This short essay sets forth what free thinking is all about in very simple terms.
(Image: Giordano Bruno)
A Free Thinker is, first and foremost, someone who can and does do his/her own thinking. He will listen to other points of view and will give careful thought to those that cohere, that are based on facts and solid evidence, and on rational thinking, but he reserves the right—nay, he insists—on making his own judgments. He is reluctant to align himself with any political party, and he will reject the philosophy of any person or organization with narrow or fixed points of view.
The Free Thinker is open-minded about most matters. He is not open-minded about the closed-minded beliefs held by others. Indeed, he rejects such beliefs out of hand. He is not open to absurdities, or to evil intentions, or to ideas that further the aims of those who would harm others. He dislikes politics in general mainly because it attracts too many men and women with ulterior motives, who seek personal gain at the expense of others. He will, however, support any candidate or politician of good-will, who has sound ideas and proposals, and who acts in the public interest, rather than only his own or his party’s interests. He is thus independent, but he is not a member of the Independent Party.
When making evaluations about important matters, the Free Thinker rejects assertions as unfounded and not worthy of further consideration. Examples: “Obama is evil. He is a Muslim.” He is also extremely skeptical of the motives of those who rely on principles rather than facts, especially when those principles are used in place of facts. Example: “I believe in American values. I am patriotic.”
But here is the ultimate test of Free Thinking: To be free to think and to assess all ideas from any source, you must be free from religious dogma. The Free Thinker therefore is not a member of any church. He may be religious in the sense that he believes in God and an afterlife, and in treating everyone as he would like to be treated, but he does not gather in groups or in any religious setting to sing the praises of some one else’s religion. He finds it incongruous that an infinitely perfect God would create beings and then insist that they follow the will of equally faulty clerics, or demand they bow down to Him to show their gratitude. He believes the far better way to show his gratitude is to lead a life of moral and intellectual improvement. His personal religious philosophy could be summed up in this statement: "I believe that God gave me a brain, and He expects me to use it."
The Free Thinker believes in the dignity of the individual, the right of all to be free from the tyranny of others, the further right of each person to be free to pursue his dreams or aspirations without having to jump, dodge, or otherwise get around obstacles that others have unjustly put in his path. The Free Thinker believes that no one is free to do all these things until all are free to do them.