry for Scandinavian Unbelievers.)

Bergel, Joseph (19th Century) Bergel was a Jewish rationalist, the German author of Heaven and Its Wonders (1881) and Mythology of the Ancient Hebrews (1882). {BDF}

Berger, Allen (20th Century) Berger, a cultural anthropologist, was cited by the Freedom from Religion Foundation as its “1993 Freethinker of the Year.” Prof. Berger describes himself as “an unbelieving Jew teaching in a Catholic college,” St. Joseph’s in Rensselaer, Indiana. He co-founded GIDEANS International (God Is Definitely Erroneous And Not Safe) as well as UNGOD (Unholy Nihilists for Godlessness Over Deism).

Berger, Moriz (19th Century) 

In Trieste, 1883, Berger’s Materialism in Conflict with Spiritualism and Idealism was published. {BDF}

Bergh, Henry (1811—1888) Bergh, one of the founders in 1866 of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is a philanthropist who was a Unitarian. Long angry about the mistreatment of animals, Bergh obtained support for a Declaration of the Rights of Animals, and among those who signed were Unitarians Horace Greeley, George Bancroft, Peter Cooper, and William Cullen Bryant. In 1875, he was one of the founders of the equally unique group, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. {CE; EG}

Bergk, Johann Adam (1769—1834) A German philosopher, Bergk wrote True Religion, “recommended to rationalists and destined for the Radical cure of supernaturalists, mystics, etc.” His son, Theodor Bergk, a German humanist born in 1812, wrote History of Greek Literature (1872). {BDF}

Bergman, G. Merle (20th Century) Bergman, a freethinker, wrote Realtheism: A Religion and Bible for the Humanist Age (1987). {GS}

Bergman, (Ernst) Ingmar (1918— ) Bergman, a noted Swedish film writer and director, was recipient in the Netherlands of the 1965 Erasmus Award for his contribution to the arts. He has won numerous awards, including the 1970 Best Director Award of the National Society of Film Critics; the 1976 Goethe Prize; and the 1977 Gold Medal of the Swedish Academy. His “The Virgin Spring” won the 1960 Academy Award; “Cries and Whispers” won the 1972 Best Film Award of the National Society of Film Critics; and “Fanny and Alexander” won the 1984 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Direction. The son of a Lutheran pastor, he has shown in several of his works, particularly “The Seventh Seal” and “Winter Light,” his dissatisfaction with the faith of his upbringing and his shift from belief to disbelief. In his 1987 autobiography, The Magic Lantern, Bergman wrote,

I have struggled all my life with a tormented and joyless relationship with God. Faith and lack of faith, punishment, grace, and rejection, all were real to me, all were imperative. My prayers stank of anguish, entreaty, trust, loathing, and despair. God spoke, God said nothing. . . . No one is safe from religious ideas and confessional phenomena. . . . We can fall victim to them when we least expect it. It’s like Mao’s flu, or being struck by lightning. . . . The lost hours of that operation provided me with a calming message. You were born without purpose, you live without meaning, living is its own meaning. When you die, you are extinguished. From being you will be transformed to non-being. A god does not necessarily dwell among our capricious atoms. {E} Bergman, (Ernst) Ingmar (14 July 1918 - ) Bergman, a noted Swedish film writer and director, was the recipient in the Netherlands of the 1965 Erasmus Award for his contribution to the arts. He has won numerous awards, including the 1970 Best Director Award of the National Society of Film Critics; the 1976 Goethe Prize; and the 1977 Gold Medal of the Swedish Academy. His The Virgin Spring won the 1960 Academy Award; Cries and Whispers won the 1972 Best Film Award of the National Society of Film Critics; and Fanny and Alexander won the 1984 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Direction. The son of a Lutheran pastor, he has shown in several of his works, particularly The Seventh Seal and Winter Light, his dissatisfaction with the faith of his upbringing and his shift from belief to disbelief. In his 1988 autobiography, The Magic Lantern, Bergman wrote,

I have struggled all my life with a tormented and joyless relationship with God. Faith and lack of faith, punishment, grace, and rejection, all were real to me, all were imperative. My prayers stank of anguish, entreaty, trust, loathing, and despair. God spoke, God said nothing. . . . No one is safe from religious ideas and confessional phenomena. . . . We can fall victim to them when we least expect it. It’s like Mao’s flu, or being struck by lightning. . . . The lost hours of that operation provided me with a calming message. You were born without purpose, you live without meaning, living is its own meaning. When you die, you are extinguished. From being you will be transformed to non-being. A god does not necessarily dwell among our capricious atoms.

In My Life in Film (1944), he described the evolution of his religious outlook, telling about having minor surgery and being anesthetized:

	My fear of death was to a great degree linked to my religious concepts. Later on, I underwent minor surgery. By mistake I was given too much anesthesia. I felt as if I had disappeared out of reality. Where did the hours go? They flashed in a microsecond.

Suddenly I realized, that is how it is. That one could be transformed from being to not-being—it was hard to grasp. But for a person with a constant anxiety about death, now liberating. Yet at the same time it seems a bit sad. You say to yourself that it would have been fun to encounter new experiences once your soul had had a little rest and grown accustomed to being separated from your body. But I don't think that is what happens to you. First you are, then you are not. This I find deeply satisfying. That which had been formerly been so enigmatic and frightening, namely, what might exist beyond this world, does not exist. Everything is of this world. Everything exists and happens inside us, and we flow into and out of one another. It's perfectly fine like that.

In May 2000, Celebrity Atheists reported that Bergman had told the Swedish media that he communicates with his dead wife and looks forward to meeting her in the next world. Whether or not the eighty-two-year-old had renounced his earlier non-theism is unclear. {CA}

Bergman, Gerald R. (20th Century) Bergman, writing “God, Chance, or Human Factors?” in The American Rationalist (September-October 1995), stated that rationalists “must be cautious at arriving at unwarranted assumptions such as ‘someone up there’ wanted us to behave in certain ways, or wanted certain things to happen. Time, unforeseen occurrence, and chance befall us all, and one must clearly ‘test all things and hold fast to what is true and good.’ ” In “Religious Beliefs of Scientists: A Survey of the Research” (Free Inquiry, Summer 1996), he wrote, “The existing literature consistently concludes that very few eminent scientists today are devoutly religious, and most do not hold to any conventional theistic religious beliefs.” In “Religion and Medicine: the Case of Christian Science” (The American Rationalist, January-February 1999), Bergman concludes with Mark Twain’s comment that whenever Christian Science does die out some other irrationality will, unfortunately, take its place.

Bergman, Jerry (20th Century) For The American Rationalist (March-April 1997), Bergman wrote “The Final Test.”

Berigardus, Claudius: See entry for Claudius Beauregard.

Berkeley, George (1685—1753) Berkeley, an Anglo-Irish philosopher and clergyman, believed his body of writing completely disproved atheism: It is God who determines what is right and wrong: “Nothing is a [moral] law merely because it conduceth to the public good, but because it is decreed by the will of God, which alone can give the sanction of a law of nature to any precept; and there can be no solid morality without religion.” As explained by Hartshorne, Berkeley believed that “ideas that are merely ours are under control of our wills, whereas what we perceive physically is forced upon us all according to a common system. The only force we know from the given is will. The only adequate will-cause of the orderly constraint we feel in perception is God. Thus all data are signs in a single vast language by which God communicates to us.” With Locke, Berkeley held that theoretical atheism must of necessity lead to moral chaos. {CE; ER; FUK; HAB}

Berkeley, Humphrey (1926— ) Berkeley, a freethinker, was treasurer of the Howard League for Penal Reform in England. {TRI}

Berkenhout, John (1731—1791) The son of a Dutch merchant who settled at Leeds, England, Berkenhout was a physician. His principal work is entitled Biographia Literaria (1777), a history of English literature. In the work he loses no opportunity to display his hostility to the theologians, and he is loud in his praises of Voltaire. {BDF; RAT}

Berkshire, August (20th Century) Berkshire is an activist-atheist from Minneapolis, Minnesota For Secular Nation he wrote “Voucher Schemes and Fairness (January-March 1999) and “Creative Medical Uses for Placebos and Prayer” (April-June 1999).

Berlin, Isaiah [Sir] (1909—1997) Berlin, a major philosopher and historian of ideas at Oxford University in England, shared with Plato the distinction of having been an intellectual who never wrote a major book. Born in Riga, Latvia, he was the son of a timber merchant and landowner. His grandfather on his mother’s side was a Hasidic rabbi of the Lubavitch tradition. His family moved to St. Petersburg, witnessing two Russian revolutions in 1917, then immigrated in 1921 to London, where it had business interests. As a boy, Shaya (as he was known then) had some religious education but found the Talmud a “very, very boring book,” adding, “I could never figure out why I should care why the bull gored the cow.” He continued his religious education in London, where as a youth he had his bar mitzvah. “I never had it in me to do a great masterpiece on some big subject,” he said. But he wrote on a variety of subjects. He translated Turgenev and wrote Karl Marx (1939), Historical Inevitability (1954), The Age of Enlightenment (1956), Four Essays on Literature (1969), and The Crooked Timber of Humanity (1990). The latter work’s title comes from Kant’s “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.” What this meant to Berlin was that mankind must be wary of dogmatism, of utopianism, or of any system of thinking which pursues the ideal. Berlin argued not for utopianism but for pluralism, for the notion

that there are many different ends that men may seek and still be fully rational, fully men, capable of understanding each other and sympathizing and deriving light from each other, as we derive it from reading Plato or the novels of medieval Japan—worlds, outlooks, very remote from your own.

His 1959 essay, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” made a distinction between negative liberty (that which the individual must be allowed to enjoy without state interference) and positive liberty (that which the state permits by imposing regulations that, by necessity, limit some freedoms in the name of greater liberty for all. He argued, Marilyn Berger noted in The New York Times (7 November 1997), that both kinds of liberty were required for a just society. Berlin once made a distinction between two types of mind: the hedgehog, which knows one big thing; and the fox, which knows lots of little ones. Thinkers who fixate on one big idea—Plato, Dante, Pascal, Proust, Dostoevsky, Marx, Hegel, or for that matter someone who would investigate a subject such as humanism for decades—are hedgehogs; whereas those who have many little ideas, such as Aristotle, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac, Joyce, and Turgenev are foxes. Tolstoy, he felt, was a fox who wanted to be a hedgehog. Most of Berlin’s friends, wrote Michael Ignatieff (The New Yorker, 28 September 1998), saw him

as an arch-fox—quick-witted, darting from subject to subject, eluding pursuit. Yet he also longed to be a hedgehog—to know one thing, to feel one thing more truly than anyone else. He had reached what he recognized was a critical stage: either he would go on to develop a serious intellectual engagement of his own or he would decline into being what he feared most—a “chatterbox.”

With Hegel, he held that “freedom consists in being at home.” Everyone, he concluded, needed to belong to a group. He was convinced, as was German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, of man’s basic need to be part of a particular human community with its own traditions, language, art, and imagination to shape his emotional and physical development. However, he noted, “I have no idea how one stops one group, one race, from hating another. The hatred between human groups has never been cured, except by time.” In the 18th Century, he noted, one could believe that nations could live peacefully side by side. “Perhaps in the 18th century you could believe that,” he added, noting that the excesses of nationalism made such a view unrealistic. Berger, commenting about Berlin at the time of his death, said Berlin had been known for his view that the utopian notion of one big answer that is knowable and self-contained must always be fallacious because it does not take into account the cultural pluralism and conflicting values that are part of humanity’s “crooked timber.” Kant had written that “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made,” a view which inspired the title of Berlin’s 1990 work, The Crooked Timber of Humanity. The 1997 publication of his Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and Their History underlined his deserved reputation for being a great essayist, conversationalist (Robert Darnton has compared him with Diderot), and rhetorician. The seventh and last volume in a series of his essays, the work rejected the common belief that utopians are simply rebels against social laws and historical development but, rather, are people who think they have discovered those very laws whereas none such actually exist. In the 19th century, he noted, thinkers

believed that human society grew in a discoverable direction, governed by laws; that the borderline which divided science from utopia . . . was discoverable by reason and observation and could be plotted less or more precisely; that, in short, there was a clock, its movement followed discoverable rules and it could not be put back.

However, the utopians’ faith that science can plot society’s future has led to still further problems, he asserts. By placing their faith in the laws of social and historical development, utopians “place excessive faith in laws and methods derived from alien fields, mostly from the natural sciences.” This, he cites, is evidence of a lack of the sense of reality. Critics generally hailed the octogenarian’s work as evidencing his ability to make philosophy come alive. Berlin was a fervent Zionist, “not because the Lord offered us the Holy Land as some people, religious Jews, believe,” he said, adding,

My reason for being a Zionist has nothing to do with preserving Jewish culture, Jewish values, wonderful things done by Jews. But the price is too high, the martyrdom too long. And if I were asked, “Do you want to preserve this culture at all costs?” I’m not sure that I would say yes, because you can’t condemn people to permanent persecution. Of course assimilation might be a quite good thing, but it doesn’t work. Never has worked, never will. There isn’t a Jew in the world known to me who somewhere inside him does not have a tiny drop of uneasiness vis-à-vis them, the majority among whom they live. They may be very friendly, they may be entirely happy, but one has to behave particularly well, because if they don’t behave well they won’t like us

A serious opera buff and a sought-after conversationalist, he was a friend of Freud, Nehru, Stravinsky, Boris Pasternak, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, Chaim Weizmann, Virginia Woolf, Edmund Wilson, Aldous Huxley, Bertrand Russell, and Felix Frankfurter. Ignatieff has detailed Berlin’s affection for a famous beauty, Akhmatova, who was twenty years older than he and twice married. When Patricia Douglas, a married woman with children, came to take care of him on an occasion when he was suffering from a bad cold, he surprised her in a raw display of feeling by pulling her into bed with him. Also, he loved Aline Halban, who was married at the time to an Oxford colleague, and also with children. When she left her husband, she and Berlin were married in 1956 at Hampstead Synagogue, a sign that he may have been closer to Judaism than some of his contemporaries suspected. The posthumous publication of his last essay, “My Intellectual Path” (The New York Review of Books, 14 May 1998), discussed Oxford philosophy before the Second World War. He told of his first interest in philosophy and in the work of G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell when an undergraduate at Oxford in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The “fashionable view” of verificationism

was that the meaning of a proposition was the way in which it was verifiable—that if there was no way whatever of verifying what was being said, it was not a statement capable of truth or falsehood, not factual, and therefore either meaningless or a case of some other use of language, as seen in commands or expressions of desire, of in imaginative literature, or in other forms of expression which did not lay claim to empirical truth.

He never became “a true disciple,” however, always believing

that statements that could be true or false or plausible or dubious or interesting, while indeed they did relate to the world as empirically conceived (and I have never conceived of the world in any other way, from then to the present day), were nevertheless not necessarily capable of being verified by some simple knockdown criterion, as the Vienna School and their logical positivist followers asserted. From the beginning I felt that general propositions were not verifiable in that way. Statements whether in ordinary use or in the natural sciences (which were the ideal of the Vienna School), could be perfectly meaningful without being strictly verifiable. If I said “All swans are white,” I would never know if I knew this about all the swans there were, or whether the number of swans might not be infinite; a black swan no doubt refuted this generalization, but its positive verification in the full sense seemed to me unattainable; nevertheless it would be absurd to say that it had no meaning.

His last essay also discusses monism (about which he always felt skeptical); Giambattista Vico (the first philosopher, a Catholic, to have conceived the idea of cultures); J. G. Herder (the father of cultural nationalism (whom he found not to be a relativist and who held that mankind “was not one but many”); romanticism (although Marx and others held that perfection is a goal, “I reject this huge metaphysical interpretation of human life in toto—I remain an empiricist, and know only what I am able to experience, or think I could experience, and do not begin to believe in supra-individual entities—nevertheless I own that it made some impact on me.”); pluralism (“I came to the conclusion that there is a plurality of ideals, as there is a plurality of cultures and of temperaments,” a view he held is not relativistic.); freedom; determinism ; and the pursuit of the ideal. The essay concludes,

To go back to the Encyclopedists and the Marxists and all the other movements the purpose of which is the perfect life: it seems as if the doctrine that all kinds of monstrous cruelties must be permitted, because without these the ideal state of affairs cannot be attained—all the justifications of broken eggs for the sake of the ultimate omelette, all the brutalities, sacrifices, brainwashing, all those revolutions, everything that has made this century perhaps the most appalling of any since the days of old, at any rate in the West—all this is for nothing, for the perfect universe is not merely unattainable but inconceivable, and everything done to bring it about is founded on an enormous intellectual fallacy.

The essay takes on added significance because Berlin had written his views at the request of Ouyang Kang, professor of philosophy at Wuhan University in China, in order that they could be translated and included in a volume about contemporary Anglo-American philosophy, which hitherto had been largely unavailable in China. A posthumous work, The Roots of Romanticism (1999), suggests that because they could not compete with the French in social, political, and philosophical matters, the Germans developed the Romantic movement, “the greatest transformation of Western consciousness, certainly in our time.” To illustrate, he describes the thinking of Fichte, Goethe, Hamann, Herder, and Schiller. Berlin was President of the British Academy from 1974 to 1978. He became a Humanist Laureate in the Council of Secular Humanism’s International Academy of Humanism. “I don’t mind death,” he said of his own death. “I’m not afraid of it. I’m afraid of dying for it could be painful. But I find death a nuisance. I object to it. I’d rather it didn’t happen. . . . I’m terribly curious. I’d like to live forever.” (An astute commentary about Berlin was written by Alan Ryan in The New York Review of Books, 17 December 1998) {CE; The Economist, 27 September 1997; FUS; Robert Darnton, The New York Review of Books, 26 June 1997; Marilyn Berger, The New York Times, 7 November 1997}

Berlioz, Louis Hector (1803—1869) Berlioz, who obtained fame by his dramatic symphony of “Romeo and Juliet” (1839), was made chevalier of the Legion of Honor. The nonliturgical oratorio The Childhood of Christ was completed in 1854. Berlioz’s ideas of orchestration influenced many later composers. Although the Catholic Encyclopaedia claims Berlioz was a Catholic, McCabe states that Berlioz often admitted in his letters that he was an atheist. In G. K. Boult’s Life of Berlioz (1903), a letter is included which was written shortly before the French composer died and in which he says, “I believe nothing.” Earlier, in his Memoirs, Berlioz related how he scandalized Mendelssohn “by laughing at the Bible.” He also scandalized others by his well-publicized love affairs. {BDF; CE; JM; RAT; RE; TRI; TYD}

Berman, David (20th Century) Berman is the highly esteemed author of A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell (1988) and George Berkeley: Idealism and the Man (1994). A professor at Dublin’s Trinity College, he shows, according to Tim Madigan of Free Inquiry, “that atheism, while not openly avowed until late in the eighteenth century, was implicit in many of the writings of some of the seventeenth century’s most influential thinkers. Even in the present day, it remains the view that dare not speak its name.” Berman’s research has been said to continue and sometimes correct that of J. M. Robertson. He has written book reviews for the British New Humanist. {FUK}

Berman, Eleanor (1934— ) In the 1950s, Berman was an associate editor of The Humanist. She is author of Away for the Weekend (1996). {HNS}

Berman, Milton (20th Century) Berman wrote John Fiske: The Evolution of a Popularizer. {FUS}

Bernadin de Saint-Pierre, Jacques Henri (1737—1814) Bernadin de Saint-Pierre, a French naturalist and author, was a friend of Rousseau, by whom he was strongly influenced. His chief work, Études de la Nature (1784), which sought to prove the existence of God from the wonders of nature, influenced the French romanticists. He succeeded Buffon as head of the Botanical Garden and was a professor under the Revolution. According to McCabe, “the atheists smiled at his ‘natural religion,’ but, like Rousseau, he did good work amongst sentimental folk.” {CE; JM}

Bernal, Martin G(ardner) (1937— ) Bernal, a professor of government and a Chinese scholar at Cornell, is the British author of Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (1987), a work that in 1996 has been refuted by numbers of scholars. Bernal is interested in that which is not European or Greek, what usually is called “pre-Hellenic.” Unlike other scholars, he finds the Greek culture represents “a mix of the native Balkan-Indo-European-speaking population with Egyptian and western Semitic populations. The linguistic and cultural mix was extraordinarily productive in cultural terms.” Further, he finds that 80% of the non-European words in Greek are in fact Egyptian or Semitic. “Humanism,” he believes, “is rooted in the late-Egyptian religious concept that human beings can become ‘god.’ The belief that humanity has divinity within itself is essentially Egyptian or African, and was transmitted to modern Europe through the hermetic texts. . . . Though you could say that the atheist tradition can only be traced back to Greek and Latin thinkers, humanism, in the centrality of the ‘person,’ is a very Egyptian idea.” The earliest example of monotheism, he writes in an interview with Norm R. Allen Jr., “is that of Akhenaton, the Egyptian pharaoh of the 14th century B.C.E. And the earliest trace of monotheism in Judaism is really from the 8th century B.C.E. . . . I very much doubt that we can go as far as Freud did in his book Moses and Monotheism, and say that Moses took monotheism from Akhenaton’s reforms in Egypt, but there seems to be no doubt that Egyptian religion had both polytheistic and monotheistic trends, and that Judaism borrowed from it.” As for their differences, “One thing that is characteristic of Egyptian religion and not Judaism is the emphasis on knowledge. In Judeo-Christian thought the emphasis is on faith. And the idea of knowledge—which again is humanistic in that human beings attempt to understand and manipulate spiritual and other systems—is very different from the position of subjugation of the worshiper who accepts with blind faith whatever happens. Also, organizationally, monasticism started in Egypt with a church hierarchy, rituals like the shaving of priests’ heads and things like that. Egypt provided the model of Western religion and religious institutions and structures.” Bernal, cautioning both Eurocentric and Afrocentric scholars, posits the need to be disinterested and unprejudiced when writing history. Refuting Bernal’s theories, Mary R. Lefkowitz has written Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History (1996). Also, she and Guy MacLean Rogers have edited Black Athena Revisited (1996), a thorough attack by nineteen scholars from Rome and Oxford as well as from Howard University and Harvard. For example, although Bernal insists that the ancient Egyptians were not only African but explicitly black, scholars from Howard University, Boston University, and the University of Michigan state that they were Mediterranean peoples, neither Sub-Saharan blacks, Nubians, nor Caucasian whites, that their craniofacial morphology has nothing whatsoever in common with Sub-Saharan Africans’, and that attempts to force the Egyptians into a “black” or “white” category have no biological justification. “Substituting fiction for fact is,” according to Howard University’s Frank M. Snowden, “is a disservice to blacks.” Meanwhile, whereas some molecular biologists have concluded that all family trees lead back to a single African woman, who lived some 200,000 years ago, Dr. Alan Templeton, a geneticist at Washington University in St. Louis, believes otherwise. He as well as Pennsylvania State University’s Mark Stoneking and the University of Michigan’s Milford Wolpoff say it is possible that the evolution to modern humans occurred roughly simultaneously in many places. In short, according to The New York Times (19 May 1992), scholars continue to debate whether or not there was “an African Eve.” (For a negative view of Bernal’s view, see the entry for Afrocentrism. Also, see “Anxieties of Influence” by Jasper Griffin in The New York Review of Books, 20 June 1996) {AAH}

Bernard, Claude (1813—1878) A French physiologist, Bernard wrote La Science Experimentale, which Paul Bert says introduced determinism in the domain of physiology. Upon his death, Bernard was buried at the expense of the French Republic. McCabe wrote of Bernard, “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, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865). He says that ‘the best philosophical system is to have none at all,’ that philosophy represents ‘the eternal aspiration of human reason toward knowledge of the unknown,’ and that it deals with ‘questions that torment humanity and have never yet been solved.’ In private his language was less stately. Sir Michael Foster quotes him saying that the Vespers [the Sunday evening service in Catholic churches] is ‘the servant girls’ opera.’ ” {BDF; JM; RAT; RE}

Bernard [Saint] (1090?—1153) Bernard the ecclesiast, in his Meditationes Piissimae, opined that “Man is nothing more than . . . a sack of dung, the food of worms.” He feared the philosophic treatment of theological problems, preferring an essentially mystical theology. Among his beliefs were that “a Christian glories in the death of a pagan, because thereby Christ himself is glorified,” which must surely have inspired individuals as they endured the unbearable difficulties of traveling long distances during the Crusades in order to kill. {ER}

Bernard, Ethan (20th Century)

Bernard is treasurer of the Society for Logic and Reason at Oregon State University in Corvallis. E-mail: <bernarde@ucs.orst.edu>.

Bernard, Henry Meyners (Died 1907) Bernard was a biologist who worked under Haeckel at Jena. He translated A. Lang’s Text-Book of Comparative Anatomy (1891) and wrote several biological works. In Some Neglected Factors of Evolution (1911), he spoke of the “intellectual dreams” of the churches as “frightful nightmares to those who wake up and think rather than feel.” {HNS2; RAT}

Bernard, Joe (20th Century) Bernard is founder and director of Imagine a World of Wanted Children (IWC). He edits its periodical and another entitled Quest and Controversy. A regional director of the American Humanist Association, Bernard spoke in 1994 at the 14th annual HUMCON conference sponsored by the Alliance of Humanist, Atheist, and Ethical Culture Organizations of Los Angeles County. {FD}

Bernard, Victor (20th Century) Victor Bernard is a local humanist activist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (See entry for Pennsylvania Humanists.) {FD; Free Inquiry, Summer 1991}

Berners-Lee, Timothy (1956- ) Berners-Lee, a physicist who was born in London, is credited with creating the World Wide Web. Frustrated because he could not share research with colleagues around the world, he devised the system of electronic links to information that spread like a spider’s web. Frustrated by what he thought was his poor memory, he devised a program that allowed him to jump, via links, from one bit of information another. What was new about his hypertext was that the links were direct, random, and also flexible. His most revolutionary idea, Ms. E. J. Graff has explained (World, May-June 1999), was his 1989 proposal for a global hypertext project to be known as the World Wide Web, one that would let Internet users anywhere share their knowledge with all other users. No matter what software or operating system had been used to create it, Berners-Lee conceived of hypertext tools that would enable any user to view any document. These included URLs (universal resource locators), HTTPs (hypertext transfer protocols, the “addresses” that are typed into a Web browser’s window to get the user to some destination), and HTMLs (hypertext markup language, which the Web browser reads to allow users to view a document). “On Sundays Berners-Lee packs his family into the car and heads for a Unitarian-Universalist church,” Time has reported. “As a teenager he rejected the Anglican teachings of his parents; he can’t bring himself to worship a particular prophet, a particular book. But ‘I do in fact believe that people’s spiritual side is very important,’ and that it’s ‘more than just biology.’ He said he liked the minimalist Unitarian dogma theologically vague but believing in “the inherent dignity of people and in working together to achieve harmony and understanding.” He can accept the notion of divinity so long as it is couched abstractly as the “asymptote” of goodness that we strive toward and does not involve “characters with beards.” He hopes the Web will move the world closer to the divine asymptote. To a reporter he mentioned that a verse he had heard in church came to mind, but all that he could remember are fragments: “All souls may . . . to seek the truth in love.” His voice trailed off and, in a single motion, he swiveled his chair to find the exact quotation “and made fluid contact with his IBM Thinkpad.” Berners-Lee is head of a W3 Consortium at MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science in Boston, and since his invention of the World Wide Web he reportedly has made very little money from the invention he has described: “You feel you’re playing a part in the world brain, contributing to something very large and connected.” According to Ms. Graff, Berners-Lee “is a fundamentalist libertarian, believing that idea and information should move without hindrance. Thus when you find a hate site on the Web, ‘it is right to be horrified,’ he says. ‘Being horrified and taking some action is part of the process.’ Freedom of speech, in this view, can be countered only by more freedom of speech—whether on real-world or on cyberspace street corners.” In 1998 Berners-Lee received a $270,000 MacArthur Fellowship Award in recognition of his pioneering of work on “a revolutionary communications system requiring minimal technical understanding to locate and distribute information throughout the world at very low cost.” {Time, 19 May 1997, International Edition; USA Weekend, 15-17 August 1997; World, May-June 1999}

Bernhardt, Sarah (1845—1923) Bernhardt, generally called the greatest French actress of recent times, was asked by the composer of operas, Charles François Gounod, if she ever prayed. “No,” she replied, according to A. Carel’s Histoire anecdotique des contemporains (1885). “Never. I’m an atheist.” To her disgust, Gounod (who “vacillated between mysticism and voluptuousness,” according to one of his biographers) then fell to his knees and prayed for her. In the winter of 1923, while preparing for a dress rehearsal, Bernhardt suddenly slipped into unconsciousness. “When do I go on?” she inquired, upon coming to. But she never again was able to act, becoming bedridden because of ill health. When she was able to walk, she soon collapsed again and, upon being informed that journalists were outside, said they could just wait: “All my life reporters have tormented me enough. I can tease them now a little by making them cool their heels.” The following day, she died. {CE; JM; TYD}

Bernhardt, Sarah (22 Oct 1844 - 26 Mar 1923) Bernhardt, generally called the greatest French actress of recent times, was asked by the composer of operas, Charles François Gounod, if she ever prayed. “No,” she replied, according to A. Carel’s Histoire anecdotique des contemporains (1885). “Never. I’m an atheist.” To her disgust, Gounod (who “vacillated between mysticism and voluptuousness,” according to one of his biographers) then fell to his knees and prayed for her. In the winter of 1923, while preparing for a dress rehearsal, Bernhardt suddenly slipped into unconsciousness. “When do I go on?” she inquired, upon coming to. But she never again was able to act, becoming bedridden because of ill health. When she was able to walk, she soon collapsed again and, upon being informed that journalists were outside, said they could just wait: “All my life reporters have tormented me enough. I can tease them now a little by making them cool their heels.” The following day, the great actress died. {CE; JM; TYD}

Bernstein, Aaron (1812—1884) Bernstein, a rationalist born of Jewish parents, translated Song of Songs (1834) but published it under the pseudonym of A. Rebenstein. {BDF; RAT}

Bernstein, Alvin (20th Century) Bernstein, a retiree in California who formerly taught European history, has written about Voltaire and Pierre Bayle for Truth Seeker. For Secular Nation (October-December 1998), he wrote that extreme religionists are tampering with our notions of right and wrong, making right wrong and wrong right.

Bernstein, Eduard (1850—1932) Bernstein was a German politician and socialist, a Deputy for Breslau in the Reichstag and a leader of the minority group. He rejected the theories of Karl Marx and followed the Kantian philosophy (but not theology). In his view, socialism would be the final result of liberalism, not revolution. Bernstein was an agnostic who opposed the Nazis. {CE; RAT}

Bernstein, Leonard (1918—1990) An eminent American composer and conductor, Bernstein wrote “Mass” (1971), which he described as “a theater piece for singers, dancers, and players” and was performed at the opening of the John F. Kennedy Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. He argues melodramatically with God in his “Kaddish” symphony and mass and features his uncloseted bisexuality in the opera, “A Quiet Place.” Bernstein is known for symphonic works, chamber music, choral music, and musicals such as “On the Town” (1944), “Candide” (1956) and “West Side Story”(1957). He also is known for his various love affairs, the homosexual ones of which are described in Charles Kaiser’s The Gay Metropolis 1940—1996 (1997). In 1976, after having been married for twenty-five years to the Chilean actress Felicia Montealegre and brought up three children with her, he left his wife for a young man. “The darker the color, the better,” one Broadway star reported. Although nominally Jewish—David Denby has thoroughly outlined his musical connections with Judaism—Bernstein accepted a Humanist of the Year award from the American Humanist Association. The award was to have been given in 1990, the year of his death. {CE; David Denby, “The Trouble With Lenny,” The New Yorker, 17 August 1998}

Berquin, Louis de (1489—1529) Berquin was a French martyr whose great crime, according to his friend Erasmus, was openly professing hatred of the monks. Although his works were ordered to be burned. he was commanded to abjure his heresies, and he was sentenced to perpetual banishment, Berquin appealed to the Parliament. That appeal was rejected, and he was burned the same afternoon at the Place de la Grève. Wheeler says “he died with great constancy and resolution.” {BDF}

Berré, Denise (20th Century) Berré spoke at the 1992 IHEU Congress in the Netherlands, describing how an ethical education is provided in secondary schools in Belgium. From the age of six to eighteen, children follow a “philosophical” class chosen by their parents. Teachers of humanist courses are employed by the state, not by the humanist organizations.

Berry, Dale (20th Century) Berry has reviewed books for The American Rationalist (January-February 1999).

Berry, Newton (20th Century) Berry, with Madalyn Murray O’Hair, wrote The Best of “Dial An Atheist” (1982). {GS}

Berry, Paul (20th Century) A teacher, environmentalist, and author, Berry wrote Wake of Dreams: Reflections of Hawaii (1993). He has identified population growth and government inertia as major problems. Berry teaches economics at Punahou, Hawaii.

Bers, Mel (20th Century) Raised a nominal Jew “but not in any religious sense,” Bers told fellow members of the Secular Humanist Community of Upstate New York, Western Massachusetts, and Southern Vermont, that he reacted against the “50-50” implications of being an agnostic, and he became a secular humanist. He added that he is grateful that his life has been free from the sturm and drang of religious angst. {The Humanist Monthly, September 1998}

Bert, Paul (1833—1886) A French scientist and statesman, Bert held radical opinions and as Minister of Public Instruction organized French education on a secular basis. His strong anti-clerical views induced much opposition, particularly because of his The Morality of the Jesuits (1880). In 1886 he was made Governor-General of French Indo-China. His rationalism is seen in Le Cléricalisme (published 1900). Foote, describing Bert, wrote the following:

	His father educated him in a detestation of priests, and his own nature led him to the pursuit of science. He took the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1863, and three years later the degree of Doctor of Science. His political life began with the fall of the Empire. After the war of 1870–71 he entered the Chamber of Deputies, and devoted his great powers to the development of public education. Largely through his labors, the Chamber voted free, secular, and compulsory instruction for both sexes. He was idolized by the school-masters and school-mistresses in France. Being accused of a “blind hatred” of priests, he replied in the Chamber: “The conquests of education are made on the domain of religion; I am forced to meet on my road Catholic superstitions and Romish policy, or rather it is across their empire that my path seems to me naturally traced.”

Speaking at a mass meeting at the Cirque d’Hiver, in August, 1881, Gambetta himself being in the chair, Bert declared that “modern societies march towards morality in proportion as they leave religion behind.” Afterwards he published his scathing Morale des Jesuites, over twenty thousand copies of which were sold in less than a year. The book was dedicated to Bishop Freppel in a vein of masterly irony. Bert also published a scientific work, the Premiere Année d’Enseignement Scientifique, which is almost universally used in the Frenell primary schools. During Léon Gambetta’s short-lived government Bert held the post of Minister of Public Instruction. In 1886 he went out to Tonquin as Resident-General. Hard work and the pestilential climate laid him low and he succumbed to dysentery. When the news of his death reached the French Chamber, M. Freycinet thus announced the event from the tribune: I announce with the deepest sorrow the death of M. Paul Bert. He died literally on the field of honor, broken down by the fatigues and hardships which he so bravely endured in trying to carry out the glorious task which he had undertaken. The Chamber loses by his death one of its most eminent members, Science one of its most illustrious votaries, France one of her most loving and faithful children, and the Government a fellow-worker of inestimable value, in whom we placed the fullest confidence. Excuse me, gentlemen, if because my strength fails me I am unable to proceed. Foote continued:

The sitting was raised as a mark of respect, and the next day the Chamber voted a public funeral and a pension to Paul Bert’s family. Bishop Freppel opposed the first vote on the ground that the deceased was an inveterate enemy of religion, but he was ignominiously beaten, the majority against him being 379 to 45. Despite this miserable protest, while Paul Bert’s body was on its way to Europe the clerical party started a canard about his “conversion.” Perhaps the story originated in the fact that he had daily visited the Hanoi Hospital, distributing books and medicines and speaking kind words to the nuns in attendance. It was openly stated and unctuously commented on in the religious journals, that the Resident-General had sent for a Catholic bishop on his death-bed and taken the sacrament; and as inventions of this kind are always circumstantial, it was said that the Papal Nuncio at Lisbon had received this intelligence. But on December 29 the Papal Nuncio telegraphed that his name had been improperly used; and two days later, when the French warship touched at the Suez Canal, Madame Bert telegraphed that the story was absolutely and entirely false.


Bertani, Agostino (1812—1886) An Italian patriot, Bertani was a physician who took part with Garibaldi and Mazzini in organizing the ambulance services. A declared freethinker, he was elected deputy to the Italian Parliament. {BDF; RAT}

Berthelot, Dolly Haik-Adams (20th Century) 

Berthelot, a Unitarian, is author of What Became of a World That Was Perfectly Square (1994), a fable about diversity and change. She is a past president of the Pensacola, Florida, Unitarian Fellowship.

Berthelot, Pierre Eugéne Marcelin (1827—1907) A French chemist and member of the French Academy, Berthelot was a founder of modern organic chemistry. He was the first to produce organic compounds synthetically (including the carbon compounds methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol, benzene, and acetylene). Berthelot was an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association, which in 1899 was founded by Charles A. Watts. Two of his works are Chimie organique fondée sur la synthèse (1860) and Leçons sur la thermochimie (1897). Berthelot, according to McCabe, “almost made a parade of his scorn of creeds and his atheism. He wrote several books on his views, and he sent for public reading at the International Congress of Freethinkers at Rome in 1904, which I attended, a letter in which he denounced the ‘poisonous vapors of superstition’ and hailed the coming of a ‘reign of reason.’ The message is published in Dr. L. B. Wilson’s Trip to Rome (1904).” {CE; JM; RAT; RE}

Berthold, S. M. (20th Century) Berthold, a freethinker, wrote Thomas Paine: America’s First Liberal (1938). {FUS}

Berthollet, Claude Louis [Comte de] (1748—1822) Berthollet was a French chemist whose contributions to chemistry include the analysis of ammonia and prussic acid and the discovery of the bleaching properties of chlorine. His greatest contribution was in his Essai de statique chimique (1803), in which he presented his speculations on chemical affinity and his discovery of the reversibility of reactions. Napoleon took him as one of his savants to Egypt, making him a Count and Senator for his scientific services. Berthollet, who is not claimed by Catholics, remained a skeptic. {CE; RAT; RE}

Berti, Antonio (1816—1879) An Italian physician, Berti wrote many scientific works. A freethinker, he was a member of the Venice Municipal Council and of the Italian Senate. {BDF}

Berti, Domenico (1820—1897) Berti was an Italian philosopher and statesman. A liberal theist or pantheist, he admired Giordano Bruno and throughout his career was a moderate progressive and anti-clerical. {RAT}

Bertillon, Alphonse (1853—1914) Bertillon was a French criminologist whose work in 1879 culminated in the establishment of the Bertillon system of measurement, which was adopted in many countries. The English police adopted it in 1896. Bertillon, who shared his father’s (Louis Adolphe Bertillon’s) advanced views, wrote a number of works on anthropology and criminology. {RAT}

Bertillon, Louis Adolphe (1821—1883) Bertillon, a French anthropologist and physician, did a statistical study of the French population in 1874. With A. Hovelacque and others, he edited the Dictionary of the Anthropological Sciences. In a letter to Bishop Dupanloup in 1868, he wrote, “You hope to die a Catholic. I hope to die a Freethinker.” {BDF; RAT}

Berton, Pierre (1920—	)

Berton is a Canadian journalist and author. He has been the managing editor of Maclean’s in Toronto, a columnist in various journals, a panelist on “Front Page Challenge, CBC,” and chancellor of Yukon College (1988—1993). He is the author of thirty-nine books, including The Royal Family (1953), Adventures of a Columnist (1960), The Dionne Years (1977), The Invasion of Canada, 1812—1813 (1980), and Farewell to the Twentieth Century (1996). In 1992 he was named to the Canadian Newspaper Hall of Fame and in 1996 received the Responsibility in Journalism Award of the Committee for Investigation of the Paranormal. In a 1994 interview on Canadian public television, Berton was asked his views on the Christmas season. He replied that he was an atheist and felt it was all nonsense. {CA; E}

Bertrand de Saint-Germain Guillaume Scipion (Born 1810) Bertrand was a French physician who wrote The Original Diversity of Human Races (1847) and Descartes as a Physiologist (1869). He was a freethinker. {BDF}

BERTRAND RUSSELL SOCIETY The Bertrand Russell Society (1806 Rollins Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22307) publishes the quarterly Russell Society News and distributes a semi-annual copy of the journal of the Bertrand Russell archives at McMaster University in Canada. Its international membership includes numerous eminent thinkers. Officers in 1999 were as follows: Kenneth Blackwell, Chairman; Alan Schwerin, President; Jan Loeb Eisler, Vice President; Peter Stone, Secretary; and Dennis Darland, Treasurer. Directors are as follows: James Alouf; Stefan Andersson; Derek Araujo; Kenneth Blackwell; Kevin Brodie; Dennis Darland; Jan Loeb Eisler; Nicholas Griffin; Robert T. James; Justin Leiber; Gladys Leithauser; John R. Lenz; Timothy Madigan; Chandrakapala Padia; Ray Perkins; Stephen Reinhardt; David Rodier; Harry Ruja; Alan Schwerin; Warren Allen Smith; Tom Stanley; Peter Stone; Thom Weidlich; and Ruili Ye. Honorary Members are: Sir Alfred Ayer; Noam Chomsky; Ken Coates; Peter Cranford; Elizabeth R. Eames; Paul Edwards; Antony Flew; Michael Foot; Paul Kurtz; Taslima Nasrin; David F. Pears; Willard Van Orman Quine; Conrad Russell; and Katharine Russell Tait. Past awardees of the Bertrand Russell Society Award: Paul Arthur Schilpp (1980); Steve Allen (1981); Henry Kendall (1982); Joseph Rotblat (1983); Dora Black (1984); Robert Jay Lifton (1985); People For the American Way (1986); John Somerville (1987); Paul Kurtz (1988); Paul Edwards (1989); Planned Parenthood (1991); Sir Karl Popper (1992); Harry Ruja (1993); Zero Population Growth (1995); W. V. O. Quine (1996); Irving Copi (1998); Henry Morgentaler (1999). On the Web: <http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:1167503&dq=cache:www.users.drew.edu/~jlenz/brs.html>. (See entry for Lee Eisler.)

Berwick, George J. (Died 1872) Berwick was a physician appointed surgeon to the East India Company in 1828. He wrote Awas-i-hind, or A Voice from the Gangse, Being a Solution of the True Source of Christianity, By An Indian Officer (1861). He also wrote tracts under the signature of “Presbyter Anglicanus.” Berwick was a freethinker. {BDF}

Besant, Annie (1847—1933) An English freethinker who later became a Theosophist, Besant was a close associate of Charles Bradlaugh. Edward Royle has described her contribution to freethought and radicalism, calling her the greatest female orator of her day, and saying she can be credited for much of the success of the National Secular Society between 1874 and 1886 in England. George Bernard Shaw knew her well:

Annie Besant, a player of genius, was a tragedian. Comedy was not her clue to life: she had a healthy sense of fun; but no truth came to her first as a joke. Injustice, waste, and the defeat of noble aspirations did not revolt her by way of irony or paradox: they stirred her to direct and powerful indignation and to active resistance.

In 1878 when a petition in Chancery was presented to deprive her of her child on the ground of her atheistic and Malthusian views, Sir G. Jessell granted the petition. When Besant encountered the famed Russian occultist and theosophist, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, in 1889, she converted and within two years had become theosophy’s main leader, spending the rest of her life in India, where she led the Congress Party (1917). Theosophy, a mystical view that insight into the nature of God and the world can be obtained through direct knowledge, is found in Oriental theologies and has included adherents such as Jakob Boehme, F. W. J. Schelling, and Emanuel Swedenborg. Anne Taylor has written Annie Besant: A Biography (1992), which details her series of emotional (but apparently not physical) attachments to Charles Bradlaugh, Edward Aveling, J. M. Robertson, Bernard Shaw, William Stead, and Herbert Burrows. J. Gordon Melton has edited The Origins of Theosophy: Annie Besant—The Atheist Years (1990). From 1883 to 1888, Besant edited the weekly London publication, Our Corner. Charles Leadbeater, who at the Australian Convention of Theosophists in 1922 was accused of everything from ventriloquism to pederasty, said “spirits” once informed him that in other ages Mrs. Besant acquired twelve husbands for whom she roasted rats and Julius Caesar married Jesus Christ, stories which gullible theosophists repeated as truths. The theosophy part of Besant’s career has little to do with secularism, but the Besant-Bradlaugh partnership between 1874 and 1886 was immensely important. Arthur Moss’s verdict in 1915 was that in England Besant “was unquestionably the most learned, the most eloquent, and the most powerful lady advocate of Freethought that this country every produced.” She also, Paul Edwards wrote in Reincarnation (1996), was a foolish believer in reincarnation. (See entry for Birth Control.) {BDF; CE; EU, Edward Royle; FUK; FUS; PUT; RSR; SWW; TRI; WSS}

Best, Mary (20th Century) Best, a freethinker, wrote Thomas Paine, Prophet and Martyr of Democracy (1927). {FUS}

Bestic, Allan (20th Century) A freethinker, Bestic wrote Praise the Lord and Pass the Contribution (1971). {FUS}

Betham-Edwards, Matilda (1836—1919) Betham-Edwards was a writer of novels and works on France, where she lived for forty years. In 1891 the French government made her an Officier de Instruction Publique. Betham-Edwards’s obituary notice in the Positivist Review described her as “an uncompromising opponent of the Catholic Church . . . hardly more tolerant of the Anglican Church.” She was said to have been too “Voltairean” to join the positivists. {RAT}

Bethell, Richard [Baron Westbury] (1800—1873) Bethell, a Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, after a career at the bar became Attorney General and in 1861 head of the House of Lords. He presided at one of the heresy trials and, in the words of a legal humorist, “took away from the orthodox members of the Church of England their last hope of eternal damnation.” His verdict, in short, relieved clergymen of the need to believe in hell. Jowett quoted Bethell as once having said about the Reformation, “You cut off the head of one beast, the Church of Rome, and immediately the head of another beast, the Church of England, makes its appearance.” McCabe finds that although Bethell made no public declaration, it is not clear whether he was a non-Christian theist, an agnostic, or an atheist. {JM; RAT; RE}

BETHLEHEM: See entry for Christmas.

Bettinelli, Saverio (1718—1808) 

An Italian ex-Jesuit, Bettinelli was a friend and admirer of Voltaire, sharing his deism. He had been rector of the Royal College at Parma (1751—1758) but, upon being suppressed, stepped down and remained nominally in the ranks of the clergy. {RAT}

Beverland, Hadrianus (1654—c. 1712) A Dutch classical scholar and nephew of Isaac Vossius, Beverland wrote a treatise on Original Sin, Peccatum Originale (1672), which contended that the sin of Adam and Eve was their sexual inclination. The book caused a great outcry and was burned. Beverland was imprisoned and his name was struck from the roles of Leyden University. {BDF}

Bevan, Aneurin (1897—1960) Bevan, a British politician, served as a Labour member in Parliament (1929—1960). A leader of the party’s left wing (1951—1960), he was known for having administered the National Health Service. Bevan, an internationally noted politician, was an agnostic. {New Humanist, September 1996; TRI}

Bevington, L. S.: See entry for L. S. Guggenberger.

Beyer, Linda C. (20th Century) Beyer is editor-in-chief of World, the journal of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston.

Beyerstein, Barry L. (1949— ) Beyerstein, a professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, is on the executive council of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, which publishes Skeptical Inquirer. He has written for Humanist in Canada and signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Beyle, Marie Henri: See entry for Stendhal.

BEZ DOGMATU (Without Dogma) A humanistic Polish quarterly, Bez Dogmatu is at Instytut Wydawniczy “Ksiazka I Prass,” ul. Twarda 60, 00-818, Warszawa, Poland.

Bharati, Agehananda (Died 1989) Bharati, an Austrian-turned-Hindu-turned Humanist, taught anthropology at Syracuse University in his final years. After Nazi Germany’s fall, Leopald (his original name) traveled to India and joined with Ramakrishna Ashram, becoming in charge of editing the complete volumes of Vivekananda, the founder of the Ashram. He found “silly, ignorant aspects of the great Swamiji,” according to Innaiah Narisetti, but retained them as the words of “a divine person.” Because the Ashram Swamis could not tolerate Agehananda’s agnostic, rationalistic attitude, he was expelled from the Ashram. Writing an autobiography, The Ochre Robe, he exposed Vivekananda as well as Ramakrishna Ashram, and the book was banned in India by the government of Prime Minister Nehru despite objections from radical humanists, rationalists, and atheists. Bharati also revealed how Vivekananda commercialized Yoga through his guide books. Tantric Yoga is also critical of Hindu aesthetics and sex practices in the name of religion. When he was initiated into the Hindu fold as Sanyasi in Varanasi burial grounds, he was named Agehananda Bharati, then toured Indian holy places on foot and studied the scriptures in Sanskrit. In 1952 he met M. N. Roy in Dehradun, became interested in the scientific method and logical systems in regard to religion, and taught in the universities of Benares and Delhi for a short time. (See material by Innaiah Narisetti on the Web: <avana.net/~jshankar/index.htm>.)

Bhargava, Pushpa Mittra (20th Century) 

A renowned scientist, Dr. Bhargava is the former and founding director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad. He has been a visiting professor in several European and American universities. Bhargava, who designed “The Method of Science” exhibition on display at Birla Science Museum, Hyderabad, is a former chairperson of the Indian Rationalist Association. Bhargava signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Bhattachariya, Debasis (1967— ) In Calcutta, Bhattachariya is a law clerk who is a leading protagonist in rationalist campaigns. A member of the Science and Rationalist’s Association of India, he is a “guru buster” who helps expose gurus, swamis, yogis, and others claiming mystical powers. Although Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize for her relief work in the slums of Calcutta, Bhattachariya has stated, “Mother Teresa has a clean image, and there is no doubt that she has helped the poor. But in the end, we believe that Mother Teresa is not at all any better than all the other godmen and godwomen, because she helps to place a more kindly mask on the overall exploitation in our society.” (See entry for Prabhir Ghosh.) {The New York Times, 10 October 1995}

Bhatti, Indirius Dominic (20th Century) Bhatti is director of the Unitarian Universalist Christians of Pakistan. (See entry for Unitarian Universalist Christians of Pakistan.)

Bhatty, Margaret (20th Century) Bhatty is on the staff of the American Atheist and reports on religious events in India. A feminist journalist, she lives in Nagpur. One of her paperbacks is entitled, An Atheist Reports from India (1987).

BHEEM PATRIKA Bheem Patrika is an Ambedkar journal published fortnightly by Bheem Patrika Publications in Hindi and English. It is at ES - 393A Abadpura, Jalandhar - 144 003, Punjab, India.

Bianchi, Angelo (1799—1862) Also known as Aurelio Bianchi-Giovini, this Italian man of letters wrote The Life of Father Paoli Sarpi (1836), which was put on the Index and led to his being in constant strife with the Roman Church. For attacks on the clergy in Il Republicano at Lugano, Bianchi was forced to flee to Zurich, thence to Milan. His principal works are the History of the Popes (1850—1864) and A Criticism of the Gospels (1853). {BDF}

Biandrata, Giorgio (c. 1515—1591) Seeking refuge in Poland because of his heretical religious opinions, the Italian physician Biandrata was accepted and in 1565 organized the Minor Reformed Church. It was Unitarian in outlook and gained the allegiance of a significant portion of the Polish nobility. He became a leader of the Socinian party but was assassinated in 1591. {BDF; EU, Paul H. Beattie}

BIBLE, THE For non-believers, a person’s bible is that which he prizes. For some, that could be the works of Robert G. Ingersoll. Or Shakespeare. Or Voltaire. Or The Economist. For Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the Holy Bible is a library of 39 books of the Old Testament. For Catholics and Protestants, it includes the 27 books of the New Testament. The Apocrypha, consisting of 14 additional books, are considered by Protestants to be of dubious authenticity. Pseudepigraphon are any of various pseudonymous or anonymous Jewish religious writings, one being the Psalms of Solomon. Byblos was an ancient Phoenician city from which papyrus was exported and on which books were written. To describe the product, the ancient Greeks used biblia, the plural of the Greek noun biblion. Latin readers mistook the word for the feminine singular. As a result, “bible” is a singular noun for what really is a library of 66 to 80 books. Although some fundamentalists insist that God literally dictated the Bible, crossing each t and dotting each i, the collection of books has been variously translated and some translations differ widely from others. Some of the versions of the Old Testament, chronologically listed, are as follows:

• Septuagint (Greek), which was made in Alexandria from about the 3rd century B.C.E. to the 1st century of the Christian Era; • the Old Latin; the Peshitta (Syriac); • the Syro-Hexaplar (Syriac); • four Coptic (Egyptian versions); • the Latin Vulgate, made by Jerome toward the end of the 4th century.

Some of the versions of the New Testament are as follows:

• the Old Latin version, originated by the end of the 2nd century and probably in Africa; • the Diatessaron, made by Tatian in about 160; • the Old Syriac; • the five Egyptian (Coptic) versions; • the Armenian; • the Latin Vulgate, made by Jerome after 380.

The Masoretic was made by scribes who compiled the Masorah, consisting of notes on the textual traditions of the Hebrew Old Testament and compiled during the first millennium of the Christian era. The notes are not critical, merely describing what is the correct form of the text, and the Masorah accumulated from about 500 to about 1100. In the present century, a number of translations have been made of all the books of the Bible. A recent editing omits terms considered anti-feminist, and some groups demand that God not be defined or described as masculine. “The Bible says . . . ,” although frequently expressed as a truism by believers, does not clearly state which of the widely different versions is “the absolutely true one.” Negative comments about the Bible are numerous:

• The Bible. That is what fools have written, what imbeciles command, what rogues teach, and young children are made to learn by heart. —Voltaire

• I find some passages of the Bible of correct morality, and others of so much ignorance, untruth, charlatanism, and imposture. —Thomas Jefferson Letter to William Short, 13 April 1820

• It is odd that God learned Greek when he wanted to turn author, and that he did not learn it better. —Friedrich Nietzsche

• It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand. —Mark Twain

• When I think of all the harm the Bible has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it. —Oscar Wilde

• So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence. —Bertrand Russell

• Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based. —Ambrose Bierce

• The total absence of humor from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature. —Alfred North Whitehad

• “The Good Book”—one of the most remarkable euphemisms evercoined. —Ashley Montagu

• God, isn’t God a shit! ——Randolph Churchill’s comment when reading the Bible, as reported in

Evelyn Waugh’s Diaries.

• The inspiration of the Bible depends on the ignorance of the gentleman who reads it. —Robert G. Ingersoll

• Y’say grammarians prescribe that books of the Bible should not be italiziced? Wait until the homophobes read that “Jesus is in John.” —Allen Windsor (See entries for Biblical rancy; Charles Bufe, who has described its many contradictions; Farrell Till, editor of Skeptical Review; and for Kenneth E. Nahigian, who declares that the Septuagint version is a “sloppy” translation.) {ER; RE)

BIBLE CODE A 1997 book by Michael Drosnin, The Bible Code, purports to show that messages concerning modern events, such as the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and Clinton’s election in 1992, were “encoded” in the Bible about 3,000 years ago. Using a computer program, Drosnin “uncovered” the alleged messages. Hector Avalos, however, called the work “one of the most alarming examples of pseudo-science and pseudobiblical scholarship of 1997.” Drosnin, in a statement Avalos reported for the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, is simply using a more sophisticated version of the game called Scrabble to resurrect the biblical numerology of yore. {Secular Humanist Bulletin, Fall 1997}

THE BIBLE FOR CHILDREN Children’s bibles became popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, as pointed out by Ruth B. Bottigheimer in The Bible for Children, From the Age of Gutenberg to the Present (1996), the record was occasionally falsified for children. Noah’s drunkenness, for example, disappeared from most German and British children’s Bibles. Roman Catholic versions kept it in but added some face-saving excuses. A 1714 edition suggested that Noah became drunk because the Flood had prevented him from taking wine for a year. As for the handling of Abraham’s near murder of his son Isaac, Christianity’s Oedipal story in reverse, Isaac’s age of 37 was gradually infantilized over the years until he became the eight-year-old child familiar in pictures. Jephthah’s murder of his young daughter was covered in 1915 by emphasizing “the providence of God Almighty, His justice and mercy.” Lot’s peace offering of his virgin daughters to the Sodom mob was said in 1824 to be “perfectly consonant with the usage of those times and countries . . . doing evil that good might come.” His later incest with those same daughters, if described at all, was attributed to their depravity and, in one version, the story became “Lot Loses His Chastity.” Bottigheimer gave so many other examples that most parents would likely hesitate to mention the Bible to their children, choosing instead junior versions of Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, or even Bottigheimer’s Grimm’s Bad Girls and Bold Boys.

BIBLE STORIES, NOT FOR CHILDREN Jonathan Kirsch’s The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible (1997) lists the following stories in the Bible:

• Lot impregnates his daughters (Genesis 19:1-38) • Hamor rapes Dinah with consequences (Genesis 34:1-31) • Tamar, the harlot by the side of the road (Genesis 38:1-26) • The bridegroom of blood: Zipporah circumcises (Exodus 4:24-26) • Jephthah sacrifices his daughter (Judges 11:1-40) • The traveler hacks up his concubines (Judges 19:1-30) • Tamar is raped by her brother (2 Samuel 11:2-15; 12:9-25; 13:1-22) {Wolf Roder, FIG Leaves, February 1999}

THE BIBLE SAYS Quiz: According to the rubric, “the Bible says” which of the following?

• Satan (or the Devil) tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit; • God punished Adam and Eve by driving them out of Paradise; • God destroyed the tower of Babel; • God destroyed the city of Sodom because its inhabitants engaged in homosexual practices; • the plagues were punishment for the evil that the Egyptians did to the Israelites; • Balaam was a wicked person who cursed Israel.

According to James L. Kugel’s The Bible As It Was (1997), all are false statements. Kugel, the Star Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University, provides information as to how the interpretation by early scholars on the Torah altered people’s perceptions of biblical teachings. For example, he shows that Isaac did not ask (as the Bible reads, “Who are you, my son?” but rather “Who are you? My son?” In turn Jacob did not reply, “I am Esau, your first born,” but rather, “I am. [But] Esau is your first born.” Kugel laments the fact that over the past few centuries a Protestant captivity of the Bible and of biblical scholarship has ensued, and his work is meant to illustrate “the Bible As It Was Not.” Although nine of ten Americans are said to have a Bible, few are aware that all the following are false:

• The “forbidden fruit” of Genesis was an apple. • Jesus was an only child. • Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’s friends, was a harlot. • Jonah spent three days in the belly of a whale. • Jesus was born on December 25th. {Phyllis Trible, “What God Meant to Say. . . ,” The New York Times Book Review, 21 December 1997; Kenneth C. Davis, Don’t Know Much About the Bible? (1998)}

THE BIBLE, HUMOR IN No humorous items appear in the entire Holy Bible. However, Terry Sanderson suggests the following:

Q: Which American state is mentioned in the Bible? A: “And Noah looked from the Ark and saw . . .” Q: What was the longest day in the Bible? A: There was no eve the day Adam was created. Q: Why did the Catholic Church in Tottenham purchase an adjoining pub with stripteasers, the Silver Lady? A: To prepare Catholic children for the shock of what grown-ups look like without their clothes.

The Playboy edition of the Bible, Don Wigal of New York City has extrapolated (in The Freethinker, February 1997; New York, 25 August 1997}, should include the following erotic listing:


THE BIBLE, BLOOPERS: See entry for Michael Ledo.

THE BIBLE, TRANSLATIONS (GULLAH) The Bible has been translated into many languages. Following is an example from one book that was released (1994) by the American Bible Society. The comparison with the King James Version is in Gullah, a historic African-English language spoken mainly in coastal South Carolina but which is closely related to the English-based Creole language spoken in the Caribbean. Gullah’s grammatical structure comes from West Africa.

The Gospel According to Luke

2:10. And the angel said unto bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

2:11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

6:20. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God

24:6. He is not here, but is risen.

De Good Nyewes Bout Jedus Christ Wa Luke Write

2:10. Bot de angel tell um say, “Mus don’t feah! A habe good nyews. Cause ob dis nyews, oona gwine rejaice tommuch.”

2:11. Cause A come fa tell oona, “Right now, dis day, a Sabior done bon fa oona. He de Promise Chile, Christ, de Lawd. An e bon een David town!”

6:20. Jedus look at e ciple dem an tell um say, “Oona bless fa true, oona po people. Cause God esef da rule oba oona!”

24:6. “Jedus ain’t yah. E done git op from mongst deded, an e da libe gin!”

BIBLICAL ERRANCY Biblical Errancy (3158 Sherwood Park Drive, Springfield, Ohio 45505) is published monthly. The publication is thorough in its critical analysis of the Bible. Dennis McKinsey, its editor, is one of the major unbelievers with a scholarly understanding of the Bible and its many contradictions. Jim Hill and Rand Cheadie’s The Bible Tells Me So: Uses and Abuses of Holy Scripture (1966) notes the following contradictions along with numerous other examples:

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. I Timothy 5:23 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Proverbs 20:1

I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret. Matthew 6:7

The Lord is a man of war. Exodus 15:3 Thou shalt not kill. Exodus 20:13

BIBLIOFANTASIAC Bibliofantasiac is published by C. F. Kennedy (39 Claremore Ave., Scarborough, Ontario, Canada M1N 3S1. E-mail: <tangle@interlog.com>.

Bichat, Marie François Xavier (1771—1802) A French anatomist and physiologist, Bichat wrote the Physiology of Life and Death. Wheeler has described him as “a martyr to his zeal for science.” {BDF; RAT}

Bickersteth, Henry [Baron Langdale] (1783—1851) Bickersteth, one of the many freethinking distinguished British jurists of the nineteenth century, refused the position both of Attorney General and Lord Chancellor but was Master of the Rolls. Lord Langdale and his friend Bentham agreed about the subject of religion, except Bentham was more atheistic. According to one of his biographers, Hardy, Bickersteth was “destitute of religious feeling,” but he seemed to have held some shade of intellectual theism. {JM; RAT; RE}

Biddle, John (1615—1661) Biddle was the founder of English Unitarianism, although a Church of the Strangers, one with a Socinian influence, had been established in London as early as 1550. Biddle started as a master of the Gloucester Grammar School in England. He was dismissed for his denial of the Trinity. In 1647 he was imprisoned and his book burned by the hangman. In 1654 he was again imprisoned, then banished in 1655 to the Scilly Islands. After the Restoration when he returned to London, he again was arrested, and this time, in 1661, he died in prison. {BDF; CE; JMR; JMRH}

Bierbower, Austin (19th Century) Bierbower, a freethinker, wrote Principles of a System of Philosophy (1870). {GS}

Bierce, Ambrose (1842—1914?) The last of ten children, Bierce was the son of a father who liked books but did not like long-term employment. His mother was a pious matron. Tellingly, Bierce once started a series of tales, “The Parenticide Club,” with “Having murdered my mother under circumstances of singular atrocity”’ in another, he wrote, “Early one June morning in 1872 I murdered my father—an act which made a deep impression on me at the time.” Bierce volunteered in the Ninth Indiana Infantry Regiment, was promoted to brevet major for his courageous service in several bloody battles including Shiloh, Chickamauga, Stones River, Resaca, and Pickett’s Mill, and wrote credible novels about war. In one short story, “Chickamauga,” he included grisly details, and in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” a spy as he is being hanged dreams of his beloved wife, the dream interrupted by the snapping of his neck. Ever the witty pessimist, who defined a year as “a period of 365 disappointments,” Bierce did not spend his entire life in the gloomy fashion most assumed was his lot. He edited two issues of The Lantern for the exiled Empress Eugenie, wrote for Hearst newspapers, married a socialite, settled comfortably in Marin County, and raised three children. The Devil’s Dictionary (1911, originally in 1906 called The Cynic’s Word Book) was addressed to “enlightened souls who prefer dry wines to sweet, sense to sentiment, wit to humor, and clean English to slang.” Characteristic entries include the following:

Advice, n. The smallest current coin. Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen. Christian, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. Clergyman, n. A man who undertakes the management of your spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones. Edible, adj. Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm. Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. Garter, n. An elastic band intended to keep a woman from coming out of her stockings and desolating the country. Heathen, n. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel. Labor, n. One of the processes by which A acquires property for B. Marriage, n. A community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two. Martyr, n. One who moves along the path of least resistance to a desired death. Mugwump, n. In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted to the vice of independence. A term of contempt. Pray, verb. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy. Prejudice, n. A vagrant opinion without visible means of support. Rack, n. An argumentative implement formerly much used in persuading devotees of a false faith to embrace the living truth. Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.

A Unitarian, Bierce wrote, “If there is a God—a proposition that the wise are neither concerned to deny nor hot to affirm—nothing is more obvious than that for some purpose known only to himself he has ordered all the arrangements of this world utterly regardless of the temporal needs of man. This earth is about the worst that a malevolent ingenuity, an unquickened apathy, or an extreme incapacity could have devised.” Among his other sardonic observations, Bierce found that “Christians and camels receive their burdens kneeling.” As for books: “The covers of this book are too far apart.” The ideal epitaph: “Here lies ‘So-and-so’-as usual.” As for being cautious: “Don’t believe without evidence. Treat things divine with marked respect—don’t have anything to do with them. Do not trust humanity without collateral security.” Bierce was depicted in the movie, “The Old Gringo.” In it, he dies but it is not clear where or how. Roy Morris Jr. in Ambrose Bierce, Alone in Bad Company (1996) speculates that Bierce may have killed himself while heading toward Mexico. He had once told his best friend and publisher, Walter Neale, that he intended to shoot himself at or near the Grand Canyon. Before Morris’s work, Joe Nickell in Ambrose Bierce is Missing claimed similar information. Others have said, without factual evidence, that Bierce was held captive and killed by a tribe of Brazilian Indians. What is known is that in 1913 Bierce set out to observe the Mexican revolution, to seek “the good, kind darkness,” and, mysteriously, was never again seen. (See “The Enlightened Cynicism of Ambrose Bierce” by Glenn Odden, Free Inquiry, Fall 1996) {CE; JM; PA; RAT; David S. Reynolds, The New York Times Book Review, 18 February 1996; OCAL, OEL, TYD; U; UU}

Bieri, John G. (20th Century) In the 1950s, Bieri, while in the department of biochemistry and nutrition at the University of Texas, Medical Branch, in Galveston, wrote book reviews for The Humanist.

Biersted, Sonia (20th Century) Biersted, a humanist, wrote A Humanistic View of Religion (196—?). {GS}

BIGAMY • Bigamy, n. A mistake in taste for which the wisdom of the future will adjudge a punishment called trigamy. —Ambrose Bierce The Devil’s Dictionary

In church law, bigamy is a word for the valid marriage after the death of the first spouse. But in criminal law, it involves contracting marriage while already married. Around the year 1655, the Frankish Diet, a Protestant body, legalized bigamy as a means of replenishing the population of Europe, which was badly decimated by the recent Thirty Years War.

	In 1922 in a Sheffield, England, courtroom, accused bigamist Theresa Vaughn admitted under oath that in the past five years she had acquired sixty-one husbands in fifty cities throughout England, Germany, and South Africa, averaging a marriage a month. 

Gays and lesbians, who almost universally cannot marry, smile at their legal inability to become bigamists or even polygamists. {ER; PA}

BIG BANG THEORY Cosmologists Edwin Hubble and Milton Humason in the 1920s concluded that the universe not only is expanding but that the galaxies themselves are flying away from one another. This was said to be the result of a hypothetical “big bang” which had exploded between ten and twenty billion years ago, an explosion which is still continuing. Using a thirty-three-foot telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, astronomers in 1994 found a surprising abundance of deuterium in the distant, and therefore early, universe. The ratio of about two atoms of deuterium for every 10,000 hydrogen atoms is tentatively considered confirmation of the theory. But scientists are aware that many more observations and much more investigation will be needed to prove the theory, if indeed it is possible to prove. Keeping up-to-date on the theory is a daily task. At the start of 1997, it was estimated that the end of the universe will happen 10,000 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion (10 to the hundredth power) years from now. The Sun is expected to die in about five billion years, reduced to an extinct remnant known as a white dwarf. Earth’s oceans would boil away from the heat, and life would no longer be possible. The end of all star formation, the end of the stelliferous era, could come in 100 trillion years. Black holes will gobble up the white dwarfs. A black hole’s final moment might be an explosive blast of radiation, followed by a dark era. Or, perhaps, the universe will collapse of its own weight. At the other end of the Big Bang, in short, may simply be the Big Sputter. Meanwhile, the scientific community does not at all accept the creationist theory of the origin of the universe, one which cites the Old Testament book, Genesis. Instead, they continue their free inquiries into the subject and look forward to new findings in tomorrow’s journals. [See entries for Cosmology, Murray Gell-Mann, and RNA. Also, the entry for Steven Weinberg gives a clear explanation of “before the big bang.”}

Biggett, Adam (20th Century) Biggett, a freethinker, wrote Gems and Garbage (1950?). {GS}

BIGOT • The mind of the bigot is like the pupil of the eye: the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract. —Oliver Wendell Holmes

• Bigot, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain. —Ambrose Bierce The Devil’s Dictionary

BIHAR RATIONALIST SOCIETY The Bihar Rationalist Society (a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union) is at 216-A, S.K. Puri, Patna-800 001, Bihar, India. Its President is Dr. Ramendra of the philosophy department of Patna University, and its general secretary and treasurer is Dr. Kawaljeet. A non-party, non-profit, educational society, Bihar Buddhiwadi [Rationalist] Samaj [Society] was formed in 1985 to promote rationalism, humanism, atheism, and secularism. Bihar is a major Hindi-speaking state, the second most populous state of India after Uttar Pradesh. Its founding members in 1985 were Dr. Ramendra; an elder sister Kiran Nath Datt; brothers Shivendra and Manavendra; and two friends, Ramanand Mandal and Rahul Prasad. The Buddhiwadi Foundation, which publishes a Hindu quarterly, Buddhiwadi, promotes computer literacy and the scientific outlook. On the Web: <http://www.myfreeoffice.com/buddhiwadi>. {International Humanist News, December 1997} BIG BEN (The Bell in the Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament in London): See entry for Benjamin Hall.

Bihldorff, Carl (1910—1990) The Rev. Carl Bihldorff, of the Louisville, Kentucky, Unitarian Church, wrote in 1940 about Unitarianism’s history:

To begin with, so far as is known, the name Unitarian originated in Hungary. Rev. Charles Graves in his History of Unitarianism says that Peter Bod, the Transylvanian historian, relates that in 1557 the Diet of Thorda in Transylvania passed an edict granting universal freedom of worship. At about the same time the various religious bodies within the country formed a league of toleration pledging themselves not to persecute one another. The members of this league were popularly called “The United” or “Unitarians.” So at first the title Unitarian had no theological or denominational significance. It simply indicated a fraternal relationship embracing all kinds of Christian believers. But these first “Unitarians” did not long remain united. Dissension arose over sharp differences of belief. Those who held that a belief in the Trinity is fundamental to Christian faith charged those more lax with being guilty of an “unpardonable sin.” As a result the dogmatic Trinitarians withdrew from the “United” league of fraternity and tolerance. Those who remained loyal members of the league continued to be known as “Unitarians,” but not because of any Unitarian beliefs. However, wrote Bod, “It was natural and unavoidable that the title should come at last to mark the distinguishing faith of those persons who remained loyal to the ‘league’ for those who place tolerance and fraternity above doctrines and dogmas are already on the threshold of Unitarianism.”

At the time of his retirement in 1975, Bihldorff was minister of the First Parish Church (Unitarian) in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Bijleveld, J. (20th Century) In 1952, Bijleveld was the organizing treasurer of the newly founded International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). “Humanism,” he has said, “is concerned with how we live—how we feel—not just how we think.”

Bilbao, Francisco (1823—1865) Bilbao was a Chilean whose sharp attacks against the Catholic Church are found in his La sociabilidad chilena (1844) and Evangelio americano (1864). Catholicism, he argued, denied the most fundamental principles of the republic: sovereignty of men and reason. As a result, the Chilean church accused him of blasphemy, and Bilbao was brought to trial. {EU}

BILL OF RIGHTS FOR UNBELIEVERS In 1998 the Campus Freethought Alliance issued a “Bill of Rights for Unbelievers,” stating unbelievers shall the right to . . .

I. Think freely and autonomously, express their views forthrightly, 

and debate or criticize any and all ideas without fear of censure, recrimination, or public ostracism. II. Be free from discrimination and persecution in the workplace, business transactions, and public accommodations. III. Exercise freedom of conscience in any situation where the same right would be extended to believers on religious grounds alone. IV. Hold any public office, in accordance with the constitutional principle that there shall be no religious test for such office. V. Abstain from religious oaths and pledges, including pledges of allegiance, oaths of office, and oaths administered in a court of law, until such time as these are secularized or replaced by non-discriminatory affirmations. VI. Empower members of their community to perform legally binding ceremonies, such as marriage. VII. Raise and nurture their children in a secular environment, and not be disadvantaged in adoption or custody proceedings. VIII. Conduct business and commerce on any day of their choosing, without interference from laws or regulations recognizing religious days of prayer, rest, or celebration. IX. Enjoy freedom from taxation supporting the government employment of clergy, and access to secular counseling equivalent to that provided by chaplains. X. Declare conscientious objection to serving in the armed forces under any circumstance in which the religious may do so. XI. Live as citizens of a democracy free from religious language and imagery in currency, public schools and buildings, and government documents and business. {Free Inquiry, Fall 1998)

Billaud-Varenne, Jean Nicolas (1756—1819)

	A French conventionalist, Billaud-Varenne became advocate to Parliament about 1785, denounced the government and clergy in 1789, and proposed abolition of the monarchy in 1791. He withdrew from Robespierre after the feast of the Supreme Being, saying, “Thou beginnest to sicken me with thy Supreme Being.” He was exiled in 1795 and died at St. Domingo in 1819. {BDF}

Billings, Josh [pseudonym of Henry Wheeler Shaw] (1818—1885) Billings is the American humorist who wrote homespun philosophies in a rural dialect. He often is quoted by secularists for his “It’s better to know nothing than to know what ain’t so.” His humor is best illustrated by the annual Farmer’s Allminax (1869—1880). {CE}

Billings, M. E. (20th Century) Billings, a freethinker, wrote Crimes of Preachers in the United States and Canada (1924?). {GS}

Binary In the world of computer science, the binary system distinguishes between only two values: 1 or 0, on or off. Data is encoded as a string of 1’s and 0’s.

Binet, Alfred (1857—1911) A famous French psychologist whose name is given to certain types of intelligence tests, Binet was director of the laboratory of physiological psychology at Paris University. In L’âme et le corps (1905), he rejected the belief in a soul separable from the body, but Binet was not a dogmatic materialist. {RAT; RE}

Binga, Timothy (20th Century) Binga is director of the Center for Inquiry Libraries at the Amherst, New York, headquarters.

Binns, William (19th Century) Binns, a freethinker, wrote Christianity in Relation to Modern Thought (1864). {GS}

BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF ANCIENT, MEDIEVAL, AND MODERN FREETHINKERS On the Web, Internet Infidels, Inc., a non-profit organization, has much material about the existence of a god, church/state separation, the possibility of life after death, mysticism, and the interface between science and religion. Joseph McCabe’s Biographical Dictionary of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Freethinkers is at <http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/joseph_mccabe/dictionary.html>.

Bion (3rd Century B.C.E.) Bion of Borysthenes, near the mouth of the Dneiper, was a Scythian philosopher who flourished about 250 B.C.E. He was sold as a slave to a rhetorician, who afterwards gave him freedom and made him his heir. In Athens, Bion was a student of Theodorus the Atheist. Two of his recorded sayings are “Only the votive tablets of the preserved are seen in the temples, not those of the drowned” and “it is useless to tear our hair when in grief since sorrow is not cured by baldness.” {BDF}


Humanist Laureate E. O. Wilson has defined biophilia as the ineffable and natural sense that human beings are intimately related to all species, animal and plant alike.

Biot, Jean Baptiste (1774—1862) Biot was a French astronomer who was admitted to the Institut, the English Royal Society (1815), and the Legion of Honour (1814). Besides many technical works, he published a eulogy of Montaigne (Éloge de Montaigne) in 1812 and was a rationalist. {RAT}

Birch, William John (1811—1863) Birch was an English freethinker, author of An Inquiry into the Philosophy and Religion of Shakespeare (1848) and An Inquiry into the Philosophy and Religion of the Bible (1856). {BDF; RAT; VI}

Bird, Henry (Born 1839) Bird, of Barston in England, went to America in 1860 and located at Newark, New Jersey, where he became known as a horticulturist. After discarding Episcopalianism, he became a Congregationalist and then an atheist. Bird was president of the Newark Liberal League and once wrote

’Tis your prerogative and mine to doubt; How do you know? is truth’s own scout; Facts fear no foes, the truth will out, Though crushed will rise, and error rout. {PUT}

BIRDS Birds evolved from dinosaurs. However, this was not realized until the end of the 20th century when fossils of two turkey-sized animals were discovered beneath an ancient lake bed in the Liaoning Province in northeastern China. The Caudipteryx, “tail feather,” had the most feathers, including a large tail fan. The Protarchaeopteryx featured feathers but no evidence of a wing. Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird, has been dated at 140-million to 150-million years old. Protarchaeopteryx and Caudipteryx are dated at 120-million to 136-million years old. There are approximately 8,600 species of birds, ranging from the ostrich (which can weigh 300 pounds and be 8 feet tall) to the bee hummingbird (which can weigh a tenth of an ounce and be less than 3 inches tall). An estimated eighty species of birds may have become extinct since the 17th century, according to some environmentalists.

Birk, Rainer (20th Century) Birk, a physician from Danbury, Connecticut, is a member of Mensa and an activist upon behalf of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. E-mail: <rbirko@aol.com>. On the Web: <http://members.aol.com/rbirko/>.

Birkhead, L. M. (1855—1954) A Unitarian minister who was one of the first to suggest devise some kind of humanist document and then helped write Humanist Manifesto I, Birkhead was on the advisory board of Charles Francis Potter’s First Humanist Society of New York. In Kansas City, where for many years he was minister of the Unitarian Church there, he invited Sinclair Lewis to speak, at which time the well-known novelist gave “God” a few minutes to prove “His” existence by striking him dead. The assembled Unitarians were reportedly amused, but others in the city were quite upset with Lewis’s depiction of them in his Elmer Gantry (1927). When informed that Lewis just before his death had written the present editor that he was a naturalistic humanist but that some religionists were claiming he had had a deathbed conversion, Birkhead replied to the present author concerning Lewis’s postcard, “I doubt that it will kill off the legends, but at least the truth will be available.” Among the Little Blue Books which Birkhead wrote were “Is Elmer Gantry True?”, “Religious Bunk Over the Radio,” and “Can Man Know God?” Birkhead was well-known as the national director of Friends of Democracy, an organization which exposed American fascists, also Christian fundamentalists such as Gerald L. K. Smith. (See entry for John Steinbeck.) {CL; EW; HM1; HNS; WAS, 24 April 1951}

BIRMINGHAM (England) HUMANIST GROUP Information is available from Tova Jones by telephoning 0121 4544692.

Birney, William (19th Century) Birney, a freethinker, wrote Hell and Hades (c. 1900). {GS}

Biro, John (20th Century) Biro, of the University of Florida, is a committee member for The Hume Society, the group which is engaged in scholarly activity concerning David Hume.

Birren, Faber (1900—1988) A leading expert on color texture, Birren was a naturalistic humanist who reviewed books for The Humanist in the 1950s. A resident of Fairfield County, Connecticut, and New York City, Birren worked as a color consultant and wrote Color in Modern Packaging (1935) and The Story of Color (1941). He not only chose colors for the interiors of skyscrapers but also for airplanes and automobiles. He was an active member of the Stamford, Connecticut, Unitarian Society.

BIRTH CONTROL: See entry for Sex Education.

Birx, H. James (1941— ) Birx, who chaired the Canisius College sociology-anthropology department from 1980 to 1995, was named “Distinguished Educator” in 1999 by that Buffalo, New York, institution. He is author of the CHOICE award-winning Theories of Evolution (l984), Human Evolution (1988), and Interpreting Evolution: Darwin and Teilhard de Chardin (1991). Birx has written introductions for both Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle and The Descent of Man, Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, Haeckel’s The Riddle of the Universe, Wallace’s Island Life, and Sir Julian Huxley’s Evolutionary Humanism (all for Prometheus Books), as well as over 350 articles and reviews. Birx is on the editorial board of Philo, Proteus, Free Inquiry, Bertrand Russell Society Quarterly, Razonamientos in Spain, and Common Sense in Russia. In 1980, he signed the Secular Humanist Declaration. He is a Secular Humanist Mentor of the Council for Secular Humanism and an honorary associate of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists. Birx’s Who’s Who in the World entry contains the following:

An understanding of and appreciation for the true place of our own species within this material universe requires taking both a cosmic perspective and the evolutionary framework seriously.

Birx has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University (l997-l998) as well as a Visiting Professor at both Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University in Russia. He has also given invited lectures at Yale University, Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Kansas–Lawrence, University of Hawai’i-Manoa, Oxford University, Trinity College–Ireland, and the Humboldt of Berlin (among others).

	Birx is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Center for Inquiry-International in Amherst, New York, and an elected member of the Executive Committee for the Afro-Asian Philosophy Association in Cairo, Egypt. 

Of the various prominent secular humanists, Birx—a signer of Humanist Manifesto 2000—has been described as one of the foremost, not only for thoroughly knowing his subject matter (which includes anthropology, the history of science, and evolutionary thought) but also for being a genuinely outgoing individual who has encouraged numbers of individuals on several continents to search for truths rather than believing others’ alleged truths. E-mail: < birxh@canisius.edu>. On the Web: <http://www.canisius.edu/~birxh>. {SHD; WAS, numerous conversations}

BISEXUAL CONCERNS The Unitarian Universalist Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns is at 25 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108. On the Web: <obgletc@uua.org>.

BISEXUALITY If the Hebrew God was originally “one,” it might logically follow that God the Creator was, therefore, a bisexual entity. Few, however, accept such a thesis. The Ancient Greek Zeus, however, was definitely bisexual and his love for the most beautiful of mortals, Ganymede, was so intense that Zeus disguised himself as an eagle, seduced him, and carried him to Mount Olympus where Ganymede was the object of love—discreetly termed a cupbearer—among the other divinities. Zeus, as compensation to Ganymede’s father for the loss of his son, gave him a team of beautiful, light-footed horses. In Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life (1995), Marjorie Garber wittily defined bisexuality as “that upon the repression of which society depends for its laws, codes, boundaries, social organization—everything that defines ‘civilization’ as we know it.” She examined bisexuality among bohemians of the past—in Harlem, in Greenwich Village, in Bloomsbury, and in Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf—and offers the following thesis:

Why do we resist the idea that erotic life is all part of the same set of pleasures, that there is only one sexuality, of which the “sexualities” we have so effectively and efficiently defined are equally permissible and gratifying aspects? Because to do so would threaten the social structures on which “civilization” and “society” are built. And because much modern eroticism depends, in part, upon the sensation or perception of daring, of breaking a law or flaunting a taboo.

(See entries for Ganymede, 

Kallamachusa, and Rob Tielman.)

Bishop, George (20th Century) Bishop, a freethinker, wrote Faith Healers: God or Fraud? (1967). A professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, he lamented in “What Americans Really Believe” (Free Inquiry, Summer 1999) that “the persistence of the religious worldview in America may be due in significant measure . . . to the strength of the cultural fundamentalist movement in our society in recent years that has succeeded in getting its message and agenda into the public schools, the mass media, and other social institutions.” Assisting, he noted, is “the low level of scientific literacy about human evolution in American society as compared to other developed nations.” {GS}

Bishop, William (20th Century) Bishop, while a student at the University of Florida, signed the Campus Freethought Alliance’s 1998 “Bill of Rights for Unbelievers.”

BISHOPSGATE FOUNDATION In 1995 after traveling in England, Fred Whitehead wrote of his visit to the Bishopsgate Foundation:

The ancient City of London, more or less one square mile, was surrounded by walls, with gates for entry; even though the walls are now gone, there are traditional sections named for the gates—and one of these is Bishopsgate, where one of the most important and colorful collections of Freethought literature is housed. The story of the Bishopsgate Foundation (formerly the Bishopsgate Institute) is splendidly told in a centenary history written by its librarian, Mr. David Webb. It begins thus: “The site of the Bishopsgate Institute straddles the Eastern fringe of the City of London—three quarters within the city, one quarter outside Tower Hamlets; the boundary line runs through the present Lending Library, marked by appropriate plaques set in the walls and floor.” The actual gate itself was demolished in 1760, “as a mere traffic obstruction.” In the late 19th century, we learn, “a shining light in the gloom” was the Rector of St. Botolph’s church, Rev. William Rogers, whose “advocacy of secular education . . . earned him the nickname of ‘Hang Theology Rogers’ . . . . He erected baths, wash houses and drinking fountains . . . established soup kitchens in the winter for the army of casual laborers attracted by railway work,” and so on. The origin of the Institute was in “small local charities which accrued to the church of St. Botolph, in the form of donations, wills and bequests, over a period of almost 400 years.” On Rogers’s initiative, these were consolidated, and during 1893-94, a building was erected “to comprise a large hall with seating accommodation for 500, a lending library with 50,000 volumes. . . and a reference library for 10,000 volumes.” There had been vocal opposition from some to the very notion of a “Free Library . . . that a number of louts may have a nice warm room in which to read the worst novels and the sporting news in the papers and neglect their natural work!” In spite of this, over time the library became not only heavily used, but developed as a major resource for the history of London. For instance, the London Topographical Society has had its offices in the building since 12961, and their excellent historical maps are available by writing the Foundation. . . . Important Freethought collections have found a home at the Bishopsgate: “The library of the National Secular Society was deposited on permanent loan in 1981, including the substantial (over 3000 items) and unique collection of materials on the life and career of Charles Bradlaugh, assembled by his daughter, Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner; in 1982 the archives of the London Co-operative Society were deposited . . . in more recent years the library of the Freedom Society, the pioneer East End anarchist organisation has been acquired, as well as part of the cooperative collection of the ICA pioneer, Paul Derrick.” Half of the personal library of George Jacob Holyoake, who coined the term “secular” is here; his correspondence is at the Cooperative Union in Manchester. Also here is “the personal library of George Howell, who had been MP for Bethnal green North-east in the 1880s, and earlier secretary of the Reform League and the Plimsoll Committee.” But then Webb relates the most remarkable story of all: “The single most famous manuscript in the collection is the Minute Book of the First International Working Men’s Association, 1866-69, whose history Howell at one time hoped to write. This first meeting of what later became the Communist International., is celebrated particularly from the inclusion of Karl Marx as one of the delegates, and the manuscript remains a key document in the history of International Communism.” {When in 1919 one of the governors, David Anidjar Romain, insisted on banning the Minute Book], through the intervention of no less than Winston Churchill, Ivan Maisky, then the Soviet ambassador to Britain, personally made a transcript of the Minute Book, and it was eventually published in Moscow in 1950. . . . To sum up: The Bishopsgate is one of the best Freethought libraries in England, and certainly one of the best catalogued and most accessible.

The Bishopsgate Foundation is at 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4QH, United Kingdom. {Freethought History }

Bismarck, Otto von (1815—1898) Bismark, the German statesman, speaking in the Prussian upper house in 1886 said, “The Catholic priest, from the moment he becomes a priest, is a sworn officer of the Pope.” {TYD}

Bissell, Malcolm H. (20th Century) 

Bissell was professor emeritus at the University of Southern in California when he signed Humanist Manifesto II. In 1952, he was a director of the American Humanist Association. {HM2; HNS; HNS2}

Bissel, Shelton (20th Century) Bissell, a freethinker, wrote Unofficial Christians (c. 1918). {GS}

Blethell, Richard (1831-1902) An English agnostic who entered the services of the Rothschilds in 1865, Bithell wrote Creed of a Modern Agnostic (1833) and Agnostic Problems (1887). He was one of the leading members of the Rationalist Press Association. {BDF; RAT; RSR; TRI}

Bixler, J. S. (Born 1894) Bixler wrote book reviews on ontology for The Humanist in the 1950s, when he was President of Colby College. He wrote Religion in the Philosophy of William James (1926).

Bizet, Georges (1838—1875) Bizet, whose given name was Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, is the composer of the opera, Carmen. In 1886, Bizet wrote, “I should write better music if I believe a lot of things that aren’t true,” which is said by some to be a reference to France’s Catholicism as well as to his personally being troubled by the dominant positivist philosophy of his day. “I have always read the ancient pagans with infinite pleasure,” Bizet wrote in a work emphatically rejecting Christianity, “while in Christian writers I have found only system, egoism, intolerance, and a complete lack of artistic taste.” Bizet’s tomb is in the huge Père-Lachaise cemetery in eastern Paris, near the tombs of Molière, Chopin, Proust, and Oscar Wilde. His marker includes a bronze relief harp. {JM; RAT; RE; TRI; TYD}

Björk (20th Century) A recording artist, Björk has gone on record as saying, “If I get into trouble, there’s no God or Allah to sort me out. I have to do it myself.” She added, “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one, it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men. I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.” {CA} Björk (21 Nov 1965 - ) A recording artist from Iceland, Björk has gone on record as saying, “If I get into trouble, there’s no God or Allah to sort me out. I have to do it myself.” She added to Les Inrockuptibles (16 June 1995), “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one, it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men. I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.” In a 1994 HotPress, Björk pointed out that when the United Nations asked people from all over the world a series of questions, Iceland stood out for answering what people believed there, and 90% responded, “Ourselves.” She said she considered herself in that majority group.

(On the Web: <http://ebweb.tuwien.ac.at/ortner/tia/94/hotpress940810.html>
and <http://www.abc.se/~m8996/bjork/interviw/hotpress.html>) {CA}

Bjorklund, Gustaf (20th Century) Bjorklund, a freethinker, wrote Death and Resurrection From the Viewpoint of the Cell-Theory (1910). {GS}

Bjørkmann, Edwin August (Born 1866) Bjørkmann, an American writer born in Sweden, edited the Minnesota Post (1892—1894) and worked on the Minneapolis Times (1894—1897). In New York he worked on the Sun and Times (1897—1905). In Gleams (1912) Bjørkmann wrote of “the diminishing core of mystery left for our emotions to feed on” and added that his god is “the future.” {RAT}

Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne (1832—1910) A major figure in Norwegian literature, Bjørnson championed the rights of the oppressed and was a freethinker who succeeded Ibsen as director of the Ole Bull Theater in Bergen. He wrote the Norwegian national anthem, “Ja, vi elsker dette landet” (“Yes, we love this land forever”). Although his father was a Lutheran clergyman, Bjørnson was a Darwinian who rejected traditional religion. In 1903, Bjørnson received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Norwegian humanists are particularly proud that he wrote his works in a country with such a strong Lutheran church. In 1882 Bjørnson published the first attack upon dogmatic Christianity published in Norway, a resumé of C. B. Waite’s History of the Christian Religion. In Beyond Our Power (1883), he attacks the Christian belief in miracles, and in Beyond Human Might (1895) he says social change must originate in the schools. Bjørnson was an honorary associate of the British Rationalist Press Association, which Charles A. Watts had founded in 1899. When Bjørnson died, the British literary weekly, Athenaeum, wrote that “European literature had sustained no such loss since Victor Hugo.” (See entry for Scandinavian Unbelievers.) {BDF; CE; JM; JMR; JMRH; PUT; RE}

BLACK Freethinkers and rationalists who are white are sometimes unaware of the semantic overtones of being white:

• white (e.g., when used with positive overtones):

upright; fair; free from spot or blemish; free from moral impurity; innocent; pure (“a white wedding”); unmarked; “a white lie” or “white magic” (not intended to cause harm); “one of the white days of his life” (fortunate); “a white Christmas” (beautifully snowy and white); “white fury” (passionate); “a white-beard” (an elderly man); “white-collar worker” (one who does not have to wear work or protective clothing); “a white elephant” (revered animal); “white knight” (one who rescues another); “white list” (approved items or individuals); “white man’s burden” (the alleged duty of white peoples to manage the affairs of the less developed nonwhite peoples); whiteness (freedom from stain); white room (one that is clean); whitesmith (an ironworker who finishes or polishes the work); “a white tie dinner” (one that is formal); the Great White Way (the dynamic, theatrical section of Broadway in New York City); white blow (semen: used both by the literary and the cultured levels); the White Highlands (affluent suburbs which surround a multi-racial, deprived, inner city); “white bread” (American slang for someone who is virtuous or well bred, albeit dull and insipid); etc.

However, note how the Anglo-Saxon language treats black:

• black (examples, when used with negative overtones)

the color of night (scary); the color of melancholy (thought to have been caused by black bile), grief, loss; the color of death; the color worn by Lucifer, Nazi storm troopers, Italian Fascists, bad guys in old westerns, Darth Vader, the Wicked Witch of the West, motorcycle gangs, and Dracula; in The Trial, Joseph K is arrested by ominous men dressed in black; nuns, monks, priests wear black; black holes; blackmail; blackballing; the black market; black cats (bad luck); “black dogs” (frequent depressions, as described by Winston Churchill); “black with rage”; “black intrigue”; “a black mark given for a transgression”; “a black deed” (evil); “black magic” (connected with the Devil); “black Friday” (a disaster); blackball (to vote against); Black Death (the Plague of the 14th century); black eye (a bad reputation); black flag (a pirate’s flag that bears a skull and crossbones); blackguard (servants or rude people or those who use bad language); blacklist (contains list of those boycotted); blackmail (extortion); Black Maria (a patrol wagon); Black Mass (a travesty of the Christian mass ascribed to worshipers of Satan); black (hashish from the Indian subcontinent or the Himalayas); black stuff (a drug user’s euphemism for opium); black velvet (black women seen as sexual partners or sex objects); “black as a sweep’s arse” (slang for very black); “black as the ace of spades” (slang for utterly black); “black as Toby’s arse” (pitch-black; “black cat with its throat cut” (slang for female pudenda); “black peter” (in Australia, a solitary-detention cell); blackwash (to blacken someone’s character); etc.

Blacks are understandably displeased with such semantic overtones of commonly used words, which they have been known to ascribe to “thin-lipped whitey crackers.” (See entry for Noah, who punished his son Ham by giving him a black skin. This causes one to wonder what the complexion of Noah was. Most likely not such as that of one from Europe as Noah is of Middle Eastern roots. So would his son have looked like an Asian Indian or like a dark skinned African? Also, see Partridge’s Concise Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, edited by Paul Beale.)


Black Cat Enterprises (POB 21201, Columbus, Ohio 43221) publishes Solstice notecards and “Women of Freethought” calendars. It is operated by Carole Gray. {FD}

BLACK DEATH The Black Death in 1347-1349 killed millions in Asia and North Africa. As many as one in three European also were killed.

BLACK ELK: See entry for Dostoyevski’s Epilepsy.

BLACK HOLES: See entry for Edwin Powell Hubble.

Black, Algernon D. (1900—1993) A teacher and the leader emeritus of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, Black at the time of his death was the Society’s foremost elder statesman. A graduate of Ethical Culture schools, Black became the Society leader in 1932 and the senior leader in 1942. When Felix Adler died in 1933, Black was among those who helped translate the movement into programs to meet the crises of the Depression. Under his direction, the Encampment for Citizenship began (1946), and various committees against discrimination in housing, racial discrimination, and violations of civil rights were formed. He broadcast the Society’s weekly Sunday meetings over radio station WQXR, and his commentaries were broadcast on many other stations. In 1966, Mayor John V. Lindsay appointed Black to lead a new Civilian Complaint Review Board for the city’s Police Department. Black, son of Russian Jewish immigrant parents, agreed with Adler that what is needed is a religion based on ethics rather than creed and theology. Like Adler, Wolfgang Saxon has written, Black “saw a pragmatic faith without God, a belief in the infinite worth of the individual, the centrality of ethical principles, and the urgency to redeem the democratic promise by improving the lot of the poor and fighting privilege.” According to James F. Hornback, Black although a humanist declined to sign Humanist Manifesto II “out of loyalty to the larger inclusiveness of Ethical Culture.” In addition to writing many addresses, Black wrote Our Godless Age (1943) and The People and the Police: The Story of the Civilian Review Board (1986). He was a contributing editor in 1933 to The Standard. (See entry for Ethical Culture.) {CL; EU, Howard B. Radest; PK}

Black, Bob (20th Century) Black is author of The Abolition of Work and Other Essays (1986). An Albany, New York, freethinker who has written for Freethought Perspective (June 1999), he holds that religion “is deceitful, depraved, and absurd.” As for “Oriental mysticism,” it is “pushed by greedy gurus with lice in their ears.”

Black, Hugo L. (1886—1971) Supreme Court Justice Black, in commenting about why humanist Roy R. Torcaso should not be refused his commission as a notary public under a Maryland law requiring all public officers in the State to profess belief in God, observed as follows: “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.” However, secular humanists were quick to point out that theirs is a philosophic, not a religious, organization. In 1995, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a case brought by John Peloza that secular humanism is not a religion. Peloza, a Capistrano, California, teacher, had sued his school district, charging that by requiring him to teach evolution in science class the district was violating the First Amendment, forcing him to teach the “religion” of evolution. The Court of Appeals dismissed his suit, calling parts of it “patently frivolous.” The Court further ruled, “Peloza’s complaint at most makes this claim: the school district’s actions establish a state-supported religion of evolution, or more generally of ‘secular humanism.’ . . . We reject this claim because neither the Supreme Court, nor this circuit, has ever held that evolutionism or secular humanism are ‘religions’ for Establishment Clause purposes. Indeed, both the dictionary definition of religion and the clear weight of the case law are to the contrary.” Justice Black, in short, had made his remark as a dicta, or personal remark. This carries no legal weight. {CE; CL}

Black, Joshua (20th Century) Black, a member of the Campus Freethought Alliance at Princeton University, signed the 1998 “Bill of Rights for Unbelievers.”

Black, Miriam (20th Century) Black, while a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a member of Campus Heretics, was one of the founders of the Campus Freethought Alliance. {International Humanist News, December 1996}

Blackham, H(arold) J(ohn) (1903— ) Blackham has been Chairman, Social Morality Council, Great Britain, and a former director of the British Humanist Association. Among his books are Objections to Humanism (1963), Six Existentialistic Thinkers (1990), and The Future of Our Past: From Ancient Greece to Global Village (1996). In 1977, he was elected an honorary associate of the British Rationalist Press Association. He is on the editorial board of The Humanist. In 1980, he signed the Secular Humanist Declaration. He has written that “Unitarianism in England is negligible intellectually. Of course, the Hibbert survives and holds a place, but that is because it is open to all comers in its fairly broad field. The Unitarians here are hostile to humanism. They are diminishing and count for little.” Blackham, Jaap van Praag, and Julian Huxley were the key founders of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), an organization which in 1974 granted him a Humanist Award “for his long and creative service to humanism in England and in the world.” From 1944 to 1965, he had edited the Ethical Union’s Plain View. In 1978, Blackham received the group‘s special award “for 25 years of devoted service to IHEU.” In the New Humanist (July 1993), he is interviewed by Jim Herrick and recalls his involvement with humanistic causes. At the age of ninety, his sharp mind recalled his early interest in religion, his meeting Stanton Coit, his teaching philosophy and current affairs, his becoming chairman of the Ethical Union, his being in the Auxiliary Fire Service during World War II, his involvement in the founding of the British Humanist Association, his involvement with the World Union of Freethinkers, his working with Julian Huxley, and the writing of his several books. Stalin, he stated, “was not a Marxist-Leninist in his heart. He paid lip-service to the creed, but was a Russian Czar, an imperialist who used the dictatorship of the proletariat to extend the dominion of the Russian State. The KGB was a continuation of the surveillance of the Czarist police-state. Asked if liberal humanism is dead, Blackham reacted by saying, “How can it be dead really? It may be outmoded, or not the vogue, but what is the implication of saying it’s dead. Sartre said that liberalism was a betrayal to the Nazis of civilisation. To the liberal everything is worth entertaining, all is a level ground, everyone can exchange views. You have to make choices, you can’t be liberal in the sense of entertaining all things. But liberal humanism can’s possibly be dead. It is not merely, nor mainly an attitude: it is a commitment to which one gives priority.” In 1993, Blackham completed a history of Western Europe from a new, transforming perspective, part of which was published in New Humanist. The work is entitled The Upshot of History, and it focuses on three claims to universality, those of Hellas, Zion, and Romanitas. They have led, he states, to our awareness of One World with its evident disorders, which he names: “disproportion between the prosperity enjoyed by the few industrialised nations and the penury endured by thousands of millions in the so-called Third World; the aggravation of over-population; the ecological damage, entailing serious threats to the survival of many species, and even of life on the planet; the existence and availability without adequate controls of annihilating weapons that make international security a political priority.” By recognizing such problems, he asserts, man has the chance to go beyond Hellas, Zion, and Romanitas. . . to universality. Bernard Farr, reviewing The Future of Our Past, lists the following as the key points in Blackham’s humanism:

• adequate self-awareness, in the light of science and history

• taking responsibility for shaping the future of the planet in specific ways through the application of escalating knowledge

• awareness of making these decisions in One World with attention to global tasks and obligations in the face of the global threats to health, wealth, and environment

• willingness to take responsibility for the consequences of these decisions together, globally

• acceptance of individual responsibilities for contributing to the collective task-and through this acceptance enacting one’s personal identity

• the call to transcend previous limited understanding of the “universal” offered in the “Hellas,” “Zion,” and “Romanitas” visions.

Farr’s major criticism is that Blackham thinks of “global” as the world shrunk to the image of the West, that the East is overlooked as has been the case for so long in the past. {CL; FUK; HM2; HNS; HNS2; New Humanist, November 1993 and June 1996; PK; SHD; TRI; WAS, 20 September 1955}

[[Blackmun, Harry Andrew [Supreme Court Justice] (1908— ) Blackmun, who as a Supreme Court Justice in the 1980s tended toward a liberal view in civil rights cases, wrote an article for The Humanist. He is not known, however, to have gone on record concerning his personal philosophic outlook. {CE; HNS2}

BLACKPOOL AND FYLDE (England) HUMANISTS Information is available from Secretary D. Baxter by telephoning 01253 726 112

Blackwelder, Spencer (1920—1996) Blackwelder, who worked in real estate businesses, was among the first of the U.S. Army personnel to occupy Japan after its surrender in World War II. A freethinker who was active in humanist groups, Blackwelder had recently been honored by Atheists United with a dinner shortly before his death from septicemia, a form of cancer.

Blackwell, Alice Stone (1857—1950) Blackwell, a Unitarian, was a reformer and suffragist. She was the daughter of Lucy Stone and Henry Brown Blackwell.

Blackwell, Antoinette Louisa Brown (1825—1921) One of the pioneers in the women’s rights movement in nineteenth-century America, Blackwell wrote The Sexes Throughout Nature (1875). In 1908 she founded and became minister of the All Souls Unitarian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Blackwell, the first woman ordained by one congregation, is said to have been an inspiration to Olympia Brown, the first woman minister ordained by a recognized denomination. In the 1920 political election, at the age of ninety-five, Blackwell finally was able legally to vote. {CE; EG; U; U&U}

Blackwell, Elizabeth (1821—1910) Blackwell was the first female in the country to receive a medical degree (from Geneva Medical College, now Hobart). In 1857 she founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, and in 1875 she helped establish in England the London School of Medicine for Women. Blackwell was an Episcopalian and also a Unitarian. {CE; U}

Blackwell, Emily (1826-1910) Blackwell, Elizabeth’s sister, was a physician and a Unitarian.

Blackwell, Kenneth(20th Century) Blackwell is the archivist emeritus of the Bertrand Russell Library. In 1997 he became secretary of the Bertrand Russell Society.

Blackwell, Milford (20th Century) Blackwell in the 1970s was on the advisory board of the Humanist Society of Greater New York.

Blackwood, Dorothy (20th Century) Blackwood is active in Blackpool and Fylde humanist affairs. With some other English tourists, she visited Cuba in 1994 and found that religion is not taught in schools. Writing in The Freethinker (June 1994), she argues that the thirty-eight year trade blockade against Cuba should be ended.

Blagosvyetlov, Grigorevich E. (1826—c. 1885) Blagosvyetlov is an author who translated Mill’s Subjection of Women into Russian. A native of the Caucasus, he edited a magazine, Djelo (Cause). {BDF; RAT}

Blair, David Graham (1939— ) Blair, who broke the Australian record for a 100-mile run in 1961, spent six years in Canada, where he was active in the Edmonton Humanist Group and the Kingston Unitarian Fellowship. As an academic at the University of Technology in Australia, he lectures on quantum mechanics and sonar research. Blair is an active member of the Sydney Humanist School of Philosophy. {SWW}

Blair, Eric Arthur: See entry for Orwell, George.

Blake, James (19th Century) Blake, a freethinker, wrote The Bible Weighed in the Balance and Found Wanting (1855). {GS}

Blake, Lillie Devereaux (1833—1913) “I live to redress the wrongs of my sex,” Blake wrote as a teenager in 1849. In 1873 she protested against Columbia University’s exclusion of women, and in 1893 spoke to the International Congress of Women, which was held in connection with the World’s Columbia Exposition. Appointed in 1895 to head a “Committee on Legislative Advice” by the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), she fought in 1899 her removal by Susan B. Anthony as illegal. When Anthony retired, Blake was encouraged to run for the group’s presidency but withdrew before the vote “for the sake of harmony.” In 1910 she was placed in a sanitarium and died after breaking her hip in 1913. Gaylor has described Blake as “a Deist at most.” {WWS}

Blaker, Kimberly (20th Century)

Blaker is president of the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She is founder and treasurer of Freethinkers for Humanity.

Blakemore, Colin (Brian) (1944— ) In 1986, Blakemore was elected as an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association. He has written The Mind Machine (1988) and Vision (1991). Blakemore, who works at the University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford, signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

BLAMESGIVING DAY If Thanksgiving is a day to thank God for giving us what we have, it made sense to rationalist Gordon Stein to balance the holiday with Blamesgiving Day, a time to blame God for giving us what we have. {American Rationalist, January-February 1994}

Blakemore, Colin (Brian) (1944— ) In 1986, Blakemore was elected as an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association. He has written The Mind Machine (1988) and Vision (1991). Blakemore, who works at the University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford, signed Humanist Manifesto 2000. Blanc, (Jean Joseph Charles) Louis (1811—1882) Blanc, a French socialist politician, journalist, and historian, wrote Organisation du travail (1840), which outlined his ideal of a new social order based on the principle “Let each produce according to his aptitudes . . . let each consume according to his need.” The first stage in achieving his goal was to have a system of national workshops controlled by working men with the support of the state. As a member of the provisional government of 1848 he insisted on the establishment of these workshops, but his plan was sabotaged by other leaders of the government and he fled to England, remaining there until 1871. Blanc wrote a thirteen-volume Histoire de la Révolution française (1847-1862) which showed his admiration of Jacobinism. Upon his return to France, he became a member of the National Assembly in 1871 and later was a leader of the left in the chamber of deputies. Marx labeled Blanc’s ideas “utopian socialism.” Blanc was an atheist who often expressed his complete rejection of religion. {CE; JM; RAT}

Blanchard-Gaillard, M. A. (20th Century) Blanchard-Gaillard heads the Association Unitarienne Francophone (AUF, Les Hautes-Sieyes, Route des Courbons, 04000, Digne, France).

Blandrata, Georgius: See entry for Ferenc David.

Blanqui, Louis Auguste (1805—1880) A French politician and communist, Blanqui was the younger brother of Jerome Blanqui, the economist. In 1830 he was condemned to death, but his sentence was commuted to imprisonment for life and was subject to brutal treatment till the 1848 revolution set him at liberty. In 1865 he wrote articles on monotheism in Le Candide, and after the revolution of 1870 he demanded the suppression of worship. Again imprisoned, he was liberated and elected a member of the Commune. Arrested by Thiers, he was imprisoned again. Blanqui’s motto was, “Ni Dieu ni maître” (Neither God nor master). {BDF; RAT; TRI}

Blanshard, Brand (1892—1987) A professor emeritus of philosophy at Yale University when he signed Humanist Manifesto II, famed aestheticist Brand Blanshard was a Humanist Laureate in the Academy of Humanism. In 1980, he was a signer of the Secular Humanist Declaration. For The Humanist in the 1950s, Blanshard the expert on beauty reviewed Bertrand Russell’s novel, Nightmares of Eminent Persons. He found that “all his characters, when they open their mouths, speak the language of that eminent philosopher, Lord Russell. A passionate young lover says to his love, ‘I begin to think that perhaps we have lived, hitherto, with somewhat too limited preoccupations.’ Such talk creaks. And Russell is always using his characters to score points. But then after all, what does one want of a philosopher? The points are generally sound ones, wittily put; and at times they go to the heart of the matter.” Asked to comment upon humanism, Blanshard wrote to the present author:

I have much sympathy with ancient humanism and classical humanism, though less with the other types. The main point to make about all these types, in my opinion, is that values do not depend on scientific or speculative beliefs; for any mature mind, they are self-validating. No one really believes that the pain of a broken leg is bad or the pleasure of Kreisler and his violin good because custom or the Deity or evolutionary advantage has so decreed; anyone who knows roughly what the two experiences are alike can rank them with confidence—a confidence that remains the same through the loss or acquisition of new connections in philosophy and theology. What we want in these days is a greater sensitiveness to values. Their metaphysical status is unimportant, but after all, has importance.

Blanshard’s fullest statement as to his philosophic outlook is found in his The Nature of Thought (1939). In 1954, he wrote On Philosophical Style and in 1962 Reason and Belief. Often classified as an “idealist,” he preferred the term “rationalist.” A Fellow of the British Academy, Blanshard was a past president of the American Philosophical Association and, in addition, of the American Theological Society. Blanshard once wrote,

If the nose of rationalism is once admitted under one’s tent, a large and formidable camel is soon likely to follow the nose.

{CL; HNS; HM2; SHD} 

Blanshard, Paul (1892—1980) One of the best-known critics of organized religion in his day, Paul Blanshard (brother of Brand Blanshard) wrote American Freedom and Catholic Power (1950), Communism, Democracy, and Catholic Power (1951), God and Man in Washington: The Church-State Battlefront in Congress, in the Supreme Court, in the Presidential Campaign (1960); and Religion and the Schools: The Great Controversy (1963). Also, he was editor of Classics of Free Thought (1977), which includes essays concerning Bradlaugh, Burbank, Darrow, Darwin, Diderot, Draper, E. Haldeman-Julius, Holyoake, the Huxleys, Ingersoll, Jefferson, McCabe, Mencken, Paine, Russell, Shelley, Twain, Voltaire, and Wheless. In 1954, Ernest Nagel wrote about him in Sovereign Reason. Blanshard was a signer of Humanist Manifesto II. {FUS; HM2}

Blanshard, Rufus (20th Century) An English instructor at the University of Connecticut in the 1950s, Blanshard wrote book reviews for The Humanist. The son of Paul Blanshard, he has written about Conrad Aiken as well as Spenser, Defoe, and Landor.

Blasche, Bernard Heinrich (1776—1832) A German pantheist, Blasche was the son of a professor of theology and philosophy. Among his works are Kritik des Modernen Geisterglaubens (Criticism of Modern Ghost Belief), and Philosophische Unsterblichkeitslhre (Teaching of Philosophical Immortality). {BDF}


The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) states that blasphemy “is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God—inwardly or outwardly—words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one’s speech; in misusing God’s name.” Blasphemy, states the catechism, “is in itself a grave sin.” Leonard W. Levy, in Blasphemy, Verbal Offense Against the Sacred, From Moses to Salman Rushdie (1993), demonstrates how “treason against God” can be interpreted as treason against the state and a violation of freedom of religion. Religious leaders, he details, have often engaged in “the very vituperation that they wish to deny others, and he discusses how Pericles, Euripides, Giordano Bruno, Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams, William Penn, Thomas Paine, and Salman Rushdie all have been charged with blasphemy. Levy discusses the trial of Jesus, whom the Jews rejected as the Messiah and who was considered a rabble-rouser by the Romans. Although the records are lost, he finds that Jesus was a blasphemer according to Jewish law but was found guilty of political, not religious, offenses by the Romans. The last-known American to serve time in prison for blasphemy was Charles C. Moore. An authoritative work by a rationalist on the subject is Nicolas Walter’s Blasphemy Ancient and Modern (1990). An even more complete study is David Nash’s Blasphemy in Modern Britain: 1789 to the Present (1999). Nash notes that a key clue to blasphemy case outcomes is the judge one receives. Had Lord North not been a convinced Catholic, G. W. Foote might not have spent a year in prison. If Judge Alan King-Hamilton had not been a homophobe, say gays, Gay News editor Denis Lemon might not have received a prison sentence, albeit suspended. {New Humanist, March 1999}

Bill Blass, Fashion Designer art

In an interview in the September 1-8, 1999 issue of the San Francisco alternative newspaper, SF Weekly, Blass repeatedly resisted attempts by his interviewer to get him to admit to having religious beliefs. Blass said, "I have a firm belief in such things as, you know, the water, the Earth, the trees and sky. And I'm wondering, it is increasingly difficult to find those elements in nature, because it's nature I believe in rather than some spiritual thing."

The interviewer later re-introduced the topic of religion toward the end of the interview:

SFWeekly: You're not a religious man?

Bill Blass: No. And I do suppose that science has taken, to a large extent and for a number of people, has taken the place of religion.

SFW: What do you mean by that?

BB: That one can have more belief in scientific cures or scientific miracles than you do in God miracles. It's inevitable that we will eventually diffuse into nothingness...


Blatch, Harriot Eaton Stanton (1856-1940) The daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Blatch was a Unitarian suffragist like her mother.

Blatchford, Robert (1851—1943) Blatchford wrote God and My Neighbor, Essays of An Infidel (1903). In the book, he spoofs the various Christian beliefs, saying no proof for anything is offered. Has anyone seen God? Why would he create twenty millions of suns, come to earth, be born of a woman, get crucified, die, stay in a tomb for three days, then come to life again in order to go back to Heaven? Not one-third of mankind believes such nonsense, and of those who do Blatchford suggests that not one in ten is “a true Christian and a true believer.” {FUK; RAT; RSR; TRI}

Blathwayt, Linley [Lt. Colonel] (1839—1919) Blathwayt served in the 79th Highlanders during the Indian Mutiny Campaign. He also served with the Expeditionary Force in China (1860—1862) and the Bhootan Expedition (1864—1865). He retired from the Bengal Staff Corps in 1880. Blathwayt was an agnostic and a member of the Rationalist Press

Blau, Joseph Leon (1909—1986) Professor emeritus and formerly chairman of the department of religion at Columbia University, Blau wrote Modern Varieties of Judaism (1972) and edited works concerning religious freedom. A renowned student of Judaica, he signed Humanist Manifesto II and listed himself in Who’s Who as “a long-time humanist.” In 1980, he signed the Secular Humanist Declaration. {CL; FUS; HM2; SHD}

Blaustein, Albert P. (1921—1994) In 1992, Blaustein received the 1992 Raymond B. Bragg Award for Distinguished Service to the Principles of Humanism in St. Louis. He had been counsel, consultant, and draftsman in preparing more than twenty constitutions, including those of the Russian Federation, Poland, Peru, Romania, Brazil, Bangladesh, Nepal, Fiji, Zimbabwe, Niger, and Liberia. In the 1970’s, Blaustein tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade the leaders of the new majority-rule government of Zimbabwe to grant equal rights to women. But he acknowledged that for a constitution to work, it must reflect a country’s culture and history. In a 1983 interview, he said, “We cannot put constitutions together like prefabricated henhouses.” Although he praised the United States Constitution as one which had worked well, even in crises—Blaustein noted that “When Mr. Nixon left power, the only person with a gun was a policeman directing traffic”—he said, if asked to revise it, he would make the right to privacy and freedom of travel explicit provisions. Among his books is the twenty-two-volume Constitutions of the Countries of the World (1971), co-edited with G. H. Flang. Also, he co-authored Desegregation and the Law (1985). Blaustein was Professor of Law Emeritus of the Rutgers University School of Law until his retirement in 1992.

Bleibtreu, Carl (Born 1859) Bleibtreu was a German poet and critic, a leading representative of naturalism in German letters. His dramatic works were published in three volumes (1889), and he wrote fifty further volumes. Like G. B. Shaw, Bleibtreu was scornful of materialism and Christianity. {RAT}

Blein, F.A.A. [Baron] (Born 1767) Blein, a French baron, wrote Essais Philosophiques (1843). Blein was a freethinker. {BDF; RAT}

Bletzer, Russell (20th Century) Bletzer, a freethinker, wrote Is Humanism Obsolete? (1976). {GS}

Blewitt, Neil (Deceased) Blewitt was an active New Zealand rationalist and humanist. In Britain’s The Freethinker (September 1993), he wrote “A Letter to the Lord,” addressing God as “Dear Sir or Madam.” Acknowledging that if Proteus, the son of a god, could transform himself into a dragon, a flood, a panther, a tree, and fire, God could similarly transform Himself into a ghost and His own son “as easily as you once transformed yourself into a disembodied voice, a cloud, and fire.” But, Blewitt demands, “Who did create harmful bacteria and viruses?” In “Poor Old Judas!” (The Freethinker, January 1996), Blewitt wittily speculated about such serious matters as (a) What if Noah’s ark had capsized?; (b) What if, at the moment of Creation, God had said, “Dammit—I’ve forgotten the words!”; (c) “What if Mary had miscarried or given birth to twin girls?”; and (d) “What if the angel had been unable to move the stone from the entrance to Jesus’s tomb?” The possibilities, he concluded, are legion. (See Neil Blewitt’s “Face-to-face with the Son of Fred,” The Freethinker, July 1997 and May 1999)

Blewitt, Ruth (20th Century) Blewitt, writing in the New Zealand Rationalist and Humanist (August 1991), has described freethinker Robert Thressell.

Blignieres, Célestin de (19th Century) A French positivist of the Polytechnic school, Blignieres wrote The Positive Doctrine (1867), a popular exposition of the positivist philosophy. {BDF}

Blind, Karl (1826—1907) A German Republican, Blind in 1848 led the second republican revolution in the Black Forest, was made a prisoner, and was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment. He was liberated in 1849 when people broke open the prison. Banished from France, he went to Brussels, then to England. Blind was an atheist. {BDF; JM; RAT}

[[Blind, Mathilde (1841—1896) 

Blind, the step-daughter of Karl Blind, took his name and shared his exile. In her autobiography she explained that she also shared his atheism. Her “character,” reported Dr. R. Garnett, “was even more noble than her poetry.” Blind was one of the founders of Newnham College for women. {JM; RAT}

Blishen, Edward (1920—1996) Blishen, an educator, broadcaster, writer, and critic, wrote the preface to Margaret Knight’s edition of Humanist Anthology (1994). In it, he stated that

I am cheered in my perishing bones by David Hume, who said he could not well imagine what excuses he could make to Charon in order to obtain a little delay. And I am grateful for a perception I had at fourteen, that is now most serviceable in removing all possibility of obscene panic rooted in the religious view of things, and that was most trenchantly expressed by Charles Darwin, quoted here: “I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true: for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother, and almost all my friends, will be everlastingly punished.”

Blishen had written articles for The Freethinker over a period of three decades. He was an honorary associate of the National Secular Society and in 1995 became an Honorary Associate in the Rationalist Press Association. Blishen was once described by Nicholas Tucker, a fellow educationist, as “one of the freest thinkers. We are very fortunate to have him at our own particular time, a writer who is totally independent, individual, honest, and unfailingly skillful in all he ever does.” At a secular funeral conducted by his family, Nicholas Tucker described Blishen as a “humanist” who was “an advertisement for the human race, which is something all humanists should aspire to be.” {New Humanist, December 1996}

BLISS Dante the non-scientist wrote, “The love of God, unutterable and perfect, flows into a pure soul the way light rushes into a transparent object.” Religionists point to the sensations of calm and transcendence during meditation, citing Angelus Silesius’s mystical notion of the “pure nothing, concealed in now and here.” Such notions of the alleged bliss obtained from meditation have been noted by scientists. Eugene d’Aquili, professor of psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and Andrew Newberg, a fellow at the hospital’s nuclear medicine program, have scanned the brains of people before and during meditation. They have found that sensations of calm and transcendence during meditation are reflected in the increased activity in the brains’ frontal lobes behind the forehead and decreased activity in the parietel lobes at the top rear of the head. “When somebody has religious experiences, this is what it’s doing to them,” Newberg has reported. His view is that the brain’s amygdala, which translates sensory impressions into emotions, “generates a sense of religious awe attached to behaviorally ‘marked’ ritual gestures such as bows or signs of the cross.” His study, reported in Zygon (Summer 1998), builds on research tying hallucinations, out-of-body sensations, and déjà vu to activity, or suppression of activity, in parts of the brain.

Bliss, William (20th Century) “Illegal Religion in Our School,” an article by Bliss, appeared in Joseph Lewis’s freethought magazine, Age of Reason (May, 1968).

Blithell, Richard (19th Century) Blithell, a freethinker, wrote Agnostic Problems (1887). {GS}

Bliven, Eliza Mowry (Born 1845) Bliven was the daughter of a Universalist mother and a freethinking father. Early on, she noticed a similarity between the miracle stories and adjudged them just stories, whether Greek, Roman, or Judeo-Christian. In 1895 she married Samuel D. Bliven, an atheist, and at that time wrote, “I am a Materialist. I believe there is not Hell, Heaven, Devil, God, nor future life. We knew nothing before we were born, and we can know nothing after we are dead.” She wrote for the Oregonian Torch of Reason, the Kansan Freethought Ideal, the Illinoian Freethought Magazine, the Californian Humanitarian Review, and the Kentucky Blue Grass Blade. Bliven was editor of Materialism: 100 Proofs There is No God (c. 1907), and in 1908 she wrote, “What Women Ought to Do Instead of Church Work.” {Freethought History, #17, 1996; GS; WWS}

Blixen, Karen (Isak Dinesen) [Baroness] (1885—1962) A Danish author, Blixen wrote primarily in English and became well-known for Out of Africa (1937), an autobiographical account of her life on a Kenya coffee plantation. In it, she described good and evil—God and Satan—which are like warring forces that force all creatures to accept their fate. She also wrote Seven Gothic Tales (1934), Winter’s Tales (1942), and Last Tales (1957). A freethinker, she wrote under the name of Isak Dinesen. (See entry for Scandinavian Unbelievers.) {CE; EU, Faith Ingwersen}

Bloch, Ivan (1872—1912) Block, a German sexologist and social reformer, was a monist (atheist). In a symposium honoring Haeckel’s eightieth birthday, Block described 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.” {JM; RAT}

Blodgett, Delos Abiel (Born 1825) Blodgett, who was born of New England parentage in New York State, left home at the age of twenty and became a raftsman and boatman working his way down the Allegheny, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers, finally landing in New Orleans. In western Michigan he formed a large logging operation and became engaged in farming, banking, and real estate. A Whig until the formation of the Republican party, he was always an agnostic in religion. {PUT}

Blois, Ralph S. (1926- ) Canadian-born, Blois claims to have become an atheist when fourteen. In his early twenties, concerned with the fractionalization of freethought, he started Fact (Freethought ACTion), which he published twice monthly for three years in Rockford, Illinois. Blois was national secretary for the American Rationalist Federation and secretary for the Illinois State chapter. Over the years he has written for freethought publications, edited Rationalist News, and won numerous awards in advertising. {Freethought Today, August 1999}

Blokesberg-Fireovid, Robert (20th Century) Blokesberg-Fireovid is associated with the Northeast Atheist Association. (See entry for New York Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists.) {FD}

Blontrock-Suys, Lydia (20th Century) A licentiate in classical philology, Blontrock-Suys has trained college teachers in non-denominational moral education. She is Honorary President of the Belgian Humanist Union. In 1988, Blontrock addressed the Tenth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Buffalo.

BLOOD Without the fluid that circulates in the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins of a vertebrate animal, the animal would not be able to carry nourishment and oxygen to, and bring away waste products from, all parts of the body. Not until 1937 was a blood bank established, a place where blood or plasma is stored for future use. Bernard Fantus, one of the signers of Humanist Manifesto I, established that bank.

	As Douglas Starr in Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce (1998) has pointed out, blood has figured heavily in world events. The court physician—William Harvey (1578-1657)—was the first to demonstrate, and he did it without the aid of a microscope, how the heart works and how blood circulates from arteries through capillaries to veins, then returns to the heart. Excitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis I animalibus (On the Movement of the Heart and Blood in Animals) was published in 1628, but acceptance of his findings were slow in coming. It was even later that it was understood how blood carries oxygen and other nutrients around the body.  

Bloodletting occurred from antiquity through the 18th century. Mika Waltari’s The Egyptian (1945) described how around the year 1000 B.C.E. it was practiced. It also occurred in Arabic and Indian medicine and sometimes was prescribed for pneumonia, fevers, back pain, diseases of the liver and spleen, rheumatism, headaches, melancholia, hypertension, and apoplexy. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, used his lancet in Philadelphia in 1793, convinced that he could help hundreds of sufferers of yellow fever. Many died but some lived—inasmuch as yellow fever is not always fatal, Rush took credit for curing those who lived. They might, however, have lived despite his efforts. In 1789, General George Washington, who had a strep throat, was bled to death by well-meaning Virginia physicians. Some physicians not only took blood out, they put animal blood and other fluids in. Following Jean-Baptiste Denis’s view that “Sadness, Envy, Anger, Melancholy, Disquiet . . . corrupt the whole substance of the blood,” a calf’s and lamb’s blood was infused to make mad men sane. Although almost everyone died from receiving animal blood, the treatment remained popular for nearly two centuries. In the late 1950s Louisiana and Arkansas made it a misdemeanor for physicians to transfuse a black person’s blood to a white person unless the recipient granted permission, this despite scientific evidence that the blood of the two races is technically indistinguishable. Alexis Carrel (1873-1944), who believed in faith healing and mysticism, became a major name in the world of successful blood transfusion. Ryoichi Naito, an advisor to the notorious Japanese Army Unit 731 that carried out atrocities in the occupied city of Harbin, Manchuria, later founded the financially successful Japan Blood Bank—when it later was named the Green Cross, at its peak it became worth $1.5 billion. Blood, Starr has detailed, had become big business. Thousands of hemophiliacs infected in the 1980s died of AIDS because blood received during transfusions had not been screened. So did many others throughout the world until a more reliable HIV-screening test became available. Unfortunately, as Starr’s research showed, blood bankers often inhumanistically take unnecessary risks, saving money by using inadequate screening, thereby protecting their hospitals, blood banks, and companies from expense and inconvenience. (See entry for Bernard Fantus.) {Helen Epstein, “Blood & Money,” The New York Review of Books, 4 February 1999}

BLOOD RELATIVES People who are related to another by birth rather than by marriage are called blood relatives. A first cousin, for example, is the child of one’s aunt or uncle. Genealogy is the study of family lineage. Primitive tribes often claimed descent from bears, wolves, and other animals. Ancient Greeks and Romans traced their ancestry to gods and heroes. The genealogies in the Bible probably originated in oral tradition. In the Middle Ages status and the transference of possessions depended upon the tracing of family lines, a condition that continues in countries such as England to the present day. In the United States, however, pedigree has not been crucial in determining status or in transferring property. During World War II, to avoid any suspicion of conspiracy, Franklin D. Rosevelt and Winston Churchill kept from the public that they were blood cousins, descended from Henry Howland, whose son John was a passenger on the Mayflower. (CE; Wynne James 3rd, The New York Times Book Review, 7 March 1999)

Bloom, Harold (1930— ) Calling himself “an unbelieving Jew of strong Gnostic tendencies,” Bloom—like Jung and some contemporary existentialists—has been influenced by Gnosticism, a gloomy 3rd century outlook. Gnostics thought of the universe as an evil creator’s prison into which, as described by L. S. Klepp, “some sparks of divinity have fallen, trapped in human bodies but able to be liberated by the knowledge of their origin in the hidden true God.” Bloom’s J, in which he speculates as to the gender—female?—of whoever wrote the Bible, and The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation (1992), place him in the forefront of controversial contemporary writers about religion. He writes of Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Taze Russell, and Lucina Umphreville in a way that displeases both the pious as well as the heretics. He is fascinated by Pentecostals, New Agers, Christian Scientists, and Mormons, finding Joseph Smith a “religious genius” who, in Klepp’s words, “burrowed so deeply into the Bible that he came out on the other side, arriving at a faith resembling archaic Judaism but offering everyone the possibility of becoming a self-made God Almighty.” Klepp in a critique adds, “I only wish he had reeled in a few more, such as Cyrus Reed Teed, the hollow-earth prophet, or Thomas Lake Harris and his theory of erotically matched souls. They may not make a great contribution to the national welfare, but what would the national comedy be without them?” (The Village Voice, 28 July 1992) In a controversial work, The Western Canon, The Books and School of the Ages (1994), Bloom—called by some a psychologist, not a literary critic—argues that Shakespeare is the touchstone for all writers who come before and after him, that literature is where titans meet and clash, and that the major titans number twenty-six, whom he divides into three historic ages:

• The Aristocratic Age: Shakespeare is named as having no precursor and as having left no one after him untouched: Dante; Chaucer; Cervantes; Montaigne; Molière; Milton; Samuel Johnson; Goethe

• The Democratic Age: Wordsworth; Austen; Whitman; Dickinson; Dickens; George Eliot; Tolstoy; Ibsen

• The Chaotic Age: Freud; Proust; Joyce; Woolf; Kafka; Borges; Neruda; Pessoa; Beckett

His book’s appendixes then list several hundred specific works which he critiques as being major, stating, “I would think that, of all the books in this first list, once the reader is conversant with the Bible, Homer, Plato, the Athenian dramatists, and Virgil, the crucial work is the Koran [sic]. Whether for its aesthetic and spiritual power or the influence it will have upon all of our futures, ignorance of the Koran is foolish and increasingly dangerous.” In his first list, titled “The Theocratic Age,” Bloom cites Gilgamesh, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Holy Bible (Authorized King James Version), The Apocrypha, and Sayings of the Fathers (Pirke Aboth). These are followed by The Mahabharata, The Bhagavad-Gita, and The Ramayana. Works of the ancient Greeks he cites are by Homer, Hesiod, Archilochos, Sappho, Alkman, Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Herodotus, Thucydides, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Plato, and Aristotle. Then he lists Hellenistic Greeks such as Meander, Callimachus, Theocritus, Plutarch, Lucian, and “Aesop”; then Romans such as Plautus, Terence, Lucretius, Cicero, Horace, Persius, Catullus, Virgil, Lucian, Ovid, Juvenal, Martial, Seneca, Petronius, and Apuleius; then authors and works of the Middle Ages before Dante, such as Saint Augustine, the Koran [sic], Snorri Sturluson, Wofram von Eschenbach, Chrétien de Troyes, Beowulf, The Poem of the Cid, Christine de Pisan, Diego de San Pedro. Finally, he lists several hundred works by authors in “the Aristocratic Age” and “the Chaotic Age,” including, among the 161 American authors writers listed in the present work (as being non-theists), the following:

Conrad Aiken, Paul Bowles, Kay Boyle, Willa Cather, E. E. Cummings, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Robinson Jeffers, Tony Kushner, Sinclair Lewis, Vachel Lindsay, Norman Mailer, John P. Marquand, Edgar Lee Masters, Eugene O’Neill, John Steinbeck, May Swenson, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., William Carlos Williams, Edmund Wilson, and Richard Wright.

As expected, scholars raced to inquire why some writers were included and why others were excluded. For example, not included are Mary McCarthy, Henry Miller, and Allen Ginsberg. Bloom’s response has been that he is not in the business of being politically correct, that he holds different standards of excellence from those who are complaining. His disparagers he describes as being ideologues of the “six branches of the School of Resentment: Feminists, Marxists, Lacanians, New Historicists, Deconstructionists, Semioticians.” Yes, he admits, certain women or certain African American authors have not made the list, but in the world of art would one include lesser artists in any analogous canon? If so, he reasons, “When the School of Resentment becomes as dominant among art historians and critics as it is among literary academics, will Matisse go unattended while we all flock to view the daubings of the Guerrilla Girls?” Robert M. Adams, author of works on Erasmus, Voltaire, and Sir Thomas More, mentions that in the 1930s he had known about Bloom’s “Ivy League predecessors, Paul Elmer More and Irving Babbitt. Their basis program—making allowance for the different dialect of those distant days—was to reaffirm the classical (canonical) literary values.” But although New Humanism created a considerable stir for a limited time in limited circles, “the New Humanism faded without a climactic battle into the Old New Humanism, then into the Late New Humanism, and finally into a formula which now arouses nothing more than an incurious ‘Huh?’ Adams concludes that Bloom “at his best is a rewarding and humane critic; one feels obliged to express gratitude for his many passing generosities before dismissing his Western canon with a gentle ‘Thank you, but no, thank you.’” In a 1994 interview with Adam Begley, Bloom told how he despises “resentniks” and the “rabblement of lemmings”—Marxist critics, feminists, New Historicists, anyone who might read a poem as a social document, mix politics with literature, or in any way dilute the primacy of the esthetic. Bloom particularly dislikes Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, the French theorists, and the deconstructionists. They in no way, he holds, measure up to the standards set by, for example, Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, Emerson, Tolstoy, Wallace Stevens, or Hart Crane. As to why only one of John Updike’s novels is included but nine of Philip Roth’s selections are, Begley suggests that “Updike once referred to Bloom’s criticism as ‘torturous,’ while Roth is the would-be canonizer’s pal.” As for Shakespeare, Bloom argues that he was the author who invented something which had not existed before, “personality,” inwardness, what it means to be human. In Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1998), he develops the view that no other author in English surpasses the bard’s universal genius. George Wilkins, who might have had a hand in writing “Pericles,” is described as a “lowlife hack.” Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy is rejected as “hideously written and silly.” John Webster, George Chapman, Thomas Middleton, and Ben Jonson are all written off as second-raters, critical barbs which critic James Shapiro (The New York Times Book Review, 1 November 1998) found unfortunate. According to Begley, Bloom asks “what it would mean for America to have a spiritual life that is not identified with or rooted in organized religion.” The goal of Bloom’s criticism appears to be to goad readers into living that life, which admittedly few will be capable of achieving. At Yale, where “the dominant orthodoxy was T. S. Eliot—inspired New Criticism, Bloom observed how he felt somewhat out of place because “I am very Jewish, and lower-class Jewish at that.” A 1996 work, Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams and Resurrection, examines the two-millennia-old belief system that emphasizes knowledge of “the God within.” The current fad of angel worship, he declares, is a “debased parody of Gnosticism.” In short, the eccentric, idiosyncratic Bloom is Jewish at times and an “unbelieving Jew” at other times. But he is neither a religious nor a secular humanist nor is he attracted to any one philosopher, although he cites many philosophers in his works. Further, Bloom is unacquainted with Free Inquiry, adding as he autographed one of his books for a male inquirer at a book-signing party, “No, my dear, I belong to no particular philosophic movement.” (See Robert M. Adams, “Bloom’s All-Time Greatest Hits,” The New York Review of Books, 17 November 1994.)

Bloom, Marvin (20th Century) Bloom, an associate professor of social welfare at the State University of New York, is a secular humanist.

Blossom, Laurel (20th Century) 

Blossom, a Unitarian, wrote The Papers Said (1993), a collection of poetry.

Blount, Charles (1654—1693) A deist, Blount with his father’s (Henry’s) help produced Anima Mundi (1679), which outlines his cautious unbelief. In Great is Diana of the Ephesians (1680), however, he attacks the principle of revelation and clericalism in general. The book was condemned to be burned, but probably because of the influence of the Blount family he avoided being prosecuted. Macaulay once described Blount as “an infidel, and the head of a small school of infidels who were troubled with a morbid desire to make converts.” This, according to Robertson, was at a time when Macaulay was himself privately “infidel.” Blount is said to have shot himself because he could not marry his deceased wife’s sister. {BDF; FUK; HAB; JMR; JMRH;RAT; RE}

Blount, Henry [Sir] (1602—1682) One of the founders of deistic rationalism in England, Blount was a prominent figure in public life and served on several Royal Commissions. In The Oracles of Reason (published 1693), there is a Latin poem by Sir Henry in which he professes pantheism (the world being God’s body) and rejects personal immortality. His eldest son, Sir Thomas Pope Blount, was openly deistic. His second son, Charles, professed to be a Christian but was regarded as one of the chief leaders of the early deists. {RAT; RE}

Blount, Roy Jr. (20th Century) In his novel, Be Sweet, A Conditional Love Story (1998), Georgia-born Blount relates having sung in Sunday school,

Red and yellow, black and white, They are precious in His sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world.

all the while wondering “Why did they teach us that song if they didn’t mean it?” Life, he relates, consists of freeing one’s self from much of what is learned in childhood.

Blount, Thomas Pope [Sir] (1649—1697) Blount, the eldest son of Sir Henry Blount, was Commissioner of Accounts in the House of Commons. His Essays on Several Subjects (1692), which have been compared favorably to the writing of Montaigne, was openly deistic. {RAT}

Blum, Carol (1934— ) Blum, a freethinker, wrote Diderot, the Virtue of a Philosopher (1974) and Rousseau and the Republic of Virtue (1986). {GS}

Blum, Howard (20th Century) Blum is a mortgage broker and publisher of the newsletter, “The Howard Line.” A freethinker, he is an area coordinator for The Concord Coalition, a nationwide non-partisan group of concerned citizens for America’s future. He has written for Truth Seeker.

Blum, Mildred H. (20th Century) Blum was a secretary of the American Ethical Union when she signed Humanist Manifesto II. {HM2}

Blum, Robert (1807—1848) Blum was a German patriot and orator. He took an active part in progressive political and religious movements, publishing The Christmas Tree and other publications. In 1848 he became deputy to the Frankfort Parliament and head of the Republican Party. One of the promoters at the insurrection of Vienna, he showed bravery in the fights of the students with the troops. Blum was shot in Vienna in 1848. {BDF; RAT}

Blumberg, Albert E. (1906—1997)

Blumberg, an idealistic philosophy professor who was an oft-harassed Communist Party official, fought in the 1940s and 1950s for economic and social reforms. In 1940, he had been cited by Congress for contempt inasmuch as he refused to identify party members to the House Un-American Activities Committee. He became one of the first Communists convicted under a provision of the 1940 Smith Act equating party membership with conspiring to overthrow the Government. In 1977, and despite his Communist past, the son of Lithuanian immigrants won election as leader of Manhattan’s 71st Assembly District.

	While philosophy department chairman at Rutgers University, he was a respected member known for his having received a doctorate from the University of Vienna, where he had been attracted to the Vienna circle of logical positivists. Blumberg wrote an acclaimed textbook, Logic: A First Course. 

A Rutgers colleague, Dr. Peter Klein, described Blumberg as a master synthesizer who would often astound his colleagues by tapping his gavel during a rancorous dead-end debate, declaring, “I think I hear a consensus,” then articulating an inspired compromise. {The New York Times, 13 October 1997}

Blumenfeld, J. C. (19th Century) Blumenfeld is credited with having written The Existence of Christ Disproved (1841) in a series of letters by “a German Jew.” Wheeler suspects that the name is someone’s pseudonym. {BDF}

Blumenfeld, Warren J. (20th Century) Blumenfeld is editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life. In memory of Charles O. Howard (1961—1984), a gay person who was killed by gay-bashers after leaving a meeting of Interweave at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bangor, Maine, Blumenfeld wrote, “The Conversion of a Gay-Basher.” In it, he describes Jim Baines, who was then fifteen years old and was one of the three responsible for pushing Howard into a river where he was drowned. Baines now speaks out against homophobia, telling school groups, “Gay-bashing is wrong. Harassment is wrong. People are people no matter what we think they are, no matter what they do, or no matter how different they seem to us. None of us really has the right to judge somebody else.” {The World, July-August 1994}

Blumler, Jay (20th Century) A rationalist, Blumler is an emeritus professor of the University of Leeds and a former lecturer in social and political theory at Ruskin College, Oxford.

Blyth, P. G. (20th Century) Blyth, a freethinker, wrote Christianity and Tradition (1906). {GS}

Boak, Deborah A. (20th Century) Boak is a contributor to The Freethought Observer, a Texas publication that commenced in 1994. She was a founder of the North Texas Church of Freethought.

Boas, George (1891—1980) Boas, a professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, wrote The Inquiring Mind (1959) and edited Romanticism in America (1940). When asked if a philosophy, such as naturalistic humanism, could “spur the literary imagination as have deism, transcendentalism, or Christianity,” he responded to the present author:

Darwinism was a kind of naturalism, whether humanistic or not, I don’t know. It certainly spurred writers’ imaginations. Positivism of the Comtean and Machian types was behind a good deal of nineteenth-century impressionism—to the point where it might even be called the philosophy behind the aesthetics of that movement. And Comte himself called his religious doctrines “humanism.” I fail to see why any philosophical doctrine might not have its literary counterpoint. A writer has to ask himself certain questions about human nature and the nature of the world in which the human drama is acted, and the answer will be—or might be expected to be—the greatest influence in the formation of his writings. The influence on natural science on Zola, on George Eliot, on Theodore Dreiser, was obvious, but sometimes such an influence is transmitted on the writer though another writer. Thus the contemptus mundi theme in the Middle Ages sprang directly from certain Christian doctrines of man’s place in the universe. Such an attitude could manifest itself in painting directly by a Christian painter, but it could also be shown in the paintings of someone who was imitating the Christian painter and who never heard of the contemptus mundi theme. Similarly a novelist today who had never read Karl Marx would probably be influenced by his doctrines and would see society under the aspect of the class-struggle regardless of his own social views. Consequently, if a novelist or poet should be convinced of the truth of naturalistic humanism, he would see men as having only this terrestrial life, as creatures of history possibly tragic, possibly comic, as individuals, not as examples of a class, and so on. If he really believed in the doctrine, his presentation of human beings would be different from that of a Catholic, a Pagan of ancient times, a Buddhist, or a Protestant. Wouldn’t Sartre’s own novels be evidence that atheistic humanism can “spur” the literary imagination? I would think that the influence of the various derivatives of Freudian psychology would be a kind of humanism. At any rate this was a relatively new conception of human nature, a conception which didn’t rest upon any special theistic postulates and which could even be reconciled with one form of Catholicism, that which springs from the Franciscan movement. {WAS, 20 February 1951}

Bob, Murray L. (20th Century) Bob is author of A Contrarian’s Dictionary: 2000 Damnable Definitions for the Year 2000 (1998).

Bobb, John (19th Century) From 1834 to 1835, Bobb edited a St. Louis, Missouri, publication entitled Western Examiner.

Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313—1375) Author of the Decameron (1348—1353), Boccaccio was the illegitimate son of a French woman by a Tuscan merchant. Emulating his friend Petrarch, he became a Greek scholar and worked to reintroduce Greek works. His great secular classic, the Decameron, is a collection of 100 witty and occasionally licentious tales set against the somber background of the Black Plague. The stories have levity, license, humor, anti-clericalism, incipient tolerance, and an exuberance in the joy of living. Papal authorities found the work difficult to tolerate, but they did partly because of such stories as that of “the Jew who,” states Robertson, “after seeing the utter corruption of the clergy at Rome, turned Christian on the score that only by divine support could such a system survive. No Protestant ever passed a more scathing aspersion of the whole body of the curia than is thus set in the forefront of the Decameron.” (See entry for Classical Humanism.) {CE; JMR; JMRH; PUT}

Bocage, Manoel Maria Barbosa (1765—1805) Bocage was a Portuguese poet, regarded as the greatest Portuguese poet since Camoens. On account of an open letter to Voltaire (Verdades Duras), in which he denied the immortality of the soul, he was imprisoned by the Inquisition in 1797 and was later prosecuted for joining the Freemasons. {RAT}

BOCHICA For Chibcha Indians, Bochica is the supreme creator and lawgiver. {LEE}

Bockelson, Jan [John of Leiden] (1509—1536) A tailor by trade before joining the radical Dutch Anabaptist movement, Bockelson was taken into captivity and, like Christ on the cross, was ridiculed by his captors for not saving himself if he was really the Messiah. Illustrative of a false Messiah, he was sentenced to death in 1536, was shackled to a stake, scorched with heated pincers, and detongued. {LEE}

Bode, Boyd H. (1873—1953) Bode, author of How We Learn (1940), was an active member of the American Humanist Association. {HNS}

Bode, Carl (1911— ) Bode, a writer and educator, wrote Mencken (1969). He is an Episcopalian. {FUS}

Bode, Fritz (20th Century) Bode in Germany heads an umbrella organization of free world view organizations. (See entry for German Humanists.) {FD}

Bodichon, Barbara Leigh Smith (1827—1891) Bodichon was a British Unitarian and feminist who founded Girton College and was George Eliot’s model for Romola. G. J. Holyoake, a close friend whose views she shared, published several pamphlets of hers. {RE; RAT; TRI; WWS}

Bodin, Jean (1520—1596) Bodin was a French political writer. He wrote a book on demonomania, in which he appears to have been a believer. But in his Colloquium Heptaplomeron he has some severe attacks on Christianity in colloquies of seven persons: A Catholic, a Lutheran, a Calvinist, a pagan, a Moslem, a Jew, and a deist. Bodin died of the plague at Laon, northeast of Paris. {BDF}

Boerne, Ludwig (1786—1837) A German man of letters and a politician, Boerne in 1818 gave up the Jewish religion, nominally for Protestantism but like his friend Heine for freethought. He wrote many works in favor of political liberty and translated Lammenais’s Paroles d’un Croyant. {BDF}

Boerner, Wilhelm (Born 1862) Boerner was an Austrian ethicist and monist. He was secretary of the Vienna Ethical Society (1902—1913) and secretary of the Vienna Volks-Bildung Verein (League of Popular Education, 1906-1909). {RAT}

Boeykens, Lily (20th Century) Boeykens, from Belgium, is on the editorial board of International Humanist. In 1986 she addressed the Ninth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Oslo. She is President of the International Council of Women and a board member of the Humanist Association of Belgium. In 1988, she participated in the Vatican-Humanist Dialogue in Amsterdam. At the 1993 Congress of the European Humanists in Berlin, Boeykens spoke about women’s rights. She received in 1998 an award from the European Humanist Professionals for her many contributions to the promotion of humanism, particularly on behalf of women’s groups and at the United Nations. {International Humanist News, May 1998}

Boggis, John (17th Century) Wheeler cites Boggis as an atheist and a disbeliever in the Bible. {BDF}

BOGOMIL HERETICS: See entry for bugger.

Bohanan, Jim (20th Century) Jim Bohanan, National Radio Talk Show Host media

Bohanan can be heard nights on the Mutual Radio Broadcast Network.

Several times Bohanan has responded to Christian/religious callers saying that he doesn't believe and has seen no evidence to make him think a god exists.

--SWo Bohanan, a national radio talk-show host heard on Mutual Radio Broadcast Network, is a non-theist. Listeners have been told that he has seen no evidence to make him think a god exists. {CA; E}

Bohanan, Jim ( ) Bohanan is a national radio talk show host whose program can be heard evenings on the Mutual Radio Broadcast Network. Upon several occasions, he informed callers that he does not believe in a god nor does he find any evidence for such a belief. {CA}

Boichot, Jean Baptiste (Born 1820)

Boichot in 1849 was chosen representative of the people, but after the coup d’état he fled to England, then returned to France in 1854 where he was arrested and imprisoned at Belle Isle. Boichot was one of the council of International Freethinkers. {BDF}

Boiko, Vera (20th Century) At the 1993 Congress of the European Humanist Federation (EHF) in Berlin, Boiko spoke concerning the need for women to partake in government. A People’s Deputy of Russia, she lamented that the mortality rate is now higher than the birth rate in her country, that infant mortality is high, and that mortality from abortions has increased. Religions try often to take children out of their families and school, but American private entrepreneurs have invaded their school system. At the Congress, she heard the historian and deputy director of the Gorbachov Fund state that, with the fall of the USSR, there may now be only eight per cent of atheists in Russia.

Boileau-Despréaux, Nicolas (1636—1711) Boileau-Despréaux was a French literary critic and poet, the spokesman of classicism. His critical precepts, found in L’art poétique (1674), led him to become revered as a literary lawgiver. Later, however, he was detested by the romantics. His satires on the clerical world, Le Lutrin, on women, and on life in Paris, led many to name him one of the major writers of the golden age of French letters—of these, McCabe states, both Boileau-Despréaux and Molière were freethinkers. Boileau-Despréaux was a zealous polemicist, notably in quarrels with Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin and Perrault. The King, against the fierce opposition of the clergy, made him Royal Historiographer and compelled the Academy to admit him. {CE; JM; RE; TYD}

Boindin, Nicolas (1676—1751) A procureur, or public prosecutor, in the royal Bureau des Finances, Boindin was not accepted into the French Academy because he was accused of being an atheist. It is said that when he conversed with Marmontel and others at the Café Procope, they used a conversational code: Soul was called Margot; religion, Javotte; liberty, Jeanneton; and the deity, Monsieur de l’Etre. When a police inspector unexpectedly inquired of them who was this Monsieur de l’Etre who behaved so ill, he was told, “Monsieur, he is a police spy.” Fittingly, Boindin was refused “Christian” interment. He was buried, at night, sans pompe, without any ceremony inasmuch as his corpse was refused “a Christian burial.” {BDF; JMR; JMRH; RAT}

Boissier, Marie Louis Gaston (1823—1908) Boissier, a French historian, wrote chiefly on ancient Rome. Although he rarely revealed his own sentiments, according to McCabe, Boissier “was rightly denounced by the clergy as much more in sympathy with paganism than Christianity.” Boissier is denounced as a skeptic in the Abbé Delfour’s Religion des contemporains (1895). {JM; RAT; RE}

Boissiere, Jean Baptiste Prudence (Born 1806) Boissiere was a French writer who, under the name of Sièrebois, published Autopsy of the Soul and a work on the foundations of morality. {BDF}

Boissonade, J. A. (19th Century) Boissonade wrote The Bible Unveiled (1871). {BDF}

Boito, Arrigo (1842—1918) 

Boito, an Italian poet and musician, wrote “Mefistofele,” a bold work that Wheeler cites as having freethought overtones. Boito fought with Garibaldi against the Papal troops and later infuriated the Italian clergy by the frivolity with which he treated religion in his opera. A major Italian composer, Boito was a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and a Commendatore. {BDF; JM; RAT; RE; TRI}

Bojaxhiu, Agnes (Mother Teresa): See entry for Teresa.

Bojer, Johan (1872—1952) Bojer, the famed Norwegian novelist, was, according to Llewellyn Jones, a naturalist. The Power of a Lie (1903) and The Great Hunger (1916) are cited as examples of his fiction containing humanistic philosophy. Of his philosophic outlook, he wrote the present author,

I am proud to learn that it is felt my two novels, The Great Hunger and The New Temple, are worthy of being mentioned among the works of Thomas Mann and other masters. You are dealing with a very interesting subject, and I fully agree with your opinion that the two express my outlook on humanism.

{CE; RAT; WAS, 6 February 1951}

Boland, Bryce (20th Century) Boland, who has been working on his master’s project in computer science, is president of the Auckland University Atheists in New Zealand. With true sophomoric wit, Boland has described himself to his opponents as a “crypto anarchist” whose interests include Christian burning and eating babies. On the Web: <bbol1001@cs.auckland.ac.nz>.

Boles, Donald (20th Century) Boles wrote The Bible, Religion, and the Public Schools (1961). {FUS}

Boley, J. Dearness (20th Century) Boley, a freethinker, wrote Economic Freedom of Women Via the “Producer’s” Religion (1918). {GS}

Bolin, Andreas Wilhelm (Born 1835) Bolin was a Finnish philosopher who translated Shakespeare into Swedish (6 volumes, 1879—1887) and wrote on the philosophies of Hume, Spinoza, and Feuerbach, of whom he was a great admirer. According to McCabe, Bolin’s advanced rationalism “often drew upon him the attention of the reactionary Russian authorities before the Revolution.” {BDF; RAT}

Bolingbroke: See entry for St. John, Henry.

Bolívar, Ignacio (19th Century) Bolívar was a Spanish professor of natural history at the University of Madrid. A freethinker, he was one of the introducers in Spain of Darwinian ideas. {BDF}

Bolívar, Simón (1783—1830) Bolívar was the South American revolutionary who led independence wars in the present nations of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, liberating them from Spanish rule. At one time the most powerful man on the continent, he had a vision of a united South America. But his dictatorial methods were resented and separatist movements shook the union. In 1828, having declared himself dictator, he barely escaped assassination by jumping from a high window and hiding with the help of Manuela Saenz. Soon afterwards, Venezuela and Ecuador seceded from Greater Colombia, and in 1830 Bolívar resigned as president of Greater Colombia. Disillusioned at his failures, he said, “We have ploughed the sea.” Although bitterly hated by many at the time of his death, today he is revered as Latin America’s greatest hero and as its liberator. In Bolívar’s early travels to the United States and Britain, he became an atheist and was excommunicated by the Catholic Church. At the end of his life he was poor and in poor health. According to McCabe, “the clericals intrigued with his personal critics, and he was driven abroad and took his own life.” {CE; JM; RAT; RE}

Boll, Marcel (Born 1886) In 1954, Boll was elected an honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association. He is author of Histoire des Mathematiques (1974, 12th edition).

Bolle, Paul F. (20th Century) Bolle wrote George Washington and Religion (1963). {FUS}

Bollier, David (20th Century) Bollier, a freethinker, wrote Liberty and Justice for Some (1982). {GS}

Bölsche, Wilhelm (1861—1939) Bölsche was a German writer who edited Goethe, Humboldt, Novalis, and Heine. He wrote over forty other volumes. His chief original work is Das Liebesleben in der Natur (2 volumes, 1898 and 1900). His study of Haeckel reveals his interest in and understanding of monism. {RAT}

Bolton, Brian (20th Century) A freethinker, Bolton wrote Secular Humanism and Radical Fundamentalism (1988). {GS}

Bolzano, Bernard (1787—1848) Bolzano, a teacher in Bohemia, was a realist and a philosopher who rejected the supernatural, keeping only a kernel of the Bible’s ethics. His motto, “To be happy and to make others happy is the duty of man,” is in the words of Putnam “Freethought in a nutshell.” {PUT; RAT}

BOMBAY In India, Mumbai is the new name for Bombay.

Bonaparte, Jérôme [Prince] (1784—1860) Prince Jérôme, the youngest brother of Napoléon, “cherished a systematic hostility to every religious creed in general and the Catholic religion in particular,” according to P. de la Garce’s History of the Second Empire. Jérôme married an American lady, Elizabeth Patterson, in 1803, but his brother declared the marriage invalid because as a minor Jérôme lacked the necessary consent. Jérôme was made King of Westphalia and, in later years, was the mentor of his uncle, Napoléon III, although according to McCabe “he failed to break his political alliance with the Church, and President of the Senate.” Although Catholics boast that he received the sacraments before death, according to McCabe Bonaparte “was unconscious when they smeared him with the sacred oils.” {JM; RAT; RE}

Bonaparte, Napoléon I (1769—1821): See entry for Napoléon I (Emperor).

Bonaparte, Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul [Prince] (1822—1891) Commonly called Prince Napoléon, or, more familiarly Plon-Plon, Bonaparte was the son of Jérôme and Catherine of Württemberg. Bonaparte took to politics and fought with the anti-clericals after 1848. With the fall of the Second Empire, Bonaparte lived for some time in England where he was friendly with Charles Bradlaugh, whose atheism he shared. According to McCabe, “The clergy smeared him with their holy oils when he was dying, but he was unconscious and had never changed his views. French historians think him the cleverest of the family after Napoléon.” {CE; JM}

Bonavino: See entry for Ausonio Franchi, the Italian ex-priest.

Bond, (Thomas) Edward (1934— ) Bond is a playwright, the son of an East Anglian laborer. He wrote The Pope’s Wedding (1962) and such other provocative works as The Fool (1975) and Summer (1982). His work indicts capitalism. He claims that violence occurs in “situations of injustice” and that it therefore flourishes as “a cheap consumer commodity” under capitalism. His views continue to arouse extreme responses from critics and audiences. In 1997, Bond was named an honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. {OEL}

Bondi, Christine (20th Century) Bondi is a former chairperson of the British Humanist Association Education Committee. She writes for New Humanist.

Bondi, Hermann [Sir] (1919— ) Sir Herman Bondi, Cosmologist science

Bondi is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a past Master of Churchill College, Cambridge University as well as a founder of the British Humanist Association. In the Winter 1997/98(?) issue of Free Inquiry in the snippets entitled 'Why I am a Secular Humanist' he describes himself as a humanist for whom arguments about the "the existence or non-existence of an undefined 'God' are quite pointless."


A professor of mathematics who retired from his position as Master of Churchill College, Cambridge, Sir Hermann Bondi KCB, FRS, is President of the Rationalist Press Association and the British Humanist Association. He was elected an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association in 1967. Also, he is a Humanist Laureate in the Council for Secular Humanism’s International Academy of Humanism and an honorary associate of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists. In “A Non-believer Looks at Physics” (New Humanist, December 1990), he discusses other physicists’ ideas and compares their views with his own on the subject of the compatibility of religion and science. He writes,

When people ask me whether I am an atheist, I say that I cannot answer this question without a definition of God. To disbelieve in a Supreme Being gives it just about as much shape and context as to believe in it. If people tell me, as some do, that God is nature, I certainly do not disbelieve in nature. If people tell me that God is love, I certainly do not disbelieve in love. Tell me who your God is and then, and only then, can I say whether I disbelieve. If it is a God who has revealed himself and you firmly believe in that revelation, then my disbelief sets in. It is as an anti-revelationist, rather than as an atheist, that I would wish to be known.

Science, Churchill and Me: The Autobiography of Hermann Bondi includes how at the age of eighteen he arranged his parents’ escape from Hitler’s Germany. Among offices held, Bondi is a Vice-President of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA). He signed Humanist Manifesto II and is a Humanist Laureate. In 1948, together with Fred Hoyle and Thomas Gold, he advanced the cosmological theory of the steady-state universe, on the whole now replaced with the Big Bang theory. In 1986, he read a paper at the Ninth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Oslo. In 1992, he was extensively interviewed by Free Inquiry (Spring 1992). Also in 1992, his 67th Conway Memorial Lecture, “Humanism: The Only Valid Foundation of Ethics” (South Place Ethical Society), was published. In it, he states that “the morality of every religion is bad” and can be no valid foundation for ethics.

	The Times Higher Education Supplement (18 September 1987) quoted Bondi in a witty discussion with Bishop John Robinson as follows:

“God,” said Bondi to Robinson, “was recently applying for a grant from a scientific institution to study the origins of Creation. It was declined on three grounds: first that there was no visible evidence that He had done any work on the subject for a long time; second because no one had been able to replicate the experiment; and third because the only records of it had not been published in any recognized scientific journal.”

In 1993, the former chief scientist of the British Defense Ministry wrote to Nature that inasmuch as the world’s major religions contradict each other, “a huge number of believers must be wrong. The variety of religions is a calamitously divisive force in human affairs. The less this factor is brought in, the better for all. This is especially incumbent on those working in a universal and global enterprise as science is.” Predictably, his observation resulted in an avalanche of reader responses. In a 1995 address at a Spanish humanist congress, Bondi spoke on “Science, Morality, and Humanism.” He explained what he felt is the essential difference between “us humanists” and adherents of the many varieties of religion. First, “we are all struck with awe and wonder when we contemplate the universe around us, whether we think of the depths of space in astronomy, or of the incredible complexity of even the simplest forms of life, or of the structure of mountains, or of ecology, or of the intricate web of human relationships.” Some, however, “feel that all this wondrous world must have a designer, an architect, but one with no particular interest in humans, let alone in individuals. This was for example the view of Albert Einstein.” Then there “are some who, while broadly agreeing with this view, have the ill-defined feelings (or hope) that this super-intelligence might have some concern for us. Some Quakers and some Unitarians take this attitude.” The place where humanists differ, however, is in not agreeing with the view “that there exists some special ‘revelation,’ a particular form of firm and certain knowledge . . . whether this revelation is in the Gospels or the Qur’an or the Hindu Vedas or the Torah or the thoughts of Buddha or of Mao, etc. Such a revelation is the basis of virtually every religion. In the name of such a ‘superhuman’ (I would like to call it anti-human), certainly the most horrendous and repulsive deeds have been performed which stain human history. Therefore I am above all an ‘anti-revelationist.’ ” The revelationists, he lamented, regard all other religions (which of course contradict theirs) as false. Thus, “a vast number of sincere believers must be wrong. Since each of the religions has adherents of the highest intelligence and integrity, the conclusion is inescapable that it is in the nature of the human mind to be likely to be in error on religious matters. Any believers who are unaware of this fact are extraordinarily arrogant and in fact deny the common humanity of those who hold a different revelation to be true.” Bondi’s hope, he told the Spanish humanists, is that humanists, although modest in size, will continue to help transform the climate of opinion and make our world more humane and less intolerant. In 1996, speaking at the fourth World Atheist Conference in India, Bondi compared the positive attitude of atheists with the arrogance of religion: “Though we are a minority with a small voice,” he said, “our power of reason and persuasion is great. . . . We must reason with the religious and bring our positive values even to those who are stubborn in their delusions. To be human means to be in co-operation with others. We must value our neighbours across all categories. Yet we must stand up for our non-belief—the positive work of the Atheist Centre is a splendid example.” He called upon nonbelievers to assert their views openly and looked forward to the time when it will not be respectable to be religious. {CL; The Free Mind, February 1996; HM2; International Humanist News, June 1995}

Bonghi, Ruggero (1828—1895) Bonghi was an Italian philosopher and statesman who, at the age of eighteen, translated from the Greek several chapters of Plotinus. The following year he translated Philebos. He became professor of philosophy at Milan, was deputy to the Italian Parliament, and as Minister of Public Instruction (1874—1876) improved the schools of Italy and resisted the clericals. {RAT}

Bonham, John M. (19th Century) Bonham, a freethinker, wrote Secularism: Its Progress and Its Morals (1894). {GS}

Bonheur, Marie Rosalie (1822—1899) Bonheur, an internationally distinguished French painter known for her work depicting animals, was a pupil of her father, Raymond Bonheur. Her work gained her wide popularity, particularly in England and America. Her most famous painting, “The Horse Fair” (1853—1855), is in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum. Cornelius Vanderbilt paid a then-record sum of $55,000 for the painting. T. Stanton, in Reminiscences of Rosa Bonheur (1878—1882), states that her friends thought her an agnostic, although McCabe found that she seemed at times to have used pantheistic language. Not so well known is that Bonheur secured a special authorization from the French government to allow her to wear men’s clothing “for reasons of health” and to allow her to wander through farms and slaughterhouses to research and sketch animal anatomy. Ironically, on one of the few occasions when she dressed as a woman, she was arrested for female impersonation. On another occasion, teased by a man for going out unchaperoned in society, Bonheur retorted, “Oh my dear sir, if you knew how little I care for your sex, you wouldn’t get any ideas in your head. The fact is, in the way of males, I like only the bulls I paint.” This was evident to Nathalie Micas, with whom she lived for over forty years. When Micas died, an American painter, Anna Klumpke, moved into the house and stayed with her for the next seven years, until Bonheur’s death at the age of seventy-seven. Bonheur was the first woman ever to be awarded France’s Officier de la Légion d’Honneur. She told friends she found the canine race more humane than inhuman humans. When a village priest of Tréveneuc once came to watch her work and, short-sighted, leaned over her shoulder to see better, she started painting nude bathers of both sexes. To her amusement, the indignant cleric left quickly. Upon her death of pulmonary congestion, Bonheur was buried, according to her wishes, in a vault that included both Micas and Klumpke. She agreed to have a religious funeral but said, “Though I make this concession as regards my body, there is no change in my philosophical (not religious) creed.” {CE; JM; WWS}

Boni, Albert (1892—1981) In the 1950s, Boni was on the advisory board of Charles Francis Potter’s First Humanist Society of New York.

Boni, Filippo de (1820—1870) 

An Italian man of letters, Boni was editor of a standard Biography of Artists. He also wrote on the Roman Church and Italy, his “Italian Unbelief in the Middle Ages” being published in the Annuario Filosofico del Libero Pensiero (1868). DeBoni was elected deputy to the Italian Parliament. {BDF; RAT}

Boniface VIII (Pope) (1235—1303) Benedetto Caetano was elected head of Christendom in 1294. During his quarrel with Philip the Fair of France charges were sworn on oath against Pope Boniface that he neither believed in the Trinity nor in the life to come, that he said the Virgin Mary “was no more a virgin than my mother”; that he did not observe the fasts of the Church, and that he spoke of the cardinals, monks, and friars as hypocrites. It was in evidence that the Pope had said, “God may do the worst with me that he pleases in the future life; I believe as every educated man does, the vulgar believe otherwise. We have to speak as they do, but we must believe and think with the few.” The Pope, however, had become pope after the abdication of Celestine V. To avoid schism, Boniface had imprisoned Celestine for life. The struggles he had with Philip IV of France were basically political, and after Boniface’s death Philip forced Pope Clement V to repudiate many of the acts of Boniface, leading to the alleged charges of Boniface’s heresies. Dante in Canto XIX voiced the contemporary opinion in Italy, placing the Pope deep in hell. {BDF; RE}

Bonnell, Kenneth (20th Century) Bonnell in 1993 became President of Atheists United, which publishes a monthly newsletter, Atheists United, of which he is editor. He also writes for Secular Nation.

Bonner, C(harles) Bradlaugh (1890—1966) Bonner is a freethinker and humanist. He was the grandson of Charles Bradlaugh and was president of the World Union of Freethinkers (WUFT). {FUK; HNS; TRI}

Bonner, Elena (1922— ) The wife of Andrei Sakharov, Bonner was awarded the “Distinguished Human Rights Award” in Amsterdam at the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s Congress in 1992. When she was fourteen, her father, a member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, was arrested. Six months later, her mother was arrested as “a relative to a traitor of his country.” Her father was later executed without trial, and her mother spent eight years in a labor camp, during which time she saw her mother but once but somehow smuggled messages in and out of the camps. Being a child of parents who were “enemies of the people,” Bonner said she was kicked out of the Komsomol and treated as some kind of pariah. During World War II, she rehabilitated herself by working as a nurse but was injured in a bombardment, the result of which led her to become almost blind. Despite exile in Gorki, hunger strikes with her second husband (whose fatal heart attack in 1989 she blames on Gorbachov and his associates), she continues to fight for causes threatening human rights. “If minorities cannot have a certain autonomy,” she declared, “there will be a terrible bloodbath.” In 1993, Bonner was elected a Humanist Laureate in the International Academy of Humanism by the Council for Secular Humanism. Her 1993 essay, “The Rebirth of Democracy in Russia,” is included in Challenges to the Enlightenment, Essays in Defense of Reason and Science (1994).

Bonner, Hypatia Bradlaugh (1858—1933) Bonner, daughter of Charles Bradlaugh, was an active freethinker. Her atheist father had named her after Hypatia of Alexandria, the pagan lecturer who was torn to pieces by a mob of Christians in 415. She lectured widely for the Rationalist Press Association and complained that in person the Unitarians “always seemed to treat freethinkers with an acrimony special to themselves and us, nor would they handle the National Reformer in their bookstores.” Upon her death, Chapman Cohen, president of the National Secular Society, noted that she belonged to “that small army of brave people who made it their duty, without thought of themselves or hope or expectation of reward, to strive for unpopular causes.” {FUK; RSR; WWS}

Bonness, Wilhelm (20th Century) Bonness was President of the West German Bund Freireligiöser Gemeinden when he signed Humanist Manifesto II. In 1966 at the Fourth International Humanist and Ethical Union World Congress held in Paris, he addressed the group, as he also did at the 1968 Second European Conference held in Hannover. {HM2}

Bonnet, Charles (1720—1793) Bonnet was a Swiss natural philosopher. From 1752 to 1768 he was a member of the Grand Conseil. Contemporaries describe him as an atheist, but he was a deist and had somewhat mystic ideas about a future life. {RAT}

Bonnet, R. M. (20th Century) Bonnet, who heads the European Space Agency, is a signer of Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Bonnycastle, John (c. 1750—1821) Bonnycastle, a professor of mathematics at the Royal Military Academy, was a freethinker. He wrote several works on elementary mathematics. {BDF; RAT}

Bonser, Edna Madison McDonald (1875-1949) A Universalist, Bonser was the first woman minister in Illinois.

Bonser, T. O. (19th Century) Bonser, a freethinker, wrote The Right to Die (1885). {GS}

Bonstetten, Karl Victor von (1745—1832) A Swiss deist, Bonstetten knew Voltaire and Rousseau. He wrote Researches on the Nature and Laws of the Imagination (1807) and Studies on Man (1821). {BDF; RAT}

Bonwick, James (1817—1906) Bonwick was an anthropologist whose adventurous career in Tasmania and Australia made him a leading authority of his time on the natives of those islands. Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought (1878) makes a discreet attempt to show that all the Christian doctrines were borrowed from the ancient Egyptian religion. A theist, he held with Max Müller that “there has been no entirely new religion since the beginning of the world.” {RAT}

BOOK OF J: See entry for Pentateuch.

BOOK OF THE DEAD The Egyptian Book of the Dead is the oldest funerary literature, its Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom referring to the period from 2600 to 2300 B.C.E. The texts consist of charms, spells, and formulas for use by the deceased in the afterworld. Upon meeting the god of the underworld, Osiris, to face judgment, the mummy was advised that a cunning spell, well said, could hide unpleasant facts from the mind of the judge. {CE; DGC}

Bookchin, Murray (1921— ) Bookchin is one of the pioneers of the ecology movement. For three decades he has written essays and books on environmental issues, on the culture of cities, and on social ecology. His style, described as Hegelian by Nicolas Walter, conjoins Hegel’s dialectics with evolutionary theory, suggesting a nature philosophy that he describes as “dialectical naturalism.” The Philosophy of Social Ecology (1990) is one of his recent books. Brian Morris, in New Humanist (June, 1992), writes that Bookchin “argues for the need to integrate the social philosophy offered by anarchism, with its stress on freedom and mutualism, with an ecological natural philosophy.” The social and the natural he feels must be grasped in a new unity. This means that we must decentralize, restore bioregional forms of food production, diversify our technology and scale them down to human needs, and establish face-to-face forms of democracy. This does not involve, Bookchin argues, either the renunciation or the mindless deprecation of technology as such. Nor does it imply the denigration of science and reason. Bookchin has always remained true to—and has sought to develop—what is best in the humanist and rationalist traditions. As he states, “humanism does not involve the claim of humanity’s ‘superiority’ over nature, but rather, and more significantly, it invokes an appeal to human reason, care, and a social ethics of co-operation.”

BOOKS, CENSORSHIP OF Censors, particularly those associated with authoritarian governments and religions, have been eager over the centuries to ban books. The American Library Association has listed the following as among the eleven most hated books, for example, about homosexuality:

James Baldwin, Another Country William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch E. M. Forster, Maurice Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems; introduction by William Carlos Williams Radclyffe Hall, The Wall of Loneliness Lesléa Newman, Gloria Goes to Gay Pride and Heather Has Two Mommies May Sarton, The Education of Harriet Hatfield Gore Vidal, The City and the Pillar Alice Walker, The Color Purple Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass Michael Willhoite, Daddy’s Roommate

Following is a sampling of other titles which have been censored and which represent major authors and works

Boccaccio, Decameron Erskine Caldwell, God’s Little Acre Casanova, Memoires John Cleland, Fanny Hill Frank Harris, My Life and Loves Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises James Joyce, Ulysses Kama Sutra D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

Hundreds of other authors and titles, however, are cited in American Library Association materials. The Index Prohibitorum was regularly brought up-to-date until Pope Paul VI decreed that it be discontinued. Secular humanists abhor censorship in any form, holding that the denial of anyone’s freedom to express or receive ideas is undemocratic and works against securing justice and fairness in society.

Booms, Marinus (17th Century) Booms, a Dutch Spinozist and shoemaker, wrote freethought material, leading to his banishment. {BDF}

Boone, Albert [Colonel] (20th Century) Boone, a freethinker, wrote Our Hypocritical National Motto: In God We Trust (1963). {FUS; GS}

Boorstin, Daniel J(oseph) (1914— ) A former Librarian of Congress, Boorstin has stated, “I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.” After entering Harvard University at the age of fifteen, Boorstin was a Rhodes scholar for three years, wrote The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson in 1948, and was a professor for twenty-five years at the University of Chicago. In The Image (1962), he wrote, “God is the Celebrity-Author of the World’s Best Seller. We have made God into the biggest celebrity of all, to contain our own emptiness.” In addition to The Americans: The Democratic Experience (1973, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize), he wrote The Discovers (1983) about Western scientists, and The Creators (1992) about Western artists. Hilton Kramer, reviewing the latter book in The New York Times, wrote, “If the term ‘secular humanist’ had not lately been so distorted by partisan rhetoric and ideological battles, it would be a useful way of describing both the strengths and weaknesses of the outlook that Mr. Boorstin brings to every realm of human endeavor. One of his models, in this respect, appears to be Edward Gibbon, about whom he writes with such a strong sense of identification that his account of the author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire reads at times like an idealized self-portrait.” In Parade (25 July 1993), foreign correspondent Tad Szulc asked Boorstin what he believes to the greatest danger the U.S. faces. Boorstin responded, “The menace to America today is in the emphasis on what separates us rather than on what brings us together—the separations of race, of religious dogma, of religious practice, of origins, of language. . . . I think the notion of a hyphenated American is un-American. I believe there are only Americans. Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans, or African-Americans are an emphasis that is not fertile.” Boorstin said he believed in an “American Humanism,” which he defined as the legacy of Jefferson, whom he considered the most robust defense against the turmoil of our time. The Seekers (1998) surveys those philosophers and thinkers who have contributed to his continuing quest to understand his world, leading Harper’s editor Michael Lind to describe Boorstin as “a secular, skeptical moderate Northeastern liberal of the New Deal rather than the New Left school.” In his Who’s Who entries, Boorstin lists himself as Jewish.

Boosler, Elayne (20th Century) A comedienne, Boosler has included in her act, “The Vatican is against surrogate mothers. Good thing they didn’t have that rule when Jesus was born.” {TYD}

Boote, Henry Ernest (1865—1949) Boote was a rationalist, journalist, writer, and editor. Upon his arrival in Australia from England in 1889, he became involved in labor and trade union politics and publications. Boote was active in 1916 in anti-conscription and defense of the Industrial Workers of the World campaigns. {SWW}

Booth, Henry (20th Century) Booth, a Chicago judge and an Ethical Culturist, was instrumental in founding the Bureau of Justice, which grew into the Legal Aid Society. {EU, Howard B. Radest}

Booth, James (1796—1880) A lawyer, James practiced in the Chancery Courts. In Problems of the World and the Church Reconsidered, published anonymously in 1871, Booth rejected Christianity but remained an a theist. He reasoned that “truth, justice, and self-respect, which owe nothing to the Church, will not suffer from the extinction of a system of dogma which has too long usurped their place.” {RAT}

Boothe, Robert O. (20th Century) When he signed Humanist Manifesto II, Boothe was professor emeritus at California Polytechnic. {HM2}

Boppe, Herman C. (19th Century) Boppe was editor of Freidenker in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. {BDF}

Borchardt, Jerry Wayne (20th Century) Borchardt, a freethinker, wrote Fundamentalist Creationism (1981). {GS}

Borde, Frédéric (Born 1841) Borde, a freethinker, was editor in Paris of La Philosophie de l’Avenir. {BDF}

Borges, Jorge Luis (1899-1986) An Argentinian fiction writer, poet, and critic, Borges was educated in Europe and became associated with ultraísmo. Like that movement’s pioneer, Spanish poet and critic Guillermo De Torre, Borges wrote in an extreme form of expressionism in which man is not the center of the universe and is, in reality, no more than a speck in his universe. The ultraíst elevated image and metaphor above plot or story, above ornament or rhetoric. For Borges, who was to become an anti-realist, life became escapism, art but an indulgence. He also became, to many, the greatest 20th century author never to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Although he wrote much poetry, he is known for his short stories such as Historia universal de la infamia (1935; A Universal History of Infamy), which is a landmark in Latin American literature and the first work of “Magic Realism.” That term (magischer Realismus) first described writing of some of the German artists of a new objectivity (neue Sachlichkeit) characterized by clear, cool, static, thinly-painted, sharp-focus images, frequently portraying the imaginary, the improbable, or the fantastic but in a realistic or rational manner. In Argentina, however, “fantastic literature” is the Latin American term, one that also fits the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez. Borges’s stories might tell about real or fictitious criminals. Labyrinths (1953) brought him an international reputation and was translated into English in 1962. Often his stories deal with the cyclical nature of time, are labyrinthine in form, are metaphysical in their speculations, are dreamlike in their endlessly reflected facets of reality and arcane knowledge. As an editor of Proa, he examined the idealism of David Hume and Bishop Berkeley. His Collection Fictions (1998) contains all his short stories in English. Borges, whose ancestors include Portuguese Jews and English Quakers, did not follow any established religion or philosophy. On the contrary, according to Current Biography (1970), “he is committed to metaphysical speculation.” On the other hand, in “Of Heaven and Hell,” a poem in which he speculates about Judgment Day, he concludes that on that final day Inferno for the rejected will be the equivalent of no longer being able to see a loved one’s face . . .but for the elected, Paradise. Critic J. M. Coetzee, professor of general literature at the University of Cape Town, has described Borges’s outlook:

Borges’s gnosticism—his sense that the ultimate God is beyond good and evil, and infinitely remote from creation—is deeply felt. But the sense of dread that informs his work is metaphysical rather than religious in nature: at its base are vertiginous glimpses of the collapse of all structures of understanding including language itself, flashing intimations that the very self that speaks has no real existence. In the fiction that responds to this dread, the ethical and the aesthetic are tightly wound together: the light but remorseless tread of the logic of his parables, the lapidary concision of the language, the gradual tightening of paradox are stylistic traces of an ironic self-control that stares back into the abysses of thought without the Gothic hysteria of a Poe.

Noga Tarnopolsky (“Borges in the Afterlife,” The New York Times, 22 August 1999) claims that Borges was “fascinated in life by the idea of his own immortality. Disagreeing, Rodolfo A. Windhausen (The New York Times Magazine, 19 September 1999) retorted that her claim

is incompatible with the writer’s repeated statements on the subject. As I heard from him many times when I interviewed him in Argentina and the United States between 1976 and 1983, Borges summarily dismissed the idea of his own immortality. He loved to declare himself “an agnostic at heart.” In 1985, a year before his death, the Buenos Aires newspaper La Nación reproduced his remarks at a lecture: “To die for a cause?” Borges asked rhetorically. “Nowadays, that’s a form of stupidity. I am not a believer, and that takes anxiety away from the notion of death.” When somebody in the audience asked him if his fame wouldn’t make him live forever, he snapped, “Don’t be a pessimist!” {J. M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books, 22 October 1998; OCE; WWTCL}

Borgia, Cesare (Caesar) (1476-1507): See entry for his father, Pope Alexander VI.

Borgia, Lucrezia (1480-1519): See entry for Pope Alexander VI, her father.

Borgia, Rodrigo: See entry for Alexander VI (Rodrigo de Borja).

Borgsford, Helgi (20th Century) A liberal minister, Borgsford was once a director of the American Humanist Association.

Borman, Carolyn (20th Century) Borman is President of The Jewish Humanist.

Bormans, Alex (20th Century)

Bormans has written book reviews for The New Zealand Rationalist and Humanist.

Born, Ignaz von [Baron] (1742—1791) Born was a Jesuit-trained scientist and a favorite of Austria’s Empress Maria Theresa, under whose patronage he published works on mineralogy. Active as a Freemason, and Illuminati, according to Wheeler, he wrote “a stinging illustrated satire entitled Monchalogia, or the natural history of monks.” {BDF; RAT}

BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN Non-believers are frequently challenged by “born-agains,” Christians who claim they formerly lived a life of sin but have now “found the Lord.” The editor of Pique, asked in 1992 whether he was a born-again, gave the typical secular-humanistic response: “No, I was born right the first time.” Further, as observed by Herb Caen, “The trouble with born-again Christians is that they are an even bigger pain the second time around.”

Bork, Robert Heron (1927— ) Bork, a lawyer, author, educator, and former federal judge, was nominated in 1987 for the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, but the Senate refused to confirm him. In Slouching Toward Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline (1996), Bork dismissed secular humanism as unworkable:

Secular rationalism has been unable to produce a compelling self-justifying moral code. . . . And with this failure, the whole enterprise of secular humanism—the idea that man can define his humanity and shape the human future by reason and will alone—begins to lose its legitimacy.

Börne, Ludwig (1786—1837) Börne was a German author, the son of a Jewish banker named Baruch. He was compelled by a law against the Jews to abandon his position in the civil service, so in 1818 he formally adopted Christianity and changed his name. In reality, Börne was a rationalist. {RAT}

Borovoy, Alan (20th Century) Borovoy, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, spoke at the 1996 conference of the Humanist Association of Canada in Toronto. He wrote “Civil Liberties in Canada: Erosion from Within.” (Humanist in Canada, Winter 1998-1999)

Borrow, George (1803—1881) Borrow was an English writer and traveler, a nomad who lived in England and on the Continent, where he was a translator and agent for the British and Foreign Bible Society. That group appeared not to know that Borrow, although religious in his youth, had become a pantheist. He eventually rejected Christianity entirely and, while admitting a “great spirit,” refused to call it God. Among Borrow’s best works are the autobiographical Lavengro (1851) and its sequel, Romany Rye (1857). Borrow learned the language of the gypsies, writing The Zincali; or . . . the Gypsies of Spain (1841). {CE; JM; RAT; RE; TRI}

Borsari, Ferdinand (19th Century) Borsari, an Italian geographer, wrote works about the American aborigines. He was a zealous propagator of freethought. {BDF}

Bos, H. J. M. (20th Century) Bos of the Netherlands addressed the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s (IHEU’s) International Peace Conference in Zutphen (1983). He is author of Lectures in the History of Mathematics (1993).

Bosanquet, Bernard (1848—1923) A philosopher and a freethinker, Bosanquet was active with the London Ethical Society. He was a neo-Hegelian, or absolute idealist, and he rejected the idea of personal immortality. (RAT; TRI)

Bosc, Louis Augustin Guillaume (1759—1828)

A French naturalist, Bosc was a tutor and friend of Madame Roland, whose Memoirs he published. Bosc, a freethinker, wrote many works on natural history. {BDF; RAT}

Bosch, Clement A. (20th Century) Bosch was a signer of Humanist Manifesto II. {HM2}

Bosch, Madeline L (20th Century) Bosch was a signer of Humanist Manifesto II. {HM2}

Boston, Robert (20th Century) Boston is author of Why the Religious Right is Wrong About the Separation of Church and State (1993) and The Most Dangerous Man in America? Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition (1995). An assistant director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, he laments the de facto Protestant establishment of religion in the 1800s; the extreme and dangerous Christian Reconstruction movement; and the religious right’s stealthy methods in obtaining its goals. A journalist, he blasts the zealots of the religious right for spreading misinformation about the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state. Without such a separation, he argues, the United States cannot remain a free nation. (See Boston’s “10 Reasons Why the Religious Right is Not Pro-Family, Free Inquiry, Winter 1998-1999.)

Bostrom, Christopher Jacob (1797—1866) Bostrom was a Swedish professor at Uppsala. Besides many philosophical works, he published a trenchant criticism of Christianity’s creed concerning hell. Bostrom’s system, which was influenced by Leibnitz, was spiritualist and pantheistic. He held that only the absolute, which is undefinable, has real being. {BDF; RAT}

Boswell, James (1740—1795): See entry for David Hume.

Boswell, John Eastburn (1947—1994) Boswell, a Yale University historian, died of AIDS in 1994. In 1980, he wrote a controversial work, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe From the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century, in which one of his aims was, in his words, “to rebut the common idea that religious belief—Christian or other—has been the cause of intolerance in regard to gay people. From 1050 to 1150, he found, there was “an efflorescence of gay subculture, with a highly developed literature, its own argot and artistic conventions, its own low life, it elaborate responses to critics.” In 1994, he provoked much debate with Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, which was based on the study of more than sixty manuscripts from the 8th to the 16th century. In the 12th Century, he wrote, the ceremony of same-sex union had become a “full office” which involved burning candles, placing the parties’ hands on the Gospel, binding their hands or covering their heads with the priest’s stole, saying the Lord’s Prayer, receiving communion, kissing, and sometimes circling the altar.” Unmistakably,” he held, the ceremony was “a voluntary, emotional union of two persons,” one that was “closely related” to heterosexual marriage, “no matter how much some readers may be discomforted by this.” Boswell was an A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History at Yale in 1990, at which time he began a two-year term as chairman of the history department. Garry Trudeau’s comic strip “Doonesbury” was withheld by several newspapers because it included a reference to Boswell’s describing “gay marriages.” “They were just like heterosexual ceremonies,” Trudeau wrote, “except that straight weddings, being about property, were usually held outdoors. Gay rites, being about love, were held inside the church!” (See entry for Homosexuality.)

Boss, Judith (20th Century) A teacher in the philosophy department at the University of Rhode Island, Boss is author of “Is Santa Corrupting Our Children’s Morals?” in Free Inquiry. The article developed her point that parents should not lie to children. Instead, they should take the time to “play pretend” with them, teaching what a myth really is. Her viewpoint is similar to that of the Canadian psychiatrist Brock Chisholm, who, however, was not a theist. While heading the World Health Organization (WHO), Chisholm created an international stir by suggesting that children should not be told that Santa Claus is real. {Free Inquiry, Fall 1991; Free Inquiry, Spring 1992}

Bossuet, Jacques Bénigne (1627—1704) During the French Revolution, Maréchal cited Bossuet as being the opposite of an atheist. Bossuet, the Bishop of Condom [sic] and the tutor of the dauphin (father of Louis XV), attacked quietists, Fénelon, Jesuits, and Protestants. {CE; EU, Aram Vartanian}

[[Bothwell, David (20th Century) 

Bothwell in Britain is active with the Wessex Humanist Network.

Bottomley, William (1882—1966) Bottomley was a Unitarian, social reformer, and pacifist in Australia, where he arrived in 1926 from England. In his The Man the Church Has Hidden (1934), he argued that “Jesus the Miracle worker never lived” and that ”apart from this earth, man has at present no existence.” Both views revealed that the Christian influence shrank in the Melbourne Unitarian Church during Bottomley’s ministry, a time during which he lectured that war is a betrayal of man’s idealism. By 1969 the liberal side of the Unitarian group had become a humanist center actively involved in secular issues, whereas the conservative minority met separately as a “Unitarian Fellowship.” {SWW}

Botsford, William (Born 1843) Botsford, a San Francisco physician, was born in New Brunswick. A pronounced freethinker, he was vice-president of the California Liberal Union and said he regretted that more physicians, who shared his views, were afraid to express them. {PUT}

BOTULF-BLADET Botulf-bladet, a Swedish quarterly of HEF-Västeras, is at the address, Torsgatan 47, 1 tr., 113 37 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail: <christiaan.vos@vasteras.mail.telia.com>.

Botwinick, Isaac (20th Century) Botwinick is activities coordinator of the Society for Logic and Reason at Oregon State University, Corvallis. E-mail: <botwinii@ucs.orst.edu>.

Boucher, E. Martin (1809—1882) A French writer, Boucher conducted the Rationalist of Geneva. He wrote Search for the Truth (published 1884), a work on revelation and rationalism. {BDF}

Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes, Jacques (1788—1868) Boucher was a French archaeologist, employed on diplomatic missions by Napoleon. He was the first to establish the antiquity of man and the Stone Age in De la création (5 volumes, 1839-1841) and other works. Verlière described him in Guide du Libre Penseur as an advanced deist. {RAT}

Bougainville, Louis Antoine de [Count] (1729—1811) Bougainville, a French navigator, accompanied Montcalm to Canada as aide-de-camp. Later, he established a colony on the Falkland Islands but had to surrender it in 1766 to Spain. He made a voyage around the world (1767—1769) with other naturalists, visiting Tahiti and the New Hebrides. The largest of the Solomon Islands is named for him, and his name is also given to the strait in the New Hebrides as well as to the bougainvillaea vine. In the American Revolution he fought Admiral Hood at Martinique. His Description d’un voyage autour du monde (1771-1772, 2 volumes) helped popularize Rousseau’s theories on the morality of man in his natural state. This inspired Diderot to write his Supplément au voyage de Bougainville (1772), a defense of sexual freedom. According to McCabe, Bougainville was a deist. {CE; JM; RAT; RE}

Bouglé, Charles (20th Century) A French sociologist, Bouglé taught the history of social economy at the Sorbonne. In 1900 he published Pour la Démocratie Français, in which he criticized the clericals and expressed a moderate rationalism. {RAT}

Bouillier, Francisque (1813—1899)

A French philosopher, Bouillier wrote several works on psychology and contributed to La Liberté de Penser. His principal work was a history of the Cartesian philosophy. {BDF; RAT}

Bouis, Casimir (Born 1848) Bouis, a French journalist, edited La Libre Pensée and wrote Calottes et Soutanes (1870), a satire on the Jesuits. {BDF}

Boulainvilliers, Henri de (1658—1722) Boulainvilliers, Comte de St. Saire, was a French historian and philosopher. In addition to a historical work about the ancient French parliaments, he wrote a defense of Spinozism. His Life of Muhammad was the first European work doing justice to Islam. {BDF; RAT}

Boulanger, Nicolas Antoine(1722—1759) A French deist, Boulanger wrote dissertations on Elisha, Enoch, and St. Peter. After his death his works were published by D’Holbach, who rewrote them. Christianity Unveiled, attributed to him and said by Voltaire to have been by Damilavile, may have been written by D’Holbach. The work was burned by order of the French Parliament in 1770. {BDF; RAT}

Boulding, Kenneth E(wart) (1910—1993) An economist with the League of Nations (1941—1942), Boulding taught economics at the University of Michigan and wrote The Image (1956). Although his parents were deeply religious Methodists, Boulding became a Quaker as a young man and remained a passionate if unconventional Christian throughout his life. In philosophy he was a naturalist. Boulding was a founder of the peace research movement in the United States. He helped initiate such efforts as the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the International Peace Research Association, and the Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development. He wrote voluminously in the field of economics and taught at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Boulez, Pierre (1925— ) Pierre Boulez, Composer/Conductor/former Director NY Philharmonic music NEW

"At the chapel door he [a priest associated with a school Boulez attended] asked me if what he had been told was true: that Boulez no longer believed in God. I said it was and he replied, 'Then I won't show you the chapel where he prayed twice a day between the ages of six and sixteen'."-- from Boulez, an authorized biography by Joan Peyser, p.7 (Schirmer Books, New York, 1976)


Editor's note: I had somehow confused Boulez with the late flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal. Boulez is still very much alive and has been restored to the list.

An eminent composer and conductor, Boulez is a freethinker. He has been a guest conductor of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and musical director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. An author of musical criticism, he wrote Penser la Musique d’Aujourd’hui. Joan Peyser’s authorized biography, Boulez, reports her experience that “At the chapel door he [a priest associated with a school Boulez attended] asked me if what he had been told was true: that Boulez no longer believed in God. I said it was and he replied, ‘Then I won’t show you the chapel where he prayed twice a day between the ages of six and sixteen.’ ” {CA; E} Boulez, Pierre (26 Mar 1925 - )

		An eminent composer and conductor, Boulez is a freethinker. He has been a guest conductor of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and musical director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. An author of musical criticism, he wrote Penser la Musique d’Aujourd’hui. 

Joan Peyser’s authorized biography, Boulez (1976), reports her not unusual experience that “At the chapel door he [a priest associated with a school Boulez attended] asked me if what he had been told was true: that Boulez no longer believed in God. I said it was and he replied, ‘Then I won’t show you the chapel where he prayed twice a day between the ages of six and sixteen.’ ” {CA; E}

Boult, Adrian Cedric [Sir] (1899—1983) Sir Adrian Boult, English conductor of the Royal Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, and other symphonic orchestras, was a member of two or more Unitarian churches and actively promoted Unitarianism. In his diary, he wrote like a theist, once noting that “Making pictures and patterns of the notes is not enough—knowing the composer’s mind is not enough. I must pull down the ultimate beauty and truth of the music as God’s imagination for healing and peace of mankind, through myself, to people on earth.” {CE; U; UU}

Boult, Adrian Cedric [Sir] (8 Apr 1889 - 23 Feb 1983) Sir Adrian Boult, English conductor of the Royal Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, and other symphonic orchestras, was a member of two or more Unitarian churches and actively promoted Unitarianism. In his diary, he wrote like a theist, once noting that “Making pictures and patterns of the notes is not enough—knowing the composer’s mind is not enough. I must pull down the ultimate beauty and truth of the music as God’s imagination for healing and peace of mankind, through myself, to people on earth.” However, he was unitarian, not trinitarian in his outlook. {CE; U; UU}

Boulton, David (20th Century) Boulton, editor of The Sea of Faith, is author of a pamphlet, “The Faith of a Quaker Humanist.”

Boulton, Mary Bancroft (1912-1998) Boulton was a psychotherapist who helped bring transactional analysis to New York in the 1960s. Popularized in 1964 by Dr. Eric Byrne, a San Francisco therapist who published what became a best-seller, Games People Play, transactional analysis is sometimes practiced in group sessions. It focuses on helping people change self-destructive behavior in relations with others. The techniques explores the various social and personal roles people assume. Boulton, who helped found the New York Transactional Analysis Seminar, lived in Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, retiring from practice in 1990 and struggling for years with Parkinson’s disease until her death.

Bourdet, Eugene (Born 1818) Dr. Bourdet was a French positivist, author of works on medicine, education, and the positivist philosophy. {BDF}

Bourdieu, Pierre (20th Century) Bourdieu, who teaches at the Collège de France and is a leading French sociologist, is author of La Domination masculine (1998). The Economist (24 October 1998) describes Bourdieu’s theories as including

a somewhat Manichaean conviction that social relations rest on domination: some people dominate, others are dominant. Unlike Marx, he does not believe that alienation and exploitation are primarily matters of economics. Domination, rather, is rooted in ancestral structure, perhaps even in the collective subconsious.

Men, he holds, have always been dominators, but this is so because culture has so shaped them that they have to continually prove their maschismo. Historian Jeannine Verdès Lerouz accuses him of “sociological terrorism” and Esprit editor Olivier Mongin with Joël Roman equate Bourdieu’s “far-left populism” with the “far-right populism” of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Bourgeois, Léon Victor Auguste (Born 1851) A French statesman, Bourgeois headed the Paris police in 1887. He entered the French Chambre and was the first French delegate at the Hague Conference (1902—1903). A noted pacifist, Bourgeois was an agnostic and “emphatically anti-clerical.” In 1920 he was elected President of the Senate. {RAT}

Bourget, Paul (Born 1852) Bourget was a French littérateur who wrote novels, essays on psychology, and studies of M. Rénan. Bourget was a naturalist. {BDF}

Bourke-White, Margaret (1904—1971) Bourke-White, an American photo-journalist, was one of the original staff photographers at Fortune, Life, and Time magazines. She was noted for her coverage of the invasion of Russia, the liberation of Italy, and the horrors she found and photographed in German concentration camps. She also had a series on the rural South during the depression, mining in South Africa (perspiration beaded on the men’s bodies), Korean guerrilla warfare, and portraits of world leaders. Her books include Purple Heart Valley (1944) and Portrait of Myself (1963). Bourke-White’s parents were Ethical Culturists who had been married by Felix Adler. Minnie, her mother, was “a most bitter enemy to all religion and did not believe that there is a Supreme Being and will not do the least thing pertaining to religion,” her husband Max White once said. Bourke-White was also married to the writer Erskine Caldwell, with whom she wrote You Have Seen Their Faces (1937). For fourteen years she suffered from Parkinson’s disease. The writer Norman Cousins once found her on her back, unable to get up. “Look, I’m just like a turtle,” she joked. (The present writer, invited for a soufflé one night, arrived at her home to find the cook—his student, Shigeko Sasamori, one of the Hiroshima Maidens—absent and Ms. Bourke-White in the kitchen unable to break an egg. Mrs. Norman Cousins arrived just in time to start the dinner, which the present author finished, while Ms. Bourke-White served such large martinis that neither could remember much about the dinner. She conversed about the various awards she had received and which adorned her Darien, Connecticut, house’s walls, told of her being attracted almost more to cameras than to men, spoke openly about the joys of being sexually liberated, and expressed no interest in the various organized religions.) {CE; WAS, interview}

Bourke-White, Margaret (14 Jun 1906 – 27 Aug 1971) Bourke-White, an American photo-journalist, was one of the original staff photographers at Fortune, Life, and Time magazines. She was noted for her coverage of the invasion of Russia, the liberation of Italy, and the horrors she found and photographed in German concentration camps. She also had a series on the rural South during the depression, mining in South Africa (perspiration beaded on the men’s bodies), Korean guerrilla warfare, and portraits of world leaders. Her books include Purple Heart Valley (1944) and Portrait of Myself (1963). Bourke-White’s parents were Ethical Culturists who had been married by Felix Adler. Minnie, her mother, was “a most bitter enemy to all religion and did not believe that there is a Supreme Being and will not do the least thing pertaining to religion,” her husband Max White once said. Bourke-White was also married to the writer Erskine Caldwell, with whom she wrote You Have Seen Their Faces (1937). For fourteen years she suffered from Parkinson’s disease. The writer Norman Cousins once found her on her back, unable to get up. “Look, I’m just like a turtle,” she joked. (The present writer, invited for a soufflé one night, arrived at her home to find the cook—his student, Shigeko Sasamori, one of the Hiroshima Maidens—absent and Ms. Bourke-White in the kitchen unable to break an egg. Mrs. Norman Cousins arrived just in time to start the dinner, which the present author finished, while Ms. Bourke-White served such large martinis that neither could remember much about the dinner. She conversed about the various awards she had received and which adorned her Darien, Connecticut, house’s walls, told of her being attracted almost more to cameras than to men, spoke openly about the joys of being sexually liberated, and expressed no interest in the various organized religions. {CE; WAS, interview}

Bourne, J. G. (20th Century) 

Bourne, a fellow of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, hypothesized in the British Freethinker (June 1993) that Jesus may merely have fainted on the cross, surviving the crucifixion. Dr. Bourne describes himself as “a Christian atheist.”

Bourneville, Magloire Désiré (Born 1840) A physician and a French deputy, Bourneville was a physician to the asylum at Bicêtre. On the death of Louis Blanc, Bourneville was elected deputy in his place. He wrote Science and Miracle (1875) and Hysteria in History (1876). Bourneville also wrote a discourse on Étienne Dolet at the erection of a statue to that martyr. {BDF}

Boutmy, Émile Gaston (1835—1906) Boutmy, a French sociologist, was a member of the Institut and the Legion of Honour. In Taine, Scherer, Laboulaye (1901), Boutmy expressed his agreement with the rationalism of his friends Taine and Scherer. {RAT}

Boutroux, Étienne Émile Marie (1845—1919) A French philosopher, Boutroux taught in various universities, including the Sorbonne. He was an officer of the Legion of Honour, a member of the Institut, and correspondent of the British Academy. In his Science and Religion in Contemporary Philosophy (English translation, 1909), Boutroux stated that he is “not a dogmatic Rationalist who imposes à priori given and immutable forms.” He was a liberal theist who pleaded for a sort of Christianity “without rites and dogmas.” Boutroux did not accept personal immortality. {RAT}

Boutteville, Marc Lucien (19th Century) A French writer and professor at Lycée Bonaparte, Boutteville wrote translations of Lessing and a work on Morality of the Church and Natural Morality (1866). For that book, the clergy turned him out of a professorship he held at Sainte-Barbe. In 1870 Boutteville edited the posthumous works of Proudhon. {BDF}

Bouveresse, Jacques (20th Century) Bouveresse, a professor at the Collège de France, has been described by Richard Rorty as being “one of the very few philosophers anywhere who are equally at home in the tradition of post-Niezschean philosophy, which includes Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida, and in the so-called ‘analytic,’ largely Anglophone, tradition, which runs from Bertrand Russell through Wittgenstein to Donald Davidson.” Rorty adds, “To the consternation, and often disgust, of his French colleagues, he prefers the latter.” In Wittgenstein Reads Freud: The Myth of the Unconscious (1996), Bouveresse declared that he disagrees with Jacques Lacan, who he alleges has bamboozled most French intellectuals “into conflating psychoanalysis and philosophy, to the detriment of both.” Rorty agreed, adding that “Most Anglophone philosophers, even those most sympathetic to Freud, take Lacan to have been more a kook than a genius, and Mr. Bouveresse agrees.” Bouveresse thinks that Wittgenstein can aid in understanding Freud’s pretensions but that “Wittgenstein’s general treatment of the sciences tends to undermine rather than enhance the strict distinction he is trying to establish between the situation of psychoanalysis and that of a discipline like physics.” Bouveresse signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Bovar, Orix (1917—1977) A quiet, charismatic figure who drifted from astrology to mysticism, Bovar by the mid-1970s had attracted several hundred followers in New York and California, appealing to showbusiness types such as Carol Burnett and Bernadette Peters. When he announced that he was Jesus Christ and began celebrating Christmas on August 29th, his birthday, he lost some members. Arrested for failing to report a death, Bovar told investigating police that he was trying to raise his disciple from the dead. Shortly before having to appear in court to respond to the charges, Bovar jumped from his 10th floor apartment. {LEE}

Bove, Paul A. (1949—	) 

Bove, a professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s English department, when asked about categories of humanism, responded to the present author:

Coming of age among the Jesuits in the 1960’s humanism seemed an ideal lost sight of by our country, its ruling classes, and its institutions. “Humanism”—that is, respect for others, other classes, other peoples, other races, other genders—all this needed to be accomplished to fulfill the promise of the humanistic vision that arose in the Renaissance, prospered in the Enlightenment, and seemingly disappeared in the miasma of misdirected American liberalism. The failure of the youth movements of the sixties to change our society and culture has made many academics, writers, and intellectuals of my generation realize that our own humanistic impulses were too consistent with the values of the State and its use of violence to provide the grounds for a reasonable opposition. So we turned to “anti-humanistic” writers to see how our most cherished traditions were complicit in and helped lead us to the worst acts of our recent history. Ironically, I think many of us did this because our own commitment to the most desirable elements of humanism never failed. We simply needed to understand more about how complex the phenomenon and ideology of humanism has been in the genealogy of our culture and politics. One must follow the road indicated by the best of “humanism”—including its critique of androcentrism—until some other historical possibility can be brought about. Somewhere in some library is a longish book by me of this subject, dating from 1986.

{WAS, 22 May 1989}

Bovio, Giovanni (Born 1838) Bovio, a professor of political economy in the University of Naples and deputy to the Italian parliament, was an ardent freethinker. He opposed the power of the Vatican and reconciliation between church and state. One of his works, The History of Law, was presented to the International Congress of Freethinkers in 1887. Bovio delivered the address at the unveiling of a monument in Rome to Bruno. {BDF; RAT}

Bowden, J. (20th Century) Bowden, a freethinker, wrote Bible Absurdities (1968) and Creation or Evolution (1973). An Australian, he has been active with the Rationalist Society of New South Wales. {GS}

Bowditch, Nathaniel (1773—1838) A mathematician, astronomer, navigator, and author of The New American Practical Navigator (1802), Bowditch was a seagoing mathematician who corrected some 8000 errors in Moore’s Practical Navigator. His work is continued today by the US Hydrographic Office. Unitarians have claimed that he was a Unitarian. However, according to Robert Elton Berry’s Yankee Stargazer, The Life of Nathaniel Bowditch (1941). “Bowditch . . . sold his pew in the East Church [Salem]. . . . After he had moved to Chestnut Street, it was more convenient for him to attend the First Church.” The minister of East Church, William Bentley, was a Unitarian but since there was no formal Unitarian organization at that time he did not call himself a Unitarian minister. When Bowditch once was asked about his Unitarian beliefs, he modestly responded, “Of what importance are my opinions to anyone? I do not wish to be made a show of.” {CE; EG; U; UU}

Bowden, John (1888—1981) Bowden was a rationalist and critic of religious orthodoxy. He wrote The Bible Contradicts Itself, Bible Absurdities (1968) as well as Archaeology and the Bible (1968). {SWW}

Bowen, Barbara (20th Century) Bowen in Britain is active with the Guildford Humanist Group.

Bowen, Brent (20th Century) Bowen, once the President of Free Inquirers of Northeastern Ohio (PO Box 2379, Akron, Ohio 44309), became Vice President (marketing) in 1998.

Bowen, Charles Synge Christopher [Baron] (1835—1894) 

Bowen, a British judge, rarely spoke about religion, but the poems and letters published by his biographer, H. G. Cunningham, show that Bowen was an agnostic. Further, according to McCabe, Bowen urged his friends to keep away from “all moods and phases of theological discussion.” In a poem, Bowen speaks of “the illimitable sigh, breathed upward to the throne of the dead skies.” {JM; RAT; RE}

Bowen, Francis (1811—1890) When he reviewed Emerson’s Nature for the Christian Examiner, the leading Unitarian publication of that day, Bowen criticized the work for its vagueness, mysticism, and general philosophical wrong-headedness. A logician, he found Emerson’s view filled with Platonic idealism and lacking from an empirical viewpoint. Bowen was editor of North American Review, was a staunch critic of Darwin and evolutionary philosophy in general, and was an opponent of the educational reforms introduced at Harvard in the late 1860s. A Unitarian and an empiricist, he was described “as having no superior [as a historian of modern philosophy] at Harvard.” {U&U}

Bowen, Zonia (20th Century) Bowen is secretary of the Humanist Council of Wales.

Bower, William Clayton (1878—1957) “I am reluctant to accept any label. But if I were to identify my position with reference to the several categories of humanism, it would definitely lie in the direction of naturalistic humanism,” Bower wrote the present author when he was a professor emeritus of the University of Chicago in 1956. He continued:

In regard to man’s relation to reality, I hold (1) that, given his native equipment at birth, man becomes what he is as a person as a result of his experience; (2) that man’s experience arises out of his interaction with his objective world of nature, society, the cultural tradition, and the extension of his immediately known world to cosmic dimensions; (3) that man’s ideas and values are derived from his experience and that they change as his experience changes; (4) thus, that man’s experience is bi-polar; the active, outreaching live human being, on the one hand, with his needs, desires, and capacities for conscious, reflective, and purposive thinking, and the objective world, on the other hand, also dynamic and in process of continuous becoming. I suspect that my thinking concerning the nature of man and his relation to his world has been most influenced by William James, John Locke, John Dewey, A. N. Whitehead, and George H. Mead.

{WAS, 19 March 1956}

Bowers, B. L. (20th Century) Bowers, a freethinker, wrote A Selection of Poems by “Veritas” (1936). {GS}

[[Bowers, Claude G. (1879—1958) Bowers, a historian, wrote in Jefferson in Power (1936), “History has shown that on no subject can human passions be aroused to such a murderous frenzy as on that of man’s relation to his Maker.” {TYD}

Bowery, Leigh (1961—1994) Bowery was a performance artist who once described himself as being “an unusually big heifer carting around sixteen or seventeen stones” (over 225 pounds). An Australian, Bowery was a costume designer for the English choreographer Michael Clark. He enjoyed being an exhibitionist and liked to appear in fetishistic outfits that he had both designed and sewed. A homosexual, he was described by some as an example of schlock, drag, and camp, but, according to Lucian Freud, Bowery was a shy and gentle person whose exhibitionism was a form of self-defense. Freud, who chose him as a model after the two met in London in the early 1990s, was impressed by “his wonderfully buoyant bulk, . . . especially those extraordinary dancer’s legs.” Bowery is depicted in many of Freud’s works, his nude and huge body boldly showing his personal pride. The last painting, “Leigh Under the Skylight” (1994), shows him standing on a dais, posed in an unorthodox fashion with legs crossed, as if such a huge hulk could actually be a ballet dancer. At the 1993 Wigstock drag festival in New York City, Bowery wore a foam mask and appeared to be something of a John Bull à la sumo wrestler as he sang and danced. In a shocker which any of the Freuds would have enjoyed analyzing, Bowery suddenly stopped singing, dropped onto a table, and appeared to be going into labor. When he opened his legs, out slowly popped a thin, naked girl named Nicola Bateman, who had been concealed under his garments. She was covered with fake blood, and the two were tied by an umbilical cord. Spectators were both startled and thrilled by one of the most unusual performances Bowery had ever conceived. The scene was captured in a 1995 movie entitled “Wigstock: The Movie.” Soon after the December 1993 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he announced that he was going to Papua New Guinea. However, he slipped into a hospital, where he died early on New Year’s Eve of meningitis and pneumonia, compounded by AIDS. He had discovered he was HIV-positive in 1988 but had not informed most of his friends because he was terrified that they would feel sorry for him. Bowery, wrote Hilton Als in New Yorker (30 March 1998), had enthusiastically enjoyed anonymous sex throughout his life. At one time he had an unrequited love affair with a seventeen-year-old artist by the name of Trojan, a chap in whose new apartment the two became roommates after Trojan made himself eligible for the housing by having set fire to his previous flat. “Star Trek” wallpaper and blue vinyl chairs were in the living room, and the doorbell played sex sounds until discontinued—”Every time someone pressed the bell and I heard all the gasping and moaning,” Bowery explained, “I just thought it was Trojan having an asthma attack, so I never bothered to answer the door.” Trojan died in 1986 after having become involved with filmmaker John Maybury. With Bowery at the end were Freud; Nicola Bateman, the thin assistant he had recently married; and Big Sue, Freud’s large female model. “My lights are still on, you know,” were among the last words of the person who friends said was a freethinker. Big Sue, in an obituary, wrote, “He was wearing his favourite costume—nothing.” She said he looked “truly fantastic, just like himself, but empty.” He was buried naked, Freud having paid to have the body shipped back to Australia where it was buried next to his mother. As if the show never ended, undertakers when attempting to lower the casket into the ground found the casket was too big for the allotted space. (See entry for Lucian Freud.) {John Richardson, “Postscript,” New Yorker, 16 January 1995; Hilton Als, “Life As A Look,” The New Yorker, 30 March 1998}

Bowery, Leigh (26 Mar 1961 – 31 Dec 1994) Bowery was born in a small working-class town of Sunshine, Australia. He was a performance artist who once described himself as being “an unusually big heifer carting around sixteen or seventeen stones” (over 225 pounds). A costume designer for the English choreographer Michael Clark, he enjoyed being an exhibitionist and liked to appear in fetishistic outfits that he had both designed and sewed. A homosexual, he was described by some as an example of schlock, drag, and camp, but, according to Lucian Freud, Bowery was a shy and gentle person whose exhibitionism was a form of self-defense. Freud, who chose him as a model after the two met in London in the early 1990s, was impressed by “his wonderfully buoyant bulk . . . especially those extraordinary dancer’s legs.” Bowery is depicted in many of Freud’s works, his nude and huge body boldly showing his personal pride. The last painting, “Leigh Under the Skylight” (1994), shows him standing on a dais, posed in an unorthodox fashion with legs crossed, as if such a huge hulk could actually be a ballet dancer. He liked to appear nude. With Quality Street Wrappers and later the art-rock group Minty, he performed not only nude but also vomited, urinated, and defecated onstage. At one AIDS benefit in Brixton, having given himself an enema before going onstage, he sprayed the audience. In Japan, pretending to be a store mannequin in a red knit dress, his partner Nicola pulled the thread, unraveling it until he was completely naked. In Holland, hanging upside down, naked, with clothespins pinching his penis and nipples. he exclaimed, “No embarrassment at all! Oh my God, this fantastic feeling!” Whereupon a fellow band member, Richard Torry, pushed him through a large piece of plate glass. At the 1993 Wigstock drag festival in New York City, Bowery wore a foam mask and appeared to be something of a John Bull à la sumo wrestler as he sang and danced. In a shocker which any of the Freuds would have enjoyed analyzing, Bowery suddenly stopped singing, dropped onto a table, and appeared to be going into labor. When he opened his legs, out slowly popped a thin, naked girl (Nicola Bateman) who had been concealed under his garments. She was covered with fake blood, and the two were tied by an umbilical cord. Spectators were both startled and thrilled by one of the most unusual performances Bowery had ever conceived. The scene was captured in a 1995 movie entitled “Wigstock: The Movie.” Soon after the December 1993 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he announced that he was going to Papua, New Guinea. However, he quietly checked into a hospital, where he died early on New Year’s Eve of meningitis and pneumonia, compounded by AIDS. He had discovered he was HIV-positive in 1988 but had not informed most of his friends because he was terrified that they would feel sorry for him. According to Hilton Als, Bowery had enthusiastically enjoyed anonymous sex throughout his life. At one time he had an unrequited love affair with a seventeen-year-old artist by the name of Trojan, a chap in whose new apartment the two became roommates after Trojan made himself eligible for the housing by having set fire to his previous flat. “Star Trek” wallpaper and blue vinyl chairs were in the living room, and the doorbell played sex sounds until discontinued—”Every time someone pressed the bell and I heard all the gasping and moaning,” Bowery explained, “I just thought it was Trojan having an asthma attack, so I never bothered to answer the door.” Trojan died in 1986 after having become involved with filmmaker John Maybury. With Bowery when he was dying were Freud; Nicola Bateman, the thin assistant he had recently married; and Big Sue, Freud’s large female model. “My lights are still on, you know,” were among the last words of the person who friends said was a freethinker. According to Sue Tilley’s Leigh Bowery: The Life and Times of an Icon, he died at 3:10 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, 1994. Big Sue, in an obituary, wrote, “He was wearing his favourite costume—nothing.” She said he looked “truly fantastic, just like himself, but empty.” He was buried naked, Freud having paid to have the body shipped back to Australia where it was placed next to his mother’s body. As if the show never ended, undertakers when attempting to lower the casket into the ground found the casket was too big for the allotted space. (See entry for Lucian Freud.) {John Richardson, “Postscript,” New Yorker, 16 January 1995; Hilton Als, “Life As A Look,” The New Yorker, 30 March 1998}

Bowles, Ada C. (1836—1928) Bowles, a Universalist, was a suffragist, an abolititonist, a temperance supporter, and a home economist.

Bowles, Paul (1910—1999) Bowles, sometimes called “the only American existentialist,” was born in New York City. The son of a dentist whose “mere presence meant misery,” he remembered, Bowles after World War II moved to Morocco, where he wrote Blue Mountain Ballads (1979—words by Tennessee Williams); Next to Nothing: Collected Poems 1926-1977, and the novels The Sheltering Sky (1949) and Up Above the World (1966). An enigmatic figure, he insisted that no Westerner can comprehend Moroccan culture. He tried to explain it, however, to such of his many Tangier house-guests as Gertrude Stein (who originally suggested he move there), Tennessee Williams, and Aaron Copland (who once shared a house with him in Tangier). Asked about humanism, he responded in 1956:

One of the most backbreaking tasks is that of categorizing oneself. How can I know what kind of humanist I am, or, indeed, whether I am a humanist at all? I can get only to the point of believing that any intellectual is a humanist insofar as he performs the task of existing consciously rather than automatically. Beyond that I have nothing much to say. It seems to me that each religion is a set of regional game rules. They can be got on without, but it is a good deal less fun. The difficulty for humanity now consists in taking its own rules seriously; self-disciple is so much harder than obedience.

In 1989, he again responded:

I don’t know the meaning of “humanism,” or what purpose it is supposed to serve. If I were obliged to endorse one of the seven varieties, I should have to choose atheistic humanism, even though the term “atheist” suggests a person who has given thought to the subject and rejected the concept of the existence of a divine consciousness. This is by no means my case; I am simply indifferent. (The question of religious belief vs. disbelief is to me a remote phenomenon, and of correspondingly slight interest.) So let it be “atheistic humanism.” The other categories you list seem to me next to meaningless.

Bowles, winner in 1950 of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, is the bisexual depicted in “Naked Lunch,” a film based upon the novel by William Burroughs. Conrad Knickerbocker, in a New York Times review, wrote that The Sheltering Sky ranked “with the dozen or so most important American novels published since World War II. Bowles avoided the spotlight and the world in which, according to Mel Gussow, he thought “innocence is corrupted and delirium thrives.” “When I die, there’s no telling where the moonlight will find my hair,” he once wrote in a song. He died of a heart attack and his body was taken from Morocco to Mont Lake, New York. {The New York Times, 19 November 1999; WAS, correspondence 1956 and 1989}

Bowles, Jane Auer (1917—1973) Paul Bowles’s wife, a writer who limped, once described herself: “I’m Jewish, homosexual, alcoholic, a communist—and I’m a cripple!” Buried at the cemetery of San Miguel in Málaga, the body had been unclaimed by her husband when a freeway was built through the area. Alia Benlloch, a Spanish student from Marbella, asked Bowles for permission to rebury his wife—a late convert to Catholicism—in Marbella, about sixteen miles away. His response was that he did not “believe in graves” and that he had terrible memories of Málaga where Jane had been confined in a convent hospital for years before her death. But, propped up in bed with a painful leg and with tears in his eyes, he agreed to the request to allow her to pay for the reburial. In 1996, however, Málaga officials refused to allow such an essential literary figure to be moved elsewhere. The New Yorker (27 January 1997) quoted Bowles’s letter to a friend, “I feel rather sorry for the girl from Marbella. I don’t see why she should be stopped for carrying out her project. . . . But it is extraordinary that so much interest should have been aroused at this late date. . . . It shows that the age of books is not yet over.” {CE; WAS, 31 July 1956 and 19 April 1989; CL}

Bowman, Hugh S. (20th Century) Bowman is the secretary of the Glasgow, Scotland, Humanist Society.

Bowman, Leroy (1888—1971) Bowman, a professor emeritus of sociology at Brooklyn College, was a prominent and active humanist, a member of the New York Chapter of the American Humanist Association. He was a state vice-chairman of the Liberal Party. Bowman was author of Youth and Delinquency and The American Funeral. Bowman, Meg (1929— ) Bowman, who is co-chairperson of the Feminist Caucus of the American Humanist Association, teaches at San Jose State University in California. She is author of Dramatic Readings on Feminist Issues: The Role of Atheists in the Third Wave (1987), and Sexism Exorcised (1984). In 1994 at the 14th annual HUMCON conference sponsored by the Alliance of Humanist, Atheist, and Ethical Culture Organizations of Los Angeles County, Bowman spoke on “Female Genital Mutilation and Other Theocratic Traditions.” She attended in 1995 the international women’s conference in Beijing. Bowman, who became an atheist when a teenager, has described herself as follows:

U.S. citizen by birth, Norwegian ancestry by parentage, atheist by intellect, single by good fortune, sociologist and teacher by profession, internationalist by choice, feminist by inclination, Humanist and Unitarian Universalist by affiliation, deviant by nature, grandmother by accident, social activist by experience, and writer by inspiration.


Bown, Brian (1953— ) Bown, a social studies teacher in suburban Atlanta, refused at the start of the 1994 school year to observe a new state law requiring a brief period of “quiet reflection.” As a result, he was suspended with pay for having lectured through the state-mandated period of silence and for having left without telling the principal that he would not preside over such a period. Bown was aided by civil rights supporters who agreed with his statement that “the Legislature very clearly intended to make it a moment of prayer.” However, his fight is typical of the struggle between those who want praying officially allowed in public schools and those who consider such a practice unconstitutional.

Bowring, John(1792—1872) Sir John Bowring was a politician, linguist, and writer. He was a disciple of Jeremy Bentham, whose principles he maintained in the Western Review, of which he was editor (1825). A member of Parliament, he translated Goethe, Schiller, Heine, and the poems of many countries. {BDF}

Box, Howard (20th Century) When Box signed Humanist Manifesto II, he was a leader in Brooklyn of the Ethical Culture Society, where he served from 1960 to 1976. He then moved to a Unitarian ministry in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Box is President of Religious Humanists (USA). (See entry for Ethical Culture.) {EU, Howard B. Radest; HM2}

Boxer, Charles R. (20th Century) Boxer, who was in charge of British Intelligence in the Far East, was imprisoned for two years in the 1940s by the Japanese. An atheist, Major Boxer was married to Emily Hahn. (See entry for Emily Hahn.)

BOY SCOUTS Founded in 1908 in Great Britain by Sir Robert Baden-Powell and incorporated in 1910 in the United States, the Boy Scouts organization is for individuals over twelve years of age. A companion Girl Scouts organization exists. Although critics have complained that such organizations, including those in Nazi Germany, are militaristic and authoritarian, the United States group has also been criticized by freethinkers, secular humanists, and Unitarians because Scouts are required to believe in one’s duty to God and devotion to country; otherwise, they are not allowed to be members—as a result, many have been forced to lie by swearing to follow all items in the Scout Oath in order to become a Scout. When told in 1998 that Unitarian children could not be awarded its own “religious emblem” in the various Scout troops, the Unitarians objected both to the Scout’s bias against homosexuals and to the use of the term “God.” Scout officials retorted that Unitarian Universalist boys could still be part of the 4.6-million member group so long as they abided by the restrictive rules. Atheists’ children are illegible unless they swear they believe in God. In 1999 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the organization’s expulsion in 1990 of James Dale, a gay twenty-eight-year-old Eagle Scout and assistant scoutmaster, violated the state’s antidiscrimination law, rejecting the Scouts’ arguments that it is a private organization protected by the First Amendment. The court also dismissed the group’s contention that homosexuality is immoral.

Boyd Orr, John Boyd Orr [1st Baron] (1880—1971) A Scottish biologist, Lord Boyd Orr in 1949 received the Nobel Peace Prize. The first director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (1945—1948), he had such pessimistic prognostications on the world food situation that he was called an apostle of gloom. But his services in improving the situation won him not only the Nobel but also a peerage. He was a rationalist, an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association, and the International Humanist and Ethical Union Congress President in 1957. In his 1966 autobiography, As I Recall, Boyd Orr wrote:

The most important question today is whether man has attained the wisdom to adjust the old systems to suit the new powers of science and to realize that we are now one world in which all nations will ultimately share the same fate. {CE; FUK; HNS2; TRI}

Boyd, B. F. (19th Century) Boyd, a freethinker, wrote Open Letter to the Clergy (1888). {GS}

Boyd, Bruni (20th Century) Boyd, when she signed Humanist Manifesto II, was Vice President of the American Ethical Union. {HM2}

Boyd, John Thomas (19th Century) Boyd was a supporter of the Leicester prospectus to raise funds for the National Secular Society. A cotton warehouse manager, he owned six of the one thousand £5 shares which were issued.

Boyd, Thomas (20th Century) Boyd wrote Poor John Finch: Inventor of the Steamboat (1935). {FUS}

Boydston, Jo Ann (1924— ) Boydston is Director Emeritus of the Center for John Dewey Studies. Also, she is a contributing editor for Free Inquiry. The Center was commenced in 1961 at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in order to make a concordance of philosophical terms in the works of Dewey. It now has completed a critical thirty-seven volume edition entitled The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882—1953. The Council for Secular Humanism headquarters library in Buffalo, New York, houses the Jo Ann and Donald Boydston Library of American Philosophical Naturalism, a large collection of volumes concerning philosophic naturalism and containing material by or about John Dewey, George Santayana, Sidney Hook, and Ernest Nagel, among others. She signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Boyer, Andrew Jackson (Born 1839) Boyer, from Roxbury, Pennsylvania, spent his early life as a Christian, then abandoned the orthodox hell, then the authenticity of the Bible, then the divinity of the mythical Christ, then “all the clouds of superstition.” In Dayton, Ohio, he published Woman’s Advocate from 1868 to 1871, and in Chicago he began publication of Nineteenth Century, a radical reform journal which was discontinued after the great fire. For two days after that fire, Boyer was the only one in possession of any type and issued the only daily or other newspaper in that city. Moving to Denver, he commenced the Daily Times and editorialized upon behalf of Horace Greeley for president. He then moved to Oakland, starting the Tribune. In Sacramento he started the Daily Gazette and in San Francisco the Commercial Advocate, the Mission Mirror, and the American Patriot. {PUT}

Boyer, Paul D. (20th Century) Boyer, who signed Humanist Manifesto 2000, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1997. He called the manifesto “the finest statement of what is needed for the future of the human race that I have read. Newly elected to Academy of Humanism

Boyesen, Hjalmar Hjorth (1848—1895) Boyesen, a Swedish-American writer, taught German at Cornell University and was professor at Columbia University in New York from 1880 to 1895. He wrote a number of literary works of a rationalist character. {RAT}

Boyle, Humphrey (19th Century) Boyle was one of the men who left Leeds for the purpose of serving in Richard Carlile’s shop when the right of free publication was attacked in 1821. He gave no name and was indicted and tried as “a man with name unknown” for publishing a blasphemous and seditious libel. To prove his case, he read portions of the Bible in court which he said were obscene. When sentenced to prison, he remarked, “I have a mind, my lord, that can bear such a sentence with fortitude.” {BDF}

Boyle, Kay (1903—1992) A novelist and teacher at San Francisco State College in California, Boyle wrote impressionistic stories such as Wedding Day (1930) and The Smoking Mountain (1951). In a novel, Plagued by the Nightingale (1931), an American girl and her French husband, who has a hereditary disease, must decide whether to have a child in order to receive his legacy. Death of a Man (1936) told of an American girl’s renunciation of her love for a Nazi physician. A Glad Day (1938) and American Citizen (1944) are collections of poems. Once an expatriate living in Paris, Boyle was long a member of the Institute of Arts and Letters of the American Academy. Asked about humanism in 1989, she responded:

[I am] a mixture of two humanisms: Naturalistic Humanism and Ancient Humanism. Sorry not to be more explicit at the present time. [Dictated during her illness by her secretary, A. Doherty].

A year later, however, as a resident in a retirement community, she was converted to Catholicism, the religion of her husband, Baron Joseph Franckenstein. Her son, Ian, has explained to the present author that his father

came from a long-tradition Austrian Catholic family, and Kay had a deep love and respect for his mother, who was a devout Catholic. My sister Faith and I were raised Catholic by my father. Kay always assumed a rather neutral position, allowing us to be brought up thus and never, to my knowledge, did she ever interfere or for that matter attend a Mass throughout those years we were growing up in Connecticut. She was truly, at the time, a non-believer, a naturalist, a humanist. . . . Mother once said to me: “Catholics look after and take care of each other.” I knew what she really meant was the fraternity that existed that appealed to her, not the sacraments or the ‘ritual’ of being Catholic, or even the belief in a Supreme Being. Kay felt that becoming a Catholic would bring her peace of mind. So in December 1991 she was baptized by Father Gerry O’Rourke. I feel it was an act that was more a “placebo” effect rather than a conscious dedication to and acceptance of a God, the Blessed Trinity, etc. She never read or studied any formal catechism or literature on Catholicism, before or after her conversion. . . . I believe that despite these developments late in her life, Kay died a naturalist who loved all people, and whose works reflected that throughout her long literary career. Kay always listened to her inner voice and acted upon that. She never lacked the courage to do so.

{CE; WAS, 10 February 1989}

Boyle, T. Coraghessan (20th Century) T. Coraghessan Boyle, Author art

Boyle, the noted fiction author (Riven Rock, Descent of Man, World's End, etc.) is interviewed by Russ Spencer in the Book magazine (Dec '98/Jan '99).

"I am an atheist and a nihilist. I think all my life I've been struggling to recover my faith or belief in something, but I can't. I wish I could, but I just can't."

And later,

"This is a time when hip is the rule, irony is the rule, sarcasm is the rule, and science is the rule. And I know all the arguments. I know Kierkegaard says you have to make the leap of faith, even though it's absurd. I know that science is as much voodoo as God is because there is no foundation to it, and I know that the unanswered questions are unanswerable. And I would love to make the leap of faith, and believe in something. But I believe in nothing. And it causes me tremendous despair and heartbreak."

And finally,

"I wish I could be spiritual in the way that Coltrane was. Connect with something and believe in it. But in our time, everything is wide open and it's terrifying. There is nothing between us and the naked howling face of the universe. Nothing."

--KR Boyle, a novelist, wrote Riven Rock, Descent of Man, and World’s End. Interviewed in Book (December 1998-January 1999), Boyle said

I am an atheist and a nihilist. I think all my life I’ve been struggling to recover my faith or belief in something, but I can’t. I wish I could, but I just can’t. . . . This is a time when hip is the rule, irony is the rule, sarcasm is the rule, and science is the rule. And I know all the arguments. I know Kierkegaard says you have to make the leap of faith, even though it’s absurd. I know that science is as much voodoo as God is because there is no foundation to it, and I know that the unanswered questions are unanswerable. And I would love to make the leap of faith, and believe in something. But I believe in nothing. And it causes me tremendous despair and heartbreak. {CA}

BOYLE’S LAW Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was the Anglo-Irish physicist and chemist whose precise definitions of chemical elements and reactions signaled the separation of chemistry from alchemy. His physical theory that supported an early form of the atomic theory of matter was called the corpuscular philosophy. Boyle’s Law is the principle that at a constant temperature the volume of a confined ideal gas varies inversely with its pressure. {CE}

BOYS “Nobody can misunderstand a boy like his own mother, said Norman Douglas.

Bozarth, G. Richard (20th Century) Bozarth is a Texan freethinker and atheist who has written The Means and End of Freethought, A Case Against Madalyn Murray O’Hair: Interrelated Essays on an Experience, All the Way Alone, The Terminally Ill Sea Scrolls, and No Time to Wallow in the Mire.

Bozian, Richard C. (20th Century) A physician and professor of medicine emeritus of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine, Bozian is active with the Cincinnati Free Inquiry Group.

Brabrook, Edward William [Sir] (1891—1904) Brabrook was an anthropologist, President of the Anthropological Institute and of the Folk-Lore Society (1901—1902). An agnostic, Brabrook was an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association. {RAT; RE}

Bracciolini, Poggio (1380-1459) An Italian humanist, Bracciolini was secretary to eight Popes over a period of fifty years. He fathered fourteen children with a mistress and then, when 55, wed an 18-year-old who bore him another six children. A devoted bibliophile, he uncovered Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura, many of Cicero’s orations, Vitruvius’s writings on architecture, and Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria. He also wielded a wicked pen, satirizing the clergy and also inventing the prototype of the roman font. His Liber Facetiarum (1451) had jests, puns, humorous anecdotes, and jokes about sex. Because they were written in Latin, it was felt that commoners would not be able to understand whereas members of the clergy could be amused by the fart, erection, and drunk jokes.

Brace, Charles Loring (1826—1890) A Unitarian, Brace was a social reformer who founded (1853) the Children’s Aid Society of New York. {CE}

Bradbury, Ray (Douglas) (1920— ) One of the better-known science fiction authors, Ray Bradbury wrote The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Dandelion Wine (1957). In 1953, he wrote Fahrenheit 451, a picture of a future totalitarian state in which people learn from state-operated television what they are allowed to know. The state allows no books, and individuals with any books are burned along with their libraries. Bradbury, a Unitarian, writes about racial, religious, and cultural questions. In 1972, he wrote a volume of poetry, When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed. {CE; UU}

Braddock, Elizabeth (1899— ) Braddock was a secularist and Labour Member of Parliament. {TRI}

Braden, Charles S. (Born 1887) In Vergilius Ferm’s Encyclopedia of Religion (1945), Braden of Northwestern University defined “religious humanism” as follows:

Although humanists have appeared in many periods of the world’s history, by religious humanism is generally meant a relatively recent movement, born doubtless of the modern scientific age, which has discarded all dependence upon anything outside of man himself for the attainment of the good life. Man is “on his own” in the universe which is essentially indifferent to him. Whatever satisfaction he is to enjoy he must achieve by his ability to control the physical world about him or through his manipulation of social forces which can thus be made to serve him. He is entirely this-worldly in his outlook. Science is the key to his hope of a better world. John H. Dietrich, a Unitarian minister, is frequently called the “father” of religious humanism, and most of the leaders of the movement have been furnished by the Unitarian church. Indeed the humanist churches constitute for the most part the left wing of Unitarianism. The most representative statement of their position was the so-called Humanist Manifesto issued in May, 1933, which declares in part: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values. . . . Religion must formulate its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and method. . . . Religion consists of those actions, purposes and experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the religious. It includes labor, art, science, philosophy, friendship, recreation—all that is in its degree expressive of satisfying human living. The distinction between the sacred and the secular can no longer be maintained. The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world. While religious humanism is generally non-theistic, there are many who call themselves theistic humanists or religious humanists. They are at one with the radical wing in their insistence upon human values and their denial of the complete impotence of man to work out his own salvation. Man cannot, they hold, achieve salvation without most vigorous self-effort, but he is not left wholly alone, for God works with him. Furthermore their outlook is not wholly this-worldly although they do not stress the future life. That, they are content to trust to a good and wise God. Representative writings of religious humanism include: Curtis Reese, Humanist Religion (1931); A. E. Haydon, The Quest of the Ages (1929); Charles F. Potter, Humanism—A New Religion (1930); R. W. Sellars, Religion Coming of Age (1928); J. C. F. Auer, Humanism States its Case (1933).

Religious Humanism, a Yellow Springs, Ohio, publication which commenced in 1966 and has been edited by Paul H. Beattie, encourages “religious” humanism. Howard Box is President of Religious Humanists (USA). (See entries for Comte; G. B. Foster; Howard Box; positivism; and American Humanist Association.) {ER}

Bradford, Marion (20th Century)

Bradford in 1997 became part-time administrator for the London office of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). (International Humanist News, December 1997}

Bradford, Rod (20th Century) Bradford, who has completed a video called “The Truth Seekers” which traces the history of the Truth Seeker, is a freethinker.

Bradlaugh, Alice (1856—1888) The daughter of Charles Bradlaugh, the sister of Hypatia [Bonner], and the brother of Charles Bradlaugh, Alice actively helped her father and taught French in the Hall of Science’s school that had been started by Edward Aveling in the autumn of 1879. She wrote, “The Mind as a Bodily Function.” {FUK; PUT; RE; RSR}

Bradlaugh, Charles (1833—1891) An English freethinker, along with William Gladstone one of the best orators of his day, Bradlaugh was the first president of the National Secular Society (1866), working with Annie Besant. As a boy, according to Foote, Bradlaugh was “an eager and exemplary Sunday School scholar” of St. Peter’s Church, Bethnal Green, and studied the Thirty-Nine Articles and the Gospels as a preparation for confirmation. Finding discrepancies he wrote to the incumbent, the Rev. J.G. Packer, for his “aid and explanation.” The net result of these inquiries was that the youth was obliged to leave his father’s home, and “from that day until his death his life was one long struggle against the bitterest animosity which religious bigotry could inspire.” Bradlaugh soon afterwards attended the “infidel” meetings in Bonner’s Fields, and later came into contact with the militant Freethinkers of the earlier decades of the nineteenth century, Richard Carlile, the brothers Holyoake and others. From this time until 1868, when he became a candidate for Parliament, he carried on a vigorous Freethought propaganda under the name of “Iconoclast.” During this period, and for some time afterwards, he was also actively working for Republicanism. In his short Autobiography (1873) he refers to his lectures on “The Impeachment of the House of Brunswick.” “I have sought,” he says, “and not entirely without success,” to organize “the Republican movement on a thoroughly legal basis.” A towering figure of English freethought and a pronounced atheist, Bradlaugh In 1860 established the National Reformer, an uncompromisingly atheistic journal, which at first had to contend against a host of difficulties, including a Government prosecution to compel him to find securities against the publication of matter of a blasphemous or seditious nature. His successful defence resulted in the repeal of the Security Laws. Bradlaugh’s knowledge of the law was wide, but apart from this he showed remarkable penetration in perceiving the legal points involved in the charges brought against him. In 1876, when he and Mrs. Besant were prosecuted for publishing a Malthusian work, his accurate knowledge of the law again stood him in good stead. They were convicted, but the conviction was quashed on appeal. In 1866 Bradlaugh founded the National Secular Society and remained its President until 1890. The Society is still flourishing and keeps a strong current of popular Freethought in movement all over England. Bradlaugh had major difficulties becoming a member of Parliament. In April 1880 he was elected at the general election, tried to affirm rather than swear the religious oath on the Bible, was refused, then announced he would take the oath instead. This was also refused. In May and June of 1880, he refused to withdraw and was imprisoned overnight in the Coock-Tower. In July 1880 he affirmed and took his seat, but this was declared illegal and the seat was declared vacant in March 1881. He then was re-elected in April 1881, tried to take the oath three times, and was forcibly prevented from entering Parliament to do so in August 1881. In February 1882, he tried to take the oath twice, administered the oath to himself, was forced to resign, was re-elected in March 1882. He then tried to take the oath in May and July 1883, administering the oath to himself in February 1884, at which time his seat was declared vacant. Re-elected in February 1884 and again in November 1885, he was finally allowed to take the oath and take his seat in January 1886. In 1888 he introduced an Affirmation Bill but, ironically, died before being able to take advantage of the legislation. His creating the National Secular Society remains one of his major freethought contributions. Of atheism, Bradlaugh wrote, “The Atheist does not say ‘There is no God,’ but he says ‘I know not what you mean by God’; the word ‘God’ is to me a sound conveying no clear or distinct affirmation. I do not deny God, because I cannot deny that of which I have no conception, and the conception of which, by its affirmer, is so imperfect that he is unable to define it to me.” One of his provocative books was Humanity’s Gain from Unbelief (1849). As noted by Berman, Bradlaugh unlike some of his predecessors, was willing to “take the war into the ‘enemies’ camp” and was quite thorough in his atheism.” From 1854 to 1859, he edited London Investigator and in 1860 he became an editor of National Reformer. Two years before his death, Bradlaugh introduced a bill to repeal the Blasphemy Laws in England. Just before his death, the House of Commons passed a resolution expunging from its Journals the many bitter entries of former years. However, Bradlaugh was in a coma at the time and never learned of the belated gesture. Meanwhile, his attempt to abolish the Common Law offence of blasphemy failed and “still disfigures our democracy,” editor Peter Brearer of The Freethinker has written. Although G. J. Holyoake was no admirer, he said of Bradlaugh that “He was the greatest agitator, within the limits of the law, who appeared in my time among the working people.” Although he attracted fierce loyalties and strong aversions, none denied his power, effectiveness, and what George Bernard Shaw described as his “passion and conviction.” Josiah Wedgwood remembered a friend telling how Bradlaugh “described to us how the shadow of the Cross lay like a black curse across all history, and as he spoke of the horrors of Christianity great tears rolled down his face.” Although a considerable part of Bradlaugh’s life was devoted to political work, it is probably as the “image-breaker,” the protagonist of Freethought, that he will be longest remembered, according to Foote. In the mid-1850s, he was, in his words, “honored by the British Banner” with a leading article vigorously assailing him for his lectures against Christianity. This “assailing” never ceased during his life, and was by no means confined to his views and opinions. He wrote numerous pamphlets. The “Plea for Atheism” appeared in 1877. In the debate with the Rev. W.M. Westerby on “Has or is Man a Soul?” (1879), and elsewhere, he showed his complete rejection of belief in a future life. Bradlaugh died on January 30, 1891. His daughter, Mrs. H. Bradlaugh Bonner, took minute precautions to procure “signed testimony from those who had been attending him,” that during his last illness he had never uttered a word directly or indirectly bearing upon religion. The last words she heard him speak during the night of his death “were reminiscent of his voyage to India.” Despite this testimony, Foote wrote, “The traditional Christian falsehoods on this subject are still circulated and the writer of this notice is constantly encountering them. As recently as 1932, Mrs. Bradlaugh Bonner found it necessary to refute the absurd story about her father’s holding a watch and challenging God to kill him in sixty seconds. Such mendacities no longer yield the amusement of novelty to Freethinkers; rather, they are considered a tribute to Bradlaugh’s greatness. In 1994, more than a century after his death, Bradlaugh was again in the news. A Church of England clergyman had urged that a statue of Jesus should replace that of “the atheist MP” which stands in Abington Square, Northampton, the town which first elected him to Parliament in 1880. The suggestion was considered “crass and offensive,” in the words of Barbara Smoker, and the town newspaper editorialized, tongue-in-cheek, that, yes, the statue might better be replaced by the Bishop of Durham. The newspaper then reported Smoker’s statement that “No one can deny that Charles Bradlaugh—an outstanding Radical Liberal of the 19th century—really existed . . . whereas Jesus is probably no more historic than Aladdin or Peter Pan.” In 1995, the town of Northampton officially named its park “Bradlaugh Fields,” a place with hedgerows and ponds, and natural grassland areas. (See Radicals, Secularists, and Republicans by Edward Royle for a detailed description of Bradlaugh.) {BDF; CE; EU, Edward Royle; FO; The Freethinker, January 1998; FUK; HAB; HNS2; JM; JMR; JMRH; PUT; RAT; RE; RSR; TRI; TYD; VI; WSS}

Bradlaugh, Charles Jr. (1859—1869) The son of Charles Bradlaugh, Charles Jr. was the youngest of his three children. He died of scarlet fever at a time when his father was experiencing marital as well as financial problems.

Bradlaugh, Susan Hooper (19th Century) Bradlaugh, wife of Charles Bradlaugh, was the daughter of a London freethinker and married Charles in 1855. When he chose a public over a private life, she moved to Midhurst in Sussex. According to Royle, she was a chronic alcoholic. {RSR}

Bradlaugh-Bonner, Hypatia (1858—1935) An English freethinker like her father, Charles Bradlaugh, Hypatia and her husband, Arthur Bonner, formed a publishing company that republished many of Bradlaugh’s pamphlets. She also edited a freethought periodical called the Reformer. She wrote “Princess Vera” and other stories. {EU, Gordon Stein; PUT; RAT; RE}

BRADLAUGH HOUSE The Humanist Centre was officially opened on 21 June 1994—the Summer Solstice as well as the International Humanist Day—at Bradlaugh House in London. The four national Humanist organizations—the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, the Rationalist Press Association, and the South Place Ethical Society—all moved their offices there, which is next door to Conway Hall in Bloomsbury, at 47 Theobald’s Road, London WC1X 8SP.

Bradley, Francis Herbert (1846—1924) Bradley, a British philosopher, wrote Ethical Studies (1876), Principles of Logic (1882), and Appearance and Reality (1892). In logic, Bradley attacked the psychological tendencies of empiricism by differentiating sharply between the mental act as a psychological event and its universal meaning; to him only the latter was the concern of logic. In metaphysics, Bradley held that many phenomena considered real, such as space and time, are only appearances. Reality, which he called the Absolute, is an all-inclusive whole that transcends thought. An agnostic, Bradley wrote, “There is but one reality” and it is “not the God of the Churches.” It is “inscrutable.” In Essays on Truth and Reality, Bradley defined God as “the Supreme Will for good which is experienced within finite minds,” and he rejected any belief in immortality. {CE; JM; RAT; RE}

Bradley, Lydia Moss (1816—1908) Bradley, an educator and a philanthropist, was a Universalist and a Unitarian. She founded Bradley University.

Braekstad, Hans Lien (1845—1915) Braekstad, a Norwegian freethinker, has made English translations from BjØrnson, AsbjØrnsen, and Anderson. An agnostic, he was an active director for many years of the Rationalist Press Association. {BDF; RAT}

Bradstreet, Anne (c. 1612—1672) An early American poet, considered the first significant woman author in the American colonies, Bradstreet came with her father to Massachusetts in the Winthrop Puritan group in 1630. A Nonconformist and the mother of eight children, she had descendants who include Unitarians William Ellery Channing, Wendell Phillips, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. {CE; OCE}

Brady, Orla Brady, who performed in A Love Divided, won the Monte Carlo International Television Festival Award for being the best actress. The film depicted the true story of a bitter sectarian conflict brought on when Sheila Cloney, a Protestant happily married to a Catholic farmer (Seán (Liam Cunningham), objected to the insistence by the parish priest (Tony Doyle) that the couple’s first child had to attend the local Catholic school. Brady acted the part of the stubborn mother, determined that only she and her husband should decide such matters. Her Dublin family owned the Oak Bar, and early on she became interested in drama, playing in Chekhov’s Three Sisters at the Gate in Dublin and in Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World at the Crucible in Sheffield. On television, she was seen in Wuthering Heights, The Rector’s Wife, The Heart Surgeon, Absolutely Fabulous, and Pure Wickedness. Brady told interviewers following A Love Divided that she was not a member of any organized religious group, that she was a freethinker. {E}

Braga, Teófilo [President] (Born 1843) Braga was a positivist and one of the Portugal’s Republican leaders. In addition to writing poetry, he is author of A History of Portuguese Literature, a ten-volume work in which he applied the positivist principles of Comte in his general history of the nation’s literature. An anti-clericalist who was involved in the Revolution of 1810, he was chosen as first president of the new republic of Portugal (1910-1911) and served again briefly in 1915. His teaching had a positive effect upon Portuguese intellectual life. Braga published more than one hundred works on literature, science, and philosophy. Although he joined the positivists, as an atheist he took an active part in the International Freethought movement. {BDF; JM; RE; TRI}

Bragg, Billy (20th Century) Billy Bragg, Recording Artist music

Considered to be the socialist Amy Grant, Bragg is probably best known for his songs about love and politics. He's been referred to as atheist in profiles.

A recording artist, Bragg is known for his songs about love and politics. In profiles, he is referred to as an atheist. {CA} Bragg, Billy (20 Dec 1957 - ) Bragg, a British punk rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, is soloist and lead of Riff Raff. A professed atheist, he sings about love and liberal politics. {CA}

Bragg, Raymond B. (1902—1979) A Unitarian minister, Bragg helped draft Humanist Manifesto I when only thirty years old. A student of Dr. A. Eustace Haydon as well as Curtis Reese, he graduated from Meadville in 1928 and went on to a two-year ministry in Evanston, Illinois. Edwin H. Wilson in The Genesis of a Humanist Manifesto (1995) gives a rather complete picture of Bragg the man and the organizer, telling of Bragg’s qualifications about following many of Charles Francis Potter’s suggestions. Although Roy Wood Sellars in his advanced years may have thought he had written more of the manifesto than he did, Dr. J. A. C. F. Auer of Harvard University in 1953 wrote in a letter,

I think you are under a misapprehension when you say that the Manifesto was originally written by Professor Sellars. I think that the first draft was originally made by Curtis Reese and Raymond Bragg. I recollect this because a copy was sent to me immediately after it had been drawn up and it was not a carefully written statement. Indeed, in many points it did not resemble the present Manifesto. Wilson, however, believes Sellars wrote the first draft, “probably—according to Raymond Bragg—using as background notes from a lecture on the nature of value which he gave about that time at the University of Chicago.” The manifesto, Wilson concludes, was definitely “a collective achievement” by Reese, Haydon, Bragg, Sellars, and himself. Bragg was President of the American Humanist Association, its second, from 1941 to 1943 and wrote book reviews for The Humanist in the 1950s. With John H. Dietrich, Bragg wrote the popular Humanist Pulpit. The All Souls Unitarian Church in Kansas City, Missouri, at which he had preached, is the scene of Bragg Symposiums in his honor. Bragg also signed Humanist Manifesto II. In 1998, Ed Doerr edited Timely and Timeless, the Wisdom of E. Burdette Backus, including a foreword by Jack Mendelsohn. It is an anthology of pulpit and radio addresses. Doerr wrote, “Burdette Backus’ writing, his work, and his life are among the finest expressions of the best in Humanism and Unitarian Universalism and illustrate the very considerable overlap between these two traditions.” (See entry for the American Humanist Association.) {CL; ER; FUS; HM1; HM2; HNS; HNS2}

BRAHMA • Brahma, n. He who created the Hindoos, who are preserved by Vishnu and destroyed by Siva—a rather neater division of labor than is found among the deities of some other nations. The Abracadabranese, for example, are created by Sin, maintained by Theft, and destroyed by Folly. The priests of Brahma, like those of the Abracadabranese, are holy and learned men who are never naughty. —Ambrose Bierce The Devil’s Dictionary

Brahma is one of the Hindu trimurti: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Relatively unimportant, he has few temples in his honor in India. The neuter Brahman, of which he is the personalized form, plays a major role in philosophic Hinduism. {ER; DGC}

BRAHMAN, BRAHMIN In the Upanishads, Brahman has come to stand for the ultimate world-ground of reality. He is “neti, neti,” or “not this, not that,” and is absolute, impersonal, and ultimately indescribable. All the gods—Brahma the creator, Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, and the lesser deities—can be assimilated to Brahman as personal manifestations of a reality that is itself impersonal or super-personal. Emerson, upon showing an interest in Hindu thought, wrote a poem, “Brahma,” which addresses the subject of a universal creative force, an all-inclusive power, something which he developed into a pantheistic symbol of nature, an Over-Soul. Fellow Bostonians of high social standing who are known for their cultivated intellect and taste have been termed Brahmins. Philosophic naturalists find all such mysticism as incapable of being tested and, therefore, philosophically meaningless. {ER}

Brahms, Johannes (1833—1897) Brahms, the famed German composer, wrote music in almost every genre except opera. His lieder are worldwide favorites, as are his songs and chamber music. “Brahms and Schubert, my two favorite gay composers,” wrote Larry Kramer. Biographers dispute whether or not Brahms before his thirteenth birthday “played the piano at night in bars” in low-class dives and brothels surrounding the docks in his native Hamburg. Jan Swafford in Johannes Brahms: A Biography (1998) speculates:

Johannes was surrounded by the stench of beer and unwashed sailors and bad food, the din of rough laughter and drunkenness and raving obscenity. . . . Between dances the women would sit the pre-pubescent teenager on their laps and pour beer into him, and pull down his pants and hand him around to be played with, to general hilarity. . . . There may have been worse from the sailors. Johannes was as fair and pretty as a girl.

Some, including Kurt Hoffmann in Johannes Brahms und Hamburg (1986), deny he played anywhere at all before he was fourteen. Some say he romanced Robert Schumann’s widow, Clara. Others say Schumann did not attempt suicide because Brahms had sent him a “too-candid” letter lamenting his inability to accompany Clara on the piano because of her absence. Some say Schumann starved to death because of problems Brahms brought on—Schumann once confessed to his diary to homosexual fantasies—others that Schumann died of tertiary syphilis. Most agree that Brahms was difficult, lonely and independent, gruff and tender. Less than a month after Schumann died, Brahms and Clara traveled with two of the children to Switzerland, after which he returned to Hamburg, never again to be part of the Schumann family. As to why the twenty-three-year-old Brahms did not marry a woman with seven children remains unknown. His attachment to Clara remained strong, and he was not known to have suffered any guilt for his frequenting prostitutes. Although he is thought by many to have been a Protestant because of his “German Requiem,” Brahms once said of that work that it should have been called a “Human Requiem.” Brahms was less “religious” than Beethoven. This he reveals in letters to Herzogenberg, in which he wrote that he was a complete agnostic. One critic described his “Four Serious Songs,” written a year before he died, as being his “supreme utterance of noble thoughts.” Observed McCabe,

The words to the first, as a matter of fact, reject and almost ridicule the idea of personal immortality.

Although he wrote much religious music, Brahms remained unchurched. Paul Edwards has cited Brahms as being a non-theist. {CE; Freethought History, #21, 1997; JM; RAT; RE; Charles Rosen, “Aimez-Vous Brahms?” The New York Review of Books, 22 October 1998; TRI; TYD}

BRAIN: For the brain’s ability to triumph over reality, see entry for Healing. In “Sleeper,” Woody Allen objected to the reprogramming of his brain: “You can’t touch my brain. It’s my second favorite organ!”

Brain, Lord (1895—1966) Brain, a freethinker, was president in England of the Family Planning Association. {TRI}

Bramall, Margaret (1916— ) Bramall in England was secretary of the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child. {TRI}

Brameld, Theodore (1904—1987) When he signed Humanist Manifesto II, Brameld was a visiting professor at the City University of New York. Among his books are Minority Problems in the Public Schools (1945), Patterns of Educational Philosophy (1971), and The Teacher as World Citizen (1974). {HM2}

Bramwell, Doug (20th Century) Bramwell is an English freethinker who has reviewed books for The Freethinker (August 1998).

Bramwell, George William Wilshire [Baron] (1808—1892) Bramwell was an eminent British judge and Lord Justice of Appeal who, after his death, was found to have been an agnostic all along. His biographer, Fairfield, says that Bramwell belonged to “that band of enlightened and advanced Liberals who used to make joyous demonstrations of kid-gloved agnosticism at the annual British Association Meetings.” The letters included in the Fairfield volume confirm this. {JM; RE}

Brancatisano, Fortunato (20th Century) Brancatisano was an active member of the American Humanist Association. {HNS}

Branden, Nathaniel (20th Century)

Billy Bragg, Recording Artist music

Considered to be the socialist Amy Grant, Bragg is probably best known for his songs about love and politics. He's been referred to as atheist in profiles.

Branden is a long-time associate of Ayn Rand. He shares his mentor’s atheism and disdain for religion. In The Disowned Self and Breaking Free, he discussed the destructive effects of religious faith on self-esteem and psychological well-being. In Full Context, an Objectivist publication, Branden denied rumors that he had embraced “God, altruism, and flying saucers.” {CA}

Branden, Victoria (20th Century) A Canadian atheist, Branden in 1979 wrote Mrs. Job, Flitterin’ Judas, and Understanding Ghosts. She has stated, “I started on a career of atheism at a young age when I was trying to teach the story of Noah’s Ark in Sunday School, and one of my students burst into tears at the thought of God drowning all the poor little bunnies and pussycats.”

Brandes, Edvard Cohen (Born 1847) An eminent Danish freethinker, Brandes was the brother of Georg. An outspoken materialist, he attracted attention when, upon his election in 1871 to the Danish Folkething (the House of Representatives), he refused to take the customary oath. Although the government endeavored to unseat him, he was finally allowed to affirm, thus establishing a precedent for future cases. Meanwhile, he continued to declare that he believed in neither the Christian nor the Jewish God, according to Robertson. As editor of a Copenhagen daily paper, he gave space to well-written freethought articles of the scientific and philosophical kind. He was imprisoned for having allowed some material to be published. {PUT; RAT}

Brandes, Georg Morris Cohen (1842—1927) Brandes, a Danish literary critic, was influential in bringing European thought to a wide audience in Denmark, Iceland, and Scandinavia. He has been described as “the greatest critic since Taine.” Because he was a “cultural” Jew and an atheist, in 1870 he was refused the chair in aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen. In 1902, however, he was granted that same chair. Main Currents in Nineteenth-Century Literature (6 volumes, 1872—1890) was an attack on provincialism and reaction. Brandes introduced feminism to Denmark. Also, he wrote Jesus, A Myth (1925). Brandes opposed romanticism and helped direct Scandinavian literature toward realism and a concern for social issues. When he spent some time in Berlin, coming under the influence of Nietzsche, he was attacked during the war for maintaining total neutrality. According to Robertson, Brandes was an active freethinker. Brandes was an honorary associate of the British Rationalist Press Association, which in 1899 had been founded by Charles A. Watts. McCabe writes that both Brandes and his brother “were outspoken Agnostics.” {BDF; CE; JM; JMR; PUT; RAT; RE; TRI}

Brandin, Louis Maurice (1874—1940) Author of a Hebrew-French Glossary of the XII Century (1906), Brandin was a French philologist. A Laureate of the Institute (Prix Chavée), he rejected all creeds. {RAT}

Brando, Marlon (1924— ) On 16 May 1990, homicide detectives arrived at the Beverly Hills, California house of actor Marlon Brando. Paramedics had found the body of Dag Drollet. Christian Brando, Marlon’s thirty-two-year-old son, had blurted out to the police that he had, in an accident, killed his pregnant half-sister Cheyenne’s Tahitian boyfriend. Brando told a detective that Cheyenne, her mother, Tarita, and her boyfriend, Dag Drollet, had at his invitation been living in the house, that he had brought Cheyenne from Tahiti to Beverly Hills a week prior in order to see a psychiatrist, that he had not heard any shot, but that he found Christian holding a large handgun and his son had told him he had just shot and killed Dag. (In 1995, a heartbroken Cheyenne, age twenty-five, hanged herself at her mother’s home in Tahiti. Called a troubled girl whose life was plagued by drugs and who was intrigued by mysticism, she upon previous occasions had tried to commit suicide, once trying to hang herself with a dog chain. Accusing her father of conspiring with her brother to kill Drollet, Cheyenne claimed on a television program that Brando had molested her as a child. Tahitian authorities were unable to question him, because Brando refused to return to the island.) When called to testify at his son’s trial, the more than 300-pound Marlon Brando strode to the witness stand. The clerk recited the oath, followed by “so help you God?” “No,” the actor expostulated, “I will not swear on God. I will not swear on God, because I don’t believe in the conceptional sense and in this nonsense. What I will swear on is my children and my grandchildren.” The judge interceded quickly, “We have a different oath we can give him,” and Brando then affirmed that what he was about to state was the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In the courtroom was Jacques Drollet, the victim’s Tahitian father, who heard Brando describe how, when Dag’s body was brought out, “I asked some officers to unzip the bag, and I wanted to say good-bye and admire him properly. I kissed him, told him I loved him, and that is all.” Christian was eventually sentenced to six years for voluntary manslaughter and an additional four years because a gun was used in the commission of the crime which, according to Peter Manso in Brando: The Biography (1994), meant the son would be eligible for parole in about four and a half years. Brando, as was the case with his son, never finished tenth grade, and he is not known to have written his views concerning philosophy. Married several times and reportedly the father of nine children, he admitted to the judge upon winning custody of Christian’s son, “I think, perhaps, I failed as a father.” Most regard Brando as the foremost practitioner of method acting, the sensation who in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) starred not only on Broadway but also in the film. His famous cry, “Stella!”, which brought his character Stanley’s wife back into his arms, is cited as having firmly established his reputation as a major actor. Sent to Tahiti to play Fletcher Christian, Brando earned his first big money although MGM was having financial problems at the time. According to Manso, “There was also talk that Brando had tried to add homosexual overtones to the role of Fletcher Christian. Brando’s foppish portrayal annoyed Richard Harris, particularly during a scene in which Brando was supposed to slap Harris in the face. Brando merely flicked his wrist.” In Paris in 1976, Brando responded to contentions that “The Missouri Breaks” was pervaded with homosexuality: Brando replied, “Homosexuality is so much in fashion it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences and I am not ashamed.” Gossip columnists hastened to add that Brando and Wally “Mr. Peepers” Cox had been a lifetime item, adding that Brando was basically bisexual with an interest in Tahitian women who would not “tie him down.” However, biographer Peter Manso categorically denies the Cox gossip, although he adds about his subject, who was “deemed too ‘pretty’ ” at the start of his career to wearing size fifty-two underwear now, “There’s no doubt he’s been bisexual.” Manso delights in reporting that “people claimed” to have seen a photograph in which Brando was performing fellatio on an unidentified man, then adds “word had it” that the picture was some unexplained practical joke. Critics have complained that Manso asserts much but proves little. After hitting the $1 million salary level with “The Fugitive Kind,” Brando was to continue with such hits as “Last Tango in Paris” and The Godfather.” At the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, when Liv Ullmann and Roger Moore announced that Brando had won over nominees Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, and Paul Winfield, an Apache Indian, Sacheen Littlefeather, approached and announced, “I’m representing Marlon Brando this evening, and he has asked me to tell you . . . that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns.” For more than a decade beginning in the early 1960s, Brando committed himself to protesting social injustice. A 1994 autobiography, Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me, ghostwritten with Robert Lindsey and revealing little which was new, did not mention his children or their problems but did include, “Whatever grains of optimism survive in me about the evolution of mankind are centered in the belief that genetic alteration, however fraught with danger, is the only possible solution.” Although Jill Neimark considers Brando an inhumanist because of the alleged bad treatment of his children, Brando is a freethinker in his philosophic outlook

Brando, Marlon (3 April 1924 - ) On 16 May 1990, homicide detectives arrived at the Beverly Hills, California, house of actor Marlon Brando. Christian Brando, Marlon’s thirty-two-year-old son, blurted out to the police that he had, in an accident, killed his pregnant half-sister Cheyenne’s Tahitian boyfriend. Marlon Brando explained to a detective that Cheyenne, her mother, Tarita, and her boyfriend, Dag Drollet, had at his invitation been living in the house, that he had brought Cheyenne from Tahiti to Beverly Hills a week prior in order to see a psychiatrist, that he had not heard any shot, but that he found Christian holding a large handgun, and his son had told him he had just shot and killed Dag. (In 1995, a heartbroken Cheyenne, age twenty-five, hanged herself at her mother’s home in Tahiti. Called a troubled girl whose life was plagued by drugs and who was intrigued by mysticism, she upon previous occasions had tried to commit suicide, once trying to hang herself with a dog chain. Accusing her father of conspiring with her brother to kill Drollet, Cheyenne claimed on a television program that Brando had molested her as a child. Tahitian authorities were unable to question him, because Brando refused to return to the island.) When called to testify at his son’s trial, the more than 300-pound Marlon Brando strode to the witness stand. The clerk recited the oath, followed by “so help you God?” “No,” the actor expostulated, “I will not swear on God. I will not swear on God, because I don’t believe it in the conceptional sense and in this nonsense. What I will swear on is my children and my grandchildren.” The judge interceded quickly, “We have a different oath we can give him,” and Brando then affirmed that what he was about to state was the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In the courtroom was Jacques Drollet, the victim’s Tahitian father, who heard Brando describe how, when Dag’s body was brought out, “I asked some officers to unzip the bag, and I wanted to say good-bye and admire him properly. I kissed him, told him I loved him, and that is all.” Christian was eventually sentenced to six years for voluntary manslaughter and an additional four years because a gun was used in the commission of the crime which, according to Peter Manso in Brando: The Biography (1994), meant the son would be eligible for parole in about four and a half years. Brando, as was the case with his son, never finished tenth grade, and he is not known to have written his views concerning philosophy. Married several times and reportedly the father of nine children, he admitted to the judge upon winning custody of Christian’s son, “I think, perhaps, I failed as a father.” Most regard Brando as the foremost practitioner of method acting, the sensation who in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) starred not only on Broadway but also in the film. His famous cry, “Stella!”, which brought his character Stanley’s wife back into his arms, is cited as having firmly established his reputation as a major actor. Sent to Tahiti to play Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), Brando earned his first big money although MGM was having financial problems at the time. According to Manso, “There was also talk that Brando had tried to add homosexual overtones to the role of Fletcher Christian. Brando’s foppish portrayal annoyed Richard Harris, particularly during a scene in which Brando was supposed to slap Harris in the face. Brando merely flicked his wrist.” In Paris in 1976, Brando responded to contentions that The Missouri Breaks was pervaded with homosexuality: Brando replied, “Homosexuality is so much in fashion it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences and I am not ashamed.” Gossip columnists hastened to add that Brando and Wally “Mr. Peepers” Cox had been a lifetime item, adding that Brando was basically bisexual with an interest in Tahitian women who would not “tie him down.” However, biographer Manso categorically denies the Cox gossip, although he adds about his subject, who was “deemed too ‘pretty’ ” at the start of his career to wearing size fifty-two underwear now, “There’s no doubt he’s been bisexual.” Manso delights in reporting that “people claimed” to have seen a photograph in which Brando was performing fellatio on an unidentified man, then adds “word had it” that the picture was some unexplained practical joke. Critics have complained that Manso asserts much but proves little. After hitting the $1 million salary level with The Fugitive Kind, Brando was to continue with such 1972 hits as Last Tango in Paris and The Godfather. At the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, when Liv Ullmann and Roger Moore announced that Brando had won over nominees Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, and Paul Winfield, an Apache Indian, Sacheen Littlefeather, approached and announced, “I’m representing Marlon Brando this evening, and he has asked me to tell you . . . that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns.” His very presence excited people, who could not forget the table-clearing in A Streetcar Named Desire or the explosive “No!” shouted at his mother-in-law in Last Tango in Paris. For more than a decade beginning in the early 1960s, Brando committed himself to protesting social injustice. A 1994 autobiography, Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me, ghostwritten with Robert Lindsey and revealing little which was new, did not mention his children or their problems but did include, “Whatever grains of optimism survive in me about the evolution of mankind are centered in the belief that genetic alteration, however fraught with danger, is the only possible solution.” Although some have termed Brando an inhumanist because of the alleged bad treatment of his children, Brando is a freethinker in his philosophic outlook. {Peter Manso, Brando: The Biography (1994)}

Brandon, James (18th Century) Brandon was one of the “coterie of infidels.” (See entry for North Carolina Freethinkers.)

Brandt, Reinhard (1937— ) Brandt, in Germany, is a corresponding member of The Hume Society, a group engaged in scholarly activity concerning David Hume. He wrote David Hume in Deutschland (1989).

Brandt, Willy [Chancellor] (1913—1992) The German political leader Willy Brandt’s original name was Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm. When Hitler came into power, Brandt fled to Norway, then to Sweden. In Germany after World War II, he became chancellor (1969—1974) with the support of the Free Democratic party and President of the Socialist International in 1976. The author of North-South: A Program for Survival (1980), Brandt was an unbeliever. {New Humanist, August 1997}

Brann, William Cowper (1855—1898) Brann, who published the monthly Iconoclast, “the Only American Magazine That Ever Secured 100,000 Readers in a Single Year,” let it be known what he thought about the proselytizing Baptists as well as the anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic American Protective Association. He also wrote vicious material about impoverished African Americans, and his muckraking got him into trouble with Baylor University. Ryan has written, “Brann had agnostic leanings but was never an atheist. He held to no particular line in politics and fought no crusades for such liberal reforms as women’s suffrage. His primary value to American literature was as a pacesetter. His kind of brash, sprightly, freewheeling journalism was an inspiration to radical thinkers and writers in the century that dawned two years after his death.” “In 1893,” Brann wrote in Iconoclast,

I spent several days at El Paso in the company of two learned Hindu priests who had attended the World’s Fair and were making a tour of this country, studying our institutions and occasionally giving lectures explanatory of their own religion. . . . The younger of the priests declared that Christian missionaries had been the curse of Asia. ‘Wherever they go they are followed by dangerous disease, by drunkenness, violence, and lewdness. I do not say that they teach evil, but evil follows them. The Asiatics do not seem to grasp the good in your religion, but are quick to assimilate all the bad in your civilization, all the barbarism of your God. Strange that you have made such wonderful progress in all things else and have not been able to civilize your Deity. We will listen to your preachers, but they will not listen to us. We seek knowledge, that we may the better teach. For that we come from the Antipodes. We admire your Government, we stand worshipful before your science and your industry, but your religion causes us to laugh. It must have been made by children. Your ministers do not want to learn—they dare not. Their religious education is finished—bounded by one book, and it is simply a chechil for the cast—off garments of the world. Your Bible is the religious rubbish heap, upon which grow, I am told, 500 different kinds of weeds—each trying to crown the others off. . . . You are a great people, but your God seems to delight in ignorant worshippers rather than the praise of wisdom.

Speaking of the Baptists, Brann commented that “the only problem with the Baptists was that they don’t hold ‘em under long enough.” A photo of Brann and one of his articles from the Waco, Texas, Iconoclast are found in Freethought on the American Frontier (1992), which concludes that Brann was basically an atheist. In 1911, Brann the Iconoclast: A Collection of the Writings of W. C. Brann was published. {EU, William F. Ryan; Freethought History #15, 1995, and #18, 1996

Brannon, Carl (20th Century) Brannon holds the facetious office of “Minister of Evil” of Oregon State University’s Society for Logic and Reason in Corvallis. His e-mail: <brannonc@ucs.orst.edu>.

Richard Branson, Business Mogul business

Branson is the founder of the Virgin Empire, which notably includes Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, among other entities. He has made several attempts to be the first to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon.

He writes in his autobiography, Losing My Virginity (p.239) "I do not believe in God, but as I sat there in the damaged [balloon] capsule, hopelessly vulnerable to the slightest shift in weather or mechanical fault, I could not believe my eyes."


Branting, Karl Hjalmar (Born 1860) A Swedish socialist, Branting was sentenced in 1888 to three months in prison for blasphemy in his paper, Social Democraten. Branting was a leader of the Swedish Social Democrats. {BDF; RAT}

Branwyn, Gareth (20th Century) Branwyn is on the editorial board of The Truth Seeker, the freethinkers’ publication in San Diego, California.

Bratteng, Steve (20th Century) Bratteng is associated with the Austin, Texas, Humanists. (See entry for Texas Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists.) {FD}

Bratton, Fred Gladstone (Born 1896) Bratton wrote The Legacy of the Liberal Spirit. {FUS}

Brauer, Gerald C. (20th Century) Brauer wrote Protestantism in America, A Narrative History (1953). {FUS}

Braun, Lily (1865—1916) A German writer and reformer, Braun was a member of a German aristocratic (1865—1916) 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. According to McCabe, Braun’s contemptuous rejection of Christianity is often shown in her Memoiren einer Sozialisten (2 volumes, 1900). {JM; RAT}

Braun, Peter (20th Century) Braun, while a student at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, was one of the founding members of Campus Freethought Alliance. {International Humanist News, December 1996}

Braun, Wilhelm von (1813—1860) 

Braun was a Swedish poet, a humorist who satirized many Bible stories. {BDF; RAT}

Braunlich, Edward (20th Century) Braunlich, a Unitarian in Ontario, is author of A Book of Braunlich: The Thoughts of a Unitarian Layman (1993).

Bray, Charles (1811—1884) A self-taught freethinker, Bray was the brother-in-law of Charles Hennell. Upon marrying, Bray said he took Volney’s Ruins of Empires “to enliven the honeymoon.” On one trip to Italy, Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) accompanied the Brays and said he greatly influenced her philosophic outlook. His works on The Philosophy of Necessity (1841) and Cerebral Psychology (1875) are the keys to his thought. In the year of his death, Bray wrote that since he had no hope or expectation or belief even in the possibility of continued individuality after death, the opinions which served him so satisfactorily in life “will do to die by.” {BDF; RAT}

Bray, Henry Truro (20th Century) Bray, a freethinker, wrote Essays on God and Man (1916). {GS}

Bray, Rosemary L. (20th Century) Bray, who grew up as an African American Catholic, became an atheist, then attended the Community Church of New York because it had been the church of her husband’s childhood and a bastion of liberal religious and social activism. Influenced by Margaret Atwood’s statement that if she ever decided to have a religious life, she would do it with the Unitarians; but “the only problem was that the music was terrible.” Bray, now a ministerial intern at the Unitarian Church of Montclair, New Jersey, is author of the memoirs Unafraid of the Dark (1998). She describes herself as being an agnostic Unitarian. {The New York Times Magazine, 7 December 1997}

BRAZILIAN POSITIVISTS The influence of Comte’s positivism has been substantial in Brazil. The flag carries one of Comte’s favorite slogans, “Order and Progress.” Although Comte was anti-organized religion, he did not object to the establishment of a positivist version of the church in Brazil. Miguel Lemos and Raimundo Teixera Méndez led in founding the Apostolado Positivista do Brasil, which in all respects became a church, with temples, services, and dogma. Elsewhere in Brazil, however, in the so-called School of Recife, positivism remained nonreligious and theoretical. The Centro Positivista do Parana (Rua Comendador Araujo C493 CEP 80420, Curitiba, Parana, Brazil) is an associate member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. A Brazilian who signed is José Leite Lopes, professor emeritus of Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Físicas. {See the Encyclopedia of Unbelief, which cites such Brazilian positivists as Constant Botelho de Magalhaes (1836—1891), Luis Pereira Barreto (1840—1923), and Ruy Barbosa (1849—1923). Also, see entry for Pedro Mendoça.}

Brearey, Pam (20th Century) A journalist, Brearey was married for twenty-eight years to Peter Brearey and supported his work for The Freethinker. She resides on the north Orkney island of Sanday.

Brearey, Peter (1939-1998) Brearey, who was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, was largely self-educated. As a reporter, reviewer, and editor, he became a well-known Yorkshire journalist. Altogether, he contributed to more than three hundred publications. Surprisingly, he had run away from home when fourteen but had learned to speak Urdu. In collaboration with his wife, Pam, he helped to establish National Health Service internal journals in Bradford, York, Wakefield, Pontefract, and Huddersfield. He was founding editor of Healthview, newspaper of the Yorkshire Regional Health Authority. He was an active member of the National Union of Journalists and a former chairman of its Wakefield branch. In addition, he was Vice-President of the National Secular Society. In 1993, Brearey was appointed editor of The Freethinker, the journal founded by G. W. Foote in 1881. Under its editorship he expanded the publication considerably and encouraged the letters page as a forum for controversial ideas. When he told Keith Porteous Wood how ironic it was that he had developed cancer of the lungs, not of the liver, Brearey explained he had smoked an ounce of tobacco daily but had given up drink eighteen years previously. His brand of humor was devastating, Wood observed, saying Brearey had added, “It looks like I won’t be coming to your millennium party—I have been given a terminal diagnosis.” At his secular humanist funeral ceremony, former Freethinker editor Bill McIlroy said Peter was a staunch defender of reforms that enabled thousands to live happier and more honest lives. “He had the vision and patience of the true reformer. In his own way, he endeavoured to bring light into dark corners.” After tributes at the Breareys’ home on the north Orkney island of Sanday, he was carried a short distance to an adjoining plot of ground where he was buried. {The Freethinker, May 1998}

BREASTFEEDING: See entry for Marian Leonard Tompson.

Breasted, James Henry (1865—1935) Breasted, a noted American historian, left the Church and became professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Museum. He spent many years in research in Egypt, and his Conquest of Civilization (1926) became a standard work on ancient history. An agnostic, Breasted was an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association. {RE}

Brecht, Bertold (1898—1956) Brecht was an avowed freethinker, according to David Tribe. The German dramatist and poet wrote Man is Man (1926), an expressionist work, and he developed his revolutionary “epic theater,” designed to create—using bright lights, films, and mottoes displayed on cards—a politically conscious distance between the spectator and the stage. His Threepenny Opera (1928), with music by Kurt Weill, reflected Brecht’s social views. During the Nazi period, Brecht went into exile in Denmark, then settled in the United States, moving in 1948 to East Berlin. There, he directed the state-supported Berliner Ensemble. Brecht’s attempt to codify his aesthetics, according to Michael Feingold, translator of six of his plays, began well before his conversion to Communism. Like his politics, his aesthetics was always under construction, changed with time, situation, atmosphere, and even impulse. His theory was only a theory, for he was not basically an intellectual and, as Feingold has written, “a theory to any artist is just a provisional guideline for finding a path through the work.” His conduct toward women was one long parade of offenses, yet many befriended and helped him. His secretaries may or may not have had their work plagiarized and their emotions abused, but if in truth he used any of their work he also transformed his borrowings from Kipling, Goethe, folk songs, even Salvation Army hymns. In a television exchange in the early 1960, Kenneth Tynan asked actor Richard Burton “What do you think of Brecht?” Burton replied, “Awful, pretentious, dull, pedestrian.” Retorted Tynan, “To that I say illuminating, passionate, poetic, humanist.” Brecht’s diaries document his heterosexual exploits, but also he was interested in Arthur Rimbaud’s and Paul Verlaine’s relationship and wrote realistically about homosexuals. {CE; The Economist, 17 October 1998; Michael Feingold, Village Voice, 8 September 1998; GL; TRI; TYD}

Brecht, Bertold (10 Feb 1898 - 14 Aug 1956) Brecht was an avowed freethinker, according to David Tribe. The German dramatist and poet wrote Man is Man (1926), an expressionist work, and he developed his revolutionary “epic theater,” designed to create—using bright lights, films, and mottoes displayed on cards—a politically conscious distance between the spectator and the stage. His Threepenny Opera (1928), with music by Kurt Weill, reflected Brecht’s social views. During the Nazi period, Brecht went into exile in Denmark, then settled in the United States, moving in 1948 to East Berlin. There, he directed the state-supported Berliner Ensemble. Brecht’s attempt to codify his aesthetics, according to Michael Feingold, translator of six of his plays, began well before his conversion to Communism. Like his politics, his aesthetics was always under construction, changed with time, situation, atmosphere, and even impulse. His theory was only a theory, for he was not basically an intellectual and, as Feingold has written, “a theory to any artist is just a provisional guideline for finding a path through the work.” Brecht’s diaries document his heterosexual exploits, but also he was interested in Arthur Rimbaud’s and Paul Verlaine’s relationship and wrote realistically about homosexuals. His conduct toward women was one long parade of offenses, yet many befriended and helped him. His secretaries may or may not have had their work plagiarized and their emotions abused, but if in truth he used any of their work he also transformed his borrowings from Kipling, Goethe, folk songs, even Salvation Army hymns. In a television exchange in the early 1960, Kenneth Tynan asked actor Richard Burton “What do you think of Brecht?” Burton replied, “Awful, pretentious, dull, pedestrian.” Retorted Tynan, “To that I say illuminating, passionate, poetic, humanist.” {CE; The Economist, 17 October 1998; Michael Feingold, The Village Voice, 8 September 1998; GL; TRI; TYD}

Breen, Walter (20th Century) Breen, a New York City humanist writing in The Humanist Newsletter (Summer 1953), discussed the political dilemma for humanists during the McCarthy era:

Since the humanist’s basic postulates commit him to a belief in individual freedom and hence in some sort of democracy, it is folly for him to imagine such a system apart from the above [democratic stand]. Instead of there being 150 million rulers in this country, there are a few thousand politicians of none too great abilities who have wheedled their supremacy out of the political ignorant millions. To retain supremacy in a wartime context, they must show authoritarian fangs. The only answer is for intellectually competent people to espouse humanistic notions, whether they call themselves humanists or no, and at the same time for people with these views to infiltrate the government, both in civil service and elective capacities.

In the same issue, naturalistic humanists Mark Starr and William Heard Kilpatrick took a similar stand. Starr specifically recommended joining Americans for Democratic Action and, in New York State, the Liberal Party.

Breitenbach, Wilhelm (Born 1857) A German writer and publisher, Breitenbach was one of Haeckel’s leading supporters, especially in his periodical, Die Neue Weltanschauung. He was president of the Humboldt Association for Scientific Philosophy and editor of the Humboldt library. (RAT}

Bremer, Frederika (1801-1865) Bremer, a Swedish Unitarian, was a novelist, feminist, and pacifist.

Brennan, William J. [Supreme Court Justice] (1906–1997) A U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Brennan in 1987 said on National Public Radio, “Religious conflicts can be the bloodiest and cruelest conflicts that turn people in fanatics.” {TYD}

Brenneman, Richard J. (20th Century) Brenneman, author of Deadly Blessings (1990), examines three controversial court cases involving faith healing. He delves into the minds of those who believe that faith can cure ills.

Brent, Jeani (20th Century) Brent is President of Atheists and Other Freethinkers (PO Box 15182, Sacramento, California 95851), which publishes a monthly newsletter, AOF News & Views.

Brentano, Franz (1838—1917) Ordained a Catholic priest in 1864, Brentano taught at Würzburg (1866—1873) and in 1874 became professor of philosophy at Vienna. In 1880 he retired in order to write and study. Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte (1874) tries establishing psychology as an independent science. Freud studied with Brentano, who also influenced Edmund Husserl and Alexius Meinong. Brentano resigned from teaching because of the declaration that the Pope was infallible. A few years later, he left the Church. In his philosophy, Brentano in the main followed Lao-tzu and adopted an eclectic spiritualist system. {CE; RAT}

Brereton, Irene (20th Century) Brereton is an editor emeritus of Humanist in Canada.

Brereton, J. Lloyd (1901—1977) Brereton, the founder and an editor of the Humanist in Canada, signed Humanist Manifesto II. In 1977, he received the Canadian Humanist of the Year Award. He has been termed the most influential figure in the early development of the Canadian humanist movement. {FUK; HM 2}

Bresson, Léopold (Born 1817) A French positivist, Bresson was director of an Austrian railway company. He wrote Idés Modernes (1880). {BDF}

Breton, Andre (1896—1966) A principal theorist of the surrealist movement, Breton has written, “Everything that is doddering, squint-eyed, infamous, sullying, and grotesque is contained for me in this single word: God.” {CE; PA}

Breuk, Yvonne (20th Century) In the Netherlands, Breuk is President of Humanistisch Verbond.

Brewer, Colin (20th Century) “Like many people in Britain, I do not believe in either a deity or an afterlife, but when taking a full history from my patients, I always ask about the nature and strength of their religious beliefs,” Brewer has written (New Humanist, June 1992). A psychiatrist and member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society’s Executive Committee, he also reviews books for The Freethinker. Brewer is alarmed at the numbers of cases of “deathbed proselytizing” which he has observed, pleading that “in the hour of death god save us from the god-squad.” In 1980 he wrote Can Social Work Survive?

Brewer, Ebenezer Cobham (1810—1897) Brewer was an English author who in 1884 compiled A Dictionary of Miracles. The preface, which disclaims the idea of attacking miracles, is merely a discreet preparation of the reader for a rejection of the Christian claims. {BDF; RAT}

Brewer, Gwen W. (20th Century) An emeritus professor at California State University at Northridge, Brewer signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Brewer, Nancy (20th Century) Humanist counselor Brewer signed Humanist Manifesto II. {HM2}

Brewington, Selena (20th Century) While a student at the University of Oregon, Brewington was a founding member of Campus Freethought Alliance and President of Students for Freedom From Religion. {Intl. Humanist News, December 1996}

Brewster, Harold Leland (20th Century) Brewster wrote his 1940 University of Southern California dissertation on “An Objective Study of the Oratory of Robert Green Ingersoll.” {FUS}

Brewster, Henry (1851—1908) Brewster was a writer who was born in France of an American father, one of the few English authors who could write in perfect French. His L’âme paienne (1902) was a manual of advanced ethical “paganism,” in which he disdains all religion. {RAT}

Briand, Aristide (1862—1932) A French statesman, Briand helped complete the secularization of France. He was Minister of Public Instruction and Cults (1906), President of the Council (1909), Minister of Justice and Cults (1914), and Premier (1915). Based upon one of his reports, the law of the separation of Church and State was instituted. An idealist and an agnostic, Briand was an eloquent opponent of the Church. {RAT; RE; TRI}

Briars, David (1946— ) Briars in 1993 edited Freethinker’s Directory (Route 1, B-45, Craftsbury, Vermont 05826), a work with over 600 listings which in his words “is designed to help a-theists, freethinkers, non-goddists of all kinds to locate each other and to work together. Most of us have felt the debilitating isolation and self-doubt that comes from living in a world where religion and mob-thinking define the meaning of contentment, morality, and self-worth.” Included are such publications as Free Inquiry, Monkey’s Uncle, and Bureau of Public Secrets as well as such organizations as the Czech Republic’s Prometheus Society of Bratislava, Norway’s Det Norske Heningsamfunn (Society of Norwegian Heathens), and India’s Atheist Centre. {Freethought History, #8, 1993}

Brichto, Sidney (20th Century) With Richard Harries, Brichto edited a symposium, Two Cheers for Secularism (1998). The thirteen essays are by “believers, half-believers and non-believers” of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim backgrounds. According to Nicolas Walter, the religious contributions “are the most misleading (secularism inevitably seen as insufficient, and Nazism and Communism predictably seen as examples of secularism), and the Muslim ones are particularly disappointing, but some of the semi-religious ones are interesting and all the non-religious ones (by Frederic Raphael, Karen Armstrong, and John Mortimer) are stimulating.” {New Humanist, October 1998}

Brick, Aaron (20thCentury) Brick, a student at Johns Hopkins University, signed the Campus Freethought Alliance’s “Bill of Rights for Unbelievers” in 1998.

Bridges, Dan (20th Century) Bridges is co-president of Atheists of Colorado.

Bridges, Horace (1880—195-?) Bridges from 1913 to 1945 was a leader of the Chicago Ethical Culture Society. He wrote The God of Fundamentalism (1925). A. Eustace Haydon once told another Ethical leader, James F. Hornback, that Bridges was outspoken against the Midwestern religious humanism of his day. Members and leaders, however, could be humanists then and did not need to consider humanism a religion. Bridges, groomed by Coit as a liberal empiricist, turned theological and social conservative as Leader under Adler. Bridges died an Episcopalian in the 1950s. {EU, Howard B. Rades; RAT}

Bridges, John Henry (1832—1906) An English positivist, Bridges wrote Religion and Progress. He contributed to the Fortnightly Review and translated Comte’s General View of Positivism (1865) and System of Positive Polity (1873). {BDF; FUK; RAT; TRI}

Bridie, James (1888—1951) James Bridie is the pseudonym of Osborne Henry Mayor, a witty playwright who wrote such fanciful plays as “The Sleeping Clergyman” (1933) and “Storm in a Teacup” (1936). Bridie was an honorary associate of the British Rationalist Press Association.

Briefer, Charles (20th Century) In 1972, Briefer was Executive Editor of The New Awareness, a magazine of the Humanist Society of Greater New York. He was an executive of Columbia Records.

Brier, Uri (20th Century) Brier is active with the Humanists of Fairfield County. (See entry for Connecticut Atheists, Humanists.) {FD}

Brieux, Eugene (1858—1938) Sometimes called “the French Bernard Shaw,” Brieux was a member of the French Academy and an officer of the Legion of Honor. His play, “La foi” (“The Faith,” literally, although the English translator calls it “False Gods”) expresses his disdain of religion in the form of a study of priestcraft in ancient Egypt. {JM; RAT; RE}

Brieux, Eugene (19 Jan 1858 – 6 Dec 1932) Sometimes called “the French Bernard Shaw,” Brieux was a member of the French Academy and an officer of the Legion of Honor. His Avaries (1901) was about syphilis and was banned from being performed in France. It was performed, however, in Belgium, and this helped lead to a debate that eventually led to censorship laws being overturned. His play, La foi (“The Faith,” literally, although the English translator calls it “False Gods”) expresses his disdain of religion in the form of a study of priestcraft in ancient Egypt. {JM; RAT; RE}

Brigance, William Norwood (20th Century) Brigance wrote A History and Criticism of American Public Addresses (1943), a critique which included Robert G. Ingersoll. {FUS}

Briggs, Arthur E. (20th Century) An attorney, Briggs in 1942 became a leader in the newly founded Los Angeles Ethical Culture Society. {EU, Howard B. Radest; HNS}

Briggs, Austin Jr. (20th Century) Briggs wrote Novels of Harold Frederic (1969). {FUS}

Bright, Charles (1832—1903) An Australian, Bright was a freethinker, journalist, editor, and orator. He edited Melbourne Punch (1863) and contributed to Marcus Clarke’s Humbug. He edited the weekly Liberal in Sydney from 1882 to 1884. From 1878 to 1890, Bright was a lecturer in Dunedin of the Freethought Association. Although a deistic freethinker who rejected orthodoxy, he was converted to spiritualism and became a full-time lecturer for the Victorian Association of Progressive Spiritualists. {FUK; SWW}

Susie Bright, Writer/Sex Expert/Anti-censorship Activist art

In her book, The Sexual State of the Union, pro-sex activist Susie Bright wrote, "I don't believe in their God or their Satan, and that kind of faith genuinely seems backward to me, a sign of ignorance and fear. I see their dedication and power, but the true believers might as well be worshipping a cheeseball as far as I'm concerned." (p. 32)

Bright grew up as a Catholic, but since then she has taken a dim view of the Catholic Church and religion in general. She said, "I'll never get used to cute progressives referring to God as "she" or "it," because I know from every aspect of Catholic training that I received that God is an angry, vengeful M-A-N." (p. 29)



Bright offers a correction to previous editions of this list which stated that her mother had been excommunicated: "My mother was not personally 'excommunicated' from the Church. It is a rule of the church that people who are divorced are not suppose to take Communion. My mother has not taken communion since she was divorced, or at least that's what I think. I have not watched her every move!

"Of course, no one asks you for proof of yoru eligibility when you get up to the altar, it's self-policing. I think my mother lost her strict belief in the Catholic Church while she was still married and in college. i don't know, I've never asked her. She's very private about her beliefs."

She also notes that she considers herself agnostic.

Brightman, Edgar Sheffield (1884—1953) Writing in Vergilius Ferm’s Encyclopedia of Religion (1945), professor of philosophy Brightman of Boston University defined the following terms:

agnosticism (Greek a-, not, and gignoskein, to know) The belief that certain knowledge has not been attained, either in some particular field (usually the religious), or in any and all fields of supposed knowledge. Agnosticism often shades into skepticism, but the agnostic leaves open the possibility of future knowledge, while the skeptic (except for the methodological type) denies any such possibility. The term “agnostic” was first used by T. Huxley in 1869 (OED); he based it on Acts 17:23.

atheism (Greek a-, not, and theos, god) 1) The denial that there is any god, no matter in what sense “god” be defined. 2) The denial that there exists a being corresponding to some particular definition of god; frequently, but unfortunately, used to denote the denial of God as personal (the denial of theism), or, more particularly, of a personal God as defined in particular (e.g., trinitarian, Catholic, or Calvinistic) creed.

skepticism (Greek, skeptein, to reflect or consider) Antonym, dogmatism. 1) The view that no knowledge (or no certain knowledge) is possible; based on deceptiveness of the senses, fallacies in reasoning, incompleteness of evidence, etc. 2) The view that some particular type of knowledge is inherently impossible; e.g., metaphysical knowledge of things in themselves as distinguished from experience (Kant), or of the objects of religious belief such as God and immortality (cf. H. Spencer, “the Unknowable”). 3) The method of complete doubt at the outset of investigation; e.g., Descartes’ methodological skepticism, and F. H. Bradley’s view that skepticism means “to become aware of and to doubt all preconceptions.” (See entry for Atheistic Humanism.) {ER}

BRIGHTON AND HOVE (England) HUMANISTS Information concerning the group is available from David Morris, 40 Cowper Street, Hove, England.

Brighton, Susie (20th Century) In The Sexual State of the Union, pro-sex activist Brighton wrote, “I don’t believe in their God or their Satan, and that kind of faith genuinely seems backward to me, a sign of ignorance and fear. I see their dedication and power, but the true believers might as well be worshipping a cheeseball as far as I’m concerned.” {CA}

Bril, Jakob (1639—1700) 

Bril was a Dutch mystical pantheist. His works were published during the 17th century in Amsterdam. {BDF}

Brinkman, Piet (20th Century) Brinkman is Director of Humanist Media Support in The Netherlands. On the net: <support@human.nl>. (See entry for Dutch Humanist Movement—Websites.)

Brinton, Clarence Crane (1898—1968) Brinton wrote The Portable Age of Reason Reader (1956) and History of Western Morals (1959). {FUS}

Brinton, Daniel Garrison (1837—1899) Brinton was an army surgeon and a professor of ethnology, one of the pioneer ethnologists in America. He became President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In his The Religious Sentiment (1875), Brinton rejected the belief in immortality and “crumbling theologies” but remained a theist. {JM; RAT}

Briskman, Lawrence (20th Century) Briskman is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Brismee, Desiré (1822—1888) A Belgian printer, Brismee as editor of Le Drapeau underwent eighteen months in prison. An eloquent speaker and the principle founder of Les Solidaires, he was the life-long secretary of that society. Some of his orations were printed in La Tribune du Peuple. {BDF}

Brisson, Eugène Henri [Premier] (1835—1912) Brisson, a French statesman, attained every position short of the Presidency of the Republic. He was twice President of the Chambre (1881—1885 and 1895—1898) and twice Premier (1885 and 1898). Brisson took an active part in secularizing the schools and destroying the power of the Church. {RAT; RE}

Brissot, Jacques Pierre de Warville (1754—1793) An active French revolutionist, Brissot wrote against the legal authority of Rome. He is credited with Philosophical Letters upon St. Paul and the Christian Religion (1783), for which he was imprisoned in the Bastille the following year. To avoid a second imprisonment, he went to England and America, then returned to France at the outbreak of the Revolution. Brissot formed the Girondist party, protested against the execution of Louis XVI, and was executed with twenty-one of his colleagues in 1793. Wheeler called Brissot a lover of freedom in every form. {BDF}

Bristol, Augusta (1835—1910) Bristol, an American educator and poet, represented American Freethinkers at a nineteenth-century International Conference in Brussels. Her chief work was Science and its Relations to Human Character (1878). {BDF; RAT}

Bristor, Michael (1984— ) When twelve, Bristor finally was awarded an Honor Roll certificate that had been denied him for three years by a Catholic teacher in a public elementary school in Minnesota. “Michael needs a little God in his life,” she had said, and her school spent $40,000 of taxpayers’ money unsuccessfully fighting the claim of the Bristor family. In 1996, Bristor was awarded a “mini-freethinker” plaque and award by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. {Freethought Today, August 1996}

BRISTOL (England) HUMANISTS Information about the Bristol Humanists is available from Margaret Dearnaley, 0117 9502960, or from Hugh Thomas on 0117 9871751.

Bristor, Mary Lou (20th Century)	

Bristor, an atheist in Hayward, Wisconsin, was confronted by an angry Christian who exclaimed, “I just can’t understand, if you haven’t any belief in God or an afterlife, why do you get out of bed in the morning?” Replied Ms. Bristor, “That’s easy. I have to pee.”

BRITISH COLUMBIA HUMANISTS The British Columbia Humanist Association in 1997 arranged a course on humanism at Eldercollege in Capilano College. The teachers were Theo Meijer, Dale Beyerstein, Ernest Poser, Glenn Hardie, and Pat Duffy Hutcheon. Address: PO Box 60516 Granville Park, Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 4B9. E-mail: <theom@mindlink.bc.ca>. On the Web: <http://www.vcn.bc.ca/humanist>. {Humanist In Canada, Summer 1997}

BRITISH ETHICAL UNION: See entry for Ethical Culture Society.

BRITISH HUMANIST ASSOCIATION (BHA) The Union of Ethical Societies, formed in 1896, became the Ethical Union in 1920 and the British Humanist Association in 1967. It is headquartered at Bradlaugh House, 47 Theobald’s Road, London WC1X 8SP, United Kingdom. A Humanist umbrella organization, it absorbed the Ethical Union in 1967. A registered charity, the BHA has as its object the advancement of humanism. In 1995, Robert Ashby was appointed its Executive Director. (Telephone: 071 430 0908.)

BRITISH HUMANIST GROUPS: See entry for United Kingdom, Freethought and Humanist Groups.

BRITISH UNITARIANISM One Britisher came up with the following definition: “Unitarians believe in one God, no devil, and twenty shillings in the pound.” (See entry for General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.) {Internet}

Brittanicus, Scepticus (18th Century) Someone calling himself Scepticus Brittanicus wrote An Investigation of the Essence of the Deity, choosing the pseudonym out of fear of being discovered. Scepticus never openly avows himself an atheist, but his work theologically is more extreme than deism. He questions a deity which is “omnipotent, incomprehensible, immaterial, invisible, and immutable” as being “contradictory and inconsistent.” Berman finds such a view of the mind surprisingly modern and naturalistic (but also Aristotelian): “for him ‘the soul of man instead of being a distinct being from the body, is merely the body considered relatively to some of its functions.’” In Chapter VII he argues, predictably enough, that the moral effects of belief in the theological God have been bad. Although he does not explicitly commit himself to atheism, his specific remarks on atheism are sympathetic. . . . “An atheist,” he says, “is a man, who destroyeth chimeras prejudicial to the human species.” Scepticus is also critical of deism and the views of Thomas Paine. His atheistic criticism, reasons Berman, is a counterpart to that of Dr. Samuel Francis, who likely was another pseudonymous author who feared using his own name. {HAB}

Britten, Benjamin [Baron Britten of Aldeburgh] (1913—1976) An eminent English composer, said by some to be the greatest since Purcell, Britten wrote “A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” (1945) and “War Requiem” (1962). His operas include “Peter Grimes” (1945), “The Turn of the Screw” (1954), and “Death in Venice” (1973). His “Billy Budd” was famously homoerotic, and Britten did not try to conceal his homosexuality. In 1976, he was named a life peer. According to Tribe, Britten was a non-believer. Britten’s gay lover for over forty years was the British tenor Peter Pears, for whom he wrote most of his solo vocal works and all of his major tenor roles. The two are buried side by side in Aldeburgh, England, which is the site of a music school the two founded in 1947. {AA; CE; TRI; TYD}

Britten, Benjamin [Baron Britten of Aldeburgh] (22 Nov 1913 – 4 Dec 1976) An eminent English composer, said by some to be the greatest since Purcell, Britten wrote A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1945) and War Requiem (1962). His operas include Peter Grimes (1945), The Turn of the Screw (1954), and Death in Venice (1973). His Billy Budd was famously homoerotic, and Britten did not try to conceal his homosexuality. In 1976, he was named a life peer. According to Tribe, Britten was a non-believer. Britten’s gay lover for over forty years was the British tenor Peter Pears, for whom he wrote most of his solo vocal works and all of his major tenor roles. The two are buried side by side in Aldeburgh, England, which is the site of a music school the two founded in 1947. {AA; CE; TRI; TYD}

Britten, Emma H. (19th Century) Britten, a freethinker, wrote The Faiths: Facts and Frauds of Religious History (1889). {GS}

Britton, John B. (1926—1994) Boston-born, Britton received his medical degree in 1949 from the University of Virginia. After serving in the Army in Korea and teaching at the Medical College of Georgia in the 1950s, he settled in North Florida. A self-described atheist, he spent much of his early practice delivering babies. Reporter Sam Howe Verhovek said Britton turned to providing abortion services because he thought women should be allowed to exercise their legal right to abortion. “I won’t be bluffed by fanatics,” he said, although another physician—David Gunn—was killed nearby his clinic in 1993. Britton sometimes wore a bullet-proof vest, but on 29 July 1994 he and his bodyguard were shot to death and his wife injured by a former Presbyterian minister, Paul J. Hill, who was excommunicated by that group because of his strong views. Hill on national television prior to the shooting had repeatedly said that killing an abortionist would be biblically justified homicide. “Oh, Mommy, Mommy, don’t kill me,” Hill had a record of screaming as women entered the Pensacola, Florida, clinic. Although the police had warned Dr. Britton of death threats, Britton shrugged off the threats, saying, “Being shot by a madman has always been a risk.”

Broad, C(harlie) D(unbar) (1887—1971) Broad, an atheist, has been called by A. J. Ayer one of the two most important Cambridge philosophers of the century. The other was J. E. Mc Taggart. His works include Perception, Physics and Reality (1913); Five Types of Ethical Theory (1930); Ethics and the History of Philosophy (1952); and Induction, Probability and Causation (1968). Paul A. Schilpp’s The Philosophy of C. D. Broad (1959) contains critical essays on some of Broad’s views, along with Broad’s replies. Described as being judicious and witty, he went about classifying all possible answers to some carefully clarified question, weighed the pros and cons of each, then made a tentative suggestion for the most plausible. In perception, he held, we are presented with sensa, whose occurrence is the effect of events in the brain in virtue of a peculiar kind of causation, that these sensa are not literally spatio-temporal parts of the perceived objects but provide literally true information about their spatio-temporal character and relations, and that physical objects must also have other characteristics which provide their qualitative filling. {T. L. S. Sprigge, OCP}

Broadhead, George (20th Century) Broadhead, a freethinker, is editor of the English Gay and Lesbian Humanist (34 Spring Lane, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2HB). Also, he is Secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) at the same address.

Broca, Pierre Paul(1824—1880) Broca, a French anthropologist, founded the School of Anthropology and taught Gratiolet, Topinard, Hovelacque, and Dr. Carter Blake, who translated his treatise on Hybridity. Broca established The Review of Anthropology. In philosophy, he inclined to positivism. He became a Senator. {BDF; PUT; RAT; RE}

BROCK UNIVERSITY Student humanists at Brock University. St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada are on the Worldwide Web: <http://www.secularhumanism.org/cfa/orgs.html>.

Brock, Thomas D. (20th Century) In 1957, Brock, a freethinker, wrote History of the People’s Church, 1856–1956, concerning a liberal church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. {GS}

Brockman, Chris (20th Century) Brockman in What About Gods? (1978) flatly states in a book for children that although it may be difficult to assert non-belief, gods are simply mythical creatures invented by humans. In light of such a minority viewpoint, he encourages young people to “keep on thinking” in order to understand how organized religion has become what it is.

Brockway, Fenner (1888—1988) A British socialist whose family were missionaries, Brockway rejected religion while a youth though never becoming an atheist. He called himself a “reverent agnostic,” according to Nicolas Walter. Brockway was a Shavian vitalist, a practicing ethical humanist who lectured at South Place Ethical Society, and he frequently contributed articles to New Humanist. {TRI}

Brockway, Robert W. (20th Century) A professor emeritus at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada, Brockway wrote “On the Eve of the New Century” for Humanist in Canada (Spring 1999). After surveying what has happened in the past century, he has become optimistic that imperialism and capitalism will have reached their apogee and the future will include a revival of the humanistic spirit of progressivism and reform.

Brodie, Benjamin Collins [Sir] (1817—1880) Brodie was a chemist. At Oxford he had refused to subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles, later explaining that “it is as hard for a dog to run with thirty-nine stones round its neck.” Dr. Jowell once complained to Brodie that “you do not leave any place for religion at all.” McCabe labels him as one who held “at the most a vague Theism.” {RAT; RE}

Brodie, Janet Farrell (20th Century) Brodie, in Contraception and Abortion in 19th-Century America (1994), shows how the first birth control information was published by freethought publishers in the United States and England. She cites Annie Besant, Charles Bradlaugh, Ezra Heywood, Abner Kneeland, Charles Knowlton, Robert Dale Owen, the Boston Investigator, and other such leaders. According to Fred Whitehead, the late Gordon Stein once told him that Brodie’s work was the first dealing with the history of birth control that gave due credit to Freethinkers. {Freethought History, #24, 1997}

Brodsky, Joseph (1940—1996) A Russian poet who has lived in the United States since 1972, Brodsky often writes about loss and exile. In 1987 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Asked about humanism and notified he was said to have been termed a believer, Brodsky responded to the present author, “I am for humanism without an adjective.” {WAS, 3 February 1988}

Broga, Theophilo (Born 1843) Broga was a professor in the University of Lisbon and an outspoken freethinker. He introduced evolutionary philosophy into his native country. He was a member of the International Freethought Federation and the International Federation of Peace and of Liberty. One of his works was As Modernas Ideias de Litterature Portuguesa. {PUT}

[[Brogden, John (20th Century) 

A Unitarian minister in Spokane, Washington, Brogden was a naturalistic humanist who admired the work of Mead and Dewey. {HNS}

Brogdon, Kyoko (20th Century) Brogdon was one of the original incorporators of Atheists of Florida.

Brokmeyer, Henry C. (c. 1826—1906) According to Denton J. Snider, Brokmeyer along with William Torrey Harris sparked what has become known as the St. Louis Movement. The two were nonconformists who helped break up the last slave auction in St. Louis, on New Year’s Day, 1861. A photo of Brokmeyer and the monument called Naked Truth appears in Whitehead and Muhrer’s Freethought on the American Frontier (1992).

BROMLEY HUMANISTS For information about the Bromley Humanists, telephone D. Elvin at 0181 777 1680.

Bronder, Dietrich (1921— ) When he signed Humanist Manifesto II, Bronder was with Bund Freireligioser Gemeinden, West Germany. In 1966 he addressed the Fourth International Humanist and Ethical Union World Congress held in Paris, as he did also in 1968 at the Second European Conference held in Hannover. {HM2}

Bronowski, Jacob (1908—1974) A Polish-born British scientist who died in East Hampton, New York, Bronowski wrote about poets such as William Blake. His other works included The Identity of Man (1965) and The Ascent of Man (1973). He rejected “scientific” or secular humanism but admitted to being a lower-case “h” humanist, writing, “Humanism . . . is the expression of the human gift for undogmatic inquiry and for rational thought.” Bronowski was an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association (1958—1974) and was active in the British Humanist Association, the Ethical Movement, and the International Humanist and Ethical Union. When asked about Ivan Karamazov’s statement in Dostoyevski’s novel, “Without God, anything is permitted,” Bronowski replied, “Science will create values, I believe, and discover virtues, when it looks into man; when it explores what makes him man and not an animal.” His outlook is expressed in the following, from a television series called The Ascent of Man and spoken in Auschwitz:

When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods. . . . Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken” . . . . We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

	Bronowski addressed the First International Congress on Humanism and Ethical Culture in Amsterdam (1952).

Brontë, Emily Jane (1818-1848) Patrick Brontë (1777-1861, an Anglican clergyman of Irish birth, had three daughters who became well-known novelists: Charlotte (1816-1855—pseudonym Currer Bell), Emily (pseudonym Ellis Bell), and Anne (1820-1849—pseudonym Acton Bell). Branwell (1817-1848), his son, drank to excess and squandered his many talents. Of the children, Emily was the heretic. Unlike Charlotte, she had no close friends, wrote few letters, and was closest to her sister Anne. They created an imaginary world of Gondal, which became the setting for many of Emily’s poems. At a time when women found it easier to choose male-sounding pseudonyms in order to get published, the sisters turned out much material and their identity was not known even to their publishers. Emily is best known for her Wuthering Heights (1846), a masterfully complex work which evokes place, poetic grandeur of vision, and a highly original handling of Gothic and Romantic elements inherited from lesser works. Although at the time she was not recognized for her genius of creativity, she also was unknown for the excellence of her poetry. Some will claim that the daughter of the Anglican clergyman showed her devout religiosity in her poetry:

O God within my breast, Almighty! Ever-present Deity! Life—that in me has rest, As I—undying Life—have power in Thee!


No coward soul is mine, No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere: I see Heaven’s glories shine, And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

However, in Emily Brontë, Heretic (1994), Stevie Davies noted that when in 1845 Charlotte opened Emily’s cache of poems she realized that “these were not common effusions, nor at all like the poetry women generally write.” They were without sentimentality or pietism.

She knew we lived our lives on a battlefield in which the chief law is universal strife; class faces class; tribe versus tribe; every man’s and woman’s hand against his or her neighbor. She had been mendaciously told that women had gender but no sexuality to speak of; natural selflessness; the power to spell her name but not to write out her identity. Emily would not vanish or beautify. She took no pleasure in veneer of face or the emollient dilution of terrible truth for the benefit of other people’s feelings. You were told to be a nice woman, thoughtful of others, sweet and biddable. She was not nice, but proud, discourteous and misanthropic. She lived for herself and, owning her own soul, also owned up to what she was, including the anger and violence which she shared in common with the race. In retreating from the world she did not merely claim a refuge but a distance, from which to angle back at society her severe mirror with its permanent message to people who “knelt to God and worshipped crime”—the universal message no one wanted to hear.

At her brother Branwell’s funeral—he died of tuberculosis—Emily caught a cold. Soon the same disease began to overcome her, wasting her talent as well as her body. She refused medical help, deriding homeopathy as “another form of quackery.” She also refused help from her family, as if Charlotte’s concern for her well being threatened her personhood and independence. “There is not room for Death,” Emily wrote in “Last Lines.” In Wuthering Heights she had said of Death, “I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might be gone in the morrow.”

And if I pray The Only prayer that moves my lips for me Is leave the life that now I lead And give me liberty.

One day, just after telling Charlotte that at last because of the unbearable pain she was willing to see a physician, Emily died on the sofa in a dining room. Her faithful dog Keeper, who had been at her bedside during her illness, and her father led the funeral procession to the family vault, and Keeper lay outside her bedroom and howled for days. Anthony Bell Nicholls conducted a service, at which it was noted that Emily had so wasted away that her coffin was only sixteen inches wide. Two weeks later, Anne learned she, too, had tuberculosis. As to whether Brontë died an Anglican, Tim J. Madigan has called her “more of a pantheist than anything else,” citing the findings of Stevie Davies. {Rebecca Fraser, The Brontës (1988); Juliet Baker, The Brontës (1994)}

Brook, W. O. (19th Century) Brook, a freethinker, wrote Reason Versus Authority (1871). {GS}

Brooke, Rupert (1887—1915) Brooke, a British poet of great promise who was a victim of World War I, showed his freethinking, for example, in “Heaven,” a work which satirizes the Christian myth. In other poems, he is doubtful about a future life. “The laugh dies with the lips,” he says. Although he occasionally refers to God, he was clearly moving to agnosticism, writes McCabe. He was buried on the island of Skyros in the Aegean Sea. Someone chose a cairn of pink and white marble stones, with a cross at both ends of the grave. On the larger of the two crosses, someone arranged: “Here Lies the Servant of God Sub-Lieutenant in the English Navy Who Died for the Deliverance of Constantinople from the Turks.” {JM; PA; RAT; RE}

Brooke, Stopford Augustus (1832—1916) Brooke, at one time Chaplain-in-Ordinary to the Queen, seceded from the Church in 1880 and devoted himself to letters. He remained a theist and did not, as is sometimes said, become a Unitarian. {RAT}

BROOKLYN (NEW YORK) HUMANISTS After the founding in Manhattan of New York Humanists, which became affiliated with the American Humanist Association in 1953, President Warren Allen Smith encouraged setting up clubs in Greenwich Village, Morningside Heights, and Brooklyn. In 1953 the first such meeting in Brooklyn was held November 13th at the home of Prof. and Mrs. H. Van R. Wilson. In the 1990s and until her death, Carmel Kussman led the Brooklyn chapter of the American Humanist Association. {The Humanist Newsletter, November-December 1953}

BROOKLYN SOCIETY FOR ETHICAL CULTURE The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture was organized by Henry Newman, a non-theistically oriented humanist. David Freudenthal, who was in charge of rationing of gasoline during World War II in Brooklyn, was its President. Other early activists in the group were Rose Walker, Janet Samuels, Selma Freudenthal. E-mail for Eric Freudenthal: <eric.freudenthal@NYU.edu>.

Brooks, David M. (20th Century) Brooks, a freethinker, wrote The Necessity of Atheism (1933). {FUS; GS}

Rodney Brooks, AI Researcher science

Rodney Brooks, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT and best known for creating the robot known as "Cog", has been mentioned as an atheist in several articles written about him over the years. He was also featured in the critically-acclaimed Errol Morris documentary "Fast, Cheap, & Out Of Control".

His personal webpage can be found at http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/brooks/brooks.html. One of the questions in his FAQ: "Some of your papers refer to evolution. Don't you know that evolution is a myth?"

His answer: "If you believe that then you must reject most of modern science, all of modern biology, most of medicine, and large amounts of technology that are used to produce the food you eat every day. You may as well try to tell me that the world is flat. It's an equally preposterous claim. I will not respond to you if you send me email, telephone me, or fax me about this. Life is too short."

An article at MSNBC's website about a controversy over MIT's "God & Computers" course interviewed Brooks. While he said he was an atheist in the article, he also said he supported the course.

There's an old Wired article at http://www.wired.com/news/news/technology/story/5433.html that contains the quote:

"I've been an atheist - I had found it difficult to have religious beliefs and scientific ones," Brooks explained. "But I've accepted that I have a duality - there's a human way of interacting with people but also a mechanistic explanation of what people are and how they work."

Though the contributor (07) notes that the quote might be considered inconclusive since it sounds as if he's speaking in past tense, there have been recent articles which Brooks mentions that he is an atheist.

--07 via the [message board] Brooks, Samuel Wood (1840—1915) Brooks was a rationalist, newspaper proprietor, editor, and politician. He arrived in Australia from England in 1863 and as a Wesleyan minister joined an 1865 mission to Fiji. When his relations with a neighboring planter’s wife were discovered, he resigned. In 1909 he became first Secretary of the Brisbane branch of the Rationalist Press Association. He later formed the Queensland Rationalist and Ethical Society. Although a rationalist, he was buried privately by a Methodist minister. {SWW}

Brooks, Van Wyck (1886—1963) Author of The Writer in America and critic and Pulitzer Prize-winner for The Flowering of New England (1936), Brooks wrote the present author about humanism:

I find myself in the closest possible agreement with the statement of “The Beliefs of Humanists” in a leaflet, “Concerning the American Humanist Association.” Five years later, he went on record:

I would like to add the following quotation from Santayana’s The Genteel Tradition at Bay as further defining my position: “Why is nature? Are not the higher sides just as natural?”

{CE; CL; HNS; WAS, 20 February 

1951 and 13 April 1956}

Brooksbank, William (Born 1801) A freethinker, Brooksbank wrote for publications such as the Reasoner, the Pathfinder, and the National Reformer. He was an intimate friend of James Watson. {BDF}

Brophy, Brigid Antonia (1929—1995) A well-known novelist and writer, Brophy campaigned for various causes. Her Hackenfeller’s Ape (1953) contained a Shavian and animal rights subtext. Most of her works are said to indicate her atheism, including two pamphlets, “Religious Education in state Schools” (Fabian Society, 1967) and “The Longford Threat to Freedom” (National Secular Society, 1972). In The Adventures of God in His Search for the Black Girl: A Novel and Some Fables (a Shavian title), God tries to show that his “fictitious” nature as a being is entirely one created by man. Her point is that when people take the fiction for the truth they fail to illustrate how the human race is “a species uniquely capable of imagination, rationality, and moral choice.” An activist, she battled to bring about a Public Lending Right so that writers might reap financial reward for library use. With Maureen Duffy, Ted Willis, and Francis King, she campaigned from within the Writers’ Action Group until complete victory was achieved. She was a Vice President of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA). Also, she was President of the National Anti-Vivisection Society and, since 1984, an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association. A bisexual, Brophy often referred to marriage as “an immoral institution” but nonetheless married art historian Michael Levey in 1954. He became director of the National Gallery in 1973 and was knighted in 1981. Her literary agent, Giles Gordon, described her as a “deeply shy, courteous woman” who wrote delightful thank-you letters and kept to rigorous standards in her work. “Woe betide the ‘editor’ who tried to rewrite her fastidious, logical, exact prose, change a colon to a semi-colon (or vice-versa), or try to spell ‘show’ other than ‘shew,’ slavish Shavian that Brophy was.” Their unconventional marriage resulted in much publicity and discussion in the British press and literary circles, particularly because she favored bisexuality and opposed monogamy and institutional heterosexuality. Upon her death, Nicolas Walter commented in The Guardian (16 August 1995) that “Brigid Brophy was more than an opponent of religion. She was a committed and valued member of the freethought movement for more than thirty years, an active speaker and writer for the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society, a helpful supporter of the Committee against Blasphemy Law and an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association, the author of eloquent pamphlets and articles on religious education and sexual education, marriage and censorship, and a good friend.” Her will included the following:

I am a declared and indeed a proselytising atheist. I do not wish to impose on anyone who loves or esteems me so much as a veneer of civil hypocrisy. I scorn to allow my name to be made a pretext for a further exercise of the hypocrisy institutionalised in religious persons and organisations. For those reasons it is my considered and deeply earnest wish, in which I happily know my husband and daughter will concur, that my death should not be marked or my life commemorated by any religious ceremonial.

Brophy for many years supported the National Secular Society and the Rationalist Press Association. {GL; OEL; TRI}

Brosses, Charles de (1709—1777) Brosses, a historian and president of the Dijon Parliament, was a deist and a contributor to Diderot’s and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie. His published letters (Lettres familieres) illustrate the superficial religion and the barely concealed irreligion of his time. President Brosses gave a remarkable picture of Pope Benedict XIV, a liberal pope who begged him for the latest saucy stories about the dissolute French court and Cardinal as well as about the Rome of that time. {JM; RAT; RE}

BROTHEL “The Anglo-Saxons and the Judeo-Christians were not fun-loving when it came to sex,” laments a New York freethinker. The Old English word breothan, to decay, is the root for brothel, which now has the negative connotation of being a “house of prostitution,” the latter word of which also has a negative connotation of “unworthiness.” Such was not always the case. In 1998, Agence France-Presse reported that a team of Greek archeologists recently unearthed a brothel that dates to the first century B.C.E., one believed to be the oldest home of the oldest profession found in Macedonia. The Salonika site had a large circular room which housed twenty-five latrines and an adjoining rectangular room that served as the brothel. Attached were two small swimming pools, one filled with hot and the other with cold water, and a dining room. Dr. Polyxeni Velini, a Greek archeologist, found various relics, including a red pitcher with a phallic spout and a glass vase decorated with Venus carrying a horn of plenty. After dining, Dr. Polyxeni said, the clients were entertained by women or young boys. {The New York Times 17 February 1998}

Brother Toby: See entry for Tolbert H. McCaroll.

BROTHERHOOD • I want to be the white man’s brother, but not his brother-in-law. —The Rev. Martin Luther King

• Marilyn Monroe married a Protestant [James Dougherty], a Catholic [Joe DiMaggio], and a Jew [Arthur Miller], and divorced them all: that’s what I call brotherhood. —Harry Golden

Brothier, Léon (19th Century) Brothier wrote a Popular History of Philosophy (1861) and contributed to the Swiss Rationalist of Geneva. {BDF}

Broun, Heywood Campbell (1888—1939) An American newspaper columnist and critic who worked on the New York Tribune (1912—1921) and the New York World (1921—1928), Broun later wrote for the New York World-Telegram and the Post. Known as a champion of underdogs, he criticized social injustice and backed the emerging labor unions. A founder of the American Newspaper Guild and its first president from 1933 until his death, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Socialist. He once wrote,

Precarious is the position of the New York newspaperman who ventures any criticism of the Catholic Church. There is not a single New York editor who does not live in mortal terror of the power of this group. . . . If the church can bluff its way into a preferred position, the fault likes not with the Catholics but with the editors.

	Because of his candid criticism of organized religion, Broun along with H. L. Mencken was a precursor of today’s secular humanists. {CE)

Broussais, François Joseph Victor (1771—1838) Broussais was a French physician and philosopher. A disciple of Bichat, he did much to reform medical science by his Examination of Received Medical Doctrines. Despite his bold opinions, he was made Commander of the Legion of Honor. Broussais expressed his disbelief in any creator “without hope or fear of another life.” With respect to immortality, Broussais wrote, “I have no fears or hopes as to a future life, since I am unable to conceive it.” His views on the God idea were equally negative: “I cannot,” he said, “form any notion of such a power.” {BDF; FO; RAT}

Broughman, Lord (20th Century) Broughman, a freethinker, wrote On the Origin of Evil (1915).

Brout, Betty Lea (20th Century) Brout is on the Board of Governors of The Humanist Institute. In addition to being an American Humanist Association counselor, she is a psychotherapist and a clinical social worker.

Brown, Anton (20th Century) A freethinker, Brown wrote Dignitarian Way (1960). {GS}

Brown, Arthur (Born 1884) A jurist, Brown taught in India at Cotton College and Calcutta University. He was a member of the Rationalist Press Association.

Brown, Charlotte (20th Century) Brown, of Illinois Wesleyan University, is on the Executive Committee of The Hume Society, a group engaged in scholarly activity concerning David Hume.

Brown, Dan (20th Century) Brown is author of the novel, The Da Vinci Code,” a thriller that describes how Leonardo helped keep a startling secret, that of Jesus’s having married Mary Magdalene and having a child by her. {See entry for Jesus, Marriage Of.}

Brown, Darlene (20th Century) Brown is contributing editor on the staff of Freethought Today.

Brown, Diana M. (20th Century) Brown, who lives in Switzerland, was a participant on a panel discussing human rights at the 1996 Humanist World Conference held in Mexico City. She lamented that in the world there are twice as many female than male illiterates and stated that sooner or later of necessity the population must decline. The alternative to population control, she said, would be to allow nature to take its course of pestilence, war, and famine. Brown is past chairman of the United Kingdom charity Population Concern and co-founder of the World Population Foundation in the Netherlands. At the Centenary Conference in 1999 of the Rationalist Press Association in Birmingham, England, Brown spoke on “Population: Is There a Rational Solution?” She is the IHEU’s representative to the UN at Geneva. Brown signed Humanist Manifesto 2000. E-mail: <dianabrown@hotmail.com>. {International Humanist News, December 1996; Humanist in Canada, Spring 1997}

Brown, Egbert Ethelred (1875—1956) A noted African American, a Unitarian preacher, Brown established the Harlem Community Church, later named Harlem Unitarian Church, in New York at 175 West 137th Street, serving as its minister from 1920 to 1956. A Jamaican, he preached there from 1908 to 1920, but moved to New York when he was dismissed from a civil service job. Although he received some support from John Haynes Holmes, Brown was told by President Franklin Southworth of the Meadville Theological School that “as there was no Unitarian Church in America for colored people, and . . . as white Unitarians require a white minister he was unable to predict what my future would be at the conclusion of my training.” His Harlem church had many financial problems and met at the American West Indian Association Lodge Rooms, the YWCA, or the YMCA (where a plaque was installed in 1994 by the Fourth Universalist Society of New York). Brown is described in the Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed’s Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. {U&U}

Brown, Ford Madox (1821—1893) A painter who completed a large number of religious pictures, Brown “had no religion at all,” according to McCabe. Brown’s grandson and biographer, Ford Madox Ford, wrote, “In his early days he was a conventional member of the Church of England; in later years he was an absolute Agnostic with a great dislike of anything in the nature of priestcraft.” {RAT; RE}

Brown, George Washington (19th Century) Brown, a freethinker, wrote Researches in Oriental History (1889). {GS}

Brown, George William (Born 1820) A physician born of Baptist parents, Brown when seventeen was expelled by the Baptists for repudiating the dogma of an endless hell. His editing in Kansas of the Herald of Freedom led to his office being destroyed by a pro-slavery mob, his type thrown into the river, and his being arrested but released without trial. Brown contributed to the Ironclad Age and other American freethought papers. {Freethought History #27, 1998}

Brown, George William (Born 1820) Born of Baptist parents, Brown at the age of seventeen was expelled from church for repudiating the dogma of an endless hell. He edited the Herald of Freedom in Kansas. In 1856 his office was destroyed by a pro-slavery mob, his type thrown into the river, and he along with others was arrested but later released without trial. His Researches in Jewish History included data concerning the rise and development of Zoroastrianism and the derivation of Christianity. {BDF; PUT}

Brown, H. S. (19th Century) Brown, a freethinker, wrote A Compendium of the Bible of the Religion of Science (1885). {GS}

Brown, Harley (20th Century) Brown, a member of the Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies, signed Humanist Manifesto 2000.

Brown, Helen Gurley (18 Feb 1922 - ) Brown is an Arkansas-born writer, editor, and businessperson. In 1962 she published the best-selling Sex and the Single Girl, followed by a sequel, Sex and the New Single Girl (1970). From 1964 to 1997 she edited Cosmopolitan, reviving it by focusing on single young career women and charting the accomplishments and aspirations in their public as well as private lives. In I’m Wild Again, Snippets from My Life and a Few Brazen Thoughts (1982), Brown has these observations:

• The Lord’s Prayer is one of my nightly go-to-sleep mantras, but when we get to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” I have trouble because I don’t think I have any debts. . . . I’ve paid off everything.

• I am an Aquarius, a sign categorized as “friendly, willing, reformer, healer, idealistic, intellectual, wise, faithful”—absolutely accurate except for the last six! . . . . How can you believe in a science predicated on Hitler and Shirley Temple being born in the same month?

• For five years the World Almanac listed me as one of the twenty-five most influential women in America. . . . That was nice!

• When you live totally for somebody else, that person usually wants somebody else.

• Never sleep with anybody who has less money or more trouble than you (old Hollywood adage).

• I think people believe in angels perhaps because they’ve got to believe in something bigger than themselves and can’t go all the way to God. I also observe angel-believing frequently accompanies astrology-believing, another “unfathomable” for me.

• “Dear Anna Marie, there isn’t a real you. I don’t have a daughter or a son, never wanted either and have no regrets this minute about not having one. . . . It’s important to like, respect, even love yourself. You hear a lot about self-esteem these days, or lack of. . . . Do something good, better than others, and the esteem—theirs for you and yours for you—comes pouring in. Of course, you’re also supposed to like yourself just for being, all God’s children are equal, etc. Your mother doesn’t believe in God (you’ll decide this matter for yourself), but I do believe in the okayness of everybody here on earth; we are equal. Screw it up later yourself and you may not be equal any longer but basic you starts out just fine . . . everybody does. I don’t think you need to recite a nightly mantra. . . I’m okay, I’m okay, you bastards! (Mother’s language is frequently colorful) to keep self-esteem firmly planted it’s just there.

Brown, Hiram Chellis (20th Century) Brown, a freethinker, wrote Historic Bases of Religion (1906). {GS}

Brown, Hugh Byron (19th Century) A freethinker, Brown wrote The “Safe” Side (187—?). {GS}

Brown, Ivor (20th Century) In What I Believe (1947), Brown wrote of his freethought and belief in Humanism.

Brown, J. Hullah (20th Century) Brown, a freethinker, wrote The Perfect Circle (1943). {GS}

Brown, Jerry (20th Century) Brown, a member of Atheists United, has written “22 Plain Truths of Atheism” for Secular Nation (September-October 1996).

Brown, John Armour (1839—1907) Brown resigned his eldership in the United Presbyterian Church in Scotland, devoting his energies to manufacturing. He was a senior partner in Glasgow of the firm of Brown and Polson. A member of the Rationalist Press Association, Brown encouraged musical education. {RAT}

Brown, Joseph (19th Century) In the 1890s, Brown of Newcastle, England, was secretary of that community’s secular organization. {RSR}

Brown, Lester Russell (1934— ) A senior fellow, Overseas Development Council, when he signed Humanist Manifesto II, Brown now heads and was the founder of Worldwatch Institute. In 1991, he was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association. Brown has written World Without Borders (1972) and Increasing World Food Output (1965). “Despite the end of the cold war,” he has written, “the world is still spending close to $780 billion for military purposes, much of it designed to deal with threats long past.” {HM2; HNS2}

Brown, Margaret (20th Century) Brown, when she signed Humanist Manifest II, was an associate professor at State University of New York College at Oneonta. {HM 2}

Brown, Marjorie M. (1884-1987) A Unitarian, Brown was an author who wrote Lady in Boomtown.

Brown, Marshall G. (1906— ) Marshall co-wrote, with Gordon Stein, Freethought in the United States, A Descriptive Bibliography (1978). {FUK; FUS}

Brown, Noel (20th Century) Brown addressed the Tenth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Buffalo (1988).

Brown, Olympia (1835—1926) In 1863, Brown was the first woman in the United States to become a minister ordained by a denomination, the Universalist. The first, others say, was Lydia Jenkins (1860), who was licensed as a minister. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, Universalism had the largest proportion of women ministers of any denomination. While minister in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Brown was opposed by a small faction that did not want women in the pulpit, resulting in her resigning and moving to a parish in Racine, Wisconsin. {CE; EG; EU, Paul H. Beattie; U&U; U}

Brown, Pat (20th Century) Brown, who lives in Berkeley, California, is a freethinker who writes for Truth Seeker. An activist, he opposes routine circumcision and massive television-watching.

Brown, Rita Mae (1944— ) A feminist author in New York City, one noted for her work on lesbian subjects, Brown has written for Free Inquiry (Summer 1987). She is author of Rubyfruit Jungle (1973), Venus Envy (1990), and Riding Shotgun (1996). Brown has been termed “the queen of Southern sexual farce.” In 1964 Brown was expelled by the University of Florida in Gainesville for her outspokenness about civil rights and the need for greater racial integration. Molly Bolt, the outspoken lesbian character in Rubyfruit Jungle, a semiautobiographical work in which she includes more of her views, never apologizes for her sexual orientation, and she refuses to be a conformist either for the heterosexual majority or the New York lesbian subculture. {GL}

Brown, Robert Delford (1930— ) Brown is a dadaist who bills himself as “founder, leader, prophet, president, and saint of the First National Church of the Exquisite Panic, Inc., at the Great Building Crack-Up.” An artist, he purchased a building, had an architect “crack-up” the building by gutting it, then turned it into a combination studio and residence at 251 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011. Passersby saw “St. Ben Turpin” in the window of the “Chapel of Pharblongence” and observed a “Map of Nevada” on a terrace floor. Brown explained that instead of people futilely trying to get to Heaven or to Nirvana, he guaranteed to get them to Nevada: he simply constructed a roadmap, using various art forms. In 1998 he sold the building, and the new owners removed all references to the “exquisite panic.” He has been exhibited at the Gallery of Modern Art in Washington (1965), the Kansas City Art Institute (1971), the Rhode Island School of Design (1978), and the Fondazione Mudima in Milan (1992). Brown is author of Hanging (1967), Ulysses, An Altered Plagiarism (1975), and Teachings of the First National Church of the Exquisite Panic, Inc. (1991). Brown’s entry in Who’s Who:

I want the image to assume primary importance in all my work. Dazzling technique and established procedures are so often used not to enlighten but to obfuscate one’s vacuity. The artist’s responsibility is to tell the truth as he sees it, not to enhance his own self-importance as an expert, thereby perverting his responsibility as a moral force in society.

Brown has been a member of the Secular Humanist Society of New York. On the Web: <http://www.funkup.com>.

Brown, Roy (20th Century) Brown is a member of the Alabama Freethought Association. For the Alabama Freethinker (July 1998), Brown wrote “Fundamentalism as a Destroyer of Cultures.”

Brown, Roy W. (20th Century) Brown, a Swiss who founded the World Population Foundation, wrote “The Day of Six Billion”—on 12 October 1999 that number of humans were estimated worldwide. Brown signed Humanist Manifesto 2000. {International Humanist News, December 1999}

Brown, Sterling Allen (1901—1989) Brown is an African-American poet who has taught at Howard University and Lincoln University. His Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown (1990) contains “Slim in Hell,” which is reprinted in Whitehead and Muhrer’s Freethought on the American Frontier (1992).

Brown, Titus L. (1823—1887) Brown was a physician who studied in New York, then settled at Binghampton, New York. He contributed to Boston Investigator and in 1877 was elected President of the Freethinkers Association. In 1884, Brown wrote The Contract. {BDF; FUS; PUT; RAT}

Brown, Walston Hill (Born 1842) A banker and contractor, Brown married Robert Ingersoll’s daughter Eva and was, like her, an agnostic. He contracted work in railway construction and was a Fellow of the National Academy of Design. {RAT}

Brown, William Montgomery [Bishop] (1855—1937) Brown, the ex-Bishop of Arkansas, a Communist, and in his last days Bishop in the Old Catholic Church, was threatened in 1924 with expulsion from the Episcopal Church. In 1926, he wrote My Heresy. He had read the work of Joseph McCabe and become a skeptic. McCabe helped him write works which he put out to the embarrassment of the bishops. “He was,” McCabe said, “a man of mediocre intelligence and very high but simple character, and his wealth (inherited) attracted cranks who, he later admitted, fatally complicated my defence of him. He was deposed but a few years later was ordained—he did not tell me what it cost—bishop of the Old Catholic Church. He explained that he thought the Church could be made a great social power if its formulae were taken symbolically, but I suspect it was rather from a sort of loyalty to the memory of the pious rich lady who had had him educated for the Church and left him her fortune. He was, in fact, a dogmatic materialist, did not believe in the historicity of Christ, and admitted God only as a label for whatever goodness there is in the universe.” {FUS; GS; JM; RAT; RE}

Brown-Séquard, Charles Edward (1817—1894) Brown-Séquard was a physiologist who had been born in Mauritius. In 1852 he took part in the Republican and anti-clerical movement against Napoleon III and was compelled to flee to America. Returning to France, he edited the Journal de Physiologie (1858—1864), lectured at the London Royal College of Surgeons (1858), and delivered the Croonian Lecture (1861). {RAT}

Browne, George Buckston [Sir] (1850—1945) Browne was a surgeon, an honorary gold medalist of the Royal College of Surgeons, Life President of the Harveian Medical Society, and Trustee of the Hunterian Collection. Sir Buckston was donor of Down House (Darwin’s home) and of the Royal College of Surgeons Research Farm in Kent. {RE}

Browne, Lewis (1879—1949) Browne wrote Stranger Than Fiction: A Short History of the Jews (1927).

Browne, Noel (1916—1997) Browne was a noted Irish physician who, upon being elected to parliament in 1948, was made health minister on his first day. He built many hospitals, established a blood transfusion service, proposed free maternity and gynecological services, and believed that free medical care was a human right. In 1951 when Roman Catholic Church forces objected to “educating women in motherhood” and taxing the community to pay for it, perhaps even tolerating contraception, Browne resigned. Even in his childhood Catholic school, he had had a reputation for “anarchist tendencies,” and in his twenties when he was close to death with tuberculosis he declined a priest’s offer of last rites “as gently as I could.” With his later experience in psychiatric medicine, he came to the view that the church had a repressive effect on the mind, particularly on sex. The church, as well as politicians, were accepting emigration as inevitable for solving Irish problems, and Browne disagreed vehemently. To the end of his life, he expressed strong views on politics—he had sat in the Dail as an independent—contraception, divorce, the influence of priests, the drain of emigration, poverty, and the IRA. {The Economist, 31 May 1997}

Browne, Stella (1880—1955) Browne was vice-chairman of England’s Abortion Law Reform Association. {TRI}

Browne, Thomas [Sir] (1605—1682) A British physician and writer, Browne wrote a treatise, Religio Medici (1642), which was a mixture of faith and skepticism. In 1646, that work about the religion of a physicist was placed on the Roman Index. Although he disputed many popular superstitions, Browne partook of others. His Hydriotaphia, or Urn-Burial, treats cremation among the ancients, clearly showing his deism and skepticism about any future life. In it, he says that “a dialogue between two infants in the womb concerning the state of this world might handsomely illustrate our ignorance of the next”; “The religion of one seems madness unto another”; and “I perceive the wisest heads prove, at last, almost all skeptics.” {BDF; JM; RAT; RE; TYD}

Browne, William George (1768—1813) A traveler, Browne explored Africa (1792—1798) and made sarcastic observations on Christian Europe. In politics, Browne was a republican and in religion a freethinker. He set out in 1812 for a journey across Asia and was murdered in Persia in 1813. {RAT}

Brownell, Baker (1887—1965) A professor of philosophy at Northwestern University and a contributor to The Philosophy of Santayana, Brownell in 1951 wrote of humanism to the present author:

Humanism, I imagine, is a philosophy in which values are directional aspects of our behavior. Without going too far into this difficult problem, it can be said that values are characteristic of action and have no meaning apart from actions and their alternatives and problem situations. Values belong to men and men’s behavior. They are not transcendent fixations in an order somehow different from our own, nor is their authority necessarily absolute or supernatural. Thus, humanism first of all is a philosophy in which values are limited, human-centered, dynamic, or directional in action. They are within behavior, not beyond it. But humanism may also involve a notion as to the nature of human life that has important implications. Human life is not merely a succession of events; it is a pattern of events, a form or drama of behavior, with its own kind of unity or completeness. This at least is our working assumption in the activity of living. This configurational aspect of life is the seat of values and the source of our significance. It is organic in form as over against the mechanical; it is an order or priority of actions that comprehends not only the past but the projection or creation of the future. It includes not only the specific action and the proximate events on either side of it that we call the causal antecedent and consequent after the manner of strict science, it includes also a larger, organic configuration that we call the human community. This is known imaginatively, sometimes religiously. The human being so far as he knows purpose or freedom is within the configuration of the community. The community may be described as a group in which men know one another well, or in other words, a group where they are related to one another as whole people not merely as functional fragments. Human values cannot survive except in groups, necessarily small, in which the members are related to one another rather fully, familiarly, face to face. As communities of men tend to be replaced by wide-ranging organizations in which functions become more specialized and men are related to one another more and more narrowly, fragmentally and anonymously, civilization dies, moral responsibility declines, and external authority replaces inner initiative. This in modern times is illustrated by industrial urbanism. It is the enemy of humanism and of human beings. As a philosophy humanism is based on the morals of self-reliance—where self here means the human configuration of community. But humanism is also a philosophy of risk; it has no final norm or standard. It remains to be seen whether men can do without one.

In 1956, he added:

Humanism to me means primarily a threshold for values. Thus the authority for values in the world, whatever that may involve, is solely in the human situation. It is not absolute, supernatural, or otherwise transcendent to living human beings except as those finalities may be an interpretive or poetic aspect of human life. What the human being himself is I do not fully know. He has great interpretive potentialities, for we can find in him a vast diversity of being, but I am confident that he is within the natural order, not above it. Values are oriented in him not by virtue of a unique status or superiority in the universe that he may have but by virtue of the fact that we who evaluate happen to be human. Our capacity to make evaluations is thus unique in this particular sense, but there is no indication that our values somehow escape the human limit and situation into a realm of outer absolutes. I suppose I fit best in the category of naturalistic humanism. But I am doubtful about categorizing so fluid a notion as humanism. Its fluidity indeed is one of its most significant characteristics. In several ways I probably do not fit in any one of the categories. I think I have been influenced less by specific writers than by the general climate of life which they may have helped to establish or make articulate. In college my teachers Santayana, Royce, and James Houghton Woods, different as they are, influenced me, always on the background of Plato and Meister Eckehart. After college the thrust of scientific ideology, James and especially Dewey, and the movement of human projects and events were most influential. This diversity of sources, if they are the sources, may seem hopelessly aggregative or eclectic. Still there are, as a fact, a great many things in the world, nor is there any certainty that they are all systematized, except perhaps in human behavior.

{WAS, 2 February 1951 and 12 May 1956}

Brownfield, Charles (20th Century) When he signed Humanist Manifesto II, Brownfield was assistant professor at the Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York. {HM2}

Brownfield, Costantia (20th Century) When she signed Humanist Manifesto II, Brownfield was a registered nurse. {HM2}

Browning, Robert (1812—1889) To some, the English poet Browning shows a Christian optimism and confidence in spiritual values, as expressed in “Abt Volger,” “Love Among the Pairs,” and “Pippa Passes” (1841). “I am no Christian,” Browning once wrote. McCabe, however, found that Browning began to have doubts about his creed in mid-career, as shown in his Christmas Eve and Easter Day. Gradually, he shed all beliefs except God and immorality, as shown in La Saisiaz (1875). “Soul and God stand sure,” Browning wrote, with the customary dogmatism of the incomplete skeptic. Joseph Warren Beach agreed, holding that Browning is best described as having been a religious liberal. {CE; ER; JM; RAT; RE; TYD}

Brownjohn, Alan Charles (1931— ) Brownjohn, an English poet, wrote Travellers Alone (1954), The Railings (1961), and Collected Poems 1952—1983. His work can be described as good-humored, ironic, urbane, and socially conscious. He attended the festive launch for Bradlaugh House in 1994. In 1994, Brownjohn became an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association. His work, he has written, shows “that we inhabit a universe without a god and a life without supernatural perpetuation. We need to make the best of that, a better ‘best’ than is made of it by the religious, who have to spend so much time explaining away the fact that religion is so often the face of ignorance, intolerance, and atrocity. A positive irreligion is the assumption in my writing; not harped on, I hope, but an undercurrent in nine books of verse and two or three excursions into fiction.” Brownjohn, who was a teacher and lecturer for twenty-five years, is devoted to being a British citizen: “I realise that it is partly because we are so lucky in being one of the least religious nations on earth.” {New Humanist, February 1996}

Brownmiller, Susan (15 Feb 1935 - ) A feminist leader, one of Time’s twelve women of the year in 1976, Brownmiller has written for Esquire, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Vogue, and other journals. In 1968 she helped to found New York Radical Feminists, a group that picketed the annual Miss America Pageant and organized a sit-in at the offices of Ladies Home Journal in 1970, accusing the publication of being “one of the most demeaning magazines toward women.” Her 1975 book, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, propounds the view that rape is a weapon, one used to subjugate women in the male-female power relationship. Rape, she wrote, “is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” The work was so controversial that she immediately developed strong supporters as well as negative critics. Some cited her having studied with American Communist historian Herbert Aptheker, from whom she learned about dialectic logic. Others found that to be no problem whatsoever. A New Yorker trained in jujitsu and karate, Brownmiller remains one of the most active American feminists. A freethinker, she is outspoken against pornographic magazines as well as films such as Snuff. {Current Biography, 1978; WAS 2001}

Brownson, Orestes August (1803—1876) First a Presbyterian Calvinist, then an anti-Calvinist, then a Universalist, Brownson became a skeptic and eventually a Unitarian. A spokesman for the working class, he became friendly with George Ripley and the movement of Transcendentalism. Choosing to be a Unitarian minister, he embraced a revivified Christology and eventually converted to Catholicism. The Works of Orestes A. Brownson (Detroit, 1882—1887) total 20 volumes. {CE; U; U&U}

Bruce, Lenny (1925—1966) A cynical, surreal, and intensely comic comedian, Bruce in The Essential Lenny Bruce (1967) is quoted as quipping

Christ and Moses standing in the back of St. Pat’s, looking around. Confused. Christ is, at the grandeur of the interior, the baroque interior, the rococo baroque interior. Because his route took him through Spanish Harlem, and he was wondering what the hell fifty Puerto Ricans were doing living in one room when that stained glass window is worth 10 G’s [thousand dollars] a square foot.

He also is known for

If anyone in the audience belives that God made your body, and your body is dirty, the fault lies with the manufacturer.

A 1964 television appearance by the “filthy-mouthed” Bruce on the “Steve Allen Show” was censored by the network. Upon Bruce’s death, the Los Angeles Police Department allowed photographers one hour to shoot Bruce’s body, face down and sprawled in a doorway of his dilapidated Hollywood Hills home. {TYD}

Bruce, Nigel (20th Century) Bruce was the first convener of the Scottish Humanist Council, which publishes Scottish Humanist. He heads a David Hume Commemoration Committee, which has erected a statue of Hume in Edinburgh and also refurbished Hume’s mausoleum. Hume, he laments, is better known in the United States of America than in Scotland. Calling Hume the central figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, Bruce notes his profound influence among European philosophers, including Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, Diderot, D’Alembert, Immanuel Kant, and Bertrand Russell. Bruce has been a member of the Humanist Society of Scotland for three decades and has written widely in The Scotsman. {Free Inquiry, Winter 1996-1997; Humanism Scotland, Autumn 1997}

Brudno, Ezra (20th Century) Brudno wrote Ghosts of Yesterday (1935). {FUS}

Bruneau, Louis (20th Century) Bruneau wrote Uncommon Sense: A Series of Lectures by Uncle Louie to his Nephew Mot. An employee of the Polaroid Corporation, he received a plaque inscribed “To the Savior of Polaroid” in recognition of his expertise concerning quality control. With the plaque came the billionth roll of Polaroid film that was suitable memorialized in bronze. A non-believer in any afterlife, Bruneau was an ardent humanist. {Humanist Association of Massachusetts newsletter, November-December 1997}

Brunner, John: See entry for Science Fiction Writers on Philosophy.

Bruno, Giordano (1548—1600) Bruno was born at Nola, near Naples, ten years after the death of Copernicus, and ten years before the birth of Bacon. At the age of fifteen he became a novice in the monastery of San Domenico Maggiore, and after his year’s novitiate expired he took the monastic vows. Studying deeply, according to Foote, he became heretical, and an act of accusation was drawn up against the boy of sixteen. Eight years later he was threatened with another trial for heresy. A third process was more to be dreaded, and in his twenty-eighth year Bruno fled from his persecutors. He visited Rome, Noli, Venice, Turin and Padua. At Milan he made the acquaintance of Sir Philip Sidney. After teaching for some time in the university, he went to Chambery, but the ignorance and bigotry of its monks were too great for his patience. He next visited Geneva, but although John Calvin was dead, his dark spirit still remained, and only flight preserved Bruno from the fate of Servetus. Through Lyons he passed to Toulouse, where he was elected Public Lecturer to the University. In 1579 he went to Paris. The streets were still foul with the blood of the Bartholomew massacres, but Bruno declined a professorship at the Sorbonne, a condition of which was attending mass. Henry the Third made him Lecturer extraordinary to the University. However, Paris became too hot to hold him, Foote wrote, and Bruno went to London, where he lodged with the French Ambassador. His evenings were mostly spent with Sir Philip Sidney, Fulke Greville, Dyer, and Hervey. So great was his fame that he was invited to read at the University of Oxford, where he held a public debate with its orthodox professors on the Copernican astronomy. Leaving London in 1584, he returned to Paris, and there also he publicly disputed with the Sorbonne. His safety being once more threatened, he went to Marburg, and then to Wittenberg, where he taught for two years. Bruno became the greatest philosopher of the Italian Renaissance. Regarded as an infidel and a heretic, he wrote many dialogues: On the Cause, Principle, and Unity; On the Infinite, the Universe, and the Worlds; The Ash Wednesday; Supper; The Cabala of the Horse Pegasus; The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast; and The Heroic Frenzies (1584). After being unfrocked, he tried to convince the church about some of his controversial ideas, but he was then condemned both by the Venetian Holy Inquisition in 1592 and by the Roman Holy Inquisition in 1593. By challenging all dogmatism, including that of the Copernican cosmology, he concluded that absolute truth cannot be postulated nor can there be any limits to the progress of knowledge. The Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum (1948) prohibits not just one but all his books, the entry reading . . .

Bruno, Giordano. Opera omnia. Decr. S. Off. 8 febr 1600.

During the French Revolution, Maréchal considered Bruno one of the major atheists of all time. Robertson called Bruno “the typical martyr of modern freethought. He may be conceived as a blending of the pantheistic and naturalistic lore of ancient Greece, assimilated through the Florentine Platonists, with the spirit of modern science (itself a revival of the Greek) as it first takes firm form in Copernicus, whose doctrine Bruno early and ardently embraced.” H. James Birx has described Bruno as a pacesetter whose farsighted opinion was that “the center of the eternal and infinite cosmos is everywhere and its circumference is nowhere.” Bates College Professor Peter Bertocci, however, called Bruno an inconsistent rationalist but one who influenced Spinoza, Leibniz, Descartes, and Schelling. As a Dominican, Bruno once made a pun on domini canes, or “hounds of the Lord,” so his powerful antagonism to orthodox unreason got off to an early start, growing as he got older. The Inquisition charged that he believed the following: “that there is transmigration of souls; that magic is right and proper; that the Holy Spirit is the same thing as the soul of the world; that the world is eternal; that Moses, like the Egyptians, wrought miracles by magic; that the sacred writings are but a romance (sogno); that the devil will be saved; that only the Hebrews are descended from Adam, other men having descended from progenitors created by God before Adam; that Christ was not God, but was a notorious sorcerer (insigne mago), who, having deceived men, was deservedly hanged, not crucified; that the prophets and the apostles were bad men and sorcerers, and that many of them were hanged as such.” Found guilty of being “the obstinate heretic,” Bruno was kept in a dungeon cell for seven years. On February 10th, 1600, he was led out to the Church of Santa Maria, and sentenced to be burned alive, or, as the Holy Church phrased it, to be punished “as mercifully as possible, and without effusion of blood.” Haughtily raising his bead, he exclaimed: “You are more afraid to pronounce my sentence than I to receive it.” He was allowed a week’s grace for recantation, but without avail; and on the 17th of February, 1600, his tongue was gagged, he was stripped naked, bound to a pole, and killed by having a flaming torch touched to his body. To the last he was brave and defiant. He contemptuously pushed aside the crucifix they presented him to kiss; and, according to one of his enemies, Bruno had the nerve to die without a plaint or a groan. According to M. Bartholomews’ biography, Bruno stood at the stake in solitary and awful grandeur. There was not a friendly face in the vast crowd around him. It was one man against the world. McCabe called Bruno “a Pantheist, dazed by a world in which he found Protestants as intolerant as Catholics and hampered in his speculations by the poverty of the science of his day. (For information on the Web about Bruno, e-mail Guido del Giudice <delgiud@tin.it>. {BDF; CE; CL; ER; EU, H. James Birx; FUS; HNS2; ILP; JM; JMRH; PUT; RAT; RE; TRI; TSV; TYD; U}

Brunsman, August E IV (20th Century) Brunsman, while a student in 1998 at Ohio State University, signed the Campus Freethought Alliance’s “Bill of Rights for Unbelievers.”

Bruun, Geoffrey (Born 1898) A distinguished historian, Bruun wrote book reviews for The Humanist in the 1950s, including a critique of Erich Kahler’s Man the Measure. Bruun was a close friend of Priscilla Robertson, who at that time was editor of The Humanist.

Bruys, Pierre de (Died 1126) Bruys, a rebellious priest and founder of the Petrobrusian sect that doubted the doctrine of transubstantiation, wrote, “God is no more in the church than in the marketplace. . . . The priests lie in pretending that they make Christ’s body and give it to the people for their salvation.” {TYD}

Bruzzese, Vincent (1973— ) Bruzzese, while a graduate sociology student at Stony Brook University, was one of the founding members and is the president Society Against Religion, a national organization affiliated with the Atheist Alliance. On the Web: <nogod1@aol.com>. {International Humanist News, December 1996}

Bryan, John (Died 1918) When Bryan, a freethinker and atheist, died in Cincinnati, Ohio, he left the State of Ohio five hundred acres of forest and meadowland near Yellow Springs, Ohio, to be used as a natural history preserve. His will specified that there should never be any church or religious exercises on the grounds. Three Ohio governors (Davis, Cox, Donahey) vetoed acts of the state legislature to accept the land with such a stipulation, but over the veto of Governor Donahey the Legislature passed a bill in 1923 and accepted the land. {Cincinnati, Ohio, Fig Leaves, May 1995}

Bryant, Louise (1885—1936) Emma Goldman once wrote, “I do wish sometimes I were as shallow as a Louise Bryant; everything would be so simple.” Bryant, a Greenwich Village radical and bohemian who had moved from Nevada and Portland, was a friend of Charles Erskine Scott Wood and one of his protégés, John Reed. She joined Reed in 1916, married him after leaving a Portland dentist, Paul Trullinger, became involved in New York City with the Provincetown Players, had affairs with Eugene O’Neill and others, hid Reed’s manuscripts during the crackdown on Bolshevik sympathizers after World War I at their 1 Patchin Place address in New York City’s Greenwich Village, and figured as one of the characters in Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World, later becoming known as a character in the movie “Reds.” Although only in Russia for four months, she wrote Six Red Months in Russia (1918), which critic Dorothy Gallagher and others have described as not being a serious work of reference. Mary V. Dearborn’s Queen of Bohemia (1996) describes Bryant’s life as a freethinker and social climber, mentioning that when Bryant returned alone from Russia, ahead of Reed, she began an unsuccessful attempt to renew her affair with O’Neill. She was with Reed in Moscow when he died in 1920 of typhus. Marrying a rich and social William Bullitt, telling him she was twenty-nine although she was thirty-eight, Bryant then lived the life of a rich man’s wife, complete with clothes, servants, houses. When she began an affair with Gwen Le Gallienne, a sculptor, the marriage ended in divorce. After developing a rare and disfiguring Dercum’s disease, she lost custody of her daughter as well as control of Jack Reed’s papers. At the age of fifty, Bryant died in a $2-a-night hotel. Those who knew her said that, although she made speaking tours on behalf of the Revolution and was a strong fighter for woman suffrage, Bryant was a martini-drinking and ether-sniffing individual who spoke and wrote with hyperbole.

Bryant, William Cullen (1794—1878) Before he was twenty-one, Bryant had written such memorable poems as “The Yellow Violet,” “To A Waterfowl,” and a purely pagan poem in which there is no “Christian hope” nor “source of redemption” theme, “Thanatopsis.” Putnam remarks that the latter poem “might have been written by some old Greek. It is natural and human.” In 1826, Bryant became associate editor of the New York Evening Post, and from 1829 until his death he was part owner and editor in chief. A defender of human rights, an advocate of free trade and of the abolition of slavery, he also was the earliest American theorist of poetry. His editorial influence contributed to the setting up in New York City of Central Park, which he envisioned as a public place where city dwellers could relax in a natural setting. New York City named a major park, the one adjacent to the 42nd Street Library, after him. Bryant was a member in New York City of the Unitarian Church of All Souls. {CE; CL; PUT; U; UU}

Bryson, Lyman (1888—1959) Bryson was editor of The People’s Library and Science and Freedom (1947). Of humanism, Bryson wrote to the present author,

I suppose I could properly be called a humanist; at any rate, that name has often been applied to me by friendly critics, and I would be most sympathetic with “naturalistic humanism.” However, I would be inclined to assimilate this with classical humanism, although the writings of some of the men cannot be taken to express my point of view. It seems to me quite wrong to suppose that classical humanism must be as anti-democratic as are the ideas of men like Babbitt and T. S. Eliot.

{WAS, 20 August 1954}

Buba: See entry for Jews and DNA.

Buber, Martin (1878—1965) A Jewish philosopher, Buber was active in Zionist affairs. He was greatly influenced by the mysticism of the Hasidim and by the Christian existentialism of Kierkegaard. “The atheist staring from his attic window,” he wrote as a backhanded compliment, “is often nearer to God than the believer caught up in his own false image of God.” In God and the Philosophers, Paul Edwards noted that late in Buber’s career he propounded the theory of the “Gottesfinsternis,” or the eclipse of God. Buber held that “God is not only a self-revealing but also a self-concealing God. Let us realize what it means to live in the age of such a concealment, such a divine silence.” Evil is thus explained without abandoning belief in God. Such horrors as Auschwitz or Bosnia “do not show that there is no God—they merely show that at times God is silent.” {CE}

Bucali, Leonardo (16th Century) Bucali (also Busali) was a Calabrian abbot of Spanish descent. When he became a follower of Servetus, he fled to Turkey in order to have the safety denied him in Christendom. {BDF}

Buchan, John (1875—1940) Buchan, an historian, wrote the often quoted definition, “An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.” He also was known as Baron Tweedsmuir. {CE; PA}

Buchanan, George (1506—1582) Buchanan, a Scottish historian and scholar, composed Franciscanus et Fratres, a satire on the monks which helped hasten the Scottish reformation. The work, however, exposed him to the vengeance of the clergy. Not content with calling him an atheist, Archbishop Beaton had him arrested and confined in St. Andrew’s Castle. Escaping to England, Buchanan said he found Henry VIII burning men of opposite opinions at the same stake for religion. Buchanan then went to Paris but was again subjected to persecution, was seized by the Inquisition, was immured for a year and a half in a monastery, and eventually returned to Scotland. He wrote numerous poems, satires, and political writings, including a history of Scotland and De Jure Regni, the Rights of Kings. {BDF}

Buchanan, James [President] (1791—1868) Buchanan, a Presbyterian and the only unmarried United States President, once stated, “I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.” Writer Carl Sterrazza Anthony has speculated about the fifteenth president of the United States’s sexual orientation. He located letters to Alabama Senator William Rufus de Vane King, Franklin Pierce’s Vice President, with whom Buchanan shared rooms in Washington, D.C., for a long time. Anthony implied the two were lovers, that a letter Buchanan once wrote to King read, “I am selfish enough to hope you will not be able to procure an associate who will cause you to feel no regret at our separation.” {AA; TYD}

Buchanan, John (20th Century) Buchanan wrote Thomas Paine: American Revolutionary Author (1976). {GS}

Buchanan, Robert (1813—1866) A socialist, Buchanan wrote Religion of the Past and Present (1839) and the Origin and Nature of Ghosts (1840). Because in Scotland socialists were prosecuted for lecturing on Sunday, Buchanan was prosecuted and fined for refusing to take the oath of supremacy. After the decline of Owenism, Buchanan wrote for the Northern Star and edited the Glasgow Sentinel. {BDF; RAT}

Buchanan, Robert (1841—1901) The son of Robert Buchanan, Buchanan was a poet and novelist. His Idylls and Legends of Inverburn (1865) and London Poems (1866) were two of his works. An improvident man, he died in want but was known for being anti-religious. {RAT}

Buchanan, Walter James [Sir] (Born 1861) Buchanan, a physician, was Diplomate in State Medicine at Dublin University. He entered the Indian Medical Service in 1887, taking part in the Hazara and Lushai Expeditions. In 1892 he transferred to Bengal, becoming Superintendent of the Central Jails at Bhagalpur and Alipur. His Manual of Jail Hygiene (1900) and Tours in Sikkim (1917) were followed by his editing the Indian Medical Gazette. A lieutenant colonel in the Indian Medical Service, he was Inspector General of Prisons for Bengal. Sir Walter was a member of the Rationalist Press Association. {RAT}

Buchler, Justus (Born 1914) Buchler, a philosopher who has written about Charles Peirce, George Santayana, and others, was chairman of the Columbia University department of philosophy from 1950 to 1956, then taught at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is author of The Obiter Scripta of George Santayana (1936), The Philosophy of Peirce (1940); Chapters in Contemporary Civilization in the West (2 volumes, 1946), Concept of Method (1985), and Metaphysics of Natural Complexes (1989). With others, he wrote The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell (1944), criticizing Russell’s subjectivism. Buchler is one of the contributors to American Philosophic Naturalism in the Twentieth Century (1994).

Büchner, Alexander (Born 1827) The brother of Friedrich Büchner, Büchner taught philosophy at Zürich and foreign literature at Caen University. He wrote works on Shakespeare, Chatterton, Heine, and A History of English Poetry. Büchner was a rationalist. {RAT}

Büchner, Friedrich Karl Christian Ludwig (1824—1899) A German naturalist-empiricist philosopher, Büchner wrote Force and Matter (1855), which went through twenty-one editions and resulted in his being forced to resign as a teacher of medicine at the University of Tübingen. He believed that our only guide has to be experience, that however discomforting the truth is we must pursue that truth. In 1881, he founded the Deutscher Freidenkerbund, the German League of Freethinkers. Insisting that knowledge is relative, and protesting the transcendental philosophies which Kant had inspired in Germany, he railed against theological interpretations of man and the universe. Brother of the famous dramatist Georg Büchner, he lived at a time when scientists such as Darwin, Lyell, Huxley, and Haeckel were making discoveries which confirmed his own views. The theory of evolution, he believed, would oust creation theories. He also held that belief in a natural world order would succeed belief in miracles, and that “monis”—the view that force and matter, mind and body are a unity—would replace dualistic theories. McCabe notes that although Büchner did not call himself a materialist but said he was “a Monist (meaning, like Haeckel, that matter and energy are two different aspects of one reality), his book was called ‘the Bible of Materialism,’ and had an enormous circulation in Europe.” McCabe adds that “like Haeckel, [Büchner] was a man of fine emotions and very high ideals. It is amusing to reflect that their theory that matter and energy are two aspects of the same thing, at which the philosophers scoffed everywhere, is the modern scientific doctrine. They were wrong in saying that this is not materialism, since both are essentially measurable and therefore material (as opposed to spiritual).” {BDF; CE; CL; EU, G. A. Wells; PUT; RAT; RE; RSR; TRI}

Büchner, Georg (1813—1837) A German dramatist, student of medicine, and political agitator, Büchner although dying in his twenties wrote the powerful drama, Danton’s Death (1835), which was a pessimistic view of the French Revolution and revolutionary politics. His Wozzeck (1837) was a psychological study of an alienated character that Alban Berg adapted for his opera. His Leonce and Lena (1850) was a comedy. Büchner’s plays, not staged until long after his death, were unorthodox in subject and style. Like his brothers Alexander and Friedrich, Georg was a non-theist. {CE}

Buchwald, Art (1925— ) In his syndicated newspaper column, Buchwald has humorously written that

The new threat to this country, if you believe the Moral Majority and the television preachers, is not Communists or fellow travelers but secular humanists. The secular humanists are the ones who are brainwashing our children with books about evolution, sex, race relations, ERA, and naughty words. This means we have to get the books out of the schools and libraries. The book censors are starting to organize, the moral crusade has begun, and the hunt for secular humanists is on.

The problem, Buchwald continues, is that it is not easy to recognize a secular humanist. Not unless

. . . he openly admits he thinks Darwin’s theory of evolution makes sense. Secular humanists are not joiners. They don’t have cells where they plot anti-American and anti-God propaganda. Most of them work alone, doing historical research, writing textbooks and novels, and explaining how babies are born. They pollute children’s minds with how the world is rather than how the anti-humanists would like it to be. What makes them so dangerous is that secular humanists look just like you and me. Some of them could be your best friends without your knowing they are humanists. They could come into your house, play with your children, eat your food, and even watch football on television with you, and you’d never know that they have read Catcher in the Rye, Brave New World, and Huckleberry Finn.

A Pulitzer Prize winner in 1982, Buchwald indicates in his writing that he is not averse to the secular humanist outlook. {Free Inquiry, February 1981}

Buck, Florence (1860—1925) During the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, Buck was ordained a Unitarian minister. She was the first woman to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Meadville (1920). Her writings include Religious Education for Democracy (1919) and The Story of Jesus (1917). In 1919, she assembled The Beacon Hymnal.

Buck, Pearl S. (1892—1973) Buck, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938 and is known for The Good Earth (1931), once wrote, “I feel no need of any faith than my faith in human beings. Like Confucius of old, I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven or angels.” In What America Means to Me (1947), she wrote, “It may be that religion is dead, and if it is, we had better know it and set ourselves to try to discover other sources of moral strength before it is too late.” {TYD}

Buck, Peter (6 Dec 1956 - ) Buck is R.E.M.’s rock-and-roll guitarist. On England’s Piccadilly Radio (23 June 1985), he was interviewed:

Interviewer: What do you want for Christmas? Buck: God, you know, I hate Christmas, I really do. If I had my Christmas wish, it would just disappear this year and I could not be bothered by it. I don’t even get depressed or anything, I just get bored. Yeah, that’s my Christmas wish. It would just disappear. Interviewer: The myths and legends of Old America seem to be enjoying a revival amongst the youth of today. Is that because the culture that America is offering today just isn't appealing anymore? Buck: You don’t grow up with myths and legends and tradition anymore, especially since people aren’t really religious anymore. I mean, I’m an atheist, so I didn’t grow up with this built-in set of symbols and ideals that you get.

In a similar vein, when interviewed by East Coast Rocker (28 May 2001), he responded when asked about responsibility, “The only responsibility is to ourselves. If we all found God tomorrow and wanted to do a gospel show, we would do it. I never will—I’m an atheist. But if we drive people away because of the music we’re making or what we’re saying, fine. Don’t come in.” Details (February 1993) quoted Buck: “We’re [R.E.M.] people who, in a lot of ways, wouldn’t have fit, and we’ve managed to make ourselves a place in the world and managed to change a little corner of our world. We’re very . . . I hate to use the word ‘idealistic’ . . . more moralistic. Idealism smacks of naiveté, and none of us are naïve. But our lives are totally morally guided. Not the old morals—church on Sunday, don’t drink, shine your shoes—that’s bullshit. Mike [Mills] and I were talking about this the other day, and he said, ‘Y’know, if we were sleazebags, we’d have a lot more fun.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but you have to be stupid to live with it.’ ” {CA}

Buckland, Paul (20th Century) Buckland, who is in the British Humanist Association, was guest speaker at the 1994 annual conference of Scottish Humanists.

Buckle, (Henry) Thomas (1821—1862) Buckle may never have gone to a university, but before his death at the age of forty he had written a highly praised two-volume study called History of Civilization in England. Opposed to any kind of “great man” theory of the causes of historical development, he held that the leaders of countries are “creatures of the age, never its creators.” Buckle read nineteen different languages and, although a friend of Charles Darwin and John Stuart Mill, was a theist, stated McCabe, who admired his having written in what we now call the materialistic conception of history. He was not, however, a Christian, although he said he believed in God and immortality. {BDF; FO; JM; JMRH; RAT; RE; TRI}

Buckley, Michael J. (20th Century) Buckley, a Catholic priest, is author of At the Origins of Modern Atheism (1990).

Buckley, William F. Jr. (1925— ) Buckley, in God and Man at Yale (1951) charged Yale with drifting away from its Christian foundations in order to teach “relativism, pragmatism and utilitarianism,” in the spirit of John Dewey. A syndicated columnist and host of television programs, he is the conservative author of Spectrum of Catholic Attitudes (1969). “By the philosophical laws of certitude, you can’t ‘know’ there is a God,” he told New York Press (9-15 June 1999). “It’s a matter of faith. I only go so far as to say that I would find it much more difficult to disbelieve than to believe.”

Buckman, Robert (20th Century) Buckman, an English-born Canadian who is a medical oncologist at Sunnybrook Hospital, was named Canada’s Humanist of the Year in 1994. The host of TV-Ontario’s “Vital Signs,” he is author of five books, has starred in and co-written three television series, and is an associate professor at the University of Toronto. He signed Humanist Manifesto 2000. Buckman included in “Twice Around the World and Still Stupid” the following, which reminded some of his hilarious appearance on the Monty Python show. “To me,” said the President of the Humanist Association of Canada,

. . . humanism is what you are left with if you strip away what doesn’t make sense. I was always attracted by science, and the more I learned, the more I found that many established world-philosophies (particularly among some of the organized religions) didn’t make any form of intuitive sense. Undoubtedly they bring great comfort to their believers, but I found that I was unable to sincerely believe in any divine architecture to the cosmos, or in any predetermined destiny for any race or creed or even for any individual. From my teenage years onwards, I basically came to think that we humans are a most peculiar species huddled together in a rather uneven and random way on a rather pleasant planet, and it’s up to us to do our best. I have never felt that we can look for assistance elsewhere. What we see around us is what we’ve got. Now that might sound as if I am some sort of unemotional reductionist—a B. F. Skinner playing the role of doctor—but I know that I am not. Accepting a humanist view of our world does not mean that you don’t feel love, anger, fright, tenderness—or even humour. A humanist basis simply allows you to spend less of your time twisting what you see and contorting it to fit somebody else’s idea of what ought to be. Of course I could be wrong: but if I am I don’t think I shall have done all that much damage on the way—on average, humanists don’t. {Humanist in Canada, Summer 1999}

Buckminister, Joseph Stevens (1784—1812) Buckminister, who entered Harvard at the age of thirteen, received an A.B. in 1800. His liberal message of rational religion influenced Unitarians to bring the German higher criticism of the Bible to America. He believed the Bible should be read in its historical context, subjected to the same scrupulous scholarly investigation given other texts from antiquity. {U&U}

Buckner, Ed (20th Century) Buckner is vice president for External Communications in Georgia of the Atlanta Freethought Society. He also is a regional director of the Council for Secular Humanism.

Buckner, Edward M., and Michael E. Buckner (20th Century) The Buckners wrote Quotations That Support the Separation of State and Church (1994), a work which has six sections: U. S. Constitution, Treaties, State Constitutions; Founding Fathers (and others of that era); Presidents and similar leaders; Supreme Court rulings; other famous Americans; and foreign sources. {Freethought History #9, 1994}


Buddha is a title given to the founder of Buddhism, a life-denying religion which holds that suffering can be remedied through enlightenment. He is also called the Tathagata [he who has come thus], Bhagavat [the Lord], and Sugata [well-gone]. His name was Siddhartha Gautama. Siddhartha corresponds to the Buddha as Jesus does to the Christ, although many erroneously fail to distinguish between their personal names and their titles. When seventy-four-year old Pope John Paul visited Sri Lanka in 1995, Buddhist leaders boycotted a meeting with him. They took exception to remarks in his best-selling book, Crossing the Threshold of Faith, in which he referred to “negative” aspects of Buddhism and called its goal of nirvana “a state of perfect indifference to the world.” The Pope, in calling Buddhism atheistic, echoed the belief of some theologians that Buddhism’s quest for the sense of ultimate detachment called nirvana, while it acknowledges and worships deities, is more a philosophy than a religion on divine salvation. In Buddhism, the Pope wrote, “we do not free ourselves from evil through the good which comes from God; we liberate ourselves only through detachment from the world, which is bad.” Although some contemporary Buddhists are naturalistic in their philosophical outlook, others are not. In 1996 when a new temple was constructed in New York City, Phra Maha, the resident monk, heard from parishioners they had seen ghosts that inhabited the building. Mrs. Rungson Vichitlakakran, for example, said her husband caught the faint image of a “big American man,” who before vanishing said, “Hi.” The temple’s administrator, Prueksawatnont, suggested the ghosts may have been appeased by the spirit house which had been added in the back yard. Phra Maha, saying he had seen no ghosts, sagely added that someone who meditates will attain a degree of peace and not see ghosts. American celebrities who have shown an interest in Buddhism include John Cage, Harrison Ford, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Gere, Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson, Patti Smith, Oliver Stone, and Uma Thurman. (See entries for Mansel Davies and for Siddhartha Gautama, his personal name.) {CE; ER; New York Times, 16 July 1996}

BUDDHA’S TOOTH When the Buddha was cremated in India in 483 B.C.E., it is said that four of his teeth were plucked from the cremation pyre. One of the teeth remained—but later disappeared—in India. Two of the teeth were taken to Sri Lanka. One tooth is said to be in China. The worship of relics has a long tradition in Buddhism, as in other major religions. In 1994, when China lent Thailand a burnt finger bone which was said also to have been taken from the funeral pyre, live television recorded the event. Also in 1994, when the Chinese lent its Buddha’s tooth for a celebration in Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of Burmese visited the tooth. It was encased in an ornate urn that was encrusted with jewels and was shaped like a small pagoda. It was carried around Yangon on a platform dragged by an elephant draped in traditional silk robes, with four other elephants which followed.

BUDDHISM AND SECULAR HUMANISM Brian Nicol, Chair of the Mid-Warwickshire branch of Amnesty International and a member of the Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists, has compared Buddhism with secular humanism:

• Buddhism as a doctrine has quite a lot in common with Humanism.

1) It is non-theistic and rational in its approach.

2) In practical terms, its ethical structure is sympathetic, though Humanists do not go in for meditation as a helpful tool for improvement.

3) It accepts that people have to take responsibility for their own actions and suffer or benefit by the consequences.

• We [Humanists] differ mainly in the ultimate goal of Nirvana. Humanists see the rewards of good action to be solely on earth, and death is the end of consciousness. We do not believe in reincarnation. To believe in reincarnation is an act of faith. even Buddha offered no proof. Moreover, there is a school of Buddhist thought that plays down reincarnation (and by implication Nirvana?) as not being essential to Buddhism. Rather like the Christian “Sea of Faith” people who seek to reclassify much of the biblical ideology as mythology rather than fact. If this were to gain ground, Buddhism and Humanism would have even more in common. {Gay & Lesbian Humanist, Summer 1998}

BUDDHISM, ISLAM, AND EPISCOPALIANISM Diana Eck, a teacher of comparative religion at Harvard University, points out that in 1998 there are more Muslims than Episcopalians in the United States and more Buddhist temples in suburban backyards than is generally realized.

BUDDHIST CHURCHES OF AMERICA Buddhist Churches of America, organized in 1899, is at 1710 Octavia Street, San Francisco, California 94109.

BUDDHISTS: For an estimate of the number of Buddhists in the world, see entry for Hell.

BUDDHIWADI A rationalist quarterly in Hindi, Buddhiwadi is at 216 A, S. K. Puri, Patna 800 001, Bihar, India. E-mail is: <mnath@giascL01.vsnl.net.in>. The Buddhiwadi Foundation, which promotes rationalism and humanism in India, publishes a Hindi quarterly, Buddhiwadi (The Rationalist) and Buddhiwadi Newsletter. It also runs an institute, Priya Academy, for promoting computer literacy and the scientific outlook. On the Web: <http://www.myfreeoffice.com/buddhiwadi>.

Buehrens, David B. (20th Century) Buehrens, a long-time secular humanist, has spoken about history, evolution, and ethics to the Humanist Society of Metropolitan New York.

Buehrens, John Allan (1947— ) Buehrens in 1993 was elected the sixth president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. A Harvard graduate, he is son of a Slovak-American Roman Catholic mother and a father of Protestant background. In Dallas, Texas, he had been in charge of the tenth largest Unitarian Universalist congregation on the continent, and he was co-minister of New York City’s Unitarian Church of All Souls. One of his stated goals has been to increase the membership of the Unitarians and Universalists to 250,000 by the year of 2001.

Buehrer, Edwin T. (20th Century) Buehrer is a Unitarian minister who is a humanist. He wrote The Art of Being (1971). {HNS}

Buell, John (20th Century) Buell, who co-authored Sustainable Democracy: Individuality and the politics of the Environment with Tom DeLuca, has written for The Humanist (USA).

Buen, Odon de (Born 1884) Buen was a Spanish writer on Las Dominicales. A professor of natural history at the University of Barcelona, he wrote From Christiania to Treggurt, an account of a scientific expedition. He translated Memoirs of Garibaldi. In 1889, Buen was a delegate to the Paris Freethought Conference. {BDF}

Buen y Del Cos, Odon de (Born 1863) A Spanish geographer, Buen y Del Cos made scientific expeditions in Africa and Europe and was in 1886 appointed naturalist on the scientific exploration of the Blanca. One of the most outspoken rationalists of Spain, he had numerous works listed on the Index Prohibitorum. {RAT}

Bufalini, Maurizio [Senator] (1787—1875) An Italian physician, Bufalini published an essay on the Doctrine of Life in opposition to vitalism. As a result he was accused of materialism but became a professor at Florence as well as a member in 1860 of the Italian Senate. {BDF}

Bufe, Charles (20th Century) 

Bufe is co-editor with J. R. Swanson of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, and he edited The Heretic’s Handbook of Quotations (1992). In the latter book are sections devoted to sex, politics, religion, atheism, Hell, and other subjects. Under Biblical contradictions, Bufe includes the following:

• I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. —Genesis 32:30 No man hath seen God at any time. —John 1:18 And I [God] will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen. —Exodus 33:23

• Honor thy father and thy mother. —Exodus 20:12 If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. [Jesus is being quoted.] —Luke 14:26

• . . . resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right

cheek, turn to him the other also. 

—Matthew 5:39 . . . thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. —Exodus 21: 23-25

• Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. —Proverbs 3:13 For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. —Ecclesiastes 1:18

Buffett, Warren Edward (1930— ) Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, is an entrepreneur who is chairman of the board of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a corporation whose stock reached over $80,000 per share in 1996. Since 1968 he has been a life trustee of Iowa’s Grinnell College. Asked in 1997 if he was a supernaturalist or a naturalist, a believer or a non-believer, Buffett responded to the present author, “Agnostic.” However, his wife, the daughter of a Disciples of Christ minister, is a theist. Buffett became an agnostic when very young, avoids houses of worship, and tells people his concerns are entirely secular. Roger Lowenstein, in Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist (1995), found that the financier “did not subscribe to his family’s religion. Even at a young age he was too mathematical, too logical, to make a leap of faith. He adopted his father’s ethical underpinnings, but not his belief in an unseen divinity.” “The nice thing about an agnostic,” Buffet has said, “is you don’t think anybody is wrong.” {The New York Times, 9 May 1997; WAS, 13 February 1997}

Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc [Comte de] (1707—1788) Count Buffon, the keeper of the Jardin du Roi who made it a center of research during the Enlightenment, was a deist. His 44-volume Histoire naturelle (1749—1804) was a brilliant compendium of data on natural history. In that history, he included a “theory of the earth” which inspired Laplace’s theory of evolution. The Catholic authorities compelled him to alter certain passages which they declared anti-scriptural. Herault de Seychelles, in his Voyage à Montgar,” said that Buffon told him, “I have named the Creator, but it is only necessary to take out the word and substitute the power of nature.” He adds that Buffon, who became a member of the French Academy, rejected any belief in immortality. {BDF; CE; JM; JMR; JMRH; PUT; RAT; RE}

Bugge-Wicksell, Anna (Born 1862) Bugge-Wicksell was speaker of the Norwegian Society for the Emancipation of Women from 1888 to 1889. In 1888 she attended the International Peace Conference in Switzerland. She was a freethinker. {PUT}

BUGGER A “bugger” is a sodomite, one who engages in anal or oral copulation with a person of the opposite sex. The slang expression originated when the Bogomil (“lovers of God”) heretics sent emissaries from their base in Bulgarian in the 11th and 12th centuries in order to contact heretics in Western Europe. These travelers were known as Bulgarus (late Latin) and Bougre (Middle French). The name was imported into Middle English along with a loathing of the heretics as well as their practices. According to linguist Tony Thorne, “One offence which heretics of all persuasions were accused of was unnatural vice, hence the transformation of Bulgarians into buggers.” Although to some the word is but a mild pejorative, to others it is still a negative or “snarl word” referring to sodomy. To still others, it refers to the sexual act of choice.

Buggle, Franz (1933— ) Buggle’s Denn sie wissen nicht, was sie glauben (1992) is, according to Fred Whitehead (Freethought History, #24, 1997), “an important contribution to German freethought, even though he largely ignores the freethought tradition.” An atheist, Buggle is professor of psychology at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau. In his work he laments the fact that there are so few serious critics of Christianity in Germany today. He cites six: philosopher Hans Albert; writer Günther Anders; journalist Rudolf Augstein; philologist, critic, and historian Karlheinz Deschner; philosopher-theologian Joachim Kahl; and Ernst Topitsch.

Bugliosi, Vincent (20th Century) Bugliosi is a legal commentator and the former Los Angeles prosecutor who convicted Charles Manson. Helter Skelter is an account of the murders and the trial. In Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O. J. Simpson Got Away With Murder, he expresses his non-belief in a subsection entitled “God, Where Are You?” in which he writes:

• I’m an agnostic. • In my own little mind, I, for one, can’t be sure at all there’s a God. • I like Clarence Darrow’s observation about the existence vis-à-vis non-existence of God: “I do not pretend to know what ignorant men are sure of.” {CA}

Buisseret, Albert (20th Century) Senator Buisseret was elected an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association in 1952.

Buisson, Ferdinand Édouard (1841—1932) A French educator and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Buisson produced the Dictionnaire de pédagogie (1882—1893) and was active in working for civil rights. A pacifist, he attended (1867) the first congress of the International Peace League. Buisson was an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association, which Charles A. Watts had founded in 1899. {CE; RAT; RE}

Buitendijk, Gosuinus van (18th Century) Buitendijk (or Buytendyck) was a Dutch Spinozist who wrote an Apology at the beginning of the eighteenth century. He was banished in 1716. {BDF}

Buitenweg, Rob (20th Century)

A lecturer in philosophy of law at the University of Humanist Studies in Utrecht, Buitenweg at a 1998 conference of European Humanist Professionals discussed whether or not human rights are essentially humanist. If human rights are universal, he asked, would others have to accept humanism and, if so, would this not be a form of imperialism? Humanism, he continued, can be connected with human rights but can also be seen as a life stance, which all might not share. There is an ontological and ethical element to humanism: on the one hand how we interpret life and what we are, on the other how is life to be lived. According to Buitenweg, humanism tends to offer a public morality but must guard against neglecting the matter of realizing a fulfilled life. {International Humanist News, May 1998}

Bukowski, Charles (1920—1994) A writer, Bukowski in Life (December 1988) wrote, “For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our education system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” {TYD}

Bulfinch, Charles (1763—1844) Bulfinch, architect for the U.S. Capitol as well as the Massachusetts statehouse, was a Unitarian who owned pew 56 at King’s Chapel in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, who had ordained James Freeman as minister of that church, was its warden. His grandfather Apthorp was once of the richest men in Boston and had given much of the money to build King’s Chapel. Bulfinch got the job as architect of the Capitol because Benjamin Henry Latrobe resigned from the job. Although Bulfinch thought the great dome should be lower, he made some changes, writing to his wife,

The view is beautiful and am convinced that a great city must grow up, and in anticipation we think that we see it before us;—not exactly so in reality; the public buildings are distant two miles or so from each other, and a small village has grown around each. These are connected by spacious streets, lined with trees. The whole has an imposing air, especially while Congress is in session, from the number of carriages traversing the grand avenue.

{CE; EG; U; UU}

BULGARIAN HUMANISTS At a 1995 Berlin conference arranged by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Iordan Zaprianov stated that as of 1995 no humanist group were meeting. In Bulgarian, he reported, the word “atheist” is synonymous with “communist.” Nevertheless, a silent majority of non-believers exists, and he proposed creating a Bulgarian humanist group. (See entry for Bugger.)

Bullard, Beulah L. (20th Century) When Bullard signed Humanist Manifesto II, she was a humanist counselor. {HM2}

Buller, Charles (1806—1848) A politician, Buller supported the reform party, along with J. Mill, Grote, and Molesworth. Jowett quotes Buller as saying, “Destroy the Church of England, sir! Why, you must be mad. It is the one thing which stands between us and real religion.” {RAT}

Bullert, Gary (20th Century)

Bullert wrote The Politics of John Dewey (1983).

Bullett, Gerald (Born 1893) Bullett was a novelist, one who wrote in the Rationalist Annual (1938) and edited Montaigne’s Book of Good Faith and Butler’s Fair Haven for the Rationalist Press Association. “Rationalism,” he held, “must be part of the mental make-up of every man who claims to think for himself.” However, in his Problems of Religion (1938), he agrees rather with Bergson in preferring instinct or intuition to reason. {RE}

Bulloch, Jude [Father] (20th Century) Cardinal Hume in 1996 received complaints that Father Bullock, of the St. John the Evangelist Church in Islington, north London, did not believe in God, Heaven, or Hell. Further, Bulloch preached that prayers are simply meditations, and he “dumped” the idea of the soul, questioned the Virgin Birth, and defended his views as “just a reinterpretation of the term God in non-supernatural terms.” {The Freethinker, October 1996}

Bullock, Alan (1914— ) In The Humanist Tradition in the West (1985), Bullock wrote that although humanists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries may have underestimated the darker side of nature, such is no longer true: “Between the 1880s and the 1930s, a new version of humanism was beginning to emerge which had broken with the optimistic assumptions of the earlier phrase and accepted that its starting-point had to be recognition of the divided nature of man, of the irrational forces in individual human beings and in human society which such pioneers as Ibsen, Freud, and Max Weber had made explicit.”

Bullock, Laurence Frederick (c. 1892—1976) “Lawrie” Bullock was an English church-going Protestant who migrated to West Australia after the first World War. A member of Australia First, he was interned during World War II. In 1968, he and John Campbell revived the dormant Rationalist Association of South Australia, and when it became the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) Bullock became its secretary-treasurer. In 1970 he became the first vice president of the Atheist Society of Australia. {SWW}

Bullock, Edna (1915— ) Bullock, widow of photographer Wynn Bullock, is a photographer whose work has been included in over one hundred individual and group shows in the United States and abroad. Edna’s Nudes (1997), edited by her daughter Barbara Bullock-Wilson, contains many of the nude photographs for which she has become known. Bullock is a member in California of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula. {World, September-October 1997}

Bullough, Bonnie (1927—1996) Bullough, who had been a dean of nursing at the State University of New York at Buffalo, was a Humanist Laureate in the Council for Secular Humanism’s International Academy of Humanism. Also, she was a Secular Humanist Mentor of the Council for Secular Humanism, was on that group’s Faith-Healing Investigation Project, and was a contributing editor for Free Inquiry. In 1966 she became a Fulbright lecturer in Cairo. With her husband, Vern L. Bullough, she wrote Women and Prostitution, A Social History as well as Sexual Attitudes: Myths and Realities (1995). She spoke in Delphi, Greece, at the 1995 International Multidisciplinary Conference on Human Behaviour and the Meaning of Modern Humanism in. Also in 1995, she and her husband were given an Alfred C. Kinsey award for outstanding contributions to the scientific study of sexuality. With her husband, Bullough went to Berlin, Beijing, Amsterdam, Toronto, and elsewhere, proclaiming the virtues of humanism. In Ghana, she brought contraceptive information to women. Gerald Larue, at a commemoration ceremony following her death, told of her somewhat unhappy childhood, of her having been born into a Mormon family and never having known her father. Larue mentioned that she had written and co-authored more than 160 refereed articles as well as another fifty and over twenty chapters in a variety of books. Bullough, who suffered from interstitial lung disease, chose to spend her last hours playing a game of bridge and, just before dying, left her husband Vern with a list of jobs to do, including the final preparation of a book she was completing. This illustrated, Paul Kurtz wrote, that she “did not believe in the illusion of immortality. She thought that the best response to death is the reaffirmation of life.” (See entry for Vern L. Bullough.) {Free Inquiry, Summer 1996; HNS2}

Bullough, Vern L. (1928— ) Once the dean of natural and social sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, Bullough is a member of the secretariat of the Council for Secular Humanism’s International Academy of Humanism and is on the board of directors of the Committee for Secular Humanism. Also, he is on the Council for Secular Humanism’s Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion and is a Secular Humanist Mentor. In the 1950s, when he was an assistant professor of history at Youngstown University, he reviewed books for The Humanist. Bullough addressed the Tenth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Buffalo (1988). In 1992 he was named Dean of the Institute for Inquiry, an organization which offers courses in humanism and skepticism and sponsors an annual summer session as well as periodic workshops. He also was presented with a Distinguished Humanist Service Award in Amsterdam at the 40th IHEU Congress “for his life-long commitment to humanism and his outstanding contributions to the fields of sexology, history, and the health care profession, where he has sought to apply the highest humanist values.” With his wife, Bonnie, Bullough wrote Women and Prostitution, “The Causes of Homosexuality: A Scientific Update” (Free Inquiry, Fall, 1993), and Sexual Attitudes: Myths and Realities (1995). “It is no longer possible to argue that either nature or nurture alone is the answer,” they wrote concerning the causes. “It is clear that both are involved in producing sexual preference.” The work describes prostitutes who became Christian saints, the U.S. Army saddle which was designed to prevent stimulation of the male penis, the Talmudic prohibitions against widows owning dogs lest they use them for sexual satisfaction, and the role menstruation played in Lizzie Borden’s murder trial. The two also wrote Sexual Attitudes, Myths and Realities (1995). Bullough’s “Science, Humanism, and the New Enlightenment” is in Challenges to the Enlightenment, In Defense of Reason and Science (1994). He wrote Science in the Bedroom: A History of Sex Research (1994), an extensive review of the unsatisfactory history of studies of sexuality. Bullough also wrote an introduction to Toward A New Enlightenment, The Philosophy of Paul Kurtz. He is author, co-author, or editor of more than forty books. In 1996 Bullough spoke at the Humanist World Congress held in Mexico City. He is a member of the Secretariat of the International Academy of Humanism. From 1994 to 1998, Bullough was co-president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), during which time he built up a positive reputation for his wit and sagacity. In 1995, he and his wife were given an Alfred C. Kinsey award for outstanding contributions to the scientific study of sexuality. Bullough signed Humanist Manifesto 2000. His e-mail: <vbullough@csun.edu>. (See entry for Homosexuality.)

BULLSHIT: See entry for George Carlin.

BULLSHITUS EPISCOPALIS Nicolas Walter, describing religionists’ statements which change depending upon their audiences, says the practice is called bullshitus episcopalis. {Freethinker, June 1996}

Bulmash, Mark (20th Century) Bulmash is treasurer in Michigan of The Jewish Humanist.

Bulsseret, A. [Senator] (20th Century) Senator Bulsseret was an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association in 1995.

Bulwer-Lytton, Edward George Earle Lytton (1803—1873) A friend of William Godwin, Bulwer-Lytton is known for his Last Days of Pompeii (1834). In Devereaux (1829), 1st Baron Lytton sympathetically depicted an atheist, greatly affecting the outlook at that time of a young George Eliot. {CE; EU, Vincent N. Paananen}

BUND FREIRELIGIOSER GEMEINDEN DEUTCH-LANDS The German humanist organization, Bund Freireligioser Gemeinden Deutchlands (Ulmenweg 5, 63263 Neu-Isenburg, Germany), is a member group of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). It publishes Wege Ohne Dogma. (See entry for German Humanism.) {HNS2}

BUND GEGEN ANPASSUNG Bund Gegen Anpassung, a German atheist organization, publishes Ketzerbreife (heretical letters) at Post Fach 254, D-7800 Freiburg, Germany. {FD}

Bunde, Carl (1907—1996) Bunde, a physician, decided when a youth that “religion is bunk!” He held that philosophy is a poor second to science as a source of understanding. An activist, he was one of the founding members of the Cincinnati, Ohio, Free Inquiry Group (FIG). Bunde, amused that people have difficulty in defining secular humanism, declared, “Just look up the two words in the dictionary. Humanism is concerned with the interests and aspirations of human beings. Secular means without religion. Just put them together. Secular humanism seeks to satisfy human needs and aspirations through use of human intelligence and the sciences. {Fig Leaves, August 1996}

Bunge, Mario Augusto (1919— ) Bunge is the Argentina-born Frothingham professor of foundations and philosophy of science at McGill University in Canada. A Humanist Laureate in the Council for Secular Humanism’s International Academy of Humanism, he addressed the Tenth International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) World Congress held in Buffalo (1988). In Madrid in 1995, he spoke on the subject, “A Favour de la intolerancia.” Bunge is author of more than 400 articles and 35 books on physics, metaphysics, semantics, epistemology, philosophy of science, and ethics. He wrote “Counter-Enlightenment in Contemporary Studies” in Challenges To The Enlightenment, In Defense of Reason and Science (1994), Finding Philosophy in Social Science (1996), and with Martin Mahner Fundamentals of Biophilosophy (1997). In 1996 he spoke at the Humanist World Congress in Mexico City on how informatics is a double-edged weapon: involved are both formation and deformation. Humanists, he noted, welcome technical innovation but although it can empower some it moves others further from the center of society and, therefore, does not necessarily lead to an egalitarian society. One of our present concerns, he warned, is that of the excess of information: to know something, we must ignore much information. Computers, unfortunately, lack intuition, he observed, and the internet cannot replace libraries. Although husband and wife can communicate on the screen, they will not settle for the satisfaction of “virtual love.” Just the same, we have every right to be enthusiastic about technology, Bunge stated, but technology needs to be used with intelligence and moderation. He signed Humanist Manifesto 2000. {HNS2; International Humanist News, December 1996; New Humanist, December 1996}

Bunge, Martin Ludwig Detloff (20th Century) Bunge, a freethinker, wrote Billy Sunday, the Last Prophet of a Dying Religion (19—?). {GS}

Buñuel, Luis (1900—1983) Buñuel, a Spanish director and anarchist who delighted in portraying social hypocrisy in his movies, is known for such godless films as “L’Age d’or” (1930), “Los Olvidados” (1949), and “Exterminating Angel” (1962). “Thank God, I’m still an atheist,” he was known to have told friends. {Paris Notes, December 1998-January 1999; Freethought Today, February 1999}

Buñuel, Luis (22 Feb 1900 - 29 July 1983) Buñuel, a Spanish director and anarchist who delighted in his movies to portray social hypocrisy and the persistence of human cruelty, was born in Calanda in the northeast of Spain, not far from Goya’s town. The eldest of seven children, he wrote in his autobiography, My Last Sigh (1982), how backward Calanda was, how lazy his father was, how medieval the town was, how as a child he had served at Mass, sung in the choir, and became fluent in Latin. Although termed the most anticlerical of directors, Buñuel was said by Orson Welles because of his Catholic upbringing, that “He is a deeply Christian man, and he hates God as only a Christian can.” When seventeen, he moved into Madrid’s Residencia de Estudiantes, where he learned to box, play the banjo, and frequent a brothel. Unsure what to major in, he moved from agronomy to industrial engineering to entomology to philosophy. From Madrid he went to Paris, making Un Chien Andalou (which opens with a dreamlike vision of a man using a straight razor to slit open a woman’s eye) and L’Age d’Or, surrealistic films which he worked on with Salvadore Dali, the latter film of which was a rampant endorsement of sexual hunger. Rightists and the Anti-Jewish League protested loudly, to which he responded, “What I want is for you not to like the film, to protest. I would be sorry if it pleased you.” When he moved on to Hollywood, his proudest achievement was to be thrown off the set by Greta Garbo. When he returned to Europe, he found that a socialist republic had been declared in his homeland, which he described in the documentary Land Without Bread (1933). He was not a politician and, according to New Yorker author Anthony Lane, although he befriended many Communists was not an active member of the Communist Party. Remarked Lane, “Viridiana (1961), the tale of a novice nun who inherits her uncle’s estate, has an enviable reputation for blasphemy (one shot is an artful parody of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’), yet I find it no less merciless toward the notion of class solidarity. When the peasants finally take over their employer’s house, they lurch headlong into gluttony and rape; no card-carrying Communist, sworn to uphold the perfectibility of man, would have countenanced such a scene, and Buñuel had as little time for the sentimentalizing of the proletariat as he did for the glamorizing of its overlords.” During World War II he was in Hollywood and was also employed at MoMa (as a film editor preparing shortened versions of Nazi propaganda movies for film-study groups), then moved to Mexico in 1946 where he made a critique of Mexican slums, Los Olvidados (1950), called by Lane “as down and dirty a film as he would ever make.” Viridiana (1961) was made in Spain with the permission of El Caudillo, Francisco Franco. But when it was discovered to be a scurrilous allegory of the dictator, Franco had it immediately banned. “That it was banned in Spain and condemned by the Vatican,” wrote Lane, “proved that the middle-aged revolutionary, the magician with the bomb under his hat, was still on active service.” Belle de Jour (1967) starred Catherine Deneuve and depicted a bored housewife who took a day job as a prostitute in a very proper brothel with the kinkiest of customers. Carlos Fuentes has observed that Buñuel “uses film to see what we do not see, what we dare not see. That includes dreams and the miracle world.” He added that his influence on film “is comparable to the influence of [James] Joyce on literature: The assault on hypocrisy, the realism, the acceptance of the world of dreams, the social criticism, and the sexual freedom implied in the films.” In his films he denies any and all claims of authority, and the Roman Catholic Church was at odds with his work, right up to his last, That Obscure Object of Desire (1977). Hollywood may not have known what to make of this revolutionary, but then most believers would not have understood why Buñuel came up with the unusual topics he did and carried them out so beautifully and surrealistically. Nor would most understand his wittily telling friends, “Thank God, I’m still an atheist.” {Lewis Beale, NY Daily News, 15 Dec 2000; CE; Anthony Lane, the New Yorker, 18 Dec 2000; Paris Notes, December 1998-January 1999; Freethought Today, February 1999}

Burbank, Luther (1849—1926) An eminent plant breeder, creator of “the Burbank potato,” Burbank was a Unitarian from time to time. That is, he said he went to a church because he liked hearing what the minister might say. He also liked to read E. Haldeman Julius’s Little Blue Books, and Robert G. Ingersoll was one of his favorite authors. In his Why I Am an Infidel (1926), Burbank wrote the following:

• Science, unlike theology, never leads to insanity. Science . . . has opened our eyes to the vastness of the universe and given us light, truth, and freedom from fear where once was darkness, ignorance, and superstition. There is no personal salvation, except through science.

• Most people’s religion is what they want to believe, not what they do believe.

• Those who take refuge behind theological barbed wire fences quite often wish they could have more freedom of thought, but fear the change to the great ocean of scientific truth as they would a cold bath plunge.

• Those who would legislate against the teaching of evolution should also legislate against gravity, electricity, and the unreasonable velocity of light, and also should introduce a clause to prevent the use of the telescope, the microscope, and the spectroscope or any other instrument . . . used for the discovery of truth.

• What is the use of assuring Fundamentalists that science is compatible with religion. They retort at once, “Certainly not with our religion.”

• And to think of this great country in danger of being dominated by people ignorant enough to take a few ancient Babylonian legends as the canons of modern culture. Our scientific men are paying for their failure to speak out earlier. There is no use now talking evolution to these people. Their ears are stuffed with Genesis.

Edgar Waite, a reporter, interviewed Burbank 22 January 1926 for the San Francisco Bulletin, and the resultant headline was


The reporter had asked Burbank about Henry Ford’s views in favor of reincarnation. Burbank had replied, A theory of personal resurrection or reincarnation of the individual is untenable when we pause to consider the magnitude of the idea. On the contrary, I must believe that rather than the survival of all, we must look for survival only in the spirit of the good we have done in passing through. This is as feasible and credible as Henry Ford’s own practice of discarding the old models of his automobile. Once obsolete, an automobile is thrown to the scrap heap. Once here and gone, the human life has likewise served its purpose. If it has been a good life, it has been sufficient. There is no need for another. But as a scientist, I can not help feeling that all religions are on a tottering foundation. None is perfect or inspired. The idea that a good God would send people to a burning hell is utterly damnable to me. I don’t want to have anything to do with such a God.

What particularly riled readers who were believers was his statement, “I am an infidel today. I do not believe what has been served to me to believe. I am a doubter, a questioner, a skeptic. When it can be proved to me that there is immortality, that there is resurrection beyond the gates of death, then will I believe. Until then, no.” Thousands complained, and Dan Barker among others has cited Wilbur Hale as saying that in Burbank’s zeal to respond with letters containing “logic, kindliness, and reason in order to convince and help the bigoted,” Burbank “grew suddenly old attempting to make reasonable a people which had been unreasonable through twenty stiff-necked generations. . . . He died, not a martyr to truth, but a victim of the fatuity of blasting dogged falsehood.” One of the few men admitted to his house at Santa Rosa, in the few months before he died, was Joseph McCabe. “I found him advanced even beyond the vague Emersonian theism of his earlier years,” McCabe reported. “He agreed to see me, he said, though he was tired and ill, because of his admiration of my work as a Rationalist. He had just raised a storm by a public declaration that he did not believe in a future life, and his biographer Wilbur Hall repeats this.” At Burbank’s memorial service, Judge Ben Lindsey addressed an estimated 10,000 people. Maynard Shipley has written, “Several Roman Catholic priests were seen in the audience, but several of them left the open-air services in Doyle Park, offended in their narrow dogmatism by Lindsey’s ringing challenges.” Part of Lindsey’s speech included the following:

One of the saddest spectacles of our times is the effort of hidebound theologians, still desperately trying to chain us to the past—in other forms that would still invoke the inquisitions, the fears, and the bigotries of the dark ages, and keep the world in chains. The chains of lies, hypocrisies, taboos, and the superstitions, fostered by the dying, but still the organized, relentless outworn theology of another age. They refuse to see that in their stupid lust for power they are endangering all that is good.

{CE; CL; Freethought Today, August 1993; FUS; JM; RAT; RE; TYD; U; UU}

Burch, Brian (20th Century) Burch has reviewed books for Humanist in Canada.

Burchell, Iona (20th Century) Burchell in New Humanist (December 1996) wrote of H. G. Wells’s literary foresight and imagination.

Burckhardt, Jakob (1818—1897) Burckhardt was a Swiss historian who wrote of humanism in Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien) (Renaissance Civilization in Italy, 1860). In his posthumously published Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtunger (1905), he tells that he rejected all creeds and churches. {JM; RE}

Burdach, Karl Friedrich (1776—1847) 

Burdach was a German physiologist whose work on physiology and anthropology popularized those sciences. The former was placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum for its “materialistic tendency.” {BDF; RAT}

Burdett, Francis [Sir] (1770—1844) Burdett, a British banker and reformer, was a wealthy man who, according to McCabe, “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.” McCabe adds that 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 Reminiscences that Burdett was ‘what in these days would be called an Agnostic.’” {JM; RAT; RE; TRI}

Burdon, William (1764—1818) Burdon wrote Materials for Thinking, his principal work, which went through five editions in his lifetime. He also addressed Three Letters to the Bishop of Llandaff and wrote some objections to the annual subscription to the Sons of the Clergy. {BDF; RAT}

BUREAU OF PUBLIC SECRETS The Bureau of Public Secrets (POB 1044, Berkeley, California), distributes “The War and the Spectacle” and looks for new approaches for survival of consciousness and approaches for effective activism. {FD}

Burgers, Thomas Francis [President] (1834—1881) Burgers, President of the Transvaal (South Africa) Republic, was educated for the Church at Utrecht University, but he was suspended for heresy when he began to practice in the Transvaal. According to McCabe, Burgers “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 written which was published after his death (Toneelen uit ons Dorp) [Tales from our Village], that he was an agnostic. {JM; RAT; RE}

Burgess, Anthony (1917—1993) Burgess, a prolific British novelist, composer, librettist, essayist, semanticist, translator, and critic, is best known for his A Clockwork Orange, which depicted a somewhat bleak vision of a violence-ridden future. An admirer of Laurence Sterne, James Joyce, and Evelyn Waugh, he once wrote, “I was brought up a Catholic, became an agnostic, flirted with Islam, and now hold a position which may be termed Manichee. I believe the wrong God is temporarily ruling the world and that the true God has gone under. Thus I am a pessimist but believe the world has much solace to offer: love, food, music, the immense variety of race and language, literature, and the pleasure of artistic creation.” Llewela Isherwood Jones, a distant relative of Christopher Isherwood whom he married in 1942, was assaulted during World War II in London, an attack which resulted in the loss of their expected child. Burgess once stated that the brutality depicted in A Clockwork Orange stemmed in part from the assault upon his wife. The novel is the story of a murderous, Beethoven-loving teen-age gang leader in a complacent and conformist society in the near future. “In this welfare state,” critic Herbert Mitgang has written of the novel which was made into a movie, “roving bands of delinquents fight, steal, and rape to assert their freedom against the conformity of a clockwork society. The novel is written in a dialect of the author’s own invention. Its language, called nadsat, is a mixture of English and American slang, Russian, Gypsy talk, and odd bits of Jacobean prose.” Paul Theroux has written that he valued his friendship with Burgess because “I felt that I somewhat resembled him. We had both been raised Catholic, in the age of the Latin Mass, and, as the liturgy had become folksy and English-speaking, with show tunes played after the Consecration instead of the Agnus Dei, and all that hugging and hand-holding, he had lapsed and so had I. But the Church had done its work, and we both still regarded our souls as stained indelibly with sin.” In a 1991 The Economist, Burgess wrote, “I wish people would think of me as a musician who writes novels, instead of as a novelist who writes music on the side. Music is a purer art because it has no direct relationship to human events. It’s totally outside the field of moral judgment. That’s why I prize it.” In the same article, he was quoted as fearing “the coming darkness,” adding that he seesawed between feelings of self-indulgence and belief. “I don’t think there’s a heaven, but there’s certainly a hell. Everything we’ve experienced on earth seems to point toward the permanence of pain.” Among Burgess’s sixty-five musical compositions are “The Blooms of Dublin,” an operetta based on James Joyce’s Ulysses, and “A Clockwork Orange 2004,” a musical stage version of his novel.

Burgess, Thomas (19th Century) Burgess, a freethinker, wrote Tracts on the Divinity of Christ (1820). {GS}

BURIAL PRACTICES Practices concerning burial of the deceased vary widely. According to A. Eustace Haydon, signer of Humanist Manifestos I and II, man has always been a protestant against death. In The Encyclopedia of Religion, he illustrates by citing the following:

• Confucianism alone has accepted a “good death” as the normal term of a life fully lived.

• In the early world death seemed unaccountable. Primitive thinkers could not believe that sickness and death were intended to have a place in the human scene. They explained that it must have come as a result of a mistake or failure of one of the lower animals or the disobedience, or curiosity or carelessness of the first human pair. Usually the woman was blamed. Some stories attribute man’s loss of immortality to the anger or enmity of a god. Whatever the theory regarding the origin of death, rarely was the death of the individual taken as natural. Some deaths were clearly the work of nature gods acting in storm or lightning or torrent. Death by violence might result from the superior magic of an enemy, the malignancy of an unhappy ghost, or a hostile spirit. Death by disease was commonly credited to sorcery. Masters of magical techniques, of powerful curses and spells, with or without the help of malicious spirits, were believed to be effective dealers in death.

• The many modes of treatment of the dying and the dead are the result of the accretion of ages and combine ideas drawn from earlier and later levels of culture. Some practices arose from a primitive fear of contact with the defilement and danger of death—carrying the dying out of the house, lifting him from the bed to die in contact with the earth or in a prepared grave; abandonment of the dying, destruction of the hut in which he died, or removal of the settlement from the death scene; preparation of the dead for burial by medicine men or professional corpse handlers immune to the death danger; and the universal rites of protection and purification. Some practices depend upon the idea of a separable soul—calling to the spirit to come back immediately after death, instructing the dead man regarding his changed condition and separation from his former habitat, safeguarding the living from the death demon or from the dead if he should become an angry and malignant ghost. When the dead man dwelt where his body was placed, he was fed there, consulted, advised as to happenings in the family. The later idea of a special abode for souls in a realm of the fathers a heaven or paradise gave rise to ceremonies to secure safe passage. Extreme unction in Christianity, recitation of the Patet and Ashem—vohu by the Parsis are such rites for the dying. In Tibet a lama draws the soul out of the body immediately after death and shows it the way to the Western Paradise. Teachers of the dead instruct the Moslem in his tomb how to reply to two examining angels. Because customs are retained after the ideas underlying them are outgrown, death and burial practices are often complex and confusing but the rites clearly combine three purpose—to protect the survivors from the dangerous contact with death, to initiate the dead man into his new status of separation from the living, and to give him safe conduct to his new abode.

• Immediately after the death most peoples wash the corpse, close the eyes and change the clothes. Sometimes the hair and nails are cut and the feet tied. Weeping is not universal. In some cases it is expected; there may even be hired mourners. In old Japan the relatives wept while friends caroused. Hinduism and Zoroastrianism forbade tears because they hurt the dead or made his passage to the afterlife difficult. It was bad form to weep for a Moslem saint or for an old man in China. Food for the dead was sometimes provided; more frequently the mourners ate a meal in the presence of the corpse setting aside a portion for him. In many lands friends watch the body while it is waiting for burial. This “wake” is often the occasion for feasting and eulogizing of the dead man. The watchers are supposed to protect his body and soul from demon assault. In Buddhist countries the priests recite the sacred texts in relays, day and night, during this period. Death also demands a change of garb and appearance for the mourners, usually a reversal of the ordinary mode. Black and white garments are most common. Moslem women wear blue. Sometimes all customary work must be stopped, care of the body neglected for a time, and no jewelry or adornments worn. It may be that this altered appearance, like the wreath or branch placed outside the death house, was once intended to give warning of the presence of the pollution of death.

• The funeral may follow within a few hours after death or may be delayed several months. Primitive precautions to guard against the return of the soul still linger in some lands, for example, taking the body out through a window or a hole broken in the wall, going to the grave and returning by circuitous routes, crossing water, turning the body around several times on the way. The funeral procession is often elaborate. In cultures thousands of years old it may combine primitive with more sophisticated usages or forms contributed by the successive religions that have shaped the lives of the people. The funeral may include images, animals, musicians or noisemakers to clear the path of evil influences, specially selected wailers, public recognition of the virtues of the dead man, provisions for his future well-being, carrying or recitation from a sacred book, rites to safeguard the mourners. Circumambulation [ceremonial walking around an object or person] of the corpse, of the church, of the grave, of the funeral pyre is practically universal.

• Many modes of disposal of the dead are used. Priestly preference may give one form dominance in an area but uniformity is rare. The monetary, moral, social, or ecclesiastical status of the dead man may decide the mode. Eating the corpse was an approved practice in some tribes. Exposure in trees, on platforms or on the ground was common. In ancient Iran the dead were given to the dogs and birds. The modern Parsis retain this practice by exposing the bodies to vultures on the towers of silence. In one form of disposal in Tibet the flesh is cut from the bones and fed to dogs and birds. The bones are then buried or crushed, mixed with meal, and given to the animals. A more careless variant of this form is throwing the body into water or jungle or desert places. There is a ceremonial mode of burial in water when the body is placed in canoe or ship, escorted to the deep and the vessel sunk or set on fire. Cave burial has been practiced since prehistoric times. Commonest of all forms in past ages and generally preferred in modern cultures are burial in the earth and cremation. The Egyptian theory of the afterlife required the preservation of the body which led to the construction of magnificent tombs for the aristocrats. In Tibet the bodies of grand lamas are embalmed and kept on display for worship as deities.

• Generally slaves and common people received less ceremonial treatment than priests, kings, and nobles. Children dying before initiation were disposed of with little ceremony. The unbaptized in Christian Europe were denied church burial and a place in holy ground. The unmarried, barren women, and women dying in childbirth who might become vengeful ghosts were often buried with rites to counteract the danger. Criminals, suicides, lepers, and those who met accidental death were in many lands refused burial rites, thrown away, or buried with protective ceremony.

• The body may be buried in a crouching or sitting posture, or lying extended on the side or back, with or without a coffin. The orientation of the face is fixed by tribal or religious tradition. The East is the favorite direction, but some peoples turn the dead toward the sunset, the South, the North, the old home of the clan, the birthplace of the dead man, or the holy city of his faith. In ancient times it was customary to put into the grave food and drink, tools, weapons, personal belongings, clothes, money, and mementos of his friends. In important man might take with him in death his wives, companions, servants, his favorite horse, and dogs. This waste of human life and property was overcome later by the substitution of effigies of persons and symbolic forms of material goods.

• A feast usually followed the funeral at the tomb, or at the home or both and was often repeated at stated times afterward until the dead man was settled in his new abode. Thereafter he shared in anniversary feasts or in the general ceremony in which all souls were fed. In some lands, however, the feeding of the dead was a fixed ritual of the family cult. The annual and anniversary feasts tended to become memorial occasions.

• Before taking up the regular routine of living, purification was necessary for all closely in contact with the dead. If the impurity remained, as some thought, from one to thirty days, the usual work, attire, or toilet could not be resumed during that time. Individuals and the home, sometimes the village, had to be cleansed of pollution. The individual was purified by passing through fire or smoke, touching fire or water, sprinkling with water or cow’s urine, or by taking a bath. Fumigation or sprinkling with cleansing fluids made the death room safe again. There were also formal ceremonies to separate the dead from the living and restore the normal rhythm of life. The mourning period varies widely from a few days to three years. (See entry for Funerals.) {ER}

BURIAL PRACTICES, CATHOLIC Roman Catholics bring the body to the church, where “divine” services are held. Interment of the body is made in “consecrated” ground. The liturgical service expresses sorrow over the bereavement, a plea for God’s mercy toward the “departed soul,” and a buoyant confidence in the promised “resurrection.” The service for baptized infants is entirely joyous, since they are assured of Heaven. Inasmuch as Catholic burial is a “privilege of union” with the Church, it is not granted to unbaptized persons, to baptized non-Catholics (unless either of these had expressed a desire to become Catholics), or to nominal Catholics who died as unrepentant public “sinners.” {ER}

BURIAL PRACTICES, FREETHINKERS OR SECULAR HUMANISTS The non-churched ordinarily have an entirely progressive attitude toward death. First, they are aware that death is final, so they live their life knowing it is the only life they will live. By having children, they transmit their genes and experience immortality thereby. If they do not have children, they are aware that immortality may only be available if they, for example, have composed music, written a poem, created some work that will live on, or otherwise made the Earth a better place. If they have planned for death, American non-believers draw up a Last Will along with a Living Will (appointing someone to act in their behalf in the event they become incapable and are otherwise unable to make final decisions of a medical nature) as well as a Health Care Proxy. Some choose commercial funerary establishments and arrange for embalming, coffins, gravestones. Others donate their bodies to anatomy departments and direct that their cremains by disposed of by burial in a family plot or elsewhere. Some keep the cremains on the fireplace mantle or scatter them in pre-designated places. Some direct that their cremains be mixed in with the cremains of whoever was their “significant other” in lifetime. Some plan a memorial service at a future date, and it is not uncommon that food, fruit, desserts, wine, and other refreshments are served. John Dewey’s memorial was held in the Community Church (Unitarian) in New York City; at its conclusion, and following the singing of Dewey’s favorite music (a Negro Gospel song), the minister, Donald Harrington, exited with one hand guiding Mrs. Dewey and the other carrying the cremains. Norman Cousins’s memorial was held in the Ethical Culture Society in New York City, as was Isaac Asimov’s and singer Michael Callen’s. The Callen memorial featured many musical selections, including a hearty performance of some gay ballads by his group, The Flirtations. Fernando Vargas’s memorial was held in the recording studio he had founded. After a favorite bartender had served his favorite drink (a Manhattan, up) along with accompanying tidbits, Vargas’s friends related their memories of Vargas while in the background the music he had recorded for Liza Minnelli, her first demonstration record, one with Marvin Hamlisch accompanying on the piano, was played over the loudspeakers. Hairdresser Luke Stanton’s friends followed his direction to hand out a printed program, in which he included the Council for Secular Humanism’s “Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles,” and the ceremony was filmed.

BURIAL PRACTICES, TIBETAN “Sky burial” is one of three principal ways that Tibetans traditionally return their dead to the earth. Cremation and “water burial” are two of the ways, but wood for burning is expensive and not all localities have a river into which the corpses can be cut into small pieces for the fish to eat. Sky burial involves a Buddhist monk’s stripping flesh from bone, using a sledgehammer to crush each bone into fragments, then allowing as many as fifty vultures to perform the ecologically sound way to dispose of the dead. He works alone and is paid the equivalent of five dollars per body. Family members observe the rite from a distance, close but not so close they can actually witness it. “When the body dies, the spirit leaves, so there is no need to keep the body,” a monk by the name of Garloji told New York Times reporter Seth Faison (3 July 1999). “The birds, they think they are just eating. Actually, they are removing the body and completing part of life’s cycle.”

Buridan, Jean (c. 1295—1356): See entry for Ass, Buridan’s.

Burigny, Jean Lévesque de (1692—1795) A French writer who became a member of the French Academy, Burigny wrote a treatise on the Authority of the Pope, a History of Philosophy, and a letter in answer to Bergier’s Proofs of Christianity, published in Naigeon’s Recueil Philosophique. {BDF; RAT}

Burkart, Bob (20th Century) Burkart, an active member of the Free Inquiry Society of Central Florida, has spoken to the group about his friendship with the Robert Ingersoll family and told of Ingersoll’s influence upon his life.

Burke, Kenneth (1897—1986) 

Burke, a music and literary critic for The Dial and The Nation, wrote The Philosophy of Literary Form (1941), A Grammar of Motives (1945), and A Rhetoric of Motives (1950). He was a visiting professor of English at the University of Chicago (1949—1950). Believing that literature is a form of “symbolic action,” Burke drew on data from the social sciences. Asked his view of humanism, he replied to the present author:

To fill my needs, you will have to add another department, probably to be called “Linguistic Humanism.” That is: Based on definition of man as the “typically symbol-using animal.” Nearer to modern empiricism, perhaps, than to Aristotle’s definition of man as “rational animal.” Yet way over on the side of Aristotle, as compared with, say, the Watson views of behaviorist “conditioning.” If we think of nature as purely physical (the sheerly material things and operations that are left when you hypothetically prescind “words,” “meaning,” “consciousness,” and the like), then language could be said to “transcend” nature. But it is not a “supernatural” transcendence in the theological sense, since it can be analyzed on a purely empirical basis. Nor is it necessarily anti-theological, since the analysis of language can provide no grounds for denying its derivation from a “beyond” (in fact, the analysis might even seem to call for some such hypothesis, in a mildly skeptical sort of way). Perhaps the most complete statement of my position, from the standpoint of the present study, is my essay, “Linguistic Approach to Problems of Education,” that is to appear in the 1955 Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. {WAS, 25 September 1954}

Burkert, Walter (1931— ) Burkert, a German-born Greek language educator and historian, moved to Switzerland in 1969, where he is professor of Classics at the University of Zurich. Winner of the Ingersoll Prize in 1992, he has written Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism (1972), Homo Necans (1983), Greek Religion (1985), Greek Mystery Cults (1987), and The Orientalizing Revolution (1992). The work on Greek religion covered the period of 800 to 300 B.C.E. and was widely acclaimed. In 1996, he wrote Creation of the Sacred: Tracks of Biology in Early Religions. Even in the Upper Paleolithic Period, Burkert found, religious practices existed, and, inasmuch as Neanderthal men had ceremonies for the dead, “religion” of a sort existed even then. As to why religion has lasted, he takes issue with those social anthropologists who study cultures as autonomous systems. Rather, he holds, “the idea of the supernatural emerges within the landscape of nature. . . . If reality appears dangerous or downright hostile to life, religion calls for something beyond experience to restore the balance.” How it does this, by consoling individuals, he explains by giving examples from all parts of the world and not only from Paleolithic caves but also from ancient Greece. Commenting upon Burkert’s thesis, Norman Cohn, professor of history emeritus at the University of Sussex and a Fellow the British Academy, relates that Burkert finds rank at the very heart of religion, “a sense of dependence, subordination, and submission to unseen superiors. In ancient religions, gods were the powerful ones, the rulers over man and nature. They were called lord, king, and they expected human beings to honor them. On the other hand, just like human lords and kings, gods had obligations to their inferiors; notably, they were responsible for their protection and security.” Burkert disagrees, as Freud maintained, that gods represent the permanent fixture, the father, insisting that the role of authority goes back to pre-human stages of evolution. “Monkeys and apes are acutely aware of hierarchy, and the attention of inferiors is always concentrated on those above them in the hierarchy,” Cohn explains. Rank, in short, imposed order on chaos. If humans experienced catastrophes, as illustrated in the Iliad and the Old Testament, they needed explanations, tended to blame themselves, then felt impelled to make atonement in the hope of being forgiven. Burkert holds that organisms, from plants to primates, make signs and react to signs, that “the human psyche excels in this ability to create sense” by developing the art of divinatio, or “divine activity.” Religion, then, is a tradition going back to the beginnings of mankind, of attempting to communicate with unseen forces. By its organization, it helps people cope and contributes to a sense of coherence and stability in the world. Cohn, although he thought more attention could have been given to the ethical dimension of religion, found Burkert’s arguments persuasive, adding that “meaninglessness is in the long run intolerable: if that is how the world is, people are impelled to pretend otherwise.” {The New York Review of Books, 9 May 1996}

Burkhardt, Frederick Henry (20th Century) Burkhardt, a humanist who during World War II was an instructor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, wrote, “Freedom of worship is one of the great democratic freedoms for which we are fighting. Presumably this ideal means that an individual is also free not to worship. At any rate, a considerable number of humanists, naturalists, agnostics, and others who reject supernaturalism assume that it is their democratic right to follow their view of the nature of things without external interference.” {HNS}

Burmeister, Hermann (Born 1867) A German naturalist, Burmeister was a physician at Halle. In 1848 he was elected to the National Assembly, and in 1850 he went to Brazil. His principal work is The History of Creation (1843). {BDF}

Burmeister, Johann Peter Theodor (19th Century) Burmeister was a German rationalist and colleague of Ronge. He wrote under the name of J. P. Lyser. {BDF}

Burnet, Frank Macfarlane [Sir] (1899—1985) 

An Australian rationalist, atheist, medical scientist, immunologist, and Nobel Prize winner (1960), Burnet conducted studies of viruses that infect bacterial cells which proved crucial in the advancement of genetic engineering. His Endurance of Life (1978) showed a profound commitment to humanitarian issues. At death, he had no need for religious consolation, writing, “In the end we die, and for most of us it is as if we never had been. To the individual, death is the same nothingness as existed before mind began to dawn in infancy.” On his tombstone is inscribed the words of Plato’s tribute to Socrates: “A man who threw off ideas like sparks which caused a blaze that leapt across to the minds of others.” {SWW}

Burnet, M. L. (1905— ) Burnet was a member of the American and also the British humanist associations. He edited the Ethical Union’s News and Notes. {HNS; TRI}

Burnet, Pat (20th Century) Burnet is associated with Humanists of Portland-Vancouver Metro Area. (See entry for Oregon Rationalists, Humanists.) {FD}

Burnet, Thomas (c. 1635—1715) The master of the Charterhouse, Burnet after the Revolution was appointed chaplain and clerk of the closet to the king. In 1692 he published Archaeologiae Philosophicae, and the cry of heresy led to the loss of his position at court. In posthumous works, he rejected Christian teaching so extensively that he was probably a deist. {RAT}

Burnett, Greg (20th Century) Burnet is a writer for Atheist Network Journal, which is edited by Victor King.

Burnett, James (1714—1799) Burnett, Lord Monboddo, was a learned Scottish writer and judge. His work on the Origin and Progress of Language (1773—1792) studied man as one of the animals, which resulted in some derision at that time, particularly because he held that the orangutan was allied to the human species. He also collected facts about savage tribes in order to throw light on civilization. Burnett discussed philosophy with Hume, Adam Smith, Robertson, and Lord Kames. {BDF; RAT; RE}

Burnett, John (1729—1784) Burnett was a philanthropist who spent large sums in charities. “He gave up attending public worship lest he should be committed to the creed of a Church,” stated the Dictionary of National Biography. Burnett was a deist. {RAT}

Burnham, J. H. (19th Century) Putnam cites Burnham as one of the ablest lecturers and writers in the freethought field. Once a Methodist, Burnham resigned and moved to Saginaw, Michigan, where he devoted himself to the pioneer work of Liberalism. {PUT}

Burnouf, Émile Louis (Born 1821) Burnouf was a French writer who became professor of ancient literature to the faculty of Nancy. He translated selections from the Novum Organum of Bacon and the Bhagavad-Gita. His heresy is pronounced in his work on the Science of Religions (1878), in his Contemporary Catholicism, and Life of Thought (1866). {BDF; RAT}

Burnouf, Eugène (1801—1852) 

Burnouf, a French Orientalist and cousin of Émile, opened up the Pali language to the Western world. He maintained that the treasures of Buddhism were essentially atheistic. Burnouf translated numerous Oriental works, which provided much original information about Zend, the Avesta, and Zoroastrians. He wrote Introduction to the History of Indian Buddhism. {BDF; RAT}

Burns, Cecil Delisle(20th Century) Burns in 1918 was appointed a lecturer at South Place Ethical Society. In 1934, he wrote A New Faith for a New Age. {FUK}

Burns, Douglas (20th Century) Burns wrote Buddhism, Science, and Atheism (1965). {FUS}

Burns, Gene (20th Century) Burns, a radio-talk-show host in the Boston area, is a non-theist. {E}

Burns, Gene (20th Century) Burns, a Bay Area radio talk show host, on several occasions has told his California listeners that he is an agnostic. On the air and on numerous occasions, Burns has described himself as an agnostic. (Actually, he says he has no belief in a god because he has found no convincing evidence for one, which, by the FAQ definition, would make him more of a "weak atheist".)



Some RealAudio clips of Burns from his earlier show in Boston are available on the net. You'll find 'Sing this song for satan' and an example of backwards masking from a surprising source.



Burns, H. G. (20th Century) Burns was a member in the 1940s of the Los Angeles Scientific Humanist Group. {HNS2}

Burns, John (1858—1943) Burns, a statesman, in his youth fell under the influence of Paine and Robert Owen and joined the Secularists. He became a Labour leader and was president of the Local Government Board (1905—1914) and of the Board of Trade (1914), resigning as a protest against the declaration of war. Stead described him as an agnostic and “an austere moralist who neither drinks nor smokes nor bets nor swears.” {RAT; RE}

Burns, Robert (1759—1796) Burns, the Scottish poet and songwriter loved by many throughout the world, including Robert Ingersoll, showed in his letters that he was substantially a deist, shading into a Unitarian. His “A Prayer in the Prospect of Death” and “A Prayer Under the Pressure of Violent Anguish” are unevangelical. His freethought is evident from such productions as the “Holy Fair,” “The Kirk’s Alarm,” and “Holy Willie’s Prayer.” His allusions to Jesus in letters to Mrs. Maclehose, who wanted him to confess, exclude orthodox belief. If he mentions God, it is of a benevolent creator. “Still I am a very sincere believer in the Bible; but I am drawn by the conviction of a man, not the halter of an ass,” he wrote in a letter to Mrs. Dunlop. “Though I have no objection to what the Christian system tells us of another world, yet I own I am partial to those proofs and ideas of it which we have wrought out of our own heads and hearts,” he added. He is known as a satirist and mitigator of the crudities and barbarities of Scottish Presbyterianism, and although many thought of him as an “infidel,” states Robertson, he actually “was either a deist or a Unitarian—presumably the former.” What was clear was that he mocked Calvinism, which “sends one to heaven and ten to hell.” Maurice Lindsay, in The Burns Encyclopedia (1970), wrote that “The only fair conclusion to be reached from studying all Burns’s references to religion is surely that his position lay somewhere between these two extremes: that he was, in fact, as C.E.M. Joad once described himself, ‘a wistful agnostic.’” In his own words, Burns once wrote,

God knows I’m no the thing I should be. Nor am I even the thing I could be. But, twenty times, I rather would be An atheist clean, Than under gospel colors hid be. Just for a screen.

McCabe also cites these lines as showing he had advanced little beyond agnosticism:

O Thou Great Being! what thou art Surpasses me to know.

In March 1788, Burns in a letter wrote the following: “An honest man has nothing to fear. If we lie down in the grave, the whole man a piece of broken machinery, to moulder with the clods of the valley—be it so! At least there is an end to the pain and care, woes and wants. If that part of us called mind does survive the apparent destruction of the man,—away with old wives’ tales! Every age and every nation has a different set of stories; and, as the many are always weak, as a consequence they have often, perhaps always, been deceived. A man conscious of having acted an honest part among his fellow creatures, even granted that he may have been the sport at times of passions and instincts, goes to a great unknown Being who could have no other end in giving him existence but to make him happy; who gave him these passions and instincts and knows their force. It becomes a man to think for himself particularly in a case where all men are equally interested and where, indeed, all men are equally in the ark. Religious nonsense is the most non-sensical nonsense. Why has a religious turn of mind always a tendency to harden the heart? All my fears are for this world!” {BDF; CE; JM; JMR; JMRH; PUT; RAT; RE; U; UU}

Burns, Robert E. (20th Century) An Australian humanist, Burns is author of The Wrath of Allah (1995). He exposes, according to Nicolas Walter, “the bad side of a religion which is little known to outsiders but is claimed to be good by outsiders as well as insiders. After a brief introduction, there are chapters on the Koran, Muhammad, the Hadith (traditional sayings by and about Muhammad), some of the most unpleasant Muslim individuals and actions from the 7th to the 20th century, the treatment of women, the good side of Islam, and so on.” Although finding the work one-sided to the point that “one almost feels sorry for the Muslims,” Walter commends it for its useful information. {New Humanist, August 1995}

Burr, Aaron [Vice President] (1756—1836) Burr, who served in the American Revolution, was a United States senator from New York (1791—1797) and was Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President. Because of his and Alexander Hamilton’s political hostility, for Hamilton had aided Jefferson and later contributed to Burr’s defeat in his race to be Governor of New York, he challenged Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton was mortally wounded (1804) and became the first of two of the Founding Fathers to die in a duel (the other being Button Gwinnett [1735—1777], a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia). The duel ended Burr’s political career. In 1807, Burr was tried for treason but was found not guilty of plotting with General James Wilkinson to colonize the Southwest. Biographers Herbert S. Parmet and Marie B. Hecht tell of Dr. P. J. Van Pelt’s attempts to convert Burr to Christianity toward the end of his life. Burr, who had dealt with other well-meaning clergymen, would not be intimidated. But Van Pelt was insistent, staying with Burr through the night on what doctors agreed would probably be the end. In the morning, Van Pelt again asked Burr if he was ready to accept salvation. “On that subject I am coy,” were Burr’s final words, for he fell asleep and died that afternoon. Burr is buried at the Princeton Cemetery in Princeton, New Jersey, the epitaph reading, “A Colonel in the Army of the Revolution. Vice-President of the United States, from 1801 to 1805.” {CE; PA}

Burr, William Henry (Born 1819) Burr is author of Self-Contradictions of the Bible, which was compiled in 1859 and is a freethought classic. He also is the anonymous author of Revelations of Antichrist, a learned book which exposed the obscurity of the origin of Christianity and seeks to show that the historical Jesus lived almost a century before the Christian era. One of the official corps of photographers for the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., from 1865 to 1869, he voluntarily resigned to devote himself to literary pursuits. Although a spiritualist, Burr was “a thorough radical on religious questions,” according to Putnam. {BDF; FUS; PUT}

Burrell, Sidney A. (20th Century) Burrell wrote The Role of Religion in Modern European History (1966).

Burroughs, John (1827—1921) Burroughs, the naturalist, was both a nature-lover and a non-supernaturalist in his outlook. His Walt Whitman, Poet and Person (1867) was the first to give adequate recognition to the genius of his poet friend, for he found Whitman’s “genteel poverty appealing, his obscurity noble.” Burroughs’s interest in philosophy is shown in Time and Change (1912), The Summit of the Years (1913), The Breath of Life (1915), and Accepting the Universe (1922). A friend of John Muir, Edison, Ford, and other important men of his day, Burroughs wrote a biography entitled My Boyhood (1922). When he described automobiles as despoilers of nature, Henry Ford tempted him with a gift of a new Model T Ford, which led to photos of Burroughs touring the countryside by car and entertaining the Fords at his writing retreat, Slabsides, near the Hudson River. As pointed out by biographer Edward J. Renehan Jr., Burroughs was raised as the seventh of ten children by a devoutly religious mother and a boorish and bigoted but equally religious father, but Burroughs considered religion “hocus pocus.” He observed, “The atmosphere of our time is fast becoming cleared of the fumes and deadly gases that arose during the carboniferous age of theology.” Among his comments on religion, found in his diary and in The Light of Day (1900), are the following:

• Science has done more for the development of Western civilization in 100 years than Christianity did in 1,800 years.

• The deeper our insight into the methods of nature . . . the more incredible the popular Christianity seems to us.

• When I look up at the starry heavens at night and reflect upon what is it that I really see there, I am constrained to say, “There is no God.” . . . It is not the works of some God that I see there. . . . I see no lineaments of personality, no human traits, but an energy upon whose currents, solar systems are bubbles.

• The Christianity you believe in is a whining, simpering, sentimental religion.

• Joy in the universe, and keen curiosity about it all—that has been my religion.

McCabe, calling him an atheist, said Burroughs expressly rejected the belief in God and immortality and referred to “the God we have made for ourselves out of our dreams and fears and aspirations.” Burroughs was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. (See entry for hocus pocus.) {CE; CL; JM; RAT; RE; TSV; TYD}

Burroughs, William S(eward) (1914—1997) Burroughs, known internationally as a scatological writer and one with a dim view of humanity, was the grandson of the man behind the famed Burroughs adding machine. He attended private schools, earned a degree in English at Harvard, and like his wealthy grandfather was against any form of collectivism. His mother was daughter of a Methodist minister, and she called Naked Lunch “that wretched book.” He originally had intended to call the work Naked Lust, but Allen Ginsberg misread his handwriting and the wrong title stuck.

	Burroughs has been termed “arguably the most influential American prose writer” of the period from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s, this because his style influenced Thomas Pynchon and other writers. Avant-garde painters, musicians, and filmmakers were influenced by his utilization of what previously had been impermissible ideas. Like others in the group called “the beat generation,” Burroughs, using down-and-out “street” language and experience, wrote with an emphasis on an escape from the conventional, the puritanical, the “square.” Instead, his interest was in the visionary, in the celebration of a human drive powered by drugs, sex, wheels, drink, conversation. “If you’re dealing with a religious son-of-a-bitch,” Burroughs once advised, “get it in writing. He’s got the Lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.”

In Junkie (1953), he wrote in stomach-wrenching fashion of his drug addiction. Naked Lunch (1959) experimented with collage technique, a novel using “cut-up” collation and surrealistic descriptions of his fifteen-year addiction to drugs:

I awoke from The Sickness at the age of forty-five, calm and sane, and in reasonably good health except for a weakened liver and the look of borrowed flesh common to all who survive The Sickness. . . . I have no precise memory of writing the notes which have now been published under the title Naked Lunch. The title was suggested by Jack Kerouac. I did not understand what the title meant until my recent recovery. The title means exactly what the words say: NAKED Lunch—a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork. The Sickness is drug addiction and I was an addict for fifteen years.

David Cronenberg’s film in 1991, reported The Economist (9 August 1997), “disgusts even Trainspotting-hardened audiences with typewriters that metamorphose into talking bumholes and cockroaches that emerge from every sort of human emission and excretion.” Nova Express (1964) and The Wild Boys (1971) describe his obsession with the underworld and homosexual fantasy. My Education: A Book of Dreams (1995), finished when he was eighty, describes his life: “Survival is the name of the game. It’s all a film run backward.” That included a 1951 scene of pathos in Mexico, in which in real life he had said to Joan Vollmer, his common-law wife, “It’s time for our William Tell act.” She had giggled, put a shot glass on her head, and watched him fire his Star .380 automatic at her. He missed the shot glass, entering her brain through her forehead and blowing her head off. The Mexican authorities arrested him on the spot and sentenced him to thirteen days for “criminal imprudence.” The shock is not only in his receiving such a sentence but also in his never revealing for sure if he knew what he was doing and in reading such of his statements as “anything in the past as far as I’m concerned is of no importance.” If killing his common-law wife bothered him for the rest of his life, he could at least point to having done the good deed of marrying Ilse Klapper, a German Jew running from the Nazis, and allowing her to emigrate to the United States. His son Billy, however, never accepted a father who lived with young boyfriends in Tangier, guys who tried to seduce him also. He died at the age of thirty-three from cirrhosis of the liver, having become a heavy user of drugs and alcohol. Burroughs had undergone triple bypass surgery in 1991 and had quit smoking after the operation. He had, however, suffered from a leaky heart valve and eventually died of a heart attack. The last entry in his journal, written the day before he died: “Love? What is it? Most natural pain-killer. What there is. LOVE.” He was survived by his companion and manager, James Grauerholz, who was with him at the Lawrence, Kansas, hospital in which he had died. Burroughs was said to have had no interest in organized religion, preferring Zen-like observations such as “It always makes me nervous to see a cat on a ledge. . . . Suppose a bird flew by?” However, in an interview reported by David Ulin in Village Voice (12 August 1997), Burroughs in the year before his death said he was frightened at the prospect of dying because “we don’t know it. We can’t.” At the same time, he took a philosophical view of mortality. “I believe in God,” he told Ulin, “and always have. I don’t know how anyone could read my books and think otherwise. In the magical universe, nothing happens unless some power or something wills it to happen. It’s as simple as that. It comes down to the Big Bang Theory. Somebody triggered the Big Bang.” (See entry for Beat Generation.) {CE; GL; OEL}

Burrows, Herbert (1845—1922) Burrows, who with J. A. Hobson and J. M. Robertson followed Moncure Conway as one of a panel of three lecturers at South Place Ethical Society, was an independent thinker. Edward Royle, in his research on Annie Besant, states that Burrows helped guide her toward theosophy. {EU, Edward Royle; FUK; TRI}

Burt, Thomas (1837—1922) Burt was a statesman, the son of a miner and a person who had only two years of schooling before becoming Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (1892—1895). A friend and supporter of Bradlaugh, Burt at the funeral of H. Boyle in 1907 did not conceal his own skepticism about any future life: “We have but faith; we cannot know,” he quoted Tennyson, adding, “and some of us have little enough faith.” {RAT; RE}

Burton, John Hill]] (1809—1881) 

Burton was a historian who, in conjunction with Sir J. Bowring, edited Bentham’s works. In 1843 he published Benthamiana. Burton’s chief work is a History of Scotland. He was a practical utilitarian who, in 1854, became secretary to the Prisons Board. {RAT}

Burton, Richard Francis [Sir] (1821—1890) Burton was the son of Joseph Burton, a military man who refused to testify against Queen Caroline for her allegedly scandalous behavior in Italy and therefore left England, taking his family abroad. Young Burton, who grew up in France and Italy and missed out on an English public-school education, was recognizably a genius who at the age of fourteen could beat four opponents simultaneously. He had lost his virginity in Italy at the age of thirteen. While at Trinity College Oxford for five terms, he was sent down for attending a steeplechase against school regulations, whereupon he reacted by riding a tandem-driven dogcart through his college master’s flower garden. For much of his remaining life he was accused of being a snob, but his hauteur was more often turned on superiors, not inferiors. Joseph Epstein, commenting upon Mary S. Lovell’s A Rage to Live: A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton (The New Yorker, 23 November 1998), cited Burton’s accomplishments:

He knew some twenty-nine foreign languages and at least a dozen dialects, and at one point tried to learn the language of monkeys. He was the first non-Muslim to make a successful pilgrimage to Mecca posing as one of the faithful, and the first to penetrate the ancient kingdom of Harar, in Somalia. He was the first Westerner to discover Lake Tanganyika, in an attempt to find the source of the Nile. He served as a spy in peacetime India and as an officer in the Crimean War. He prospected for gold in Egypt, West Africa, and Brazil. He wrote what is thought to be the best book on sword fighting of the nineteenth century. He introduced the word “safari” into the English language and is said to have introduced Turkish delight [a candy consisting of jellylike cubes] to Europe. He was one of the earliest translators of the “Kama Sutra” and of the “Arabian Nights,” and he also wrote poems in the manner of the classics of Arabic literature.

“Explorer, anthropologist, linguist, erotologist, universal genius—[he] could easily have turned up as a character in a Joseph Conrad novel,” Epstein adds. While serving in India, bored with the way of life of the English in India, Burton regularly took Army examinations in Hindustani, Gujarati, and Persian, invariably finishing first among his competitors. Some called him “a white nigger,” for he had several Indian mistresses who, likely, gave him a feeling for “the syntaxes of native Life” needed to help in translating the Kama Sutra. A master of disguise, he had himself circumcised in his early thirties in order to pass as a Muslim—during an 1853 pilgrimage to Medina and Mecca, he became the first European infidel to enter Mecca as “one of the people.” His Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah became one of the best books on Arabia. Lovell speculates that in Africa Burton contracted syphilis, perhaps a cause for his and his wife’s having no children. When Isabel Arundell, daughter of an aristocratic Catholic family, met Burton in 1851, she was sure he was to be her life companion despite her parents’ objections. A believer in magic and prophecy, she was told by a Gypsy whose named happened to be Burton that “[y]ou will be as we are, but far greater than we are. Your life is all wandering, change, and adventure. One soul in two bodies in life or death, never long apart.” She was crazily superstitious, believing that Richard could call to her from afar, felt she was both psychic and clairvoyant, and reveled in dreams and omens.

	A faithful and dutiful wife, Isabel was said to be fearless and idealistic, a defender of her husband against all negative criticism, one who guided his finances. She overlooked his heretical opinions, which included the view that African missionaries “did more harm than good” and that polygamy is not immoral. She was aware that he did research into male brothels in India. She gladly showed Bedouins that English women can be experts at riding horses, and she enjoyed in Damascus keeping a pet panther cub. When Burton translated the Kama Sutra and made an unexpurgated translation of Arabian Nights (16 volumes, 1885-1888), she was aware that gossips would wonder if he used their conjugal bed to test the Eastern configurations. 

The freethinking Joseph McCabe met her in his clerical days and said she was a bigoted Catholic. Foote agreed, stating that according to her story, Burton had his own fits of Catholicism, outspoken agnosticism and Eastern mysticism, but consistently maintained that in religion “there were only two points, Agnosticism and Catholicism.” Four days before he died, Mrs. Burton alleged, he “wrote a declaration that he wished to die a Catholic, but a few weeks previously upset her by ‘an unusual burst of agnostic talk at tea.’” She had the extreme unction of the Catholic Church administered to him, but everybody in the house and every member of Burton’s staff except the maid was surprised at her sending for the priest. Burton was actually dead when these “last comforts” of the Church were administered—Lady Burton afterwards fully admitted this. Nevertheless “he had three Church services performed over him, and 1,100 masses said for the repose of his soul,” according to Thomas Wright’s Life of Sir Richard Burton. Meanwhile, Mrs. Lynn Linton referred to Burton as a “frank agnostic,” who “had systematically preached a doctrine so adverse” to Christianity. She alleged that his memory was dishonored by his wife’s demeanor at the time of his death. Lady Burton was said to have resented this charge with considerable indignation, but her own statements in The New Review (November, 1892) confirm such. Also, “Sir Richard was a very good friend of mine,” wrote Rev. H. R. Hawes, “and one whom I held in high esteem. Sir Richard once said, ‘I know nothing about my soul, I get on very well without one. It is rather hard to inflict a soul on me in the decline of my life.’ ” Burton’s niece, Georgina M. Stisted, wrote of the scene,

The shock of so fatal a terminus to his illness would have daunted most Romanists desirous of effecting a death-bed conversion. It did not daunt Isabel. No sooner did she perceive that her husband’s life was in danger, than she sent messengers in every direction for a priest. Mercifully, even the first to arrive, a man of peasant extraction, who had been appointed to the parish, came too late to molest one then far beyond the reach of human folly and superstition.

Burton’s Selected Papers on Anthropology contains further sarcastic references to Holy Week in Rome and its theatricals, to “the horde of harpies” that prey on visitors, the contrast between the richly decorated churches, and the crowd of beggars imploring alms “in God’s name,” and to the brisk trade in “holy things—images, crucifixes and rosaries, blessed by his Holiness.” Burton’s niece Georgiana Stisted in The True Life of Sir R. F. Burton called him “a sturdy Deist” but said he believed only in “an unknowable and Impersonal God.” This, said McCabe, made Burton a Spencerian Agnostic. Isabel designed for him a stone mausoleum in the shape of a desert tent, considered by many to be a notable monstrosity of Victorian taste, complete with camel bells to tinkle in the wind. She later arranged to be interred in the mausoleum, placed lower than her husband. {BDF; CE; Joseph Epstein, The New Yorker, 23 November 1998; FO; JM; RAT; RE; TYD}

Burton, Robert (1577—1640) “One religion is as true as another,” Burton, an English clergyman wrote in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621). {TYD}

Burtt, Edwin Arthur (1892—1983) A philosopher, Burtt during the 1950s was on the advisory board of Charles Francis Potter’s First Humanist Society of New York. He was a signer of Humanist Manifesto I and wrote for The Humanist. Writing of Jesus, Burtt mentions that Jesus’s theory of the world is supernatural and “is squarely opposed to the scientific naturalism that a frank assessment of experience increasingly compels modern men to accept.” Jesus, he finds, had “no appreciation of the value of intelligence as the most dependable human faculty for analyzing the perplexities into which men fall and for providing wise guidance in dealing with them. . . . Jesus took entirely for granted and without criticism the economic structure prevalent in his day, with its assumption of an absolute right on the part of employers to make such profits as they are able and to treat their workmen according to whatever whim may seize them. Those who work but an hour in the evening may be rightfully paid the same wage as those who have toiled through the long heat of the day, if the employer so will. In fact, God’s relations with men are often compared with those of a haughty and capricious employer with his workmen; he is master of body and soul, and may properly do with them, in time and eternity, whatever it may please him to do. He is subject to no standard of right beyond his own arbitrary will. (Mark 12: 14-17; Matthew 20: 1-16.) Of course, Jesus believed that God is kindly disposed toward those men who turn to him in sincere repentance.” His considerable influence upon the early humanist movement has been described by Edwin H. Wilson in The Genesis of a Humanist Manifesto (1995). Bragg commented in 1933 about one draft,

It seems to me that a natural reading of this statement would assume that it commits itself to a particular theory of naturalism, excluding all other naturalisms such as the Aristotelian, which would allow a certain metaphysical reality to teleological relations, irreducible to casual connections of the material and genetic types. It would assume that the humanism denies the reality and religious value of all entities transcending human experiences, whereas, if I have read my humanist friends correctly, all that they mean to insist upon as essential is that if such entities are accepted their meaning and value for us may be constructed in terms derived solely from human experience. It would assume that humanism denies the legitimacy of carrying over terms (such as God) from the older religious framework, whereas all that is needful to insist upon is that if these terms are carried over they must be fully and honestly reinterpreted in terms consistent with scientific truth and shareable human values.

Burtt, of Cornell University’s Sage School of Philosophy, wrote Types of Religious Philosophy (1939). He placed religious humanism in a broad setting, comparing Bertrand Russell’s humanism with that of Roy Wood Sellars’s in The Next Step in Religion. According to Wilson, Burtt contrasted Sellars’s realistic humanism with pragmatic humanism. {CL; EW; FUS; HM1}

Butler, Adam (20th Century) Butler is director of the Birmingham, Alabama, Freethought Society and is a member of the Executive Council of the Campus Freethought Alliance.

Butler, William (1929-	)

Butler, the author of a book for juveniles, The Butterfly Revolution (1961), has a “dislike of the Bible and belief in atheism,” according to Banned Books (1998). A production and program director for Pacifica Radio stations, Butler has been a lecturer in literature at Bennington College and also at Kita-Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. He wrote The Bone House (1972) and A God Novel (1969), the latter of which is about a young boy who takes a golden crown from a statue of the Virgin Mary. It is a story of the boy’s “spiritual quest” in which an Indian mystic appears, suggests that mankind is part of a divine chaos, and leads the boy to feel a communion with all gods, including Poseidon. (See entry for Banned Books.)

Bury, J(ohn) B(agnell) (1861—1927) Bury is cited by Robertson for his authoritative A History of Freedom of Thought (1913). That work contained the following:

If the history of civilisation has any lesson to teach it is this: there is one supreme condition of mental and moral progress which it is completely within the power of man himself to secure, and that is perfect liberty of thought and discussion. The establishment of this liberty may be considered the most valuable achievement of modern civilisation and as a condition of social progress it should be deemed fundamental.

An Irish historian and writer about the Ancient Greeks and the East Roman Empire, Bury is himself an example of a person devoted to the freedom of thought and “championship of the law of liberty.” McCabe writes that Bury never concealed his Agnostic opinions and was openly associated with the Rationalist Press Association. He did much service to freethinkers, wrote McCabe, for his history. When McCabe wrote his Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists, McCabe said Bury “was generous enough to write me that I was the only man who could have done it.” Bury became an honorary associate of the Rationalist Press Association, and his rationalism is voiced in the preface to The Idea of Progress (1920). {CE; FUK; JM; JMR; RAT; RE; TRI}

Buschman, Harold (20th Century) Buschman, who taught at the University of Kansas City, became editor of The New Humanist in 1929, having been with the journal from its start. A student of A. Eustace Haydon, he determined to publish young writers of promise, and he chose such writers as Edwin E. Aubrey, Theodore Brameld, Hadley S. Dimock, A. E. Haydon, Walter Horton, Frank H. Knight, Douglas Clyde MacIntosh, Wilhelm Pauk, Werner Petersman, Roy Wood Sellars, Matthew Spinka, and Henry Nelson Wieman, some of whom were theists. In the 1950s, Buschman wrote book reviews for The Humanist. (See entry for American Humanist Association.) {EW}

Bush, Malcolm (20th Century) Bush, vice-president of Voices for Illinois Children, wrote Families in Distress: Public, Private, and Civil Responses (1988). He has written that Jane Addams “was the original secular humanist, rejecting Christianity and socialism alike as formal beliefs though she took inspiration from both.” {Free Inquiry, Fall, 1993}

Bushman, Charles Henry (20th Century) As his 1963 M.A. thesis at Long Beach State College, California, Bushman wrote “The Ethos of Robert Green Ingersoll.” {FUS}

Busiek, Kurt (20th Century) A comic book writer, Busiek wrote Astro City, Thunderbolts, and Ninjak. Asked on the Internet about his religious views, he said,

I’m an agnostic, to the extent that I think about it at all. I consider religions interesting, and the idea of a higher being or beings within the realm of possibility, but I haven’t heard or seen anything yet that would make me a believer. However, I don’t require my characters to share my approach to these things—as is doubtless pretty obvious. {CA)

Butler, Adam (1978— ) In Alabama, Butler established a freethought student club which was organized to counter high school bible clubs. In 1996 the recent graduate from high school was given a “Freethinker of the Year” award by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. He is one of the founding members of Campus Freethought Alliance. In 1998 he signed the Alliance’s “Bill of Rights for Unbelievers.” {Freethought Today, October 1996 and May 1998; International Humanist News, December 1996}

Butler, Grant (20th Century) Butler, a minister of the Unitarian Church of the Larger Fellowship, reviewed books for The Humanist in the 1950s.

Butler, James (20th Century) A freethinker, Butler wrote in the 1910s about the state of religious liberalism and conservatism. {GS}

Butler, M. B. (19th Century) Butler, a freethinker, wrote I Believe and I Think in the 1800s. {GS}

Butler, Samuel (1612—1680) Butler, an English poet, was a clerk to Sir Samuel Luke, one of Cromwell’s generals, whom he satirized as Hudibras. Butler expressed the opinion, “Religion is the interest of churches / That sell in other worlds in this to purchase.” In Hudibras (1663), Butler wrote, “So ’ere the storm of war broke out, religion spawn’d a various rout/Of petulant capricious sects, the maggots of corrupted texts.” {BDF; RAT; TYD}

Butler, Samuel (1835—1902) Butler satirized English social and economic injustices in Erewhon (1872, “Nowhere” spelled backwards, a mock utopian novel). “Christ was crucified once,” he has written, “and for a few hours. Think of the thousands he has been crucifying in a quiet way ever since.” His Way of All Flesh (1902) described the importance of shedding the religion in which one unthinkingly has been brought up. The novel included, “ ’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have lost at all,” a paraphrase of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s lament upon the death of his beloved friend, Arthur Hallam, “ ’Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” In a spoof of Alexander Pope’s remark that “An honest man’s the noblest work of God,” Butler wrote, “An honest God’s the noblest work of man.” Butler’s interest in homoerotic male friendships is found not only in the religious characters of Ernest Pontifex, Towneley, Pryor, and Overtson in The Way of All Flesh but also in his own close friends. In 1861 Butler met Charles Paine Pauli in New Zealand and supported him financially for the next thirty years. Upon Pauli’s death, Butler was shocked to learn that Pauli had been supported by two other men, had amassed a fortune, and had omitted any mention of Butler in his will. Another friend, the Swiss Hans Faesch, died young and Butler wrote an emotional poem about him as well as wore a lock of Faesch’s hair in a pendant. His Shakespeare’s Sonnets Reconsidered (1899) argued that the playwright had a young male lover who betrayed him much as Pauli had betrayed Butler. Although Butler’s work was popular, he pleased few in philosophy because he was anti-Christian but also bitterly anti-Darwinian. Butler did not believe in a personal God, yet he maintained that there was mind and purpose in the universe. George Bernard Shaw was his one disciple, but the progress of evolutionary science since their time has made their criticisms “hopelessly outdated,” McCabe observes. After a prolonged illness, Butler died while being attended by his devoted manservant, Alfred Catie, and his companion-biographer, Henry Festing Jones. {BDF; CE; GL; JM; RAT; RE; TRI; TYD}

Butterfield, Rufus (Born 1817) A Californian pioneer, Butterfield was raised a Methodist but discarded all orthodoxy when young. In 1849 Butterfield went to California, where he became a vice president of the California Liberal Union and an outspoken freethinker. {PUT}

BUTTERFLY EFFECT All things are connected, say those who describe the “butterfly effect,” that for example the flutter of a wing in the Amazon rain forest can allegedly set off a storm in California.

Butterworth, Edward J. (20th Century) Freethinking researchers sometimes quote Butterworth’s The Identity of Anselm’s Proslogion for the Existence of God with the Via Quarta of Thomas Aquinas (1990).

Buttmann, Philipp Karl (1764—1829) A German philologist, Buttmann was librarian of the Royal Library at Berlin. He wrote Myth of the Deluge (1819) and in 1828 a learned work on mythology. {BDF}

Butts, R. Freeman (1910— ) Butts in 1950 wrote The American Tradition in Religion and Education, which includes references to freethought. {FUS}

Buzot, François Léonard Nicolas (1760—1793) Buzot was a French Girondin, a lover of Madame Roland. He died from starvation when hiding after the suppression of his party in 1793. {BDF}

Byelinsky, Vissarion Grigoryevitch (also Belinski) (1811—1848) An eminent literary critic, arguably Russia’s best, Byelinsky was an original thinker who contributed greatly to the Russian revolutionary movement. At Moscow when he joined Herzen and Bakunin, he was expelled for attacking serfdom (1832). In 1834 he began to write his Literary Reveries, still a highly respected work for its critiques. Byelinski regretted that he could not write his true beliefs, which were not published until after 1917, because critical ideas that he espoused were forbidden at that time. However, to Gogol he wrote,

A man like Voltaire who stamped out the fires of fanaticism and ignorance in Europe by ridicule is, of course, more the son of Christ, flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone, than all your priests, bishops, metropolitans, and patriarchs, Eastern or Western.

The letter later became a quasi-sacred text of the Russian left. For reading such material Dostoevski was arrested and, originally, sentenced to death. As for the Russian people’s being “the most religious in the world,” he replied in 1847, “That is a lie. . . . They have too much healthy common sense.” Byelinski, who is said to have adopted the pantheistic philosophy of Hegel and Schelling, was influenced to atheism by Feuerbach. Byelinski died, a comparatively young man, of consumption. According to Alexei Gostev, since Byelinski’s time literary criticism in Russia became a criticism of authorities and a substitution of open political discussion inasmuch as such discussions then were forbidden. When, after his death, the chief of the secret police, Baron Dubelt, read the above cited letter to Gogol, he responded, “It is a pity that he died. We would have left him to rot in jail.” {BDF; CE; EU, Hugh McLean; RAT; WAS, conversations with Alexei Gosteve, 1998}

Bynner, Witter (1881—1968) Bynner was a poet who wrote Journey With Genius: Recollections and Reflections Concerning the D. H. Lawrences (1951). With Arthur Davis Ficke (under the pseudonyms of Emanyek Morgan and Anne Knish), he wrote Spectra (a hilarious hoax in 1916 that parodied free verse). On the subject of humanism, he wrote the present author:

I am almost as hesitant about subscribing to the tenets of any humanistic group as I should be toward the tenets of any deist group. All in all, I am definitely on the side of the humanists in that I feel mankind and its troubles and attainments to be itself a process of deity-experiencing both the pains and the beauty of growth. I am certainly not persuaded that there is an all-wise, all-good, and all-powerful deity running the show. . . . Nursery games—or actually harmful indulgences—are what most adult religious doctrines and practices seem to me now. In Christianity especially—or what it has come to be–I can only feel the individual’s shelving of responsibility and acceptance of a god’s sacrifice to be even more sadistic and morbid than the succession of sacrifices in earlier religions. And to brand procreation of life as the original sin is certainly to blame not man but God as the original sinner, the first procreator; while certainly the doctrine of virgin birth is as morbid as anything in history. But I devote too much space to only one of the mythologies–in making my point that man should be rid of them all except as more or less interesting fiction. China’s is the only great culture which has had resurrection. Immediate aspects of its return are deplorable; but I believe that, still strong behind them, the humanistic foundation of China’s life survives, as recorded in the teachings of Confucius and still better in the sayings of Lao-tzu. By now it is clear that my stand is with and for “Naturalistic Humanism,” except that I would not call it “born of the modern scientific age.” Besides and after the two great Chinese I have named, I would list, as influential in forming my humanistic faith, Lucretius, Shakespeare, John Keats, George Meredith, Walt Whitman, and Bertrand Russell.

A. L. Rowse in his Homosexuals in History (1977) mentions that Hart Crane “did not care for the professionalism of accredited homosexual circles, rather deploring . . . a poet whom I recognize as an acquaintance of D. H. Lawrence,” obviously a reference to Bynner. Later, when Crane attempted to overcome his alcoholism and waterfront sexual escapades during which sailors would beat him up, Crane married the former wife of the alcoholic writer, Malcolm Cowley. Bynner intuitively predicted the marriage would not work, that the two inevitably would drink and squabble, that Crane would never be able “to do any work in such a hurly-burly.” As worded by Rowse, “On his way back to New York he dropped quietly into the sea, his work unfinished.” What Bynner learned was that in 1932 Crane was aboard a ship and had, suddenly and without warning, jumped overboard, calling out, “Goodbye, everybody.” One of Bynner’s poems was “The Reading of Books”:

Till the final word may be farewell to evil and to good, Make the Hubbard’s cupboard your hermit-call, God’s beard your babyhood. For the Bible is a Mother Goose, when all is said and done: So read them both and make good use of what they tell you, son.

In the 1950s, Bynner wrote some book reviews for The Humanist. He also transmitted his “Credo,” adding to the present author, “This Credo, mostly as it is, was set down in my twenties. In my seventies I find little reason to change it.”


Most formalized religions have been engendered in the assumption of a more or less personal God, the creator and control of life. But the latest religion is as baffled as was the earliest by the question, What and why was the Beginning of God? By assuming a God, we only place the mystery a remove away. We beg the question. Humanity, moreover, has equipped Godhead with perfection and omnipotence; and then it has accepted the basic impossibility that out of perfection and omnipotence can come the creation, in humanity at least, of imperfection, frailty, ignorance. We attempt to explain the paradox by attributing to the Godhead perfect motives beyond our comprehension; but the fact that we remain poor uncomprehending victims of witnesses of injustice and barbarity supposedly concocted in heaven for our good, the very fact that we suffer by not understanding, is an imperfection or an impotence which no such explaining can explain. So the religions impose still other paradoxes on our conception of the Godhead. They direct us, for instance, to pray to Him for defence and benefit, although such prayer infringes upon God’s all-wisdom and contradicts the orthodox doctrine of our ignorance as to what is good for us. Truly faithful or logical acceptance of a perfect God would exact of human beings complete acquiescence and inaction. If Perfection stood all-powerful, what judgment or action by us would be necessary? The western world has dramatized the difficulty by having us try to cast out imperfection as with the help of a Father. Even Christ kept, in his own personality, something of the old Hebrew authority of a father, which probably accounts in part for the Trinitarian doctrine. But Christianity has acknowledged more than it realizes of a deeper Christ when it calls its God the son of man, approaching therein an Oriental concept of the evolution of God through all life. When Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is within us, he would seem to mean that we are members not only of one another but of inherent perfection. His latest considerable group of interpreters have met the basic issue another way. Sensing the weakness of the ancient idea that evil can be co-existent with a perfect God, they have denied the existence of evil except as a human illusion. They try to bolster the perfection of God by foisting the mistake of imperfection upon us, although we are parts of God: a perfect whole with imperfect parts. They attribute “error” to the handiwork of a perfect Creator: their God, without need of making mistakes, yet errs through us. It is still the error of trying to believe in an already perfect God. This historical conception of a personal God, of a force outside us, wholly powerful, was sure, moreover, to become for the human individual a conception of his own image given power over his fellows. It is this persistent conception which has caused and sanctioned wars and blind obedience, jealousies and woes. And of a part with the conception of fixed divine identity has been the conception of fixed human identities. No life can be individual and separate in the sense that it can exclude other lives or can be life at all if it cease to grow and change. Only as it becomes consciously inclusive of other lives and included in them can I think that it becomes conscious of the spirit of life at large. An individual’s vanity, his wish to proceed in some later existence with the same separate personality he has had here, seems to me an obstacle of pain and untruth against the way of life. Are we strictly what we mean when we call ourselves individuals? Are we not many people inside ourselves? Do we not begin compact of many ancestors? Do we not add to these still other lives from lovers, friends, and books? If identity survive, does death conclude its bounds? Must one’s separate soul continue at the age of ten, twenty, or sixty, according to the date of the body’s death?Is the spirit to be moulded by the happening of death into an endless fixity? Surely if we are to continue in consciousness, it can only be as we realize all life to be our final and very self. Experimenting, suffering, learning with God in His growth toward that perfection which is in His blood and ours, a man becomes mankind and mankind God. The meaning dawns in life, in hope, in thought, in deed. If evil come, or error, it is not as something which might be prevented by an existent omnipotence, it is not some discipline which omnipotence visits upon us in a cryptic tyranny of justice; it is as something in the growing experience of God. And by use of evil, as by use of good, it is God as well as ourselves who can lose or gain. You, no less than any man and no more, except by degree of realization, may be coexistent and coeternal with God. Happiness consists in the consciousness and use of that existence. A hint of the sweetness of such faith, such possible consummation, is given your body through its dissolving union with the body of one whom you love. Even though the fruit of such union seem to be a furtherance of separateness, the desire of lover for lover is a desire to enclose and to be enclosed, an urge and ache for oneness. And with the separation of bodies by death may come still more strongly the realization of oneness, the penetration of peace through chance and change, the gradual integration. For

. . who shall be my enemy

When he is I and I am he?

Such rumination may, of course, be only one more happy guess; but, without the morbidity of most religions, it is a stimulus to responsible and helpful living, a human or divine faith like that of Mark Twain’s child, found in her diary after her death, that there may be “a heaven or something better.”

(See entry for Arthur Davis Ficke.)

{CE; CL; HNS; WAS, 11 April 1956}

Byrdall, Thomas (17th Century) Byrdall wrote a freethought work, A Glimpse of God (1665). {GS}

Byrne, John (20th Century) Byrne, a writer and comic book artist, is a non-theist. He made his views known in his column, “A Flame About This High,” which appeared in his comic book, Next Men. {CA; E}

Byron, George Gordon Noel Byron [6th Baron] (1788—1824) Byron had a clubfoot but swam the Bosphorus; was a baron but opposed industrialists and monopolies; was a poet but broke all the classical rules; and was philosophic but raised a storm of abuse for the skeptical attitude shown toward religion in his Cain (1821). Byron’s clubfoot was worsened by the treatments of quack doctors, and his obese, somewhat hysterical mother habitually referred to him as her “little lame brat.” His father, Captain John (“Mad Jack”) Byron drank himself to death by the time the boy was three and also managed to squander most of his wife’s fortune. Further evidence of his colorful childhood: His mother once attempted to beat him to death with a pair of fire tongs, his nurse seduced him when he was nine, and he conquered his overweight by starvation diets and the consumption of laxatives. The 5’ 7” Byron always walked with a limp, but he made great efforts to overcome his physical shortcomings by excelling in sports, including boxing, fencing, riding, cricket, and swimming. At Cambridge, he kept both a tame bear and a mistress whom he liked to dress as a boy. When rumors circulated concerning an incestuous relationship between the poet and his half sister, Augusta Leigh, Byron did not deny anything, adding, “I could love anything on earth that appeared to wish it.” However, he married Anne Isabella Milbanke, a highly educated mathematician who hoped she could tame “the wild lord.” On their wedding night Byron told her, “It is enough for me that you are my wife for me to hate you!” When she became pregnant, he acted insanely, tormenting her by shooting off guns in her bedroom. Eventually, he acceded to her request for a separation. By this time he had become a recognized poet, known for having a coach designed after that of his hero, Napoleon, one which contained a bed, library, and complete dining and cooking facilities. Lady Caroline Lamb once described Byron as being the most notorious of the Romantic poets because he was “mad–bad–and dangerous to know.” Lord Byron’s detestation of convention is epitomized in his epic-satire and acknowledged masterpiece, Don Juan (1819—1824). He also wrote Childe Harold (1812—1818) and The Prisoner of Chillon (1816). Cain (1821), which was anti-religious, was denounced from the pulpits, and was not allowed to be copyrighted (which allowed freethinkers to appropriate the work widely). To the Rev. Francis Hodgson in 1811, Byron wrote, “I do not believe in any revealed religion. . . . I will have nothing to do with your immortality; we are miserable enough in this life, without the absurdity of speculating upon another. . . . The basis of your religion is injustice; the Son of God, the pure, the immaculate, the innocent, is sacrificed for the guilty.” He added

I am no Platonist, I am nothing at all; but I would sooner be a Paulician, Manichean, Spinozist, Gentile, Pyrrhonian, Zoroastrian, than one of the seventy-two villainous sects who are tearing each other to pieces for the love of the Lord and the hatred of each other.

When Lord Byron took his seat in parliament, he insisted upon doing so “without the oath.” Like his father, Byron was not a member of the Church of England. Colin McCall, commenting upon Byron’s outlook, has written that although Byron’s most searching religious questioning has to do with evil, “this does not make him an atheist, like Shelley. Shelley, in fact, once mentioned that he had “not the smallest influence over Lord Byron” on the question of religion, adding “if I had I certainly would employ it to eradicate from his great mind the delusions of Christianity.” As J. M. Robertson said, Byron was ‘too wayward to hold a firm philosophy.’ ” An estimated two hundred women, mostly of the lower class but including Caroline Lamb and his Italian mistress, Countess Teresa Guiccioli, attested to his virility (as did a large number of men, particularly nubile Mediterranean boys he hired as valets or pages; he is said to have consulted a doctor about a relaxation of his friend Nicolo Giraud’s sphincter muscle, describing him as “the most beautiful being I have ever beheld”). A. L. Rowse in Homosexuals in History (1977) relates further tales of Byron’s poetic inspirations, including the Ravenna gondolier who inspired, “Tita’s heart yearns for you, and mayhap for your silver broadpieces.” Byron’s liaison with the seventeen-year-old stepsister of poet Shelley’s wife, Mary, resulted in a daughter, Allegra. After settling in Venice, and spending five years with Countess Teresa Guiccioli, he became bored with his mistress and decided to go to Greece in order to fight for Greek liberation from the Turkish empire. He had long before identified himself with the cause of “liberalism,” once using his hereditary seat in the House of Lords to deliver a celebrated attack on industrialists and monopolies. As for religion’s reliability, Byron wrote:

Even gods must yield; religions take their turn, ’Twas Jove’s, ’tis Mahomet’s, and other creeds Will rise with other years, till man shall learn Vainly his incense soars, his victim bleeds– Poor child of doubt and death, whose hope is built on reeds.

Claude Rawson, a professor of English at Yale, has succinctly described the poet:

Byron’s life was lordly and rakish. In the family seat of Newstead Abbey, the young lord imitated the blasphemous and orgiastic practices of the Hell-Fire Club. He and his friends, wearing monkish dress, drank Burgundy from a human skull and, “after reveling on choice viands, and the finest wines of France,” one of his guests wrote, proceeded with unmentionable “evening diversions” until the small hours. In addition to several renowned and high-profile heterosexual romances, as well as a string of humbler amours with maidservants and prostitutes, he had a series of homosexual attachments. Pedophilia, incest, masochism, cross-dressing (he danced in woman’s dress with a Greek boy and liked his women to wear men’s clothes) were part of his repertory. His most scandalous mistress, Lady Caroline Lamb, married to a future prime minister, liked to dress as a pageboy. He appears to have told her she reminded him of John Edleston, his most beloved homosexual lover, a Cambridge choirboy who had died of consumption.

Byron contracted a fatal illness, malarial fever, in Greece while helping Prince Alexander Mavrocordatos unify the divergent Greek forces. Thomas Moore’s Byron’s Life and Letters describes the final moments: “Exposure, which his declining health was unfitted to bear, brought on a fever, and the soldier-poet of freedom died without proper attendance, far from those he loved. He conversed a good deal at first with his friend Parry, who records that ‘he spoke of death with great composure.’ The day before he expired, when his friends and attendants wept round his bed at the thought of losing him, he looked at one of them steadily, and said, half smiling, ‘Oh questa a una bella seena!’ (Oh this is a fine scene!) After a fit of delirium, he called his faithful servant Fletcher, who offered to bring pen and paper to take down his words. ‘Oh no,’ he replied, ‘there is no time. Go to my sister–tell her–go to Lady Byron–you will see her, and say . . . .’ Here his voice became indistinct. For nearly twenty minutes he muttered to himself, but only a word now and then could be distinguished. He then said, ‘Now, I have told you all.’ Fletcher replied that he had not understood a word. ‘Not understand me?’ exclaimed Byron, with a look of the utmost distress, ‘what a pity!–then it is too late; all is over.’ He tried to utter a few more words, but none were intelligible except ‘my sister–my child.’ After the doctors had given him a sleeping draught, he reiterated, ‘Poor Greece!–poor town!–My poor servants! my hour is come!–I do not care for death–but why did I not go home?–There are things that make the world dear to me: for the rest I am content to die.’ He spoke also of Greece, saying, ‘I have given her my time, my means, my health–and now I give her my life! What could I do more?’ About six o’clock in the evening he said, ‘Now, I shall go to sleep.’ He then fell into the slumber from which he never woke. At a quarter past six on the following day, he opened his eyes and immediately shut them again. The physicians felt his pulse–he was dead.” At the end, when bloodletting had further weakened him, Byron’s face was so swollen that he was barely recognizable. Phyllis Grosskurth in Byron (1997) describes how part of his skull and his internal organs were removed for grisly souvenirs, and then his body was stitched back up.

	Because of his allegedly scandalous personal life, Byron was not allowed burial in Westminster Abbey. For one thing, he was never forgiven for satirizing the parson whose “jokes were sermons, and his sermons jokes.” 

Byron was then buried in the family vault beneath Hucknall Paris Church at Hucknall Torckard, not far from Newstead. Byron’s own views on the subject of death-beds had been expressed in a letter to Murray, dated June 7th, 1820. “A death-bed,” he wrote, “is a matter of nerves and constitution, not of religion.” He also remarked that “Men died calmly before the Christian era, and since, without Christianity.” Byron’s vault was opened twice, the first time in 1852 when a velvet-draped coffin containing the body of his thirty-eight-year-old daughter Augusta Ada, by his wife Annabella, was lowered into it. In 1938, the lid of his coffin was removed and the poet was seen again 114 years after his burial. The opening was motivated by the church vicar’s desire “to clear up all doubts as to the poet’s burial place and compile a record of the contents of the vault.” First, the wooden lid of his lead casket was raised. Inside was another lid made of lead, and when this was raised, there was still a third lid, made of wood. When the final lid was pulled off, A. E. Houldsworth, the church warden, noted the following:

. . . we were able to see Lord Byron’s body which was in an excellent state of preservation. No decomposition had taken place and the head, torso, and limbs were quite solid. The only parts skeltonised were the forearms, hands, lower shins, ankles and feet, though his right foot was not seen in the coffin. [Houldsworth later wrote biographer Elizabeth Longford]: “His right foot was detached from his leg and lay at the bottom of the coffin.”] The hair on his head, body, and limbs was intact, though grey. His sexual organ shewed quite abnormal development. There was a hole in his breast and at the back of his head, where his heart and brains had been removed. These are placed in a large urn near the coffin.”

The following day, the coffin was closed, the vault sealed, and Byron was left alone. However, Byron’s heart and lungs, in another version of the story, are buried in Italy near Shelley’s body (minus Shelley’s heart—or liver—which Trelawny during the cremation had plucked out for return to Mary Shelley in London). Little known until publicized in the mid-twentieth century was Byron’s having fallen in love in Cephalonia during the last months of his life. He had helped a Greek widow, then had fallen in love with her fifteen-year-old son Lukas. Hiring him as a page, he bought Lukas a uniform and gave him a command of a troop of thirty soldiers. When Lukas contracted a fever, Byron doctored him and gave him his own bed. Lukas, however, irritated him by asking for money and luxuries, and one of Byron’s last three poems, “On This Day I Complete My Thirty Sixth Year,” speaks of his being in love with a person who does not return the affection “though it be my lot / To strongly–wrongly–vainly–love thee still.” Augusta Ada, who was born in 1815 of his ill-fated marriage to Annabella Milbanke, saw little of her father and was fifteen before she found that he was a famous poet. A mathematician like her mother, she almost bankrupted her husband by applying her mathematical techniques to racetrack betting. At the age of thirty-six, she died. The other daughter, whose mother was Claire Clairmont who had followed Byron to Switzerland and Italy, was variously called Alba, Clara, and finally Allegra. Although never legitimized, she was supposed to have received a legacy from her father’s estate. However, she died of a fever in the convent where he had installed her to “get a proper Catholic upbringing,” just before her sixth birthday. (See entry for Shelley. Also, see Nancy H. Medved’s and Irving Wallace’s essays on Byron in The People’s Almanac, essays which document much of the above; and Colin McCall’s “Byron Raises Cain” in The Freethinker [March 1996) and “Byron: Enemy of English Cant,” The Freethinker, May 1998]) {BDF; CE; CL; FO; ILP; PA; ILP; JM; RAT; Claude Rawson, The New York Times Book Review, 9 May 1999; RE; RSR; TYD}

Bytel, G. M. (20th Century) Bytel, a former dancer, is a Dutch painter and designer. In 1996 she participated in the 1996 Humanist Conference in Mexico City.