100 years ago last week, the Times Magazine ran a front page article in which Thomas Edison states his belief that there is no soul, and no life after death. This week, the Magazine printed several articles in response.
Here, the Times prints several letters to the editor in response to the article. They show a cross section of views from the public.
Some readers, like Adele Malette, disagreed with Edison. She says, “I firmly believe there is a supernatural being, and I thoroughly believe of life after death, life in this same world; that the soul reappears in the shape of another body, and that the soul is in the brain.” She also believes that animals have souls, but she doesn’t believe there is a heaven.
But a reader named Lurana Sheldon wrote to praise Edison for speaking out:
The “amazing” part, it seems to me, is that Mr. Edison is willing to give his views to the world and take the petty furor of undeveloped minds that will doubtless rage at his statements.
This is not an age of martyrdom, and few people will bother to expound their faiths, especially if by so doing they are bound to joggle the pedestal of some mythological belief, unless in the words of commercialism “there is something in it.”
Mr. Edison does not need to preach even the most intelligent faith; he can go right on eating, without telling any one what he thinks, but the fact that he has “put himself on paper” so fearlessly is certainly “amazing” — delightfully so, in fact — now who else in his rank and file will follow his example?
If Lurana were around today, she might be interested in the Celebrity Atheist List, a wiki that chronicles notable individuals who have publicly stated their own lack of belief in deities.
READERS OF THE TIMES TAKE ISSUE WITH EDISON’S STATEMENTS (PDF)
From October 9, 1910