April 9 in freethought history…

williamofockhamApril 9, 1347 – English friar William of Ockham dies in what is now Munich, Germany. He is best known by his namesake Ockham’s Razor (also Occam’s Razor), the “law of parsimony” that suggests that the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions is usually the best. Although Ockham was a devout Christian and never expressed this law in so many words, Ockham’s Razor has become a touchstone for scientists and skeptics.

April 9, 1932 – Counterculture icon Paul Krassner is born in Brooklyn, New York. He founded and edited the satirical magazine The Realist, which often featured freethought content, beginning regularly in 1958. It eventually succumbed to an irregular publishing schedule and ended in 2001.

April 9, 1989 – In a speech at Brown University, American historian and social critic Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., said, “As a historian, I confess to a certain amusement when I hear the Judeo-Christian tradition praised as the source for our present-day concern for human rights…. In fact, the great religious ages were notable for their indifference to human rights… Human rights is not a religious idea. It is a secular idea, the product of the last four centuries of Western history…. The basic human rights documents – the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man – were written by political, not religious, leaders.”

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