A number of freethinkers were born in November, including Scott Joplin (1868), Charles Schulz (1922), Randy Newman (1943) and Bill Nye (1955). Several freethinkers with ties to Pittsburgh were discussed last week. It is worth noting at least one more individual, while not born in Pittsburgh, he is well-known for his contributions to western PA.
Andrew Carnegie was born in Dumfermline, Scotland, on November 25, 1835. In 1848, his family emigrated to Pennsylvania, settling in Allegheny City, which existed as an independent municipality from 1788 until it was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907. Located across the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh, it is known today as the North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
As noted in Wikipedia, Carnegie kept his distance from organized religion and theism. Carnegie instead preferred to see things through naturalistic and scientific terms stating, “not only had I got rid of the theology and the supernatural, but I had found the truth of evolution.”
As pointed out in FFRF’s Freethought of the Day, in a 1905 letter to Sir James Donaldson of St. Andrews, Carnegie wrote:
“The whole scheme of Christian Salvation is diabolical as revealed by the creeds. An angry God, imagine such a creator of the universe. Angry at what he knew was coming and was himself responsible for. Then he sets himself about to beget a son, in order that the child should beg him to forgive the Sinner. This however he cannot or will not do. He must punish somebody — so the son offers himself up & our creator punishes the innocent youth, never heard of before — for the guilty and became reconciled to us. … I decline to accept Salvation from such a fiend.”
It is not surprising that Carnegie’s wealth went to libraries and museums, which has enriched Pittsburgh in many ways, even today.