FREETHINKER: In general, one who reaches his conclusions by following the demands of reason, rather than those of authority; more particularly, one who rejects the supernatural elements of Christianity. The term was first used toward the close of the seventeenth century, though it does not seem to have gained general currency till after the publication of Anthony Collins' Discourse of Freethinking (1713, see COLLINS, ANTHONY). The term then came to be applied specifically to the group of deistic writers formed by Collins, Woolston, Tindal, and others (see DEISM). Although Collins defined freethinking as merely an attempt to judge a proposition according to the weight of evidence, his book was regarded as an attack on the fundamental tenets of Christianity; and from that day to this the term freethinker has carried with it, in the popular understanding, the implication of skeptic, infidel, and even libertine and atheist. The freethinker of to-day does not reject Christianity; he explains it.