March 29, 1824 -Â Philosopher and physiologist LudwigÂ BÃ¼chner is born in Darmstadt, Germany. He was a foremost German proponent of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories, and published a number of scientific books in which he vehemently advocated an extreme materialist view (which included an insistence on the indestructibility of matter). His writings inspired German secularists, and in 1881 he founded the German Freethinkers League, whichÂ eventually attracted half a million members before being closed by the Nazis in 1933.Â BÃ¼chner died in 1899, aged 75.
March 29, 1943Â – Comedian Eric Idle, member of the legendary Monty Python troupe, is born in South Shields, England. His musicalÂ abilities have given the world such humanistic songs as “The Galaxy Song” (which appeared in the filmÂ Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life) and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (infamously featured during the crucifixion scene of the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and now becoming more common as a selection played at nonreligious funerals). Idle, who has variously described himself as a “praying atheist” and an “Alzheimer’s agnostic,” had this to say about politicized American Christianity: “It seems especially perverse that people purporting to be Christian, a religion that vows to help the poor and heal the sick, should be so violently against helping the poor and healing the sick. Followers of a religion that preaches forgiveness and turning the other cheek, demand the right for the outright insane to own more and more weapons. Nuts, Iâ€™m afraid.”