Promoting Science and Reason at the University of Texas at Arlington
What is Freethought?
Freethought is a philosophical doctrine that holds that beliefs should be formed on scientific facts and inquiry and not be comprised by authority, tradition, or any other dogmatic belief system that restricts logical reasoning. The cognitive application of freethought is known as freethinking, and practitioners of freethought are known as freethinkers.
Freethinkers strive to build their beliefs on the basis of facts and logical principles, independent of the factual/logical fallacies and intellectually-limiting effects of authority, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, sectarianism, tradition, urban legend and all other dogmas. When applied to religion, the philosophy of freethought holds that, given presently-known facts, established scientific theories, and logical principles, there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena; as such, freethinkers reject religious dogma entirely. A line from "Clifford's Credo" by the 19th Century British mathematician and philosopher William Kingdon Clifford perhaps best describes the premise of freethought: "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." Since many popular beliefs are based on dogmas, freethinkers' opinions are often at odds with established views.
Freethinkers neither accept nor reject ideas proposed as truth without recourse to facts and reason. A rejection of any idea on the basis of dogmatic attitudes is inconsistent with the commonly stated principles of freethought.