From Academic Kids

Freethought is a characteristic of individuals whose opinions are formed on the basis of an understanding and rejection of tradition, authority or established belief. This definition as for example is applicable to thought based on rejection of religious dogma.

Freethinkers tend to form opinions primarily using facts and reason. The term may describe viewpoints independent of established or dogmatic political, social or intellectual views. It most often also describes one who is skeptical about orthodox religious dogma. In Western society, it usually refers to one who questions or refuses to accept Christian dogma.

Many freethinkers believe that the weight of evidence for any claims of supernaturalism are insufficient. The term derives its meaning from the freedom to question any and all assertions.

There are strong ties between freethought and atheism, deism, heresy, skepticism (scepticism), and both humanism and secular humanism, but none of these terms are synonymous with one another. Freethought may be defined differently by different people. For example, deists believe in the existence of a first cause through rational argument, rather than authority, tradition, or scripture. Atheist freethinkers however disagree that logic or evidence leads to the possibility of a first cause. Some atheist freethinkers hold that freethought is best considered as a religion itself since it offers alternative analyses of and conclusions about religious questions which simply happen not to include supernaturalism.

A related movement is that of the "Brights", a term coined in 2003 by Paul Geisert to refer to people who hold a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural and mystical elements.


The Freethinker magazine was first published in Britain in 1881. It was founded by G W Foote.

In issue 1 of the Freethinker (May, 1881) Foote wrote: "The Freethinker is an anti‑Christian organ, and must therefore be chiefly aggressive. It will wage relentless war against Superstition in general, and against Christian Superstition in particular. It will do its best to employ the resources of Science, Scholarship, Philosophy and Ethics against the claims of the Bible as a Divine Revelation; and it will not scruple to employ for the same purpose any weapons of ridicule or sarcasm that may be borrowed from the armoury of Common Sense."

Prosecuted for blasphemy, partly because of anti-religious cartoons which appeared in the Christmas 1882 edition of The Freethinker, Foote was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment with hard labour.

The Freethinker is currently edited by Barry Duke.

See also

External links and references

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