February 12 in freethought history…

February 12, 1789 – American patriot Ethan Allen dies in Burlington, Vermont, aged 51. Best known for his daring exploits during the Revolutionary War, Allen was also a politician, frontier philosopher and early advocate for smallpox inoculation. In later life he self-published Reason: the Only Oracle of Man, a rambling attack on organized religion that arose from earlier collaboration with physician and Deist Thomas Young. The book sold poorly; few copies survive.

February 12, 1809 – Charles Darwin is born in Shrewsbury, England. He was the co-discoverer, with Alfred Russel Wallace, of evolution by natural selection. His books include The Voyage of the Beagle, On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man and Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Evolution and the shared ancestry of all life on earth has dealt a blow to belief in divine creation (although there are hold-outs even in the 21st century). As for Darwin…he wrote in an 1880 letter: “I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the son of God.”

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