About Atheism

NoGodThereThe word “atheism” means lack of theism, a lack of religion.  Broadly defined, atheism is the absence of belief in a god, gods or deities. Atheists believe that people should take full responsibility for their own actions and treat other beings with respect and dignity simply because it is the right thing to do, and not because we feel coerced into doing it out of fear of punishment in a life after death.

Nearly 20 percent of Americans do not identify with any particular religion, according to an October 9, 2012 study by the Pew Research Center. In addition, the number of Americans who say they attend church “seldom or never” has climbed from 25 percent in a 2003 Pew survey to 29 percent in the 2012 study. A growing number of younger Americans are nonbelievers than the general population, too. Fully 32 percent of adults under the age of 30 in the U.S. now claim to have no religious affiliation, compared with just 9 percent of people aged 65 and older, showing that younger Americans are more secular than ever before.

While many of us have long been silent, times are changing as it becomes ever more apparent that atheists are both a significant part of the electorate and an integral part of American society.  We are your friends, your neighbors, doctors, mechanics, your letter carriers, your dog groomers and the waiters and waitressed who serve you food at the local diner.

The following video by Hemant Mehta, who blogs as “The Friendly Atheist,” answers the 15 top questions atheists get from people who believe in God:

A Few Famous and Brilliant Atheists:

Isaac Asimov – American writer and professor of biochemistry

Thomas Edison – American inventor who created the electric light bulb, the phonograph (audio recordings) and the movie camera

Dave Barry – American humorist

Famous atheist Ayn Rand, is also ironically loved by many on the American right

Famous atheist Ayn Rand, author of the libertarian novel “Atlas Shrugged,” is idolized by many on the American right

Simone de Beauvoir – French existentialist philosopher

Richard Branson – British entrepreneur whose Virgin group includes more than 350 companies

George Carlin – American comedian, actor and writer

Richard Dawkins – British evolutionary biologist

Marlene Dietrich – German-born American actress

Jodie Foster – American actress, director and producer

Ricky Gervais – British comedy writer, director and actor

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn – American actress (In an October 1991 interview with Ladies Home Journal, Hepburn famously 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 people.’

Wendy Kaminer – American lawyer, author and feminist, writer for the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and other publications

Tom Lehrer – American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, Harvard University mathematician and author of The Vatican Rag

John Malkovich – American actor, producer and director

Tim Minchin – Australian comedian, actor, composer, songwriter and pianist whose songs include the environmental mega-anthem hit Take Your Canvas Bags (to the Supermarket)

Penn and Teller – American entertainers

Salman Rushdie – Indian-British novelist whose book, The Satanic Verses, led an Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa on Feb. 14, 1989 in which the leader called on Muslims to shoot Rushdie on sight.

Julia Sweeney – American comedian and actress and former cast member of Saturday Night Live

George Carlin once said "I've begun worshipping the Sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the Sun. It's there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There's no mystery, no one asks for money, I don't have to dress up, and there's no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate." (from George Carlin, Brain Droppings)

George Carlin once said “I’ve begun worshipping the Sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the Sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.”
(from George Carlin, Brain Droppings)

Mark Twain – American writer whose sixty books included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Frank ZappaAmerican musician

Kevin BaconAmerican actor

Rodney Dangerfield, whose most famous complaint was "I don't get no respect"

Like many atheists, Rodney Dangerfield’s most famous complaint was “I don’t get no respect”

Rodney DangerfieldAmerican comedian

Marlon Brando – American actor

Billy Joel – American musician

John Lennon – a member of The Beatles

Bruce Lee – American actor and martial arts expert

Bill Maher – American humorist, filmmaker and talk show host

Jack Nicholson – American actor

George Orwell – American author

Brad Pitt – American actor

Ted Turner – American media mogul and founder of the cable news network CNN

Mark Zuckerberg – started Facebook

Charlie Chaplin – American filmmaker

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Angelina Jolie – American actress

Larry King – American talk show host

Gene Wilder – American actor

Keanu Reeves – American actor

Warren Buffett – American business magnate, billionaire investor, and philanthropist

Jimmy Wales – creator of Wikipedia

Kurt Vonnegut  – American author

Jimmy Wales, inventor of Wikipedia, never sued anyone for copying

Famous atheist Jimmy Wales, inventor of Wikipedia, never sued anyone for copying

Marie Curie – Polish physicist and chemist who created the theory of radioactivity and discovered the two elements polonium and radium

Helen Keller – American author and lecturer and the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Susan B. Anthony – American civil rights leader

Phyllis Diller – American comedian, died at age 95in 2012, and wanted to be remembered has having made kindness her religion

William ShatnerAmerican actor who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series