Anaxagoras, Greek philosopher (500?-428? BCE).
". . . probably the first freethinker we know of to be condemned
for his beliefs." "He regarded the conventional gods as mythic abstractions endowed with anthropomorphic attributes. His writings
led him to a dungeon, charged with impiety, probably about the year 450 B.C.E." Only the intervention of the great statesman
and orator Pericles saved Anaxagoras from a death sentence. He had to pay a fine and, according to some accounts, was banished.
He lived his final years in exile.
Diagoras "the Atheist" of Melos, Greek poet, (5th cent. BCE).
Threw a wooden image of a god into a fire, remarking
that the deity should perform another miracle and save itself. The uproar this caused in Athens prompted Diagoras to flee
for his life. "Athens outlawed him and offered a reward for his capture dead or alive. He lived out his life in Spartan territory."
Protagoras, Greek philosopher (481?-411 BCE).
"As to the gods, I am unable to say whether they exist or do not
Democritus, Greek philosopher (460?-357 BCE).
The father of Materialism. Argued that mechanical relationships
or arrangements of the atoms account for various characteristics of nature, the intimation here being that the natural order
of the world resulted from chance. Even morality, the soul, and all mental life are reducible to mechanistic terms with physical
imperceptible atoms as their basic structure. Spiritual reality does not exist; what appears to be spiritual is attributed
simply to subperceptible atomic structure or else to mere superstition. Hence, the Democritan philosophy of mechanistic Materialism
is complete, self-sufficient, and self-contained. [History of Philosophy] [Visit The Philosophy Garden]
Epicurus, Greek philosopher (341-270 BCE).
As a Materialist, Epicurus accepted the idea that the soul consists
of atomic material which disintegrates at death, at which time all sensation ceases. Consequently, he said, death need not
be a matter of anxious concern, inasmuch as it is merely the state in which all sensation ceases. [History of Philosophy]
[Visit The Philosophy Garden]
Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman statesman, orator, and philosopher (106-43 BCE).
Lucretius, Roman philosopher and poet (96?-55 BCE).
Chief proponent of atomism. In On the Nature of Things
he wrote "human life lay foul before men's eyes, crushed to the dust beneath religion's weight." Leah Kronenberg tells me
that Lucretius was a dedicated Epicurean, and thus gods do exist, but have no interest in human affairs. His writings are
full of invective against religion. [Visit The Philosophy Garden]
Lucius Annaeus Seneca "the Younger," Roman stoic philosopher, writer, and politician (4-65).
"Religion is regarded
by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful."
Gallus Petronius, Roman courtier and wit (1st cent.).
"It is fear that first brought Gods into the world."
John of Lackland, English King (1199-1216) (1167?-1216).
John may not have been a bonafide atheist, but he moved
farther in that direction than was common in medieval times. From the biography, Eleanor of Aquitaine (John's mother)
by Alison Weir, p. 234: "John's bad press in the monastic chronicles may be attributed to his failures as a king *and his
cynical contempt for religion*; he quarrelled with the Church during his reign and was excommunicated. 'He led such a dissipated
life that he ceased to believe in the resurrection of the dead and other articles of the Christian faith...'(Medieval chroniclers
Roger of Wendover and Matthew Paris; quoted in Weir). Once, upon seeing a buck slaughtered, at the end of a hunt, remarked
'You happy beast, never forced to patter prayers nor dragged to Holy Mass.'" (Paris, in Weir).
Giordano Bruno, Italian philosopher (1548?-1600).
Not an atheist, but a "heretic" who was in conflict with the
church over his cosmological theories.
You can find more information about Giordano Bruno at www.punkerslut.com.
Christopher Marlowe, English dramatist and poet (1564-1593).
"I count religion but a childish toy and hold there
is no sin but innocence." - the character Machiavel, in The Jew of Malta, "Prologue." The lines are often modernized: "I count
religion but a childish toy and hold there is no sin but ignorance."
Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher (1588-1679).
Not an atheist, but an early advocate for the subordination of
the church to the state. Here are some internet resources on Thomas Hobbes.
Aphra Behn, playwright (1640-1689).
Francois La Rouchefoucauld, French writer (1650?-?).
An important source for Nietzsche's ideas.
Thomas Otway, English classical poet (1652-1685).
"These are rogues that pretend to be of a religion now! Well,
all I say is, honest atheism for my money."
Thomas Woolston, English writer (1669-1731) or? (1670-1733).
Was put under house arrest for the remainder of
his life when he voiced doubt about the resurrection and other Bible miracles. [Holy Horrors]
Francois Marie Arouet "Voltaire", French author and playwright (1694-1778).
Perhaps never really an atheist,
nonetheless, Voltaire changed late in life into a fearless crusader against religious cruelty and injustice.
man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror."
"Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd
and bloody religion that has ever infected the world."
"If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities."
born of paganism and adopted by Judaism, invested the Christian Church from earliest times. All the fathers of the Church,
without exception, believed in the power of magic. The Church always condemned magic, but she always believed in it: she did
not excommunicate sorcerers as madmen who were mistaken, but as men who were really in communication with the devil." [Philosophical
"Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense." [Philosophical
"When he that speaks, and he to whom he speaks, neither of them understand what is meant, that is
"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."
Jean Meslier, French erstwhile priest (1678-1733).
A country priest who led an exemplary life, he died an atheist.
He left behind a memoir which was circulated by Voltaire. This expressed his disgust with humanity and his inability to believe
in God. Newton's infinite space, Meslier believed, was the only eternal reality: nothing but matter existed. Religion was
a device used by the rich to oppress the poor and render them powerless. Christianity was distinguished by its particularly
ludicrous doctrines, such as the Trinity and the Incarnation. [A History of God]
Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, scientist, writer, printer (1706-1790).
"Many a long dispute among divines
may be thus abridged: It is so; It is not so. It is so; it is not so."
"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."
David Hume, Scottish philosopher and historian (1711-1776).
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle,
unless . . . its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." [Of Miracles]
Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable
person without one."
"When I hear a man is religious, I conclude that he is a rascal, although I have known some instances
of very good men being religious."
Visit The Hume Archives for more information on David Hume.
Frederick the Great, Prussian king (1712-1786).
". . . you will certainly grant me that neither antiquity nor
whatever nation has devised a more repulsive and blasphemous absurdity than that of eating your God. This is the most disgusting
dogma of Christian religion, the greatest insult to the Highest Being, the climax of madness and insanity."
(from a letter
to Voltaire, March, 19, 1776)
Here is a web page on Frederick the Great.
Denis Diderot, French philosopher, author, and encyclopedist (1713-1784).
Editor of the first encyclopedia, Diderot
was jailed briefly for writing irreligious thoughts. [Holy Horrors]
Thomas Paine, English born American author and revolutionary leader (1737-1809).
Labeled an atheist, but actually
a deist, raised by Quakers, who was extremely critical of organized religion. According to Carl Sagan in The Demon Haunted World, "later generations reviled him for his social and religious views. Theodore Roosevelt called him a 'filthy little atheist.'
. . . He is probably the most illustrious American Revolutionary uncommemorated by a monument in Washington, D.C."
wrote in The Age of Reason, "Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous
executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible [by which Paine means the Old Testament] is
filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness,
that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that
is cruel." The Age of Reason also attacks Christianity as a system of superstition that "produces fanatics" and "serves
the purposes of despotism." When the book reached England, several sellers were convicted of blasphemy and jailed.
is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law."
national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish appear to me no other than human inventions, set up
to terrify and enslave mankind and monopolize power and profit."
You can see all the writings of Thomas Paine at the Internet Infidels web site.
You can find more information about Thomas Paine at www.punkerslut.com.
Marquis de Sade, French libertine (1740-1814).
In his dialogue, Philosophy in the Bedroom, de Sade insults
and derides Christianity several times. In his novel 120 Days of Sodom, he is quoted as saying "The idea of God is
the sole wrong for which I cannot forgive mankind." Also, the "Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man," which can be found
online online is clearly the work of someone with contempt for religion.
Jeremy Bentham, English reformer, author, and philosopher (1748-1832).
Read about Bentham at the Utilitarian Resources web page.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German author (1749-1832).
Stoutly anti-Christian, but not atheist.
with ideas of immortality is for people of rank, and especially for ladies who have nothing to do. But a man of real worth
who has something to do here, and must toil and struggle to produce day by day, leaves the future world to itself, and is
active and useful in this."
Pierre Simon de Laplace, French mathematician and astronomer (1749-1827).
His major contribution to science was
a detailed study of gravitation in the universe; his conclusions were published in his five-volume Traite de mechanique
celeste (Celestial Mechanics)... Laplace presented an early copy of this work to Napoleon, who studied it very carefully.
Sending for Laplace, he said, "You have written a large book about the universe without once mentioning the author of the
universe." "Sire," Laplace replied, "I have no need of that hypothesis. (Je n'ai pas besoin de cet hypothese.)"
James Madison, American president and political theorist (1751-1836).
"During almost fifteen centuries has the
legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence
in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."
"In no instance
have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people."
"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the
mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise." [April 1, 1774]
Mary Wollstonecraft, author (1759-1797).
Wrote Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman.
Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor (1769-1821).
A theist, for sure, but he knocked religion:
excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."
"All religions have been made by men."
"as for myself, I do not believe
that such a person as Jesus Christ ever existed; but as the people are inclined to superstition, it is proper not to oppose
Simon Bolivar, Venezuelan soldier and South American liberator (1783-1830).
Atheist. Excommunicated by the Catholic
Lord George Gordon Byron, British poet (1788-1824).
Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788-1860).
There was, Schopenhauer believed, no Absolute, no Reason,
no God, no Spirit at work in the world: nothing but brute instinctive will to live. [A History of God]
Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet (1792-1822).
Thrown out of Oxford University for writing the essay, The
Necessity of Atheism in 1810.
"If God has spoken, why is the world not convinced."
"It is easier to suppose that
the universe has existed for all eternity than to conceive a being beyond its limits capable of creating it."
You can find
more information about Shelley at www.punkerslut.com.
Auguste Comte, French philosopher and mathematician (1798-1857).
Comte is considered the father of sociology.
You can find out more about him at the Dead Sociologists Index.
Ernestine Rose, Polish-born American feminist (?-?).
Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach, German philosopher (1804-1872).
Feuerbach was a prominent materialist philosopher
of the nineteenth century. His book, The Essence of Christianity, quickly became a classic of freethought literature.
In that book he argued that religion is the projection of human wishes and is a form of alienation. He began his philosophical
career as a Hegelian idealist but soon moved in the direction of materialism thus encouraging the Young Hegelians with whom
he was associated to similiarly move. The Essence of Christianity electrified the Young Hegelians, particularly influencing
the youthful Karl Marx who adopted and extended its theory of alienation.
Other thinkers were also influenced by Feuerbach
including Nietzsche and Freud. Interestingly enough despite the fact that he was (or perhaps because he was) a leading atheist
a number of twentieth century theologians have taken an interest in his thought including Karl Barth, Martin Buber, Paul Tillich,
and Karl Rahner amongst others. [James Farmelant]
"Man first unconsciously and involuntarily creates God in his own image,
and after this God (Religion) consciously and voluntarily creates man in his own image." [The Essence Of Christianity]
Elizur Wright, American (1804-1885).
Elizur Wright was a life long social reformer. He was reared in an evangelical
Congregationalist family in Connecticut and Ohio. As a young man he attended Yale with the intention of preparing for a career
in the ministry. While at Yale he became interested in the anti-slavery cause. He graduated from Yale with growing doubts
about entering the ministry but he did spend some time working for the American Tract Society and worked as a school teacher.
Later he took a position as a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Western Reserve College. There he became
further involved in the abolitionist movement moving from support for gradual emancipation and colonization of ex-slaves in
Africa to support for the more radical position of immediatism. After he became a more committed Abolitionist he eventually
resigned his position at Western Reserve to work as secretary for the American Anti-Slavery Society.
It was while working
for the Abolitionist movement that Wright gradually became disillusioned with the Christian churches and their perceived tolerance
for slavery and their general hypocrisy over this issue. His disillusionment with the churches on moral grounds gradually
led down the road towards freethought and atheism while still retaining the moral fervor of his evangelical background. In
1847 he wrote "Christianity is itself a total failure... so far as it is a plan of saving souls for a future life without
saving souls and bodies for this." In 1860 he wrote to his friend Beriah Green--"I don't believe in the God of books...I don't
believe in anything but facts appreciated by some degree of evidence." Wright in his old age worked actively on behalf for
freethought causes. He worked for the National Liberal League in association with such prominent freethinkers as Robert Ingersoll.
Towards the end of his life Wright openly described himself as an "infidel," an "atheist," and a "pagan." He called himself
a "materialist" in the tradition of Spinoza, Paine, Darwin, and Huxley. He was quite partial to the Positivism of August Comte.
Abolitionism and freethought were by no means the only causes that Wright devoted himself to. He used his mathematical
training to establish himself as an insurance actuary and this led him to one of other favorite causes--that of life insurance
reform. His efforts in that field eventually led to his being appointed commissioner of life insurance in Massachusetts. As
commissioner he sought to place the industry on sound scientific actuarial principles. Another cause that he devoted himself
to was that of conservation. He successfully fought for the establishment of the Middlesex Fells Reservation (the Fells are
a wooded plateau in and around Medford, Massachusetts) to preserve the forested lands there from encroaching real estate pressures.
Wright's Pond and Wright's Boulder are named for him. [Abolitionist, Actuary, Atheist: Elizur Wright and the Reform Impulse
Lawrence Goodheart (The Kent State University Press, 1990).
John Stuart Mill, English philosopher and economist (1806-1873).
Freethinker, if not strictly atheist.
Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian general and nationalist leader (1807-1882).
Charles Robert Darwin, English naturalist (1809-1882).
From the age of forty he was, to use his own words, a
complete disbeliever in Christianity. He professed himself an Agnostic, regarding the problem of the universe as beyond our
solution, "For myself," he wrote, "I do not believe in any revelation. As for a future life, every man must judge for himself
between conflicting vague probabilities."
"It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against
christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination
of men's minds which follows from the advance of science." [Quoted in How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science
by Michael Shermer.
Abraham Lincoln, American president (1809-1865).
In 2000 Years of Disbelief by James A. Haught, Lincoln
is mentioned on pages 125 through 127. From the material presented it would seem that Lincoln as a young man was an avid anti-christian
and most likely an atheist. In his later years, he came to believe in God, but still was anti-religious in the sense that
he rejected organized religion. Some selections from Haught:
John T. Stuart, Lincoln's first law partner: "He was an avowed
and open infidel, and sometimes bordered on Atheism...He went further against Christian beliefs and doctrines and principles
than any man I ever heard."
Joseph Lewis quoting Lincoln in a 1924 speech in New York: "The Bible is not my book nor Christianity
my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."
Lincoln in a letter
to Judge J.S. Wakefield, after the death of Willie Lincoln: "My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of
salvation and the human origin of the scriptures have become clearer and stronger with advancing years, and I see no reason
for thinking I shall ever change them."
As a young man Lincoln apparently wrote a manuscript that he planned to publish,
which vehemently argued against the divine origin of the Bible and the Christian scheme of salvation. Samuel Hill, a friend
and mentor, convinced him to drop it, considering the disastrous consequences it would have on his political career.
H Herndon, a former law partner, wrote a biography on Lincoln titled: The True Story of a Great Life. In it Herndon
discusses Lincoln's religious views extensively.
Gordon Leidner has collected some quotations from Lincoln's later years in which he invokes God, and he makes the argument that Lincoln became a sincere believer. It
seems to me he did come to believe in God but never accepted organized Christianity.
Edgar Allan Poe, American writer (1809-1849).
"No man who ever lived knows any more about the hereafter ... than
you and I; and all religion ... is simply evolved out of chicanery, fear, greed, imagination and poetry."
"The idea of
God, infinity, or spirit stands for the possible attempt at an impossible conception."
Mikhail Bakunin, Russian anarchist leader and writer (1814-1876).
For Bakunin religion represented an impoverishment
of humanity. Religion according to Bakunin was a weapon of the state that must be abolished to make human self-determination
"A jealous lover of human liberty, and deeming it the absolute condition of all that we admire and respect in
humanity, I reverse the phrase of Voltaire, and say that if God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him."
God and the State (New York: Dover Publications, 1970) p. 28.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American suffragist (1815-1902).
Stanton was described at her funeral as "a fearless,
serene agnostic." She was tireless in her criticism of religion and the Bible, decrying their denigration of women.
wrote of the Bible, "I found nothing grand in the history of the Jews nor in the morals inculcated in the Pentateuch. Surely
the writers had a very low idea of the nature of their god. They made him not only anthropomorphic, but of the very lowest
type, jealous and revengeful, loving violence rather than mercy. I know of no other books that so fully teach the subjection
and degradation of women." [Women Without Superstition]
And, "The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling
blocks in the way of women's emancipation." [Treasury of Women's Quotations ]
Her own religious beliefs evolved over the course of her life. As a young woman, she was briefly under the spell of fundamentalist
religion. Her family led her out of that by taking her on a trip and giving her sensible things to read. She said, "That disabused
my mind of hell and the devil and of a cruel, avenging God, and I have never believed in them since." [Interview, Chicago
Record, June 29, 1897, quoted in Women Without Superstition ]
Her early political addresses were sprinkled generously with references to God, but as she found her own voice, increasing
in confidence and battle-scarred by denunciations against her sacrilege in the popular press, invocations lessened. When such
references occurred, "Nature" and "God" became interchangeable. [Women Without Superstition ]
Elizabeth's daughter, Margaret Stanton Lawrence, recalled, "We children have only pleasant memories of a happy home, of
a sunny, cheerful, indulgent mother, whose great effort was to save us from all the fears that shadow the lives of most children.
God was to us sunshine, flowers, affection, all that is grand and beautiful in nature. The devil had no place at our fireside,
nor the Inferno in our dreams of the future."
Late in her life, Elizabeth wrote, "I can say that the happiest period of my life has been since I emerged from the shadows
of superstitions of the old theologies, relieved from all gloomy apprehensions of the future, satisfied that as my labors
and capacities were limited to this sphere of action, I was responsible for nothing beyond my horizon, as I could neither
understand nor change the condition of the unknown world. Giving ourselves, then, no trouble about the future, let us make
the most of the present, and fill up our lives with earnest work here." ["The Pleasures of Age," in The Boston Investigator,
Feb. 2, 1901, quoted in Women Without Superstition ]
In her book on the Bible, the Woman's Bible, Stanton hailed the changes since the Bible had been written, when "rationalism
took the place of religion and reason triumphed over superstition."
Elizabeth Cady Stanton lived her life without deference to a higher power and advocated such living for others. Her criticism
of religion was not limited to "organized religion," which is popularly disparaged today. She decries "superstition," which
probably indicates all religious belief, and trumpets rationalism and reason. Her identification of God with nature is a way
of celebrating the purely secular without directly denouncing the religious beliefs of others. She is in the camp of other
freethinkers of her time, such as Robert Green Ingersoll.
Karl Marx, German political philosopher and economist (1818-1883).
Marx saw religion as "the sigh of the oppressed
creature . . . the opium of the people, which made this suffering bearable." [Quoted in A History of God]
can find out more about Marx at The Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels Internet Archive.
Marion Evans "George Eliot", English novelist (1819-1880).
"The old religion said 'Heaven help us!' Our new one,
from its very lack of that faith in a heaven, will teach us all the more to help one another"
A George Eliot web site.
Walt Whitman, American poet (1819-1892).
Walt reportedly said, "God is a mean-spirited, pugnacious bully bent
on revenge against His children for failing to live up to his impossible standards.$quot; Does this mean he believed this
mean-spirited bully didn't really exist? I'm not sure.
Susan B. Anthony, American suffragist (1820-1906).
Called herself an agnostic.
Thomas Henry Huxley, English biologist (1825-1895).
Huxley coined the term "agnostic."
"...inclined to think
that not far from the invention of fire must rank the invention of doubt"
"The only question which a wise man can ask himself
is whether a doctrine is true or false. Consequences will take care of themselves."
"Henceforward, I might hope to hear
no more of the assertion that we [Agnostics] are necessarily Materialists, Idealists, Atheists, Theists, or any other ists,
if experience had led me to think that the proved falsity of a statement was any guarantee against its reputation. And those
who appreciate the nature of our position will see, at once, that when Ecclesiasticism declares that we ought to believe this,
that, and the other, and are very wicked if we don't, it is impossible for us to give any answer but this: We have not the
slightest objection to believe anything you like, if you will give us good grounds for belief; but, if you cannot, we must
respectfully refuse, even if that refusal should wreck morality and insure our own damnation several times over. We are quite
content to leave that decision to the future. The course of the past has impressed us with the firm conviction that no good
ever comes out of falsehood, and we feel warranted in refusing even to experiment in that direction" [essay "Agnosticism and
Matilda Joslyn Gage, American feminist (1826-1898).
Marilla Ricker, American feminist and activist (?-?).
Henry Stephens Salt, American Humanitarian and ? (1851-1939).
Founder of the Humanitarian League. Read a short
biography of Salt at www.punkerslut.com.
Sir Leslie Stephen, English writer and thinker (1832-1904).
Sir Leslie Stephen was one of Britain's most famous
agnostics of the nineteenth century. In fact while Thomas Huxley was the person who coined the term agnostic it was Stephen
who popularized it.
Leslie Stephen was born into a family of prominent Evangelicals of the Clapham Sect. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity
Hall, Cambridge. At Cambridge he was made a fellow which in those days required taking holy orders and he was ordained an
Anglican priest. By 1862 his developing religious doubts led him to resign his fellowship and by 1864 he left Cambridge for
He married Thackeray's daughter, Harriet Marian in 1867 but she died in 1875 leaving him one child. He later married Julia
Jackson Duckworth and had four children including his best known child the novelist Virginia Woolf.
After abandoning his academic career he made his living as a journalist and writer. He edited the Dictionary of National
Biography . He also wrote extensively on history, religion, and philosophy.
Leslie Stephen's agnosticism was rooted in considerations of the problem of evil. Attempts to resolve this problem by emphasizing
the transcendence and incomprehensibility of God was to him simply evasiveness. Such apologetics was in his view simply a
The rejection of belief in God for Stephen raised the question of how to ground morality if there is no deity. That is
he sought to answer the Dostoyevskian question "If there is no God is not everything permitted?" Stephen sought to answer
this question in his book The Science of Ethics . There he proposed a scientific ethics in which J.S. Mill's utilitarianism
would be synthesized with evolutionary theory.
In addition to The Science of Ethics, Stephen wrote many other works including Essays on Freethinking and Plainspeaking
(1873), An Agnostic's Apology and Other Essays (1893), as well as History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century
(1876), and The English Utilitarians (1900). [James Farmelant]
Robert Green Ingersoll, American politician and lecturer (1833-1899).
"The universe is all the God there is."
ignorance is God; what we know is science."
"With soap, baptism is a good thing."
"The clergy know that I know that
they know that they do not know."
"Why should I allow that same God to tell me how to raise my kids, who had to drown His
"There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the
cradle. Now that science has attained its youth, and superstition is in its dotage, the trembling, palsied wreck says to the
athlete: 'Let us be friends.' It reminds me of the bargain the cock wished to make with the horse: 'Lut us agree not to step
on each other's feet.'"
"For ages, a deadly conflict has been waged between a few brave men and women of thought and genius
upon the one side, and the great ignorant religious mass on the other. This is the war between Science and Faith. The few
have appealed to reason, to honor, to law, to freedom, to the known, and to happiness here in this world. The many have appealed
to prejudice, to fear, to miracle, to slavery, to the unknown, and to misery hereafter. The few have said, "Think!" The many
have said, "Believe!" [The Gods, 1872]
For the works of Ingersoll online, visit The Secular Web.
For some longer excerpts from Ingersoll's speeches, visit The Great Agnostic.
You can find more information about Ingersoll at www.punkerslut.com.
Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-born American industrialist and philanthropist (1835-1919).
I was sent this quotation
for Carnegie, "I don't believe in God. My god is patriotism. Teach a man to be a good citizen and you have solved the problem
If you have information about where this quotation came from or about Carnegie's beliefs, please send them.
Samuel Clemens "Mark Twain", American author and humorist (1835-1910).
"Faith is believing what you know ain't
"'In God We Trust.' I don't believe it would sound any better if it were true."
"It ain't the parts of the Bible
that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."
"Religion consists in a set of things which
the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of."
"There is no other life; life itself is only a vision
and a dream for nothing exists but space and you. If there was an all-powerful God, he would have made all good, and no bad."
[Mark Twain in Eruption]
"Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness...
It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast"
[Reflections on Religion, 1906]
"O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help
us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with
the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us
to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little
children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of
summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied
it . . ." ["The War Prayer"]
"[The Bible is] a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology." ["Mark Twain and the Bible"]
is a marvelous curiosity . . . he thinks he is the Creator's pet . . . he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion
for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens.
Isn't it a quaint idea." [Letters from the Earth]
"If there is a God, he is a malign thug."
Mr. Clemens was
once asked whether he feared death. He said that he did not, in view of the fact that he had been dead for billions and billions
of years before he was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
You can find more information about
Mark Twain at www.punkerslut.com.
Thomas Hardy, English author (1840-1928).
Poem Christmas 1924: "After two thousand years of mass, we've
got as far as poison gas"
Ambrose Bierce, American writer (1842-1914?).
Author of The Devil's Dictionary. Here are some entries:
FAITH: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things
RELIGION: A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
A body of water occupying about two thirds of a world made for man- who has no gills.
SAINT: A dead sinner revised and
In the definition of occident, he claims christians to be "a powerful subtribe of the Hypocrites, whose principal
industries are murder and cheating, which they are pleased to call 'war' and 'commerce'".
For more information on Ambrose
Bierce, visit the Ambrose Bierce Appreciate Society.
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philologist and philosopher (1844-1900).
"God is dead." [Thus Spake Zarathustra]
Christian God, Nietzsche taught, was pitiable, absurd and "a crime against life." [The Twilight of the Idols and The
Antichrist] He had encouraged people to fear their bodies, their passions and their sexuality and had promoted a puling
morality of compassion which had made us weak. There was no ultimate meaning or value and human beings had no business offering
an indulgent alternative in "God." [A History of God]
In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche suggests that
to call god love is a slander to love, since god wants also to judge, and love should never even see sins in need of forgiveness.
Thomas Edison, American inventor (1847-1931).
"Religion is all bunk."
"I have never seen the slightest scientific
proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God."
Octave Mirbeau, French author (1848-1917).
Luther Burbank, American horticulturist and pioneer plant breeder (1849-1926).
"The Bible is an incomplete history
and the folklore of an ancient race, but no more inspired, I believe, than the works of Marcus Aurelius and other great men
of the day."
Olive Shreiner, peace and anti-apartheid campaigner (1855-1920).
An atheist from age 17, according to a school
book of nineteenth century short stories.
Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician and pioneer psychoanalyst (1856-1939).
"It would be very nice if there were
a God who created the world and was a benevolent providence, and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life;
but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be."
"In the long run, nothing can
withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable."
"The whole thing is so patently
infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great
majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life."
Freud certainly regarded belief in God as an
illusion that mature men and women should lay aside. The idea of God was not a lie but a device of the unconscious which needed
to be decoded by psychology. A personal god was nothing more than an exalted father-figure: desire for such a deity sprang
from infantile yearnings for a powerful, protective father, for justice and fairness and for life to go on forever. God is
simply a projection of these desires, feared and worshipped by human beings out of an abiding sense of helplessness. Religion
belonged to the infancy of the human race; it had been a necessary stage in the transition from childhood to maturity. It
had promoted ethical values which were essential to society. Now that humanity had come of age, however, it should be left
behind. [A History of God]
George Bernard Shaw, Irish-born English playwright (1856-1950).
"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic
is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
Joseph Conrad, Polish-born English author (1857-1924).
"Christianity has lent itself with amazing facility to
cruel distortion . . . and has brought an infinity of anguish to innumerable souls on this earth."
"Scepticism . . . is
the agent of truth."
Clarence Seward Darrow, American lawyer (1857-1938).
"I believe that religion is the belief in future life and
in God. I don't believe in either. I don't believe in God as I don't believe in Mother Goose."
quoted in Manual of a
You can find more information about Clarence Darrow at www.punkerslut.com.
William Howard Taft, American President and Chief Justice (1857-1930).
Probably not an atheist, but I thought
it was interesting that an American president in this century said:
"I do not believe in the divinity of Christ and there
are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe."
Pierre Curie, French chemist and physicist (1859-1906).
Francisco Ferrer y Guardia, Spanish educator (1859-1909).
Read a short biography of Ferrer at www.punkerslut.com.
Jose P. Rizal, Philippine national leader (1861-1896).
Rizal, the greatest son and hero of the Philippines and
pride of the Malay race, whose writings attacking the Catholic church and the friars inspired the religious and political
revolution against Spanish colonial theocracy. He is considered the first modern Asian rational humanist whose role in the
liberation of the Philippines from the grip of priesthood paralled that of Tom Paine whose writings inspired the 1776 revolution
in the US.
Rizal was condemned to death for treason and sedition in 1896 by the Spanish colonial government and executed on December
30 of that year. The Spanish friars then libeled Rizal's good name by circulating a forged document entitled "Retraction of
Errors" where Rizal supposedly retracted his affiliation with the Masons and admitted his errors in all writings where he
revealed the abuses of the Spanish friars.
On the eve of his execution, Rizal finished and succeeded in smuggling out prison a poem he wrote popularly known as his
"Ultimo Adios" or "Last Farewall" which is considered even by Spanish literary critics as one of the most poignant poems ever
written in the Spanish language. [ poems]
Voltairine de Cleyre, American feminist and activist (1866-1912).
"I die, as I have lived, a free spirit, an
Anarchist, owing no allegiance to rulers, heavenly or earthly."
Herbert George "H.G." Wells, English author (1866-1946).
"It runs through the entire Christian story, and our
case against the Catholic Church is that, albeit it originated in a passionate assertion of the conception of brotherly equality,
it relapsed steadily from the broad nobility of its beginnings and passed over at last almost completely to the side of persecution
and the pleasures of cruelty." [From Wells' book Crux Ansata - An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church 1944, reprinted
in 1981 by American Atheist Press.]
Marie Curie, Polish-born French chemist and physicist (1867-1934).
Joseph McCabe, English anti-religion campaigner (1867-1955).
One of the giants of not only English Atheism, but
world Atheism, Joseph McCabe left a legacy of aggressive Atheist and antireligious literature that remains fresh and insightful
today. His many works -- he wrote nearly 250 books -- could constitute a library of Atheism by themselves.
Born in 1867, Joseph McCabe became a Franciscan monk at the age of nineteen. But disgusted with his fellow monks and the
Christian doctrine, he left the priesthood for good on February 19, 1896.
Not long afterwards, he began to write -- first against the priesthood itself and then for the position of Atheism. He
was one of the founding members of Britain's Rationalist Press Association, and was a prolific writer for Haldeman-Julius
Publications. He was also a much-respected speaker, giving, by his own estimate, three or four thousand lectures in the United
States, Australia, and Great Britain by the age of eighty. Still fighting against the injustices and dishonesties of religion,
he died on January 10, 1955, at the age of eighty-seven. The epitaph he requested was "He was a rebel to his last day." [The Secular Web]
You can find more information about McCabe at www.punkerslut.com.
Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect (1869-1959).
"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature."
Vladimir Ilich Lenin, Russian revolutionary leader (1870-1924).
Alfred Adler, Austrian psychiatrist (1870-1937).
Allowed that God was a psychological projection but believed
that it had been helpful to humanity; it had been a brilliant and effective symbol of excellence. [A History of God]
have had a report that Adler converted to Christianity in his old age. (Maybe he lost his mental faculties!)
Marcel Proust, French author (1871-1922).
Proust was once asked by his maid, Celeste Albaret, whether or not
he thought there was a God. He replied that he did not know. Monsieur Proust: A Memoir by Celeste Albaret.
Evidently an agnostic, Proust had this to say about atheism: "The atheist forgets that what he is affirming is, precisely,
a negation." (In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust)
Ralph Vaughn Williams, English composer (1872-1958).
The Internet Movie Database has a short biography, which includes, "His professional career spanned more than six decades, with nine Symphonies, several concertos, a ballet,
a few operas and countless choral works. The latter are often performed in church services, not bad for an agnostic composer."
Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, educator, mathematician, and social critic (1872-1970).
"I wish to propose
for the reader's favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine
in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true."
am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out."
is based . . . mainly on fear . . . fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty,
and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. . . . My own view on religion is that of Lucretius.
I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race." [quoted in Holy Horrors]
Robert Frost, American poet (1874-1963).
Culbert Olson, American politician (1876-1962).
The most openly Atheistic elected official was Culbert Olson,
former Governor of California. He became President of the United Secularists of America (USA) in 1957, and remained in that
position until his death in 1962.
Edward Morgan "E.M." Forster, English author (1879-1970).
"I do not believe in Belief (...but...) Tolerance,
good temper and sympathy."
Leon Trotsky, Russian revolutionary and Soviet statesman (1879-1940).
Albert Einstein, German born American threoretical physicist (1879-1955).
"It was, of course, a lie what you
read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and
I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the
unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." [From a letter Einstein wrote in
English, dated 24 March 1954. It is included in Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman,
published by Princeton University Press.
"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education and
social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear
of punishment and hope of reward after death."
Periyar, Indian social campaigner (1879-1973).
Periyar campaigned throughout Tamil-Nadu for social reform, especially
empowerment for women and and end to the social oppression of religion.
"He who created the god was a fool; he who spreads
his name is a scoundrel and he who worships him is a barbarian."
Joseph Stalin, Soviet politician (1879-1953).
I believe Stalin called himself an atheist, but some would argue
that he believed in the Hegelian doctrine of progress as a god.
Lord John Boyd-Orr, Scottish nutritionist (1880-1971).
Nobel peace prize winner, 1949.
W. C. Fields, American entertainer (1880-1946).
An acquaintance of Field's recounts the story of Fields, an atheist,
having once been found reading the Bible. When asked what he was doing reading the Bible, Fields responded, "I'm looking for
loopholes." [Movie W. C. Fields: Striaght Up]
Henry Louis "H.L." Mencken, American editor and critic (1880-1956).
"We must respect the other fellow's religion,
but only in the same sense and to the same extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
is "so absurd that it comes close to imbecility." ["Treatise on the Gods"]
"Since the early days, [the church] has thrown
itself violently against every effort to liberate the body and mind of man. It has been, at all times and everywhere, the
habitual and incorrigible defender of bad governments, bad laws, bad social theories, bad institutions. It was, for centuries,
an apologist for slavery, as it was an apologist for the divine right of kings."
"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical
belief in the occurrence of the improbable. . . . A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity
for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass: he is actually ill."
"God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent,
the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated
egos; He will set them above their betters." [from the alt.quotations archive, found from http://www.starlingtech.com/quotes/search.html]
is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration--courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love
of the truth." 
"Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their
readiness to doubt."
"For centuries, theologians have attempted to explain the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing."
most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind."
Irving Langmuir, American chemist, nobel prize winner 1932 (1881-1957).
When asked about his inattention to religion,
he would likely respond with, "Never believe anything that can't be proved." From his biography, The Quintessence of Irving
Langmuir, by Albert Rosenfeld.
Kemal Ataturk, Turkish soldier and statesman (1881-1938).
James Joyce, Irish author (1882-1941).
Joyce rejected Catholicism and indeed all religion when he was a young
man (as portrayed in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). He considered Catholicism to be "black magic", and deplored
its anti-individuality. "For me there is ony one alternative to scholasticism, scepticism." He also rejected the church's
moralizing, etc. etc.
"He comes into the world God knows how, walks on the water, gets out of his grave and goes up off
the Hill of Howth. What drivel is this?"
"I confess that I do not see what good it does to fulminate against the English
tyranny while the Roman tyranny occupies the palace of the soul."
Virginia Woolf, English author (1882-1941).
Margaret Sanger, American birth control activist, founder of Planned Parenthood (1883-1966).
"No Gods, No Masters."
can find more information about Margaret Sanger at www.punkerslut.com.
DH Lawrence, British writer (1885-1930).
"God is only a great imaginative experience."
"Brute force crushes
many plants. Yet the plants rise again. The Pyramids will not last a moment compared with the daisy. And before Buddha or
Jesus spoke the nightingale sang, and long after the words of Jesus and Buddha are gone into oblivion the nightingale still
will sing. Because it is neither preaching nor commanding nor urging. It is just singing. And in the beginning was not a Word,
but a chirrup." -Etruscan Places
Diego Rivera, Mexican muralist painter (1886-1982).
From his autobiography, My Art, My Life: An Autobiography
by Diego Rivera Gladys March narrating an encounter with bigots at a church: "Stupid people! You reek of dirt and stupidity!
You are so crazy that you believe that if I were to ask the portrait of my father, hanging in my house, for one peso, the
portrait would actually give me one peso. You are utter idiots. In order to get pesos, I have to ask someone who has pesos
to spare and is willing to give some to me. You talk of heaven, pointing with your fingers over your head. What heaven is
there? There is only air, clouds which give rain, lightening which makes a loud sound and breaks the tree branches, and birds
flying. There are no boys with wings nor any ladies or gentlemen sitting on clouds. Clouds are water vapor which goes up when
the heat of the sun's rays strikes the rivers and lakes. You can see this vapor from the Guanajuato mountains. It turns to
water which falls in drops, and so we have rain. At the entrance of this place, I saw boxes to collect money, and a man asking
for more money. I also know the priest who comes often to our house to drink my aunt's good chocolate and glasses of liquor.
With the money he collects for the church, he pays the painters and sculptors to paint all these lies and puppets. He does
this to get more money to make stupid people like you believe that these are truths and to make you fear the Virgin Mary and
God. In order to have the priest appease these idols to spare you because you are cruel, dirty, and bad people, you give this
money to the priest. Does that fear stop the beggars, the poor people, and the jobless miners from sneaking into the houses
of the rich people, the grocery stores, the clothing stores of the gabachos, and the haciendas of the gringos, and taking
from them a little of what they need? What about you, you old fool? If there really is a Holy Virgin or anyone up in the air,
tell them to send lightening to strike me down or let the stones of the vault fall on my head. If you are unable to do that
Mr. Priest, you're nothing but a puppet taking money from stupid old women. You're no better than the clown in the circus
coaxing coins from the public. If God doesn't stop me, then there must be no God. Get out of here! You see, there is no God!
You're all stupid cows! "
Arthur Rubenstein, Polish-American pianist (1886-1982).
During a radio interview with Rubenstein the conversation
took a sharp turn away from music when the interviewer suddeenly asked, "Mr. Rubenstein, do you believe in God?" Rubenstein
calmly replied, "No. You see, what I believe in is something much greater."
Sir Julian Sorell Huxley, English biologist and author (1887-1975).
"We should be agnostic about those things
for which there is no evidence. We should not hold beliefs merely because they gratify our desires for afterlife, immortality,
heaven, hell, etc."
From Religion without Revelation by Julian Huxley
"The sense of spiritual relief which comes
from rejecting the idea of God as a supernatural being is enormus."
M.N. Roy, Indian political thinker (1887-1954).
Roy was one of the first Indian communists. M.N.Roy founded the
Communist Party of Mexico. He lived in the Soviet Union during the 1920s - he was the only man in the secret tribunal that
tried Leon Trotsky who did not believe in Trotsky's "guilt". The Soviets, of course, chased Trotsky all over the world for
the rest of his life. Disillusioned with communism, M. N. Roy founded his own school of philosophy - Radical Humanism. Many
Indians consider M. N. Roy to be the only original political thinker India has produced in the 20th century.
Irving Berlin, Russian-born American lyricist and composer (1888-1989).
In her biography of her father, Irving
Berlin: A Daughter's Memoir, Mary Ellin Barrett mentions her father's "agnosticism," (p.123) and refers to him as a "nonbeliever,"
Fenner Brockway, peace campaigner (1888-1988).
Brockway was a labor leader who opposed British imperialism and
advocated giving freedom to its colonies.
Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian statesman (1889-1964).
A self-professed atheist, he said of India, "No country or people
who are slaves to dogma and dogmatic mentality can progress." [Key Ideas in Human Thought]
Sir Alfred Hitchcock, British film director (1899-1980).
I have heard that in later life, Hitchcock become areligious.
If you have any information on his beliefs, please let me know. Here is an anecdote that may illustrate his growing anti-religious
sentiments. (Though at the time he was apparently still a church-going Catholic.)
Driving through a Swiss city one day,
Hitchcock suddenly pointed out of the car window and said, "That is the most frightening sight I have ever seen." His companion
was surprised to see nothing more alarming that a priest in conversation with a little boy, his hand on the child's shoulder.
"Run, little boy," cried Hitchcock, leaning out of the car. "Run for your life!"
Phillip Randolph, American civil rights veteran and union leader, (1889-1979).
E. Haldeman-Julius, American publisher (1889-1951).
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, British born actor, director, and producer (1889-1977).
"By simple common
sense I don't believe in God, in none."
quoted in Manual of a Perfect Atheist.
H. P. Lovecraft, American author (1890-1937).
Here are extracts from Lovecraft; A Biography by L. Sprague
"H. P. Lovecraft was strongly influenced, not only by his mother but also by the books he read. . . . At five,
he . . . (read) . . . a junior edition of The Arabian Nights. He at once fell in love with the glories of medieval Islam and
spent hours playing Arab. . . . One effect of dabbling in non-Christian traditions was to make Lovecraft skeptical of the
faith of his fathers. Before he reached his fifth birthday anniversary, young Lovecraft announced that he no longer believed
in Santa Claus. Further private thought convinced him that arguments for the existence of God suffered the same weaknesses
as those for Santa.
"At five, Lovecraft was placed in the infant class of the Sunday school of the venerable First Baptist Meeting House on
College Hill. The results were not what the elders expected. When the feeding of Christian martyrs to the lions came up, Lovecraft
shocked the class by gleefully taking the side of the lions. He wrote:
The absurdity of the
myths I was called upon to accept and the sombre greyness of the whole faith compared with the Eastern magnificence of Mahometanism,
made me definitely an agnostic; and caused me to become so pestiferous a questioner that I was permitted to discontinue attendance.
. . . My grandfather had travelled observingly through Italy, and delighted
me with long, first-hand accounts of its beauties and memorials of ancient grandeur. I mention this aesthetic tendency in
detail only to lead up to its philosophical result - my last flickering of religious belief.
". . . His skeptical view of the supernatural - his nontheism - and his love
of the Classical world were not the only lasting passions formed in his childhood.
". . . he embraced eighteenth-century rationalism, which confirmed him in his atheistic materialism."
[Chapter 2, pages
Rudolf Carnap, German-American philosopher (1891-1970).
A central figure of the Vienna Circle which was devoted
to the philosophy of logical positivism. In his Intellectual Autobiography printed in The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap
ed. by Paul Schilpp (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1963) he described the basic worldview he shared with the rest of the
Circle in the following terms:
". . . the first is the view that man has no supernatural protectors or enemies . . . Second,
we had the conviction that mankind is able to change the conditions of life in such a way that many of the sufferings of today
may be avoided . . . the third is the view that all deliberate action presupposes knowledge of the world , that the scientific
method is the best method of acquiring knowledge and that therefore science must be regarded as one of the most valuable instruments
for the improvement of human life. In Vienna we had no names for these views; if we look for a brief designation in American
terminology for the combination of these three convictions, the best would seem to be 'scientific humanism.'"
Josip Broz, "Tito", Yugoslavian statesman (1892-1980).
I don't have good evidence that Tito was an atheist, but
it seems likely. Despite being raised in a Croat Catholic family, he became a communist and, when he achieved power, he interrupted
relations witht he Vatican, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis in Croatia during the war. At the end of the war,
he condemned Bishop Stepinac - who was really old by then - to forced labor in jail. His problems with Vatican lasted at least
until the seventies.
If you have any more information about the beliefs of Tito, please write.
Pearl S. Buck, American author (1892-1973).
"I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in human beings."
am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and the angels. I have enough for
this life." [Treasury of Women's Quotations]
John Burdon Sanderson Haldane, Scottish biochemist (1892-1964).
Professor of genetics (1933-57) and biometry
(1937-57) at London University, he was an ardent Marxist,but left the Communist Party after the Lysenko affair. His many writings
include Science and Ethics (1928), and Heredity and Politics (1938). In 1957 he emigraated to India as a protest
agains British policies.
Haldane was engaged in discussion with an eminent theologian. "What inference," asked the latter, "might one draw about
the nature of God from a study of his works?" Haldane replied: "An inordinate fondness for beetles."
Mao Tse-tung, Chinese Communist leader and theorist (1893-1976).
John Boynton "J.B." Priestley, English author (1894-?).
Aldous Huxley, British writer (1894-1963).
"You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible
fooleries of magic and religion. . . . Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send
down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat's meat, to wheedle
the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being
intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough."
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell." -Point Counter Point
Dora Russell, British author (1894-1986).
Brock Chisholm, humanist campaigner (1896-1971).
Naomi Mitchison, author (1897-?).
Baroness Wootton, politician (1897-1988).
William James Sidis, American prodigy (1898-1944).
Sidis was a child prodigy and a staunch atheist at age 6.
Lots of stuff about Sidis can be found at the Quantonics web site, including a review of a biography of Sidis.
Friedrich August von Hayek, Austrian-born English economist (1899-1993).
"Though by age 15 a convinced agnostic,
Hayek's "position vis-a-vis the different Christian churches was somewhat ambivalent." As Hayek confesses, he "felt that if
somebody really wanted religion, he had better stick to what seemed to be the 'true article,' that is, Roman Catholicism.
Protestantism always appeared to me a step in the process of emancipation from a superstition -- a step which, once taken,
must lead to complete unbelief" (41)." [Hayek on Hayek: An Autobiographical Dialogue], by F.A. Hayek; Stephen Kresge
and Leif Wener, eds. University of Chicago Press, 1994, 170 pp., $27.50.
Ernest Hemingway, American author (1899-1961).
"All thinking men are atheists." [A Farewell to Arms]
page 144 of Paul Johnson's book Intellectuals, it states that despite being raised in a strict Congregationalist houshold,
Ernest "did not only not believe in God but regarded organized religion as a menace to human happiness", "seems to have been
devoid of the religious spirit", and "ceased to practise religion at the earliest possible moment."
Other's have pointed
out to me that Hemingway used the non-existence of God as a theme in his books.
Charles Laughton, English-born American actor (1899-1962).
Atheism mentioned in his wife's autobiography, Charles
and I (Elsa Lanchester, 1938)
Noel Coward, English playwright, author, and performer (1899-1973).
Coward proclaims several times in his diaries
(The Noel Coward Diaries, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1982, ISBN 0 75380 547 2) that he is an atheist, at least during
the time he was writing them (1941-1969).
Vladimir Nabokov, Russian writer (1899-1977).
"The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that
our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness."
Luis Bunuel, Spanish film director (1900-1983).
His early surrealist films include L'Age d'Or (1930). He worked
largely in Mexico in the 1950s ... Bunuel was brought up as a Catholic by the Jesuits. When asked, in later life, if he had
been deeply affected by his Jesuit education, he replied, "I am an atheist, thanks be to God."
Walter "Walt" Disney, American cartoonist, showman, and film producer (1901-1966).
I had one report that Disney
was non-religious. Apparently, he was not a member of any religion and did not attend services. Also, he apparently had an
entirely secular funeral. It was "very private" and off-limits to the press, perhaps to conceal it was not religious. There
is no "In God we Trust" on Disney Dollars!
I have also heard, however, that Disney was a member of DeMolay, a young men's
group in which members swear on a Bible that they believe in God. I guess Disney is in the DeMolay hall of fame. Maybe he
got wiser when he grew up?
This is obviously not much information. Can anyone confirm anything about what Disney believed?
Linus Carl Pauling, American chemist (1901-1994).
For information on Pauling, visit the Ava Helen & Linus Pauling Papers project at Oregon State University.
Nazim Hikmet Ran, Turkish poet (1902-1963).
I am told he was an atheist. His autobiography includes the lines:
since '21 I haven't gone to the places most people visit
mosques churches temples synagogues sorcerers
but I've had
my coffee grounds read"
Guenther Anders, Austrian philosopher (1902-dead?).
Langston Hughes, American writer (1902-1967).
I have no real evidence of Hughes's atheism, but it is perhaps
suggested by his short story, "Salvation," which tells of a childhood memory in which Hughes stops believing in Jesus. Please
write if you know more.
Elsa Lanchester, English-born American actor (1902-1986).
Atheism mentioned in autobiography, Charles Laughton
and I (1938)?
Corliss Lamont, humanist philosopher and civil liberities activist (1902-1995).
Karl Popper, Austrian/British philosopher (1902-1994).
He was the author of such well-known works as The Logic
of Scientific Discovery, The Open Society and Its Enemies, The Poverty of Historicism, Conjectures and Refutations, and
many others. He was particularly influential in the philosophy of science for his defense of fallibilism and his critique
of induction. Popper described himself as an agnostic, and he was a member of the Academy of Humanism.
The magazine, Skeptic
Vol. 6, No. 2 (1998) features a 1969 interview with Karl Popper - "Karl Popper On God: The Lost Interview" by Edward Zerin.
In this interview Popper discusses his agnosticism, his attitudes towards both Judaism and Christianity, the reasons for his
disbelief which he combined with a respect for the moral teachings of both religions etc. Interestingly enough the interviewer,
Edward Zerin, is a rabbi.
Sidney Hook, American philsopher (1902-1989).
Sidney Hook did his undergraduate studies at City College in New
York City and his graduate work at Columbia University where he studied under John Dewey and Frederick Woodbrige. He wrote
his thesis The Metaphysics of Pragmatism under Dewey's direction. After receiving his doctorate he pursued further
studies in Berlin and Munich and at the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. In 1933 he returned to the U. S. to teach philosophy
at New York University as one of the first Marxist professors in the U. S. During the 1930's he attempted to synthesize Marxism
with Dewey's pragmatism - a project that I would consider to be of still great relevence. He treated philosophy as the development
of a critical and scientific intelligence to the clarification of human values and concrete social problems - a view he retained
all his life. In the late 1920's he prepared an English translation of Lenin's Materialism and Empiro- criticism, Lenin's
polemic agaist Ernst Mach. In the 1930's he wrote Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx and he wrote From Hegel
to Marx which even today still stand as the most significant pieces of Marxist scholarship produced in America. In the
early 1930's he was very close to if not an actual member of the Communist Party but later in the decade he took a strong
anti-Stalinist position. He was a founder of the American Worker's Party and later of the Socialist Worker's Party. By the
1940's his polit- ical views began moving somewhat to the right. He supported Norman Thomas' Socialist Party. By the 1950's
he had become a staunch anticommunist and argued for the expulsion of Communist professors and students from the universities.
a member of the "New York Intellectuals" his political and philosophical views carried considerable weight amongst academics.
Regardless of what one might think of Hook's political views it seems he was regarded as a great teacher and many of his
students rose to prominence in philosophy and other fields. Among his most well known students rank Delmore Schwartz who was
a poet and critic, union leader Albert Shanker president of the American Federation of Teachers, and philosopher Paul Kurtz.
Sidney Hook was an outspoken humanist and atheist. He was active in such humanist organizations as the AHA and CODESH (which
his former student Paul Kurtz founded. Hook also wrote for the magazines, The Humanist and Free Inquiry.
(Text for Sidney Hook contributed by James Farmelant)
Harold Blackham, humanist campaigner (1903-?).
Margaret Knight (1903-1983).
George Orwell (1903-1950).
Orwell's biography calls him an atheist. His books also have themes that are explicitly
and/or suggestively anti-religious. In Animal Farm, the parody was a raven named Moses who told the animals stories
about a great mountain in the sky that they would go to when they died, called Sugar Candy Mountain. In 1984, the concept
of Big Brother is a parody of God: You never see him, but the fact of him is drilled into so many people's minds that they
become robots, almost. Plus, if you speak bad against Big Brother, it's a Thoughtcrime.
From A Clergyman's Daughter,
"When I eat my dinner I don't do it to the greater glory of God; I do it because I enjoy it. The world's full of
amusing things - books, wine, travel, friends - everything. I've never seen any meaning in it all, and I don't want to see
one. Why not take life as you find it?."
Burrhus Frederick "B. F." Skinner, American Psychologist (1904-1990).
In an interview with CBS radio a few weeks
before his death, Skinner was asked if he feared death. He replied, "I don't believe in God, so I'm not afraid of dying."
Joseph Campbell, American mythologist (1904-1987).
". . . god is a metaphor for that which trancends all levels
of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that."
"Too many of our best scholars, themselves indoctrinated from infancy
in a religion of one kind or another based upon the Bible, are so locked into the idea of their own god as a supernatural
fact - something final, not symbolic of transcendence, but a personage with a character and will of his own - that they are
unable to grasp the idea of a worship that is not of the symbol but of its reference, which is of a mystery of much greater
age and of more immediate inward reality than the name-and-form of any historical ethinic idea of a deity, whatsoever . .
. and is of a sophistication that makes the sentimentalism of our popular Bible-story theology seem undeveloped."
Howard Hughes, American manufacturer, film producer, and recluse (1905-1976).
Joseph Fletcher American ethicist (1905-1991).
Known for his situation ethics.
In the 1960's, Fletcher, while
still a Christian and still teaching at the Episcopal Theological School, published his famous book Situation Ethics
in which he challenged conventional thinking in both moral theology and secular moral philosophy. He rejected the traditional
approach to solving moral problems by appealing to well validated moral priciples. Instead he proposed a kind of act utilitarianism
in which agapean love was seen as the highest good rather than pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Back in the 1960's the
mainline Protestant churches seemed receptive to Fletcher's ideas but later on as the churches became more conservative the
term "situation ethics" acquired negative connotations. Situation ethics became widely portrayed as a way of rationalizing
immoral actions. In reality Fletcher had developed situation ethics as a method for dealing with such difficult issues in
medical ethics as abortion, euthanasia, the question of whether severely brain damaged newborn infants should be allowed to
die, etc. Fletcher showed that in dealing with such issues, appeal to well validated moral priciples was likely to yield answers
that are profoundly inhumane. Joseph Fletcher eventually left the Christian faith and became a humanist, annoucing that he
was an agnostic.
Harvey Cox, ed. The Situation Ethics Debate (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1968).
Taylor, "Joseph Fletcher's Situation Ethics," Free Inquiry magazine (Fall 1995).
The Newsletter of The Humanist Association of Massachusetts. November, 1995.
Charles P. Helin, American inventor and businessman (1905-1979).
This testimonial was received from Charles'
son, Wally: My father is known primarily to fisherman across the world. As a poor man with a ninth grade education, my father
invented the "Flatish" fishing lure and in 1937 started the Helin Tackle Company. He started selling millions of them across
the world. The Flatish is still today one the best selling artificial fishing lures. By 1942, he was a self-made millionaire
and was living in a 37 room mansion by 1944.
He was well known in the Grosse Pointe, Michigan area for his "rags to riches"
story. He was, as far as I know, a lifetime atheist and I was raised as such. He used to tell me that when he died, I could
"sweep his carcass off the back porch" and then go on about my business.
Ayn Rand, Russian born American author (1905-1982).
For information on Rand, visit The Ayn Rand Institute or The Objectivist Center.
Jean Paul Sartre, French philosopher and author (1905-80).
Sartre insisted that even if God existed [which he
did not believe], it was still necessary to reject him, since the idea of God negates our freedom. Traditional religion tells
us that we must conform to God's idea of humanity to become fully human. Instead, we must see human beings as liberty incarnate.
[A History of God]
Lord Ritchie Calder, philanthropist (1906-1982).
A journalist who wrote about science.
Robert A. Heinlein, American science-fiction author (1907-1988).
Being a fiction author, all Heinlein left us
is quotations from characters in his novels. There are lots to choose from, here are a couple from Lazarus Long in Time
Enough for Love:
"History does not record anywhere or at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion
is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have
a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it."
or shaman must be presumed guilty until proven innocent."
Katherine Hepburn, American actress (1907-2003).
In an interview in the October 1991 Ladies' Home Journal
that was advertised as her "most candid" ever, Hepburn said, "I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we
can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for each other." p.215 (Hepburn on Internet Movie Database).
Richard Wright, American author (1908-1960).
Quentin Crisp, English writer, actor and homosexual rights campaigner (1908-1999).
"The absolute nothingness
of death is a blessing. Something to look forward to."
"When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist,
a woman in the audience stood up and said, 'Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom
you don't believe?'"
Simone de Beauvoir, French author, feminist, and philosopher (1908-1986).
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, French philosopher (1908-1961).
Argued that instead of increasing our sense of wonder,
God actually negates it. Because God represents absolute perfection, there is nothing left for us to do or achieve. [A
History of God]
Jacob Bronowski, scientist and author (1908-1974).
Oskar Schindler, Czech born industrialist? (1908-1974).
He was buried in a Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion, but
I have heard that his wife called him a nonbeliever. Please write with any info.
Alfred Jules "A.J." Ayer, British philosopher (1910-1989).
"Theism is so confused and the sentences in which
'God' appears so incoherent and so incapable of verifiability or falsifiability that to speak of belief or unbelief, faith
or unfaith, is logically impossible."
"If the assertation that there is a god is nonsensical, then the atheist's assertion
that there is no god is equally nonsensical, since it is only a significant proposition that can be contradicted."[Language,
Truth and Logic]
"I take it, therefore, to be a fact, that one's existence ends with death. I think it possible to
show how this fact can be emotionally acceptable." [The Humanist Outlook, 1968]
L. Ron Hubbard, American Author (1911-1986).
Stated that religion was a hoax and it only served to control people
(I do not know the exact quote) and then proved it by creating his own religion, Scientology.
"Nevertheless I achieved
my own ends beautifully. I took the pressure off the boiler, oriented myself in the world, came to recognize what was important
and what was not important, defined for my own use such things as morality and evil and ethics in general, and established
what satisfied me as being the true psychology and religion." [The One Word, p. 3]
Emile Mihai "E. M." Cioran, Romanian-born French philosopher and pessimist (1911-1995).
Books include The Trouble With Being Born, The
Temptation to Exist, Anathemas and Admirations, A Short History of Decay.
"My mission is to see things
as they are. Exactly contrary of a mission."
"'The Holy Ghost,' Luther instructs us, 'is not a skeptic.' Not everyone can
be, and that is really too bad."
James Cameron, journalist (1911-?).
Albert Camus, French author (1913-60).
Preached a heroic atheism. People should reject God defiantly in order
to pour out all their loving solicitude upon mankind. [A History of God]
Gene Kelly, American dancer, singer, actor, and director (1912-1996).
From the biography, Gene Kelly: A Life
of Dance and Dreams p. 58
"Somehow, driving through Mexico, observing the poverty of the peasants in abject prayer
at the churches, rich with gold and silver jewels, he was sickened by the contrast. He abhorred the role of the Church in
supporting the fascist Franco against the Spanish Republic. Now, seing it firsthand, the failure of the Church, his church,
to come to grips meaningfully with the physical and spiritual needs of the poor opened his eyes to the hypocrisy of what he
called "organized religion." Feeding into his consciousness were his recent meetings with simpatico contacts who had influenced
him with their outspoken attitudes- Robeson, Comden, Green, and many left-wing intellectuals. On the return trip, long before
they saw Pittsburgh looming in the distance, he made it plain to his father that he was now a complete agnostic. His
father could tell Harriet [Gene's mother] or not, as he chose. But no longer would Gene Kelly be dominated by the wishes and
preferences of his mother."
Angus Wilson, author (1913-1991).
Burt Lancaster, American actor (1913-1994).
A contributor recalls reading a TV Guide article about the
time a late 1970s mini-series on Moses (staring Lancaster) came on TV - apparently, in that article Lancaster was interviewed
and he stated that he was an atheist.
James Miller, "Ewan MacColl," Scottish folk singer (1915-1989).
Aziz Nesin, Turkish writer and activist (1915-1995).
"I don't need God because I want neither paradise nor hell."
Sir Peter Brian Medawar, Brazilian-born British immunologist and science writer, Nobel prize, 1960 (1915-1987).
are some quotes from his essay, "The Question of the Existence of God," which was published in Medawar's book, The Limits
of Science (1984) and later republished in The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice and Other Classic Essays on Science
"I regret my disbelief in God."
"To abdicate from the rule of reason and substitute for it an authentication
of belief by the intentness and degree of conviction with which we hold it can be perilous and destructive. Religious beliefs
give a spurious spiritual dimension to tribal enmities...".
"It goes with the passionate intensity and deep conviction
of the truth of a religious belief, and of course of the importance of the superstitious observances that go with it, that
we should want others to share it - and the only certain way to cause a religious belief to be held by everyone is to liquidate
nonbelievers. The price in blood and tears that mankind generally has had to pay for the comfort and spiritual refreshment
that relion has brought to a few has been too great to justify our entrusting moral accountancy to religious belief."
Francois Mitterrand, French Politician (1916-1996).
Publicly called himself an atheist on several occasions.
Jack Smith, American? journalist and pundit, (1916-1996).
Richard Feynman, American physicist (1918-1988).
Some quotes online
Primo Levi, author (1919-1987).
Isaac Asimov, Russian-born American author (1920-1992).
"I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time
to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one
is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic.
I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't want to
waste my time."
Gene Roddenberry, Creator of Star Trek (1921-1991).
See statements by Roddenberry in the March/April 1991 issue of The Humanist magazine, and the fall 1992 issue of Free Inquiry magazine. In these he explains how his purpose with Star Trek was to create a god-free, humanistic view of the universe.
false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will--and
a hell of a lot of money in the bargain. Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people,
religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain."
"We must question the story logic of having an
all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes."
William M. Gaines, American publisher (1922-1992).
Founder and publisher of Mad magazine. He was quite
definitely an atheist, according to Frank Jacobs's biography, The MAD World of William M. Gaines. When emphasizing
his sincerity, Gaines would declare, "On my honor as an atheist . . ." Also, when long-time contributor Dave Berg would greet
him with "May God give you his blessing," Gaines would politely reply, "Dave, shut the hell up!"
See his memorial service or the preface of his biography.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italian film director (1922-1975).
When asked at a press conference in 1966 "Why do you
deal with religious themes, you yourself being an unbeliever?", Pasolini replied: "If you know that I am an unbeliever, then
you know me better than I do myself. I may be an unbeliever, but I am an unbeliever who has a nostalgia for a belief."For
biographical information see The Internet Movie Database or this page dedicated to Pasolini.
Charles Schultz, American cartoonist (1922-2000).
In an interview in 1999, Schultz said that although his philosophical views evolved over the years, "the term that best describes me now is 'secular
humanist.'" He went on to say, "I despise those shallow religious comics. Dennis the Menace, for instance, is the most shallow.
When they show him praying--I just can't stand that sort of thing, talking to God about some cutesy thing that he'd done during
the day. I don't think Hank Ketcham [Dennis' creator] has any deep knowledge of things like that." Schultz cringed at the
mention of Family Circus, the strip by Bill Keane that is strewn with cutesy references to Jesus (who wants to protect children
on school buses, but can't because of laws about separation of church and state!) and those sickly-sweet images of invisible
deceased grandparents looming protectively over the kids. "Oh, I can't stand that," Schultz laughed. "You could get diabetes
reading them, couldn't you?"
Madalyn Murray O'Hair, American atheist activist (1923-1995).
O'Hair challenged prayer in the schools in the
US Supreme Court (Murray vs. Curlett) and won. She went on to found American Atheists and became perhaps America's most infamous and outspoken atheist. When asked, "Do you support religious freedon," she responded,
"Oh, absolutely! I feel that everyone has a right to be insane. And that they can do this any place at all. If they want religious
schools, build them! My only problem with that is, do not ask for the land to be tax-free. Do not ask for a government grant
to build them. Do not ask for money for teacher's salaries, or more books, or anything else. Just go ahead and do your thing,
and do it yourself. Just exactly the same as if you were a nudist. Somebody doesn't get a tax break for being a Mason, or
whatever they're interested in. [Interview in Freedom Writer magazine, March 1989]
Marcello Mastroianni, Italian actor (1924-1996).
Escaped from a Nazi labor camp during World War II and later
became known for his roles as a harried "Latin lover."
From an interview with the actor at Cannes 96 in Le Monde:
-Do you still have as much desire to act?
A: - I keep getting proposals. My friends tell me that I'm incredibly lucky and
it's true. I love life and life has been generous to me. When I was young, I used to watch my mother go to church for confession
and I would ask her, "Why do you go to confession? You work from morning to night and when things are miserable, Father slaps
you. When do you ever sin?" She told me that it was God's will and we must accept it. I didn't like that. I don't believe
in God but in life. But in the end, my attitude is not far from my mother's. I accept things as they come. When you're a star
everybody makes a fuss over you and everybody loves you. The acting profession is one of the best around and on top of it,
you're paid well. And yet we still complain. I am amazed when I hear American stars talk about the pain and terrible effort
acting requires. What pain?
Paul Van Buren, American theologian (1924-1998).
In the book, The Secular Meaning of the Gospel, he claimed
that it was no longer possible to speak of God acting in the world. Science and technology had made the old mythology invalid.
Simple faith in the Old Man in the Sky was clearly impossible, but so was the more sophisticated belief of the theologians.
We must do without God and hold on to Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel was "the good news of a free man who has set other men
free." [A History of God]
Van Buren's obituary from the New York Times.
Richard Burton, Welsh actor (1925-1984).
According to the Denver Post, Richard Burton wrote this in his diary
in 1969: "The more I read about man and his maniacal ruthlessness and his murderous envious scatological soul, the more I
realize that he will never change. Our stupidity is immortal, nothing will change it. The same mistakes, the same prejudices,
the same injustice, the same lusts wheel endlessly around the parade ground of the centuries. Immutable and ineluctable. I
wish I could believe in a god of some kind but I simply cannot."
John Chancellor, American reporter, news anchor, and commentator for NBC (1927-1996).
Jack Thomas wrote in the
Boston Globe, "Appreciation: Chancellor, the wise man with ready wit," in which he recounted an interview he conducted with
John Chancellor earlier this year on his struggle with cancer. After having asked Chancellor whether he feared death to which
he replied "not as much as I would have thought..." Thomas then asked what he thought would happen to him after death. Chancellor
replied "I've been an agnostic for as long as I can remember... so I don't know where we go. But if it turns out that the
lights are just turned off and nothing happens, well, that's OK."
Olof Palme, Swedish prime minister (1927-1986).
Palme is said to be partly responsible for the current state
of wide-spread disbelief in Sweden. He had conflicts with the Church of Sweden during his administration, because he wished
to separate it completely from the state. He said, "human beings will find a balanced situation when they do good things not
because God says it, but because they feel like doing them."
George C. Scott, American Actor (1927-1999).
During an interview on 60 Minutes, shortly before his death, Scott
said he did not believe in God at all.
Brigid Brophy, author (1929-?).
Anton Szandor LaVey, American (1930-1997?).
Here is some information about LaVey, provided by Aaron Jacques:
Was most definitely an anti-christian, and despite his recommendation of "using" various gods, I am quite certain he was atheist.
He formed the Church of Satan, not only to frighten the status quo, but more as an alternative to secularism. He wrote that
it was necessary for man to have a fantasy element in his life. LaVey's satanism provides this in the form of rich ceremonies.
The idea behind which is not that one is praying to an actual being but is unleashing mental/emotional/physical energies which
have the power to alter the state of one's existence. Most satanists don't believe in satan or any other deity in a physical
sense but more as a force of nature. In the introduction to The Satanic Bible, Burton H. Wolfe recalls a story told to him
by LaVey about his youth, when he worked in a traveling carnival:
"On Saturday night, I would see men lusting after half-naked girls dancing at the carnival, and on Sunday morning when
I was playing organ for tent-show evangelists at the other end of the carnival lot, I would see these same men sitting in
the pews with their wives and children, asking God to forgive them and purge them of carnal desires. And the next Saturday
they'd be back at the carnival or some other place of indulgence. I knew then that the Christianchurch thrives on hypocrisy,
and that man's carnal nature will out no matter how much it is purged or scoured by any white-light religion"
However, some claim that The Church of Satan is nothing more than a scam cooked up by an "old carnie" to take people's
money (there is a $100 membership fee). The Church of Satan web site.
Carl Sagan, American astronomer and author (1934-1996).
There was an article, "In the Valley of the Shadow" in
the March 10, 1996 issue of Parade Magazine in which Sagan discussed his atheistic beliefs in the face of his own death.
In a March 1996 profile by Jim Dawson in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Sagan talked about his then-new book The Demon Haunted World and was asked about his personal spiritual views.
"My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it,"
he said. "An agnostic is somebody who doesn't believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I'm agnostic."
asked how he would explain a "genuine mystical experience," Sagan responded: "Your question presupposes the existence of a
genuine mystical experience and I'm not sure what that is. People have vivid hallucinations. How do you distinguish between
altered states of consciousness? "If someone who has had an experience that tells us something about the universe that we
didn't know and that later turns out to be true, then we'd have to say, 'My goodness.' " But that, he said, "would have to
be more than the anecdotal reports that typically are used to support religious experiences."
Turan Dursun, Turkish writer (1934-1990).
According to his son, Yücel Dursun, Turan Dursun was an Islamic holy
man before he became an atheist, rejecting religion and God. After rejecting religion he wrote several books on the Qur'an
and on religion in general. He claimed that Islam is not consistent with reason and science, and he argued that holy books
didn't come from God. His books include: Din Bu I-IV (This is Religion), Kutsal Kitaplarin Kaynaklari (Resource
of Holy Books), Kur'an Ansiklopedisi I-VIII (Qur'an Encyclopedia). He also wrote several shorter papers on religion.
He was shot and killed by terrorists.
John Lennon, British musician (1940-1980).
Lennon rejected religion and dogma, but he was not really an atheist
- he espoused a sort of vague spirituality. I resisted adding him to the list for years, but his name was repeatedly submitted
by contributors, along with the opening lyrics to "Imagine,"
Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today
. . .
Imagine there's no countries
isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
No religion too
From the song, "God,"
God is a concept
By which we measure
I don't believe in magic
believe in I-Ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe
And, from the song, "I Found Out,"
There ain't no Jesus gonna come from the sky
Now that I found out I know I
I found out!
Frank Zappa, American musician (1940-1993).
"Who you jivin' with that cosmic debris?"
"Reality is what it
is, not what you want it to be."
"If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine
-- but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you've been bad
or good -- and CARES about any of it -- to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working." [The
Real Frank Zappa Book, ("Church and State" chapter) by Frank Zappa and Peter Occhiogrosso, p. 301]
Phil Ochs, American folk singer (1941-1976).
And I won't be laughing
at the lies when I'm gone
And I can't question how or when or why when I'm gone
Can't live proud enough to die when
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here
Michael Zaslow, American Actor (1944-1998).
Zaslow acted in daytime drama series "The Guiding Light" and "One
Life to Live." He died of ALS. His charitable foundation has a webpage at http://www.zazangles.com. In a May 9, 1998 profile
on ABC's 20/20, Zaslow said he was raised an atheist.
Barry White, American singer (1944-2003).
Referring to religion, Barry told Reuters in 1999 interview, "I don't
like stories, things I can't prove."
Douglas Adams, British author (1951-2001).
Author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and other books.
From an interview with Adams in American Atheist magazine: "...I really do mean Atheist. I really do not believe that there is a god - in fact I am convinced that there is not a god
(a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one. It's easier to say that I am a radical
Atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that it's an opinion I hold seriously.
It's funny how many people are genuinely surprised to hear a view expressed so strongly."
Adams espoused his atheism on
his own web site, www.douglasadams.com. Here is a sample.
Incomplete entries. Either I am missing information for these people, or I am not sure they belong
on the list at all. If you can help, please write.
William Hamilton, (1924-?). not dead?
Wrote Radical Theology and the Death of God.
Special thanks to Dave Kraeuter for providing information on the many people that used to crowd
the incomplete entries list.
Thanks very much to these folks who have contributed to the list.
- Reed Esau, Denver, Colorado
- Mitch Grunat
- David Kraeuter, Washington, Pennsylvania
- Larry Loen
- John S. Vamossy
- Jon Barry
- Bart M
- D. Regis of the British Humanist Association
- James Farmelant, Medford, Massachusetts
- Ed Malone
- Martin A. Mazur
- Jason Vorbeck
- Peyton Myers
- Reed Curry
- Elizabeth Pariani
- Clark Adams
- Ramesh Krishnamurthy
- Anne Hunter
- Brian Christopher Williams
- Jeremy Beauchamp
- Scott Applequist, Florida, USA
- Jane Girard
- Lisa Thaxton
- Gerhard Wetzel
- Heath Porter
- Keenya Oliver
- Dave Bartolomeo
- Olga Bourlin, Seattle, Washington
- Lucian Cucu
- Adam J. Cohen
- Lisa small
- Dale Everett, Los Angeles, California
- Martin Wacksman
- Adam Carley
- Ben Walsh
- Mete Karakucuk
- Doug Weyers
- Tom Johnson
- Gary Owen Drechsel
- Al Case
- Greg Caldwell
- Sundar Narayan
- Sandra Feroe, Berthoud, Colorado
- Wally Helin
- Lee Beville
- Steve Strassmann
- James Zozloski
- Charles Vernon
- Hakan Yakici
- Katherine Mcluskie
- Warren Allen Smith, New York, New York
- Kellie ?
- T.L. Isaacson, Saint Cloud, Minnesota
- Christian A. Comeau, Sillery, Quebec
- Anton Constantinescu
- Jim Harris
- Geo Maher, Canton, New York,
- Roberto Bernardo, Manila, Philippines
- Norman R. Hughes
- Jim Tipton, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Alex Durbak, Memphis, Tennessee
- Stephen Daniels, Syracuse, New York
- John W. Nicholson, Euless, Texas
- Mike (Edward) Jayne, Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Brian Lynch, Austin, Texas
- David Lasky, Hamilton, New York
- Robert Simpson, Vancouver, British Columbia
- Brian M. Stansberry, Knoxville, Tennessee
- Gary Depiro
- Wyatt Edwards, Saint Peter, Minnesota
- Curtis Severns, Dallas, Texas
- Joe Dunman
- Albert J. Rogers
- Joe Zamecki, Austin, Texas
- Celesta, London, England
- Moses Brown
- A. Cesa, Beverly, Massachusetts
- Lindsey DiLoreto, Boston, Massachusetts
- Jan Haugland, Bergen, Norway
- Jeff Lucas, Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Dorothy Maguire, Denver, Colorado
- Leah Kronenberg, Boston, Massachusetts
- William R. Evenson, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- William Frost, Louisville, Kentucky
- Alex Temple, Needham, Massachusetts
- Lee Harrison, Romoland, Texas
- Chad Galuska, Morgantown, West Virginia
- Amy Tao, Amarillo, Texas
- Erin, Kansas City, Missouri
- Aaron Jacques
- Conor, Sydney, Australia
- Arnod Medvegia, Madrid, Spain and Sweden, email@example.com
- Marc Perras, Ottawa, Ontario
- Tom Cravens, Saint Louis, Missouri
- Patrick Tolle, Chicago, Illinois
- Crystal Di'Anno, Oakland, California
- Jason Silverstein, Chandler, Arizona
- Henry Lauer, Sydney, Australia
- Nikki Ashton, Aarhus, Denmark
- Per Bitsch, Århus, Denmark
- G. Kumar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Art Haykin, Bend, Oregon
- Thomas Dubois, Paris, France
- Mike "Saint Mikey" Birtchet
- punkerslut, Boston, Massachusetts
- Matt Adams, Texas
- Alan Charman, New Zealand
- Ed "Mookie" Burke, Pennsylvania
- Richard Neilsen, Melbourne, Australia
- Casey Newlin, Centennial, Colorado
- John Smith, Lake Charles, Louisiana
- Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred from Moses to Salman Rushdie by Leonard W.
Levy (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1993) ISBN 0-679-40236-5.
- The Great Thoughts, edited by George Seldes (ISBN 0-345-29887-X).
- Manual of a Perfect Atheist by Eduardo Del Rio Garcia (ISBN 0-910309-71-X).
- Free Inquiry magazine (ISSN 0272-0701).
- The Humanist magazine (The American Humanist Association).
- The Necessity of Atheism by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
- Encyclopedia of the American Left ed. by Mari Jo Buhle et al. (New York: Garland Pub.,
- Biographical dictionary of Ancient, Medieval and Modern Freethinkers by Joseph McCabe.
- Encyclopedia of Unbelief by Gordon Stein.
- The Rational Calendar and Compendium.
- Theist Watch internet mailing list.
- Das Christentum Im Urteil Seiner Gegner (Christianity in the View of its Opponents), German
language anthology of critics of Christianity, edited by Karlheinz Deschner.
- Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums (Criminal history of christianity), by Karlheinz Deschner.
- History of Philosophy: From the Earliest Times to the Present by William S. Sahakian
(Barnes and Noble Books division of Harper and Row, New York, 1968. ISBN 0-06-460002-5).
- A History of God: The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong
(Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1993. ISBN 0-679-42600-0).
- The Essence Of Christianity by Ludvig von Feuerbach (Prometheus Press, Buffalo, 1989).
- The Twilight of the Gods and The Antichrist, Friedrich Nietzsche (R.J. Hollingdale, London,
- Thus Spake Zarathustra, A Book for Every One and No One, Friedrich Nietzsche (R.J. Hollingdale,
- Language, Truth and Logic, A. J. Ayer (Harmondsworth, 1974).
- The Gospel of Christian Atheism, Thomas J. Altizer (London, 1966).
- The Secular Meaning of the Gospel, Paul Van Buren (London, 1963).
- Radical Theology and the Death of God, William Hamilton.
- The Demon Haunted World, Carl Sagan (Random House, 1995. ISBN 0-394-53512-X).
- Infidel Deathbeds, G. W. Foote and A. D. McLaren (The Secular Web).
- Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness", James A. Haught
(Prometheus Books, 1990. ISBN 0-87975-578-4).
- The Philosophy of Humanism Corliss Lamont (Humanist Press, 1997. ISBN 0-931779-07-3).
- Key Ideas in Human Thought, Ed. Kenneth McLeish (Facts on File, 1993. ISBN 0-8160-2707-2).
- The Secular Web, The Internet Infidels
- The Philosophy Garden
- Living Celebrity Atheists
- The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Hayek on Hayek: An Autobiographical Dialogue, F.A. Hayek; Stephen Kresge and Leif Wener,
eds. (University of Chicago Press, 1994).
- A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell, David Berman (Routledge, 1990,
- Abolitionist, Actuary, Atheist: Elizur Wright and the Reform Impulse Lawrence Goodheart
(Kent State University Press, 1990).
- The Satanic BibleAnton Szandor LaVey and Burton H. Wolfe (Harpe, reissued June 1989, ISBN
- Darwin: A Life in Science, Michael White & John Gribbin (Dutton, 1995).
- Lovecraft: A Biography, L. Sprague De Camp (Doubleday, 1975).
- Treasury of Women's Quotations, ed. Carolyn Warner (Prentice Hall, 1992. ISBN 0-13-517715-4).
- Albert Einstein: The Human Side, ed. Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman (Princeton University
- Find A Grave
- Dead People Server
Rationale for Selection
The meanings of words like atheist have changed over time. Throughout history, people have had
many different belief systems that varied in subtle ways. Frequently, deciding whether or not a person is a nontheist is not
a simple question. My basic criteria has been to select people who advocate living life without deference to any transcendent
power. Agnostics are certainly included, and I have included some deists since they generally consider God as historically
necessary for creation but otherwise irrelevant.
Because of the variety and complexity of the views expressed by these people, and because a
single label can never capture the belief system of a complex perosn, I have tried to include quotations that demonstrate
their particular views whenever possible.
Send additions, corrections, suggestions, and gripes to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include references to quoted material whenever possible. New entries, quotations, links to more information, missing
dates, etc. will all be graciously accepted. Include your name, URL, and home city if you would like them listed in the contributors
This list is available at http://www.pobox.com/~mark.gilbert/atheists.html.
Here is a search for links to this page elsewhere on the Web.
© Copyright 1995-2003, Mark Gilbert http://www.jmarkgilbert.com/atheists.html . All Rights Reserved. Permission to redistribute this list can usually be had by emailing its author. Last
modified 2003-09-01. Hits since 1998-09-15: