Atheists from around the World

2007 / 3 / 20

Most humanist are atheist, but not all atheists are humanist. Like any group of humans, there are vast differences of opinion, ethics, and beliefs. Obviously when you have a range of people from Republican Patriot Col. Robert G. Ingersoll to Chairman Mao Zedong in the same group you realize that atheism is a large universe. To condemn all atheist because of one mass killer like Mao would be like condemning all Americans because of one murderous punk killer. However, among these men and women who do not believe in a god, most are inspirational and have shown extreme courage in professing their atheism. - Dane C. Sorensen

Influential - outspoken - famous - infamous atheists


Julian Baggini (born 1960s ) Author of "Atheism: A Very Short Introduction.

Ingmar Bergman (1918-) - Swedish film director and playwright.

George Carlin (1937-) - American comedian, actor and author, wrote a number of monologues about the non-existence of God.

André Comte-Sponville (1952-) - French materialist philosopher.

Richard Dawkins (1941-) - British zoologist, biologist, creator of the concept of the selfish gene and the meme; outspoken atheist and popularizer of science.

Daniel Dennett (1942-) - American philosopher, leading figure in evolutionary biology and cognitive science, well-known for his book Darwin s Dangerous Idea. Dennett stated " Not a single one of the cells that compose you knows who you are, or cares."

Ursula Goodenough ( about 1945 ) Cell Biologist. Author of "The Sacred Depths". Nature is her religion.

Sam Harris (1967-) - American author, researcher in neuroscience, author of the international bestseller, The End of Faith.

Paul Kurtz (1926-) - American philosopher, skeptic, founder of Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and the Council for Secular Humanism.

Ellen Johnson (1947) - current president of American Atheists.

Michael Newdow - American citizen, sued his daughter s school claiming that the words "under God" in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance constitute a breach in church-state separation.

Camille Paglia (1947-) - American post-feminist literary and cultural critic.

Richard Rorty (1931-) - American philosopher, whose ideas combine pragmatism with a Wittgensteinian ontology that declares that meaning is a social-linguistic product of dialogue. He actually rejects the theist/atheist dichotomy and prefers to call himself "anti-clerical."

Peter Singer (1946-) - Australian philosopher and teacher, working on practical ethics from a utilitarian perspective, controversial for his opinions on abortion and euthanasia. A modern example of how humanism has gone astray.

Barbara Smoker (1923-) - British humanist activist and freethought advocate. Wrote the book Freethoughts: Atheism, Secularism, Humanism - Selected Egotistically from "The Freethinker." Another example of secular humanism that has strayed from traditional humanistic values.

Dane Sorensen (1952-) Founder of Conservative Humanism web site.

Steven Weinberg (1933- ) American Scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Phyists. Sees no need for a god to create a universe.

Dr. Ali Sina - Founder of FaithFreedom International, a movement that denounces Islam.

James Dewey Watson (April 6, 1929 - ) - Nobel Prize laureate, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.


John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) US President and Founding Father.

Alfred Adler (1870-1937) - Austrian psychiatrist, believed that God was a psychological projection, though helpful.

Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876) - Russian philosopher, writer and anarchist leader.

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) - British jurist, eccentric, philosopher and social reformer, founder of utilitarianism. He had John Stuart Mill as his disciple.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) - American writer, author The Devil s Dictionary.

Menno ter Braak (1902 - 1940) - Dutch author and polemicist.

Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891) - British Member of Parliament, political activist, secularist, freethinker, advocate of trade unionism, republicanism and women s suffrage.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) - French philosopher and novelist, a luminary of existentialism.

Andrew Carnegie, (1835-1919) Scottish-born American industrialist and philanthropist. 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 of life."

Auguste Comte (1798-1857) - French philosopher, considered the father of sociology.

Iain Crichton Smith - Scottish writer

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) - American lawyer and civil libertarian, defense attorney at the Scopes Monkey Trial, where he defended a school teacher who taught the theory of evolution.

Denis Diderot (1713-1784) - French philosopher, author, editor of the first encyclopedia.

Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach (1804-1872) - German philosopher, postulated that God is merely a projection by humans of their own best qualities.

Joseph Fletcher (1905-1991) - founder of the theory of situational ethics, pioneer in the field of bioethics, transhumanist.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) - Austrian neurologist, father of psychoanalysis, considered the belief in God to stem from an unconscious fear of one s own biological father.

Milton Friedman (1912-2006) Economist and Philosopher. Thought of the concept of vouchers for education and believed in small government.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940) - Lithuanian-born radical, known for her writings and speeches defending anarcho-communism, feminism and atheism. Not much of a humanist, nor pro-motherhood.

Paul Henry Thiry, Baron d Holbach (1723-1789) - French homme de lettres, philosopher and encyclopedist, member of the philosophical movement of French materialism, attacked Christianity and religion as counter to the moral advancement of humanity.

David Hume (1711-1776) - Scottish philosopher and historian, a figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and the most radical of the British Empiricists, whose philosophy includes skepticism and naturalism.

Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) American humanist and atheist. Civil War hero and Republican.

Primo Levi (1919-1987) - Italian novelist and chemist, survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) - German philosopher, sociologist, political economist, journalist and revolutionary, founder of Marxism. His famous formulation was: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) - English writer, anti-religion campaigner.

Henry Louis Mencken (usually "H. L. Mencken") (1880-1956) - American editor, journalist and social critic.

Jean Meslier (1678-1733) - French erstwhile priest. Wrote a classic on atheism which was not discovered until after he died.

James Mill (1773-1836) - British historian and philosopher, father of John Stuart Mill; he supported the utilitarian principles of Jeremy Bentham.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) - German Existentialist philosopher who wrote Beyond Good and Evil which refuted the traditional notions of morality. Nietzsche is forever synonymous with the phrase "God is dead".

Madalyn Murray O Hair (1919-1995) - American militant atheist, founder of American Atheists, campaigner for the separation of church and state; filed the lawsuit that led the US Supreme Court to ban teacher-led prayer and Bible reading in public schools. Murdered by one of her own employees.

Julien Offray de La Mettrie (1709-1751) - French physician and philosopher, earliest of the materialist writers of the Enlightenment.

E.V. Ramasami Naicker (1879-1973) - Commonly known as Periyar was an Indian rationalist, freedom fighter and activist against the caste system.

Karl Popper (1902-1994) - Austrian-born British philosopher of science, who claimed that empirical falsifiability should be the criterion for distinguishing scientific theory from non-science.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) - American novelist and philosopher, founder of Objectivism. Her philosophy and her fiction emphasize her notions of individualism, egoism, "rational self-interest" and capitalism.

M. N. Roy (1887-1954) - Indian political thinker, founder his Radical Humanism school of philosophy.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) - British mathematician, philosopher, logician, political liberal, activist, popularizer of philosophy, and 1950 Nobel Laureate in Literature. On the issue of atheism/agnosticism, he wrote the essay "Why I Am Not a Christian".

Marquis de Sade (Donatien Alphonse François de Sade) (1740-1814) - French aristocrat, writer of philosophy-laden pornography and pure philosophy, who denied the existence of morality based on a mandate from divine authority.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) - American astronomer, author, science popularizer, and proponent of the search for extraterrestrial life which has turned out to be a complete waste of time.

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) - French existentialist philosopher, dramatist, novelist and critic.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) - British Romantic poet, contemporary and associate of John Keats and Lord Byron, author of The Necessity of Atheism.

Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) - British philosopher, follower of utilitarianism.

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990) - American psychologist and author, a pioneer on experimental psychology, advocate of behaviorism, and writer of two books on social engineering.

Max Stirner (1806-1856) - German philosopher, Young Hegelian, one of the literary grandfathers of nihilism, existentialism and anarchism. Promoted the idea of Egoism.

John of Lackland, English King (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 quarreled 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.


Anaxagoras (500?-428? BC) - Greek philosopher, freethinker, regarded the conventional gods as mythic abstractions endowed with anthropomorphic attributes.

Carvaka - Materialist philosopher in ancient India

Diagoras (called Diagoras the Atheist of Melos) (5th cent. BC) - Greek poet and sophist.

Protagoras (481?-411 BC) - Greek philosopher.

Democritus (460?-357 BC) - Greek philosopher, father of materialism, viewed everything as matter composed of indestructible particles ("atoms").

Epicurus (341-270 BC) - Greek materialist philosopher.

Heraclitus of Ephesus (about 535 - 475 BC), known as "The Obscure", was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor.

Lucretius (94 -49 BC) - Roman philosopher and poet, Epicurean atomist, wrote "On the Nature of Things."

Lucius Annaeus Seneca "the Younger" (4-65 CE) - Roman stoic philosopher, writer and politician.

Gallus Petronius, Roman courtier and wit (1st cent.). "It is fear that first brought Gods into the world."

Marcus Terentius Varro (116 BC – 27 BC), also known as Varro Reatinus, was a Roman scholar and writer, whom the Romans came to call "the most learned of all the Romans."

Living Atheist - do not wear their belief on their sleeve.

Tariq Ali (1943-) - British author, filmmaker, historian, one of the founders of the New Left, and spokesman for anti-imperialism. Very critical of all that America stands for.

Ibn Warraq (1946-) is a bestselling author and secularist scholar of Islam currently living in the United States. He is a Muslim apostate and an outspoken critic of Islam who has written extensively on what he views as the oppressive nature of Islam.

Peter Atkins (1940-) - chemist, former husband of Susan Greenfield, professor at Oxford University.

David Attenborough (1926-) - British natural history presenter and anthropologist.

Robert Bruce Avakian - American political activist, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

Iain Banks (1954-) - Scottish writer and left-wing activist. Does not understand socialism is dead.

Jello Biafra (1958-) - Punk rock musician and political activist. Anti-Republican.

Nathaniel Branden (1930-) - Canadian psychologist and philosopher, associated with Objectivism.

Richard Branson (1950- ) - rich man owner of Virgin enterprizes.

Mario Bunge (1919-) - Argentine philosopher and physicist, left-wing liberal, author of a monumental Treatise on Basic Philosophy.

Fidel Castro (1926-) - Cuban dictator since 1959. Says what he needs to say.

Noam Chomsky (1928-) - American philosopher, linguist, radical left-wing political activist, describes himself as "libertarian socialist" and "anarcho-syndicalist".

David Cross (1964-) - Actor and stand-up comedian. Typical left wing comic.

Ricky Gervais (1961-) actor and co-writer of the British version of The Office.

Bill Gates (1955-) - American businessman and microcomputer pioneer who founded Microsoft.

Kamal Haasan (1954-) - Indian actor, self-professed rationalist, atheist, activist, and a follower of Periyar.

Eric Idle (1943-) - Actor, author, songwriter,comedian and alumnus of Monty Python s Flying Circus. Describes himself as a "Praying atheist".

Billy Joel (1949-) Musician

Aleksander Kwasniewski (1954-) - Polish politician and current President of Poland.

Jonathan Miller (1934-) - British physician, theatre and opera director and television presenter; wrote and presented a series on atheism.

Jack Nicholson (1937-) - American actor.

Piergiorgio Odifreddi (1950-) - Italian mathematician, philosopher and science writer.

Emo Philips (1956 - ) American comedian. Most likely an agnostic.

James Randi (1928-) - American professional magician and debunker of psychics and other kinds of pseudoscience; has also denounced blasphemy laws.

Ron Reagan (1958-) - American magazine journalist, board member of the politically activistist Creative Coalition, son of former U. S. President Ronald Reagan.

Trent Reznor (1965-) - Leader of Nine Inch Nails and opponent of organized religion. Pimps for PETA.

William Shatner (1931-) - Canadian-American actor, most famous for the role of Captain James T. Kirk on the TV series Star Trek.

David Suzuki: Canadian geneticist and environmentalist. Worships the new religion of environmentalism.

Richard M. Stallman (1953-) - American computer programmer and founder of the Free Software Foundation.

Julia Sweeney: (Oct. 10, 1959 - ) American actor and comedian. Alumna of Saturday Night Live.


Douglas Adams (1951-2001) - British comic radio dramatist and novelist, self-avowed "radical atheist".

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) - American civil-rights activist, who led the effort to grant women the right to vote in the United States.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) - Russian-born American writer of fiction and nonfiction works, scientist and science popularizer.

Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) - Spanish-born Mexican filmmaker and important activist of the surrealist movement.

Richard Burton (1925-1984) - Welsh actor.

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (1788-1824) - British Romantic poet.

Charles Spencer Chaplin (1889-1977) - British actor, director, and producer.

Horloogiyn Choybalsan (1895-1952) - Mongolian Stalinist dictator, responsible for the execution of approx. 18,000 Buddhist monks

Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912) - American feminist and activist.

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) - Polish-born English author. Enjoyed being at sea.

Robin Cook (1946-2005) Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs of the UK 1997-2001.

Francis Crick (1916-2004) - Nobel Prize laureate biophysicist, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, a figure of molecular biology and also neuroscience.

Zoran Ðindic (1952-2003) - Serbian philosopher, politician, statesman and former Prime Minister, assassinated.

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) - American inventor.

Oriana Fallaci (1929-2006) Italian Journalist and Author. Anti-facist and Anti-Islamic.

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) - American physicist and expert lecturer, Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum electrodynamics.

Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) - Italian general and nationalist leader.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) - American novelist who wrote in A Farewell to Arms "All thinking men are atheists". The non-existence of God was a regular theme in many of his novels

Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003 )-Actress, possibly agnostic

Eric Hoffer, ( 1902-1983 ) self made Philosopher, American.

Enver Hoxha (1908-1985) - Albanian Stalinist dictator, declared Albania "the first atheist state in history".

James Joyce (1882-1941) - Irish writer.

Alfred Kinsey (1894-1956) - Researcher in the field of human sexuality and entomology.

Pierre Simon de Laplace (1749-1827) - French mathematician and astronomer.

Vladimir Ilich Lenin (1870-1924) - Russian revolutionary leader.

H.P. Lovecraft (1890–1937) - American author of fantasy and horror fiction.

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) - English dramatist and poet.

Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) - Italian fascist dictator.

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) - Indian statesman.

Ture Nerman (1886 - 1969) - One of the founders of Swedish Communism.

Culbert Olson (1876-1962) - American politician, former governor of California, then president of the United Secularists of America.

Diego Rivera (1886-1982) - Mexican communist muralist painter. Fashionably became a Catholic several months before his death.

Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991) - American television producer and creator of Star Trek.

Margaret Sanger (1883-1966) - American birth control activist, founder of Planned Parenthood.

George C. Scott (1927-1999) - American actor and Academy Award winner.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) - Irish-born English playwright.

Josef Stalin (1879-1953) - Soviet politician, dictator of the USSR.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) - American suffragist.

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) - Russian revolutionary and Soviet statesman.

Ted Williams ( 1918-2002) - American Baseball hero. Had his body put in cryonic suspension.

Mao Zedong (1893-1976) - Chinese revolutionary and statesman, former chairman of the Communist Party of China and dictator of the People s Republic of China, creator of the variant of Marxist-Leninist theory called Maoism. And definitely not a humanist.

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