Skeptic, cinephile, bookworm, gamer, history buff, armchair scientist, occasional YouTuber, habitual cringe inducer, reluctant realist.
Thou are not alone, for we are plentiful
This list is for those skeptics and non-believers who feel alone in their lack of faith. We see religion coming at us from all ends every day, from television, to films, to literature, to the vast majority of our fellow man (and woman). But would it surprise you that some of the most influential artists of our time and our past were non-believers just as ourselves? It's quite true. And below I've compiled a list of some of the most well-known of these individuals.
While I've not listed every outspoken celebrity atheist and agnostic, I have listed some of my personal favorites -- along with others who I thought may interest others. These people range from Brad Pitt, to Charlie Chaplin, to Virginia Woolf and the Mythbusters. Along with each name I've also added quotes by the individual in question, where they speak of their lack of belief; sometimes with hope, sometimes with inspiration, sometimes with wit, and many times with utter hilarity.
I hope others enjoy this list as much as I have and find that they truly are not alone, weird, or bad for believing (or not believing) in the way that they do. Be proud of your lack of faith... you're in good company.
Writer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" -- Douglas Adams
"People will then often say, 'But surely it's better to remain an Agnostic just in case?' This, to me, suggests such a level of silliness and muddle that I usually edge out of the conversation rather than get sucked into it. (If it turns out that I've been wrong all along, and there is in fact a god, and if it further turned out that this kind of legalistic, cross-your-fingers-behind-your-back, Clintonian hair-splitting impressed him, then I think I would choose not to worship him anyway.)" -- Douglas Adams
"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing." -- Douglas Adams
Critically acclaimed screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright
"How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?" -- Woody Allen
"If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever." -- Woody Allen
"To you, I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition." -- Woody Allen
"If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank." -- Woody Allen
"Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends." -- Woody Allen
"I do occasionally envy the person who is religious naturally, without being brainwashed into it or suckered into it by all the organized hustles / Just like having an ear for music or something. It would just never occur to such a person for a second that the world isn't about something." -- Woody Allen
American film director
The Guardian, May 1, 2004, Pg. 30.
"Still, it's worth noting that by the age of 20 this whistle-blower had resisted two of the most powerful institutions -- church and army, both. He is an atheist, 'And I have been against all of these wars ever since.'" Suzie Mackenzie interviewing Altman, 'Still up to mischief'
Actor and comedian
In the March 23, 2012 episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher asks Armisen what his religion is, to which Armisen replied "I'm an atheist."
An author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books
[I]f I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul. -- Isaac Asimov, I. Asimov: A Memoir
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 one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time. -- Isaac Asimov, in "Free Inquiry", Spring 1982, vol.2 no.2, p. 9
"Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism." --Isaac Asimov
"I think there is a puritanical wind that is blowing. I have never seen such a lack of separation between church and state in America, I don't believe in God, but if I did I would say that sex is a Godgiven right. Otherwise it's the end of our species." -- Kevin Bacon
Academy Award winning actor
"I always said that I don't believe in God, I believe in Al Pacino" -- Javier Bardem
A director, writer and producer for film, stage and television
"I have struggled all my life with a tormented and joyless relationship with God. Faith and lack of faith, punishment, grace and rejection, all were real to me, all were imperative. My prayers stank of anguish, entreaty, trust, loathing and despair. God spoke, God said nothing. Do not turn from Thy face." -- Ingmar Bergman
"The lost hours of that operation provided me with a calming message. You were born without purpose, you live without meaning, living is its own meaning." -- Ingmar Bergman
"When you die, you are extinguished. From being you will be transformed to non-being. A god does not necessarily dwell among our capricious atoms." -- Ingmar Bergman
French stage actress referred to as "the most famous actress in the history of the world"
Asked by French composer Charles Gounod if she ever prayed, Bernhadt replied "No, never. I'm an atheist."
"I was brought up Catholic. I'm lapsed. From the age of three I was with the nuns. Now I'm an atheist. I think religion does a lot for us but I can't quite believe it, alas... It's just a personal choice. I love the idea of heaven though. Who doesn't? It's lovely." -- Paul Bettany
Actor and musician
On the April 26th, 2012 episode of Conan Jack Black stated that he was an atheist.
Actor and Comedian
"Who knew that the devil had a factory where he made millions of fossils, which his minions distributed throughout the earth, in order to confuse my tiny brain?" -- Lewis Black (Me of Little Faith)
"That's the funny thing about religion: it doesn't matter what you say, you're going to upset someone. " -- Lewis Black
"I think if you are an atheist, what's there to be frightened of? ... But I don't want to die yet." -- Jim Broadbent
Actor and comedian
"Maybe God is an asshole...of course not, he's not an asshole, he's imaginary." -- Louis C.K.
"I've sworn off agnosticism, which I now call cowardly atheism. I've come to the position that in the complete absence of any supporting data whatsover for the persistence of the individual in some spiritual form, it is necessary to operate under the provisional conclusion that there is no afterlife and then be ready to amend that if I find out otherwise." -- James Cameron
An American stand-up comedian, social critic, actor and author
"In the Bullshit Department, a businessman can't hold a candle to a clergyman. 'Cause I gotta tell you the truth, folks. When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!" -- George Carlin
Radio personality, television host, comedian, and actor
"I am not agnostic. I am atheist. I don't think there is no God; I know there's no God. I know there's no God the same way I know many other laws in our universe. I know there's no God and I know most of the world knows that as well. They just won't admit it because there's another thing they know. They know they're going to die and it freaks them out. So most people don't have the courage to admit there's no God and they know it. They feel it. They try to suppress it. And if you bring it up they get angry because it freaks them out." -- Adam Carolla
A film director, screenwriter, producer, editor, composer, and occasional actor.
"I'm an atheist, but I have a great fascination with this issue -- over God and whether there is one or not. I come to (my belief) personally for my own reasons and my own decisions. But I respect anybody who believes anything, I don't have the ultimate answers about anything." -- John Carpenter
"If we're all Gods children, then what's so special about Jesus?" -- Jimmy Carr
English comedian, actor, director and producer.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in God, in none." -- Charlie Chaplin
"Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded." -- Charlie Chaplin
"Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion." -- Charlie Chaplin
"What do you want a meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning." -- Charlie Chaplin
"What do you want a meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning." -- Charlie Chaplin
Arthur C. Clarke
A British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, most famous for the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey
"It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him." -- Arthur C. Clarke
"Perhaps most controversially, religions of all kinds have fallen under a strict taboo, with the citizenry looking back on the religious beliefs and practices of earlier ages as products of ignorance that caused untold strife and bloodshed. But the concept of a God, known by the Latin word Deus, survives, a legacy of man's continuing wonder at the universe." -- Arthur C. Clarke
"I don't believe in God but I'm extremely interested in him." -- Arthur C. Clarke
Actor and film director
"I don't believe in Heaven and Hell, I don't know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won't allow this life -- the only thing I know to exist -- to be wasted." -- George Clooney
Scottish comedian, actor, former musician
"Where do you go when you die? The same place you were before you were born; nowhere! It's over!" -- Billy Connolly
Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips)
American rock musician, lead singer of The Flaming Lips
"I wish I did believe in God. It would be a great relief to think, 'God'll take care of it. God'll put gas in the car tomorrow'" -- Wayne Coyne
Film director and writer, perhaps best known as the director of many horror films, including the famed A Nightmare on Elm Street
"Yeah. Formally, I don’t believe in God, because I think people’s minds are too limited to even have a concept of whether there is a God, and I believe religions have done much more harm than they’ve done good." -- Wes Craven
Screenwriter and director of such films as The Dead Zone, Scanners, and A History of Violence
"It was apparent to me that religion was an invented thing, a wish-fulfillment thing, a fantasy thing. It was much more real, dangerous, to accept that mortality was the end for you as an individual. As an atheist, I don't believe in an afterlife, so if you're thinking of murder, if your subject is murder, then that's a physical act of absolute destruction because you're ending something, a body, that is unique. That person never existed before, will never exist again, will not be karmically recycled, will not go to heaven, therefore I take it seriously." -- David Cronenberg
Actor, writer, and Emmy winner
"It was just before the peace treaty was signed between Israel and Palestine, and I was pissed off that the Israeli soldiers had killed a kid, a 12-year-old, who was throwing rocks at them. I thought that was reprehensible, and so this guy starts yelling at me about how they're terrorists, and I said, 'Yeah, so are these Israeli soldiers. They torture people. That's documented: They torture their political prisoners.' He's coming at me with all this, saying that I'm a self-loathing Jew, and I said I was raised Jewish but I don't believe in God, I'm not Jewish, and I don't hold those beliefs. His whole point was that Israel was good and Palestine was bad. I said, 'That's just 'cause that's what you were taught, and you don't have an open mind about it.'" -- David Cross
"I was made to go to church, but no, it wasn't a very religious thing. And I'm completely atheist. I don't hold any beliefs about God and stuff. And I can't do the church thing. Last year, I was here in New York, at a Christmas party, and everyone went to midnight Mass except me. I just listened to music while they were all out, supposedly communing with God, but they were just doing it because it's habit."
Actor and comedian
Dangerfield said he was an atheist during an interview with Howard Stern in May 2004. Stern asked Dangerfield if he believed in an afterlife. Dangerfield answered he was a "logical" atheist and added, "We're apes––do apes go anyplace?"
Actor, writer, comedian and producer, famous for creating Seinfield and Curb Your Enthusiasm
“At the end of the day, if there was indeed some body or presence standing there to judge me, I hoped I would be judged on whether I had lived a true life, not on whether I believed in a certain book, or whether I’d been baptized. If there was indeed a god at the end of my days, I hoped he didn’t say, ‘But you were never a Christian, so you’re going the other way from heaven.’ If so, I was going to reply, ‘You know what? You’re right. Fine.”
William B. Davis (the smoking man)
Canadian actor, known for his role as the Cigarette Smoking Man in The X-Files
In a May 15, 1997 Rolling Stone, he is interviewed by Anthony Bozza and is asked about whether he has a belief in UFOs. Davis answers "No, I'm a skeptic." He continues, "I think we live in a very barren universe. Our task is essentially existential. If we're going to have any meaning in this universe, we have to make it for ourselves. It's not going to come from outside."
He discussed the X-Files finale of the previous season, which was based on Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. In particular, he points to the similarity between the philosophy of the Church and the philosophy of Cancer Man, that is, "We'll control the world for the sake of the world, because [people] can't look after themselves."
Whether or not Depp would consider himself a "atheist", it's still unknown. But, all evidence is pointing to that. Aside from wearing his SKEPTIC pin (pictured on the right) and holding a book, The Moral Arc, by skeptic extraordinaire, Michael Shermer (about how morality can exist without religion), he's also stated in an October 16th, 2011 interview with Larry King, when King asked Depp if he had faith"
"I have faith in my kids. Yeah, I have faith in my kids. And I have, I have faith, you know, as long as you keep moving forward, just keep walking forward things will be alright, I suppose, you know. Faith in terms of religion, I don't, religion is not my specialty." (Click here to see the interview on Youtube)
Film director, best known for his musicals including Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Singin' in the Rain
"I never became religious. I'm an atheist. I don't believe in God. I never did. I don't think it's possible. He made such a bess of it if there is." -- Stanley Donen
Critic and writer
"My opinions have been challenged. I had to defend what I believed. I did some more reading. I discovered fractals and Strange Attractors. I wrote an entry about the way I believe in God, which is to say that I do not. Not, at least, in the God that most people mean when they say God. I grant you that if the universe was Caused, there might have been a Causer. But that entity, or force, must by definition be outside space and time; beyond all categories of thought, or non-thought; transcending existence, or non-existence. What is the utility of arguing our "beliefs" about it? What about the awesome possibility that there was no Cause? What if everything...just happened?" -- Roger Ebert
"I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear, he writes in a journal entry titled "Go Gently into That Good Night." I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris." -- Roger Ebert on death
A theoretical physicist who discovered the theory of general relativity
"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." -- Albert Einstein
"I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. " -- Albert Einstein
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery-- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds -- it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man." -- Albert Einstein
"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." -- Albert Einstein
"The idea of a Being who interferes with the sequence of events in the world is absolutely impossible." -- Albert Einstein
Bret Easton Ellis
A novelist and short story writer popular for writing American Psycho
"Are you asking me if I was raised in a religious family or if I go to church? I was raised an agnostic. I don't know - I hate to fly, I have a fear of flying. That means either that I have no faith in air-traffic controllers or that I've done something really bad, and this is God's way of getting at me. Maybe I'm caught in the middle... But no, I don't believe in God. That's such a strange thing to admit in an interview."
American actor, playwright, and screenwriter
"I mean, I don't believe in God, I don't believe in heaven or hell, but I pray three or four times a day." -- Harvey Fierstein
On an appearance on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect, one of the panelists suggested that Fierstein -- who is a Jew -- must think that Menorahs ought to be displayed alongside Christmas trees on public property. Fierstein disputed this and said that neither should be displayed saying that though he is a Jew, he is also an atheist.
Publisher and the president of Larry Flynt Publications
Flynt writes "I have left my religious conversion behind and settled into a comfortable state of atheism" in the epilogue of his autobiography An Unseemly Man: My Life As A Pornographer, Pundit And Social Outcast.
Actor best known for his work in The Kids in the Hall and NewsRadio
"Not all religions claim the direct authority of God speaking to their leader. You know, I'm an atheist, but I'm a Puritan atheist." -- Dave Foley
When asked about his feelings on motorcycling:
“Yes. Well, it forces focus. I ride an MV Agusta. This is an Italian racing motorcycle. It forces focus. You have to be focused and in my life, in this business, focus is hard to find sometimes. So I need to force focus and that's great. The bike takes you on a free road. There's no fences on the roads I ride and I don't ride freeways. That's as much as I can tell you because there are more lands waiting for this little Christian boy. That's not true. I'm an atheist, but what the heck.”
Film actress, director, and producer
When asked if she was religious by Entertainment Weekly, Jodie Foster replied: "No, I'm an atheist. But I absolutely love religions and the rituals. Even though I don't believe in God."