October 20 in freethought history…

paulkurtzOctober 20, 2012 – Paul Kurtz, perhaps the most influential skeptic and secular humanist of the 20th century, dies in Amherst, New York, aged 86. He founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP, now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), the Council for Secular Humanism, the Center for Inquiry, and the publishing house Prometheus Books. He also contributed to Humanist Manifesto II. He had leadership roles in numerous other organizations, and was a member of the American Humanist Association and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Although he contributed more than nearly anyone to the secularization of humanism, in 2010 he was pushed out of the three major organizations he founded because of his desire to take a less adversarial approach to religion.

October 20, 1890 – British explorer, linguist, translator and writer Richard Francis Burton dies in Trieste, Austria-Hungary, aged 69. His achievements were legion, including a thoroughly documented pilgrimage in disguise to Mecca, a complete translation of One Thousand and One Nights, and extensive explorations in Africa. Of religions, Burton said, “The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.”

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