298 COMMENTS

  1. Jessica Ahlquist, Daniel Moran, Zack Kopplin, Damon Fowler, Christopher Hitchens, Hement Mehta, Jerry DeWitt, Tech N9ne, Bill Maher

  2. David G. McAfee is a good Atheist role model. He regularly engages with his fans and followers on social media and keeps people informed on Atheist news and ideas.

  3. Without a doubt Noam Chomsky. I don’t always agree with him but I never find him boring and I always find his arguments well thought out and engaging. I actually think Chomsky is one of the most under appreciated intellectuals in modern history. IMO he should be up there with Einstein in terms of his impact on western thought. (Note: here I’m talking only about linguistics, philosophy, computer science, etc. not about his political work) Chomsky’s work has impact far beyond linguistics. After Turing, Church, and Von Neumann he is probably the most important thinker in defining the foundational mathematical theories that make modern computers possible. His theory of language and automata is just as relevant for computers as linguistics. The languages such as Java and C++ are languages in the Chomsky Hierarchy just as English is (although not at the same level in the hierarchy).

    I’m rambling. Anyway, and not just computer science also psychology. Read any of Pinker’s books or Scott Atran or the other evolutionary psychology people and Chomsky is always the starting point.

    I think one reason he isn’t venerated is because his political work is so controversial. And that also makes me like him, not just that I agree with most (not all) that he says there but that he has the integrity and dedication to do the incredible work he does there. If you look at the number of books he’s written in either field by itself it would be insanely impressive. That one man could do both his scientific and political work is mind boggling.

  4. I’ve learned not to have role models, but just for today it is Hemant Mehta.
    That’s besides Richard, of course.

  5. I would have to say that Bill Nye greatly influenced me as a child and then Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist helped to gently lead me out of my “spiritual but not religious” phase.

  6. Madelyn Murray O’Hair, David Silverman, John Lemon, Bill Maher, Maryam Namazie, George Carlin, Greydon Square, Mandisa Thomas, Dr. Darrell Ray.

  7. Ooh, I know… David Attenborough.

    Sir David Attenborough: ‘I get hate mail telling me to burn in hell for not crediting God’
    >

    Sir David Attenborough receives hate mail from viewers for not crediting God in his nature programmes.

    “They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance,” Sir David said during an interview with the Radio Times about his latest documentary on Charles Darwin and natural selection.

    Telling the magazine that he was also asked why he did not give “credit” to the Lord, Sir David continued: “They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds.

    “I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in East Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball.

    “The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs.

    “I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.”

  8. In reply to #15 by essie9950:

    Christopher Hitchens and Pat Condell.

    Pat Condell? Gross, hateful racist. Why not Jeff Dunham or Jim Davidson? If you’re looking for atheist comedians – and I use that term ve_rrry_ loosely in relation to Condell – who aren’t also a-holes, there’s Dara Ó Briain, Jeremy Hardy, Victoria Wood, Mark Steel, Alan Davies, Sandi Toksvig, Robin Ince, Dave Allen, Bill Hicks, Sue Perkins, Marcus Brigstocke, Jo Brand, Billy Connolly, Stewart Lee, David Mitchell, Eddie Izzard, Linda Smith, Julia Sweeney, Patton Oswald and so on and so on.

    At a pinch, there’s even Jimmy Carr and Ricky Gervais.

  9. The first name that pops into mind is the late great Christopher Hitchens; followed by Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and all the fallen warriors who were compelled to think. Thank you for this freedom.

  10. In reply to #17 by Katy Cordeth:

    Pat Condell? Gross, hateful racist.

    Oh dear, Katy, your Guardian leftie credentials are showing again. So certain you are right, now that’s scary. Please show me one video of Pat Condell’s where he says anything racist. Tell us why you really hate Pat Condell – is it because he supported UKIP by any chance?

  11. In reply to #19 by GPWC:

    In reply to #17 by Katy Cordeth:

    Pat Condell? Gross, hateful racist.

    Oh dear, Katy, your Guardian leftie credentials are showing again. So certain you are right, now that’s scary. Please show me one video of Pat Condell’s where he says anything racist. Tell us why you really hate Pat Condell – is…

    My views tend toward the left, I don’t think I’ve ever tried to hide that fact, although I don’t take The Guardian.

    I’m not willing to spend any more time viewing that horrid man’s diatribes in order to prove to you he’s a racist than I already have; it’s just too dispiriting.

    What I will do is provide you with a link to this article, Feminism is not an excuse for your racism, Pat Condell, from some website called Pharyngula (?), and say I’m happy RDFRS seems for the most part to have severed its connection with him.

    I don’t care if Condell supports UKIP. It’s his links to the EDL and the BNP that concern me more. I love UKIP: it’s going to rob David Cameron of a second term as Prime Minister.


    In case you respond to this, and before the mods weigh in, I’ll say what they’re going to say for them:

    This thread is not about Pat Condell. Please keep all comments on topic, and avoid hesitation, repetition or deviation if possible.

    Thank You.

    The Mods

    Something like that, anyway.

  12. God… Does he believe in himself?

    Joking aside. Terry Pratchett. His subtle humour on life, the universe and death is refreshing and puts me at ease.

  13. The (ancient) Greeks, for inventing the word atheism, the Buddha, for living it, Nietszche, for publicly killing the god concept and, at the same time, resurrecting atheism, Bertrand Russell, for making atheism respectable in polite circles, and Hitchens, for Hitchslapping atheism into polite people.

  14. In reply to #20 by Katy Cordeth:
    >

    Well we are discussing whether Pat Condell is an atheist role model, so it is on topic. I say he is. And I think you have all your work ahead of you to prove that he is a racist or has links to EDL or BNP.

    I watched the link and read the comments. I use the old definition of racism, so calling out Muslims on something can’t be racist. But, I realise the word (because it has become so powerful and potent) is now employed by all sorts of people to shut down any sort of criticism of people who live abroad or who are from a different culture. Pat doesn’t subscribe to that and goes at it with vigour. Sure, he makes generalisations and is not subtle, but I haven’t got any problem with that when he is making a general point.

    On this video, he is making the point that feminists who would and should be attacking Islam for its stance on women, hold back for fear of being called a racist. A point I think that RD has made in a similar way about liberals and their queasiness to really criticise religion.

  15. In reply to #23 by GPWC:

    In reply to #20 by Katy Cordeth:

    Well we are discussing whether Pat Condell is an atheist role model, so it is on topic. I say he is. And I think you have all your work ahead of you to prove that he is a racist or has links to EDL or BNP.

    I think I’ll hold fire responding to your comment until the moderators pronounce judgement. It would be super if this became a thread in which the body of work of anyone’s atheist hero could be discussed ad infinitum. I’m a tremendous fan of Joss Whedon, an avowed atheist; it’d be awesome if I got to talk Buffy on this site to my ticker’s content.

    I’ll give it a go: Once More, with Feeling and Hush are the best episodes of that show ever…

  16. In reply to #25 by GPWC:

    In reply to #24 by Katy Cordeth:

    Katy – If you are a fan of Spaced which I am, you will love this.

    I love Spaced. Death to Jar Jar.

    Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson/Heinz are also atheist heroes of mine, just to keep it on-topic.

  17. Carl Sagan. I knew him as a student and have read all his books. He made the most coherent case against the belief in the supernatural and also presented science in a meaningful and understandable manner.

  18. Besides the “usual” Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, etc. Margaret Downey is one of my top atheist role models. Founder and President of the Freethought Society, founder of the Anti-Discrimination Support Network, tireless champion of equal rights for non-theists.

  19. Christopher Hitchens (amazing orator and debator), Tim Minchin (comedian and storyteller), Seth Andrews (of The Thinking Atheist).

  20. Matt Dillahunty.
    Awesome host of the Atheist Experience (public access TV show in Austin, TX), great debater, he usually travels around the most religious places in America to debate in Universities and other places with priests and religious figures appealing to logic, reason and science as the right way to reach the truth.

  21. Though it might be considered lame as an answer, it would have to be my wife.

    She saw a person behind the façade of a homeless disabled veteran (me) and took me in.

    She patiently worked around my former Wiccan beliefs, so that I could figure out that they really had no more basis in reality than any other faith.

    She won the hearts of our little town of 128 people through her charitable work. She was appointed the public librarian after the previous one retired, and turned it into both the cool place for teenagers to hang out and trebled the membership of the library in a matter of months.

    She also slipped “The Magic of Reality” past the library board, where it is now one of the more popular books to check out (both by teens and adults). All that in a conservative corner of the USA.

  22. My Atheist role model (which I would never be able to emulate) is the late, great Christopher Hitchens.
    His biting wit, sarcasm and down-to-earth comments, his sometimes virulent but always informed criticism of religions was a delight to hear. Because of him I now call mysel an anti-theist, as well as a skeptic and humanist.
    Peace…

  23. Brian Cox. Nobody has said Brian Cox.!! Funny and an excellent communicator of science.

  24. Mr. Christopher Hitchens, yes I know he is no longer with us, but his legacy is still tops in my book and hard to follow. 2nd choice would be The awesome Mr. Fry

  25. Penn Jillette, hands down. The way he approaches atheism, with love and compassion for people who are religious rather than scorn and disdain, is a great inspiration.

  26. Robert G. Ingersoll was highly courageous when speaking of freethought during his time, and a great thinker/speaker. At present, P.Z. Myers addresses many issues of concern in politics, society, and science. Years ago, I wish I would have had professors like him.

  27. A three way tie.
    a) Eddie Izzard, comedian who makes you think and laugh att the same time.
    b) Derren Brown and James Randi, illusionists who teaches you to be critical at supernatural claims and to spot fakes with relatively easy means.

  28. H. L. Mencken, who is reported to have said “A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there. A theologian is the man who finds it.”

  29. The atheism subreddit. That’s where I found out about Matt Dillahunty who really opened my eyes to all the lies I’d been taught in Catholic school. I can’t leave out Hemant Mehta for selling his soul on ebay.

  30. I really like Seth Andrews now a days.

    Of course the greats like George Carlin, Bill Maher, Hitch, and Dan Dennett and many others brought me to this place in life.

  31. Ayn Rand. For her the matter of a deity is a non-issue hardly worth debating and incidental to the larger issue of what is true and by what method does one know the truth. Her philosophy of Objectivism is incompatible with theism just as reason is incompatible with faith and mysticism. I do not admire people who hang their hats arbitrarily on atheism since atheism is an empty category and offers nothing positive as an alternative to mysticism and theism. One cannot say what atheists may or may not think and value because all that they necessarily have in common is a disbelief in nonsense, leaving open what they do think and how they arrived at those ideas. Rand focussed on fundamentals, and part of her philosophy is identifying her axioms and stating and validating her premises. Without doing so, there is nothing to discuss and no means of progressing rational discourse.

  32. In reply to #47 by Steve Weiss:

    Ayn Rand. For her the matter of a deity is a non-issue hardly worth debating and incidental to the larger issue of what is true and by what method does one know the truth. Her philosophy of Objectivism is incompatible with theism just as reason is incompatible with faith and mysticism. I do not a…

    Ayn Rand was a philosopher in the sense that Alan Watts, Carlos Castaneda, or Depak Chopra are philosophers. She creates pseudo-intellectual bullshit that no philosopher I respect even thinks is worth refuting but it got and still gets a lot of attention in the popular press. And I should clarify since there are a lot of philosophers I don’t respect much (e.g. John Searle) but I still think they are at least coherent enough to be seriously discussed. I don’t think Rand even merits serious discussion.

    I would encourage you to read Michael Schermer’s excellent book Why People Believe Weird Things. He has a chapter devoted to Rand and Objectivism and he shows how vacuous it is and how hypocritical and egotistical Rand was as a person.

  33. For me, it has to be Richard Feynman. Not only is he an inspiration to people interested in science, he dismisses God and Religion in a few sentences, without aggressive assertions. I don’t think he is an evangelical atheist, but he expresses his views as cheerfully as he does is understanding of the atom! (Interviews with RF can be seen on YouTube).

  34. Frankly, I don’t like the worshipful note in the idea of a ‘role model’: it smacks too much of religion. What’s wrong with admiring and respecting someone and helping promote their ideas where those ideas are useful. What does a ‘role model’ mean? If they walk with a limp would you adopt the limp? I’d like to hear of anyone who has ever consciously adopted someone else as a role model.

  35. In reply to #54 by Livers:

    Frankly, I don’t like the worshipful note in the idea of a ‘role model’: it smacks too much of religion. What’s wrong with admiring and respecting someone and helping promote their ideas where those ideas are useful. What does a ‘role model’ mean? If they walk with a limp would you adopt the limp? I…

    I mostly agree with you. I actually think there may be a very core element (who knows maybe even genetic) to people’s personalities such that some of us (e.g. you and me) feel this way and others don’t. So for a long time I would tell my daughter “what do you need a role model for” (of course I was also thinking don’t you have the perfect adult before you why do you need ANOTHER role model but that’s just my insane ego) But I came to realize — and she is brilliant and hard working and motivated — but for her she really needs other women to look at and see examples of success and commitment. Right now it’s Pink btw.

    I think part of the difference is also men vs. women. As men we are more likely to think we don’t need role models because we are raised to think of ourselves (especially in US culture) as independent, strong, etc. And our history is of course filled with examples of people like us (especially if we are white and European) who have done amazing things.

    So I agree, I’ve never really thought much of people as role models even when I was a kid. I wanted to BE the role model not find them. But to the extent I think the concept has any value for me it’s people who both do amazing things intellectually AND show moral courage as well. Doing either is a major accomplishment but to do both is very rare and the few people who do are people I wouldn’t mind admitting to want to emulate.

  36. Here goes as far as influential Penn Jillette and George Carlin. George Carlin introduced me to the absurdity of a god and Penn Jillette let me know it was ok to be an atheist, in a very human and humorous way. I also really like and respect Michael Shermer and James Randi for all their extremely hard work debunking the woo. The entire cast of the Atheist Experience have helped me to communicate with theists and get my points across with patience. They also offer a wealth of knowledge both biblical and scientific. There are so many more but for me these have been my inspiration and I thank them all. Almost forgot Seth Andrews love his you tube channel.

  37. If I can’t choose Richard then it will be Christopher Hitchens. His essays and debates on Youtube continue to inspire me.

  38. There are so many people who have influenced and guided me to become more rational and skeptical in general and to become an atheist in particular. My number one would be my Grandfather who is now sadly no longer alive but for someone more high profile I think Christopher Hitchens is right up there.

  39. I don’t know his real name, but his YouTube name is “logicked”. He puts a lot of time into making interesting videos debunking creationists, and his style is so unique you’d have to watch his videos to understand any description I could give you. He is very intelligent, educated, and worthy of acknowledgement by the Dawkins Foundation.

  40. Fortunately there are many who are openly stating their denial of religious mythology and superstition. I especially admire those who use(d) their public voice for change – Bill Maher, George Carlin, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Savage.

  41. Gore Vidal, the man I consider to be my godfather in atheism.

    “Always a godfather, never a god.” GV

    But Mr. Vidal, you were far wiser than any god could have been! BN

  42. There are many atheists who deserve accolades and who would be great role models, but I nominate Emery Emery and Heather Henderson. It’s hard to separate them. Their podcast, Ardent Atheist, is both profound and hilarious. When I began to listen to it when I walk in the mornings, I would be hearing explanations for why things are the way they are, as well as knee slapping funniness. Disclaimer: when I finally met them at TAM9, we found out that we live in the same neighborhood, and have become close friends. That doesn’t stop me from admiring them as advocates for atheism. Heather’s sincerity and beauty put a charming face on atheism, and her openness has inspired me to be even more authentic about my own atheism. Emery understands why Christians think the way they do because his path to atheism was through evangelical Christianity. He is a clear thinking, good man. I will submit this essay written by Emery yesterday to attest to his sincerity.
    “I sat eating my Big Mac, playing Tiny Death Star on my iPhone lost in my own personal malaise. I was pondering the loss of so many relationships that initially, seemed as if they could never end. I was contemplating my mother’s slow healing, compound fracture and how I wasn’t ready for her to give up just yet. I wondered if my new used car would become a money pit and how was going to afford to get the old Saab running right so Heather could drive a more reliable car to her night gig.

    My quiet contemplation was broken by a tattooed twenty-something charging through the door followed by an old man moving slowly behind him, a dog-eared notebook under one arm and what appeared to be sleeping supplies under the other. The old man was talking up a storm to some unseen person. He mumbled in a language only known to him and the ghost that only he could see.

    The kid walked right up to the counter and placed his order with blinding speed as if he was late for a CeeLo concert and while he waited for his food, he eyed the old man. I wondered what kind of trouble I was about to witness. I knew I’d be getting involved because that’s what I do. I’m not a spectator.

    The old man was focussed on his invisible friend and seemed hell bent on not making eye contact with anyone in the joint but all eyes were on him. He stood near the soda machine, working out some details about something that only he understood. He seemed to be getting what must have been good advice from the ether because he laughed a few times and nodded vigorously in his companion’s ghostly direction which was situated conveniently away from us all.

    A tray was set on the counter as the minimum wage employee called out the number 315. The kid snagged the tray in one hand and the empty cup in the other and slid right up to the old man causing him to flinch as he let out a preternatural grunt.

    “Which flavor you like, man?” blurted the young man.

    After a moment of confusion a sliver of coherence slipped in just long enough for the old guy to say, “Sprite! Who don’t drink Sprite?!” And he turned away as quickly as his wretched body would allow and rounded the corner, shuffling his way to the seat that would place him as far from the rest of us as he could get.

    I watched him situate his notebook which had a crude pen drawing of what appeared to be a woman with the words, “Keep It Together” scratched beneath in 1st grade level handwriting. He resumed his discussion but this time, with his notebook. The ghost must have moved onto the page he turned to.

    The kid finished filling his Sprite, capped it and stabbed the lid with a straw and made his way to the man’s table, causing the man to rise to his feet as if he were ready to defend the small island and his pen and ink lady had staked claim to and in the moment, everything became instantly clear to me.

    Twenty-Something sat the meal on the old man’s table and gently placed his arm around the man to help guide him to his seat. He said, “Stay strong, brother.”

    My eyes filled and I was instantly ashamed for believing that this boy could do anyone harm. I had no idea he had met that man on the street where he invited him into the warmth of a McDonald’s restaurant where he would see to it that the man had a meal tonight.

    I was also ashamed that only moments ago, I was sad.

    I walked out of that building with no money in my pocket because I sat a small wedge of cash on the man’s table as I walked by and as I was making my way out the door, the kid was behind me, on the way to whatever life he’s fortunate enough to have. All I said was, “That was beautiful”. He thanked me and jumped in his parent’s SUV and drove away. The music rattling his windows wasn’t Ceelo.”

  43. Ernst Mach, percursor of general relativity, philosopher of science and atheist par excellence.

  44. My dad.

    He put an end to all boredom from about seven onwards because he showed me EVERYTHING was interesting. He eventually wiped away my fear of death by tying it in with the first thing. He stopped me wishing for anything other than what we’ve got and what we can do.

    My known atheist heroes are Hitch and Julia Sweeney for their rational (but very different) emotional engagements.

    Q’s choice must be the intellectual granddaddy.

  45. Nietzsche, because he is the most mature atheist in history: He said: “We must occasionally find pleasure in our folly, or we cannot continue to find pleasure in our wisdom. Precisely because we are at bottom grave and serious human beings — really, more weights than human beings — nothing does us as much good as a fool’s cap: we need it in relation to ourselves — we need all exuberant, floating, dancing, mocking childish, and blissful art lest we lose the freedom above things that our ideal demands of us…[We are in danger of becoming] virtuous monsters and scarecrows. We should be able also to stand above morality — not only to stand with the anxious stiffness of a man who is afraid of slipping and falling any moment, but also to float above it and play.”

  46. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, I wish Neil DeGrasse Tyson was my dad, I love that guy. He has never said anything that made me say “That doesn’t make sense to me.” Am I smart or is he so smart that he can convey even the most complex idea in such a way that it makes sense to the average person.

  47. Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Neil Degrasi Tyson, Jerry A, Coyne and Mat Dillahunty, Jaklin Gleen, Lee lemon, Hemanth Metah.

  48. Neil deGrasse Tyson rocks – but alas, he does not tick the atheist box.

    Student Secular Society – an enthusiastic group that started modestly at a few universities. Success came as the idea spread to more campuses, and just recently they set up shop at high schools! A much needed alternative to all the christ driven propaganda.

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  50. Dan Fincke
    close behind is:
    Richard Carrier,
    Neil deGrasse Tyson.

    This is assuming you meant “role models” literally, as people who I try to emulate who advocate for atheism at least partly. (out of people alive right now that can be interviewed for VIP of the week)

  51. No Gods for me, not even in the form of role models.
    While I appreciate a good thought and standing up for freedom rights, all thoughts are open for criticism, and nobody’s perfect. Even a good thought you don’t agree with can be inspiring, and even geniuses and brave persons may behave in a totally unacceptable way in some situations.
    So no, no gods and no role models for me.

  52. My choice of atheist role model, in the absence of Hitch, is A C Grayling. He is so eloquent, calm, humorous and wise. He makes so much sense with what appears to be so little effort; a concise communicator.

  53. What is an atheist role model? Is that somebody who shows you the correct way not believe in gods? The answer is none.

    Is it a role model in some field of endeavor who happens to be atheist? Some of my role models in communicating science include (in addition to Richard): Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Steven Pinker, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Lawrence Krauss. Role models for doing good science include Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman. My role model for philosophical thinking is Dan Dennett, but for argumentation style is the master, Christopher Hitchens. I also like Sam Harris both for philosophical thinking and style, but I find that outside of prepared works like books and speeches, Harris can be very sloppy in his arguments and commit obvious and common argumentation errors.

    In physical conditioning and capability, my role models include Bruce Lee. In storytelling, Douglas Adams. Role models for fundamental mathematical thinking include Alan Turing and Claude Shannon.

    All of these role models are atheists. They are also all men, though, I believe were also all married, and a whole host of other commonalities. I’m not sure that their being atheists is relevant to why they are my role models. And I have role models in certain areas that aren’t atheists.

    I guess I don’t understand the point of the question. Can you tell me your aphilatelist role model? I don’t believe any of the above role models collected stamps, so it’s my same list.

  54. Richard Dawkins book ” The God delusion ” is a work of genius and in it he gives links to many other great thinkers. I think Robert G. Ingersoll should be added. I had been indoctrinated by the church so I have found the writings of John W. Loftus and Robert M. Price to be very helpful at uninstalling the Bible virus. I prefer the Bible as mostly fiction.
    I admire Ken Humphreys for his Jesusneverexisted.com.
    Valerie Tarico is also doing great things at new.exchristian.net.
    Each author sees things from a slightly different point of view and it gives balance to look at all perspectives

  55. It’s hard to name just four, for starters the four horseman of the apocalypse, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. Then Neil degrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Feynman, the list is endless.

  56. To be honest i would like to believe that Morrissey is an atheist however i don’t honestly believe he is. If he was in all other aspects i would choose him. Other than that i don’t really feel personally we need any role model of any kind in reality but if you are weak minded enough then go for it. Just my view for what its worth

  57. Ah! Now I remember who really started this political thing of atheism for me, one of the last truly Renaissance men, Jonathan Miller and his three-parter TV-

    Atheism. A Rough History of Belief.

    Even now his contrasting of the idea of transubstantiation of wafers with the real transubstantiation of Dr.Jonathan Miller’s breakfast egg into Dr.Jonathan Miller, astonishes me every time by its demonstration of the clear poverty of the religious imagination and its blindness to true wonder. Perhaps more than any I would take him as a role model….after my Dad.

  58. Profile photo of caroleb@arcatanet.com [email protected] #96

    How about Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, the brilliant author, philosopher, and wife of Steven Pinker. Her book, “36 Arguments for the Existence of God (a work of fiction)” is one of most interesting, intelligent, well-written, fun, serious and thoughtful novel on the problem of religion and how it affects a whole community. More people need to know about her and read her work.

  59. How could you settle for one? I have a great many for different reasons. There are those atheists of the past, who were brave enough to defy convention and say what they think…people such as Nietzsche and Bertrand Russell. I admire the current crop, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet , Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christopher Hitchens etc. I like the comedians and magicians who are able to expose frauds with skill and wit…people such as Penn Jillette and Derren Brown, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies. I especially admire Julia Gillard who managed to win the position of Prime Minister despite the twin handicaps of being both female and an atheist!

  60. In reply to #4 by Katy Cordeth:

    Thomas Paine

    And yet in the Age of Reason alone…

    “I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.”

    and…

    “The moral duty of man consists in imitating the moral goodness and beneficence of God manifested in the creation toward all his creatures. That seeing, as we daily do, the goodness of God to all men, it is an example calling upon all men to practice the same toward each other.”

    plus another 200 references to God used to secure the rightness of his own arguments suggests only a taste for a Deity that serves his ends as much as his opponent’s God serves theirs. His plea is for one a little more primal and less formed.

  61. Back in the late 70’s, when I was around 18, two men were influential in bringing me to Atheism: Richard Dawkins with “Selfish Gene” and Carl Sagan.

  62. George Carlin and John Lennon as early influences, and more recently Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, E. O. Wilson, Margaret Mead, and Neil deGrasse Tyson later on through now…

  63. I know this may be an odd choice, I have to choose Seth McFarlane and my dad. I’ll start with dad first. When I was in the Air Force in the early 90’s, I joined a Pentecostal church called The Door near the base I was stationed. These folks were very militant and were going door to door evangelizing. I went home to visit and for the first time and had an actual conversation with dad about religion. This was when I found out he didn’t believe in god which planted the first seed in my deconversion.

    I really enjoy adult animation such as South Park and Family Guy. Over the years I watched interviews with Seth McFarlane which helped open my eyes to my own disbelief. He was always witty and well informed when discussing atheism. I share his passion for science and science fiction and as a gay man I find him really handsome. He used his position in the media to promote free thinking and to let people know it is okay to question what one believes. He embeds these concepts in his show’s, usually in a sarcastic fashion. I am of the opinion media personalities such as he are more influential than people such as Dawkins or Hitchens (With exceptions of course. Neil Degrasse Tyson for example.) because they have the ability to frame the ideas of free thinking and godlessness in ways the average person can handle and grasp.

  64. I could probably rattle off a series of names of famous people who are atheists, but I’ve never met them and none of them met me. My parents are my role models of secularism and scientific understanding. Unfortunately, I’m sure most of my fellow atheists can’t say the same and probably had the ill luck of being raised in a religious family. However, I will also state that ALL atheists, famous and non-famous alike are my role models as well. Without the trailblazers before us we would be suffering the Inquisitions right now.

  65. Bertrand Russell – for many reasons. For his “Why I am not a Christian”, for his teapot, for his work on science and mathematics, and for sticking to his principles after losing his job and having his views grossly misrepresented in New York.

  66. Richard Dawkins aside; 1st Christopher Hitches followed by Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss,

  67. Sam Harris for the way he speaks and how it makes me feel. Neil Degrasse Tyson for the way he speaks and how he makes me feel in a different way.

  68. Dr. Jack Kevorkian. He was an absolutely brilliant, interesting renaissance man with dozens of talents (unfortunately most of us only know about one of them). Although stubborn to the nth degree and set in his ways, he definitely thought about many things (not just sanctity of life bullshit) in ways that wouldn’t occur to most people.

    As for his atheism, he called himself an agnostic, but clearly atheist is the more accurate term. He referred to religion as mythology. He never believed in God and stopped going to Sunday School at age 12 because his teacher couldn’t give him a satisfactory answer as to why Jebus could walk on water but not stop the Armenian genocide that killed his extended family.

    BTW, my current avatar is my cartoon version of Dr. Kevorkian.

  69. Well, I am just a pantheist, or possibly a panentheist, but according to Professor Dawkins (Pg. 37, “The God Delusion”) that makes me a sort of “honorary atheist”. But my role model for atheism would be “God”. He obviously doesn’t believe in any of those gods that people have made up, because they are impossible, nor does he believe in any of the gods they are going to make up . And there is no particular reason to believe that God believes in himself. Of course if God (A possibility!) is real and I am real (A certainty, even if I might be wrong about the particulars!) then I might be god. I am not a separate thing, just a dynamic pattern of matter and energy flows in the universe so if God is reality, then I, not being a separate thing am at least a part of God, and could very well be, by the fractal principle that the part contains the whole, myself, God. After all, when asked by Moses, “Who shall I say has sent me, (Who are you?)”, god answers, “I am”.
    In any case, if God isn’t real, then he certainly can’t believe in himself. And if he is real, he only believes in the real god. So, he is the perfect role model.

  70. I don’t have any. It’s a bad idea. People are people, they make mistakes, sometimes big ones that are difficult to forgive and that they themselves refuse to recognise. I’ve put people on pedestals before, all of whom have been listed here, and it’s devastating when they fall short of the expectations that such attitudes encourage you to have. It happens all the time. In some ways this is similar to the way celebrities are expected to be flawless, which must be the only explanation for the way the media turns on them when they inevitably prove otherwise, even though such behaviour, problematic as it may be, is endemic in the general population.

    There are people I admire and like for their work, ideas, and integrity, but I do not consider them role models. I may source aspects from them in construction of an ideal model in my head, but never again will I make the mistake of conflating real people with such models.

  71. I would have to say Adolf Hitler. He was a man driven by his convictions and he truly lived them out. He like so many atheists believed in evolution and that leads to the survival of the fittest. He believed the that the Germans were a higher for of humans therefore they should rule. There being no God he had only to answer to himself. You could also include in the likes of Mao and Stalin and Margret Sanger.

  72. I select Christopher Hitchens. He had the temerity to be outraged and to rail belligerently at organized religion for its many misdeeds, which he was always ready to list. He is passed on but lives on in print and very notably on YouTube. Sam Harris credits the Hitch for showing him it’s “Okay” to be outraged and to show it. Also, his exposé on Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, aka Mother Teresa – that took more than outrage; it took great courage too. One senses that he never lost sight of his own flaws, and that much of his strength as an orator derived from this. He was no blow hard, just because he blew bloody hard once in a while!

  73. In reply to #121 by Dneyer:

    I would have to say Adolf Hitler. He was a man driven by his convictions and he truly lived them out. He like so many atheists believed in evolution and that leads to the survival of the fittest. He believed the that the Germans were a higher for of humans therefore they should rule. There being no…

    Godwin’s Law. Trollololol

  74. In reply to #121 by Dneyer:

    You must have been told repeatedly that this is just not so. A modern slant has been added to the facts to distance Christians from the inconvenient truth that the so called Judaeo-Christian alliance has always been much less Judaeo than Christian. Adolfo Hitler was a Roman Catholic and mentioned god frequently during his speeches. He was able to call on the long held antipathy towards Jews as the common enemy. The fact that he was able to appropriate evolution for his own ends does not make it untrue.

  75. Having looked through other people’s picks, I feel a need to mention George Carlin as being a close second, as in so close it doesn’t matter much. Either one, then: George Carlin or Christopher Hitchens. They both spoke with passion and both had that magical 1-2 combo of The Truth, and great Punchlines. (Why is William Lane Craig still alive? Is it because there is no god?)

  76. My atheist role models (besides Richard)? Thanks for asking! Depending on the situation/mood/frame:

    • Douglas Adams. Used gentle but persistent humour in the art & craft of writing to demonstrate & insist that reason & science best religion for beauty, awe & magnificence any day! I cried when he died.
    • Ricky Gervais. Not so gentle at times, but honest-hearted in his taking the piss out of those who either won’t think or doublethink. Does not suffer fools, but rather enjoys them as sport!
    • Stephen Fry. Mainly leading by genuinely generous gentlemanly example, but can be militant if pushed. Awesome.
    • Brian Dunning. Articulately, logically, methodically demonstrating the truth and beauty of the scientific method one podcast at a time.
    • Tim Minchin. Articulately, logically, methodically, melodically & rudely demonstrating the truth and beauty of the scientific method one comedic show at a time. And an Aussie! (Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!).
    • Penn Jillette. Articulately, larger-than-life, magically demonstrating the truth and beauty of the scientific method & dispelling bullsh!t one podcast at a time. Not so much a fan of the Libertarian stuff, but that’s his politics, and he is in America …

    These are my ‘A’ team: I would love to see/hear/read those remaining together in a podcast/video or in the flesh!

    I read/listen to most of those already mentioned in the comments – but really want a copy of An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist, by Richard Dawkins

  77. In reply to #121 by Dneyer:

    I would have to say Adolf Hitler. He was a man driven by his convictions and he truly lived them out.”

    While Hitler may no doubt be your hero, he was not an atheist: according to "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler":

    “According to Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, Hitler remained a formal member of the Catholic church until his suicide, though, wrote Speer, he had “no real attachment to it”.”

  78. Epicurus – ancient Greek philosopher.
    T. Lucretius Carus – Roman Epicurean poet.
    David Hume – Scottish philosopher and historian.
    Immanuel Kant – German philosopher.
    Bertrand Russell – English philosopher, mathematician and political activist.
    Noam Chomsky – United States linguist and political activist.
    Peter Ustinov – British humanist, actor and playwright.

    Of these I regard the best overall model for atheist living to be David Hume (he knew his Epicurus and Lucretius, got Kant going on his project of critical philosophy, and was ever the consummate gentleman).

  79. Perhaps not a role model but definately someone who has had an impact on my life: Sam Harris.
    Not that sure if he is an active atheist but Robert Sapolsky also deserves a mention, if you’re looking for enlightment, then religion(which is mostly a philosophy based on blind belief) has nothing to offer, instead why not turn to biology or behavioral biology. I found that neuroscience actually helps me understand myself and others alot better than any philosophical or spiritual practice ever did. How we work as an organism is so fundemental to our understanding of who we are that i’m quite sad i found out about it so late in life(that sadness never lasts, i’m still at the beginning of the whole thing, so each time i learn more about the topic i get ecstatic).

  80. I’ll nominate Sam Harris.

    I’m not sure if he’s a true role model as I don’t necessarily try to emulate him – I’m no writer! He has however been perhaps the most influential on my thinking.

    There are many others who come close. I worked out, sometime between my eighth and ninth birthdays, that the religious teaching I was getting at school and (Baptist) Sunday school was as truthful as the Santa Claus story that I’d dealt with a year earlier. It was when I found and read some of Bertrand Russell’s writings, belonging to my father, that my ideas were first consolidated into something rational and coherent. Because of this I’d put him a close second.

    There are many more who have influenced me, Christopher Hitchens at the top, at number three overall. Richard Dawkins would creep in but somewhere lower down this particular list.

  81. Nobody yet mentioned Douglas Adams. He had a quiet (and funny) way of showing just how big the universe can be.

  82. The founders of evolutionary psychology – John Tooby, Leda Cosmides – you can read most of their papers at the UC Santa Barbara evo psych website – http://www.cep.ucsb.edu/

    Other researchers in this field – the authors of ‘Homicide’ – Martin Daly and Margo Wilson

    Researchers in cultural evolution – Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson – authors of Not By Genes Alone

  83. This is a tricky question to answer. Bertrand Russell was one of the first atheists I read anything on when I first became one, along with George H Smith, but God is not Great from Hitchens was definitely the spark that made me a more active atheist. So, Russell, Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Fry, Dennett… all have played a part.

    But I suppose if I had to choose it would be a tie between George Carlin and Christopher Hitchens. Both were relentless and unforgiving in their pursuit of knowledge and both were as intelligent as they were relentless. Carlin gave you his perspective unapologetically but as a comedian never forgot to make you laugh. He was very well read and was never afraid to display that in his work, however unpopular the facts would be in a given situation. And Hitchens of course was the bulldog, the force of nature armed a with wit, intelligence and a fire in his debates not seen since his passing.

    My current favorite to listen to is Neil DeGrasse Tyson. He’s not generally confrontational, but is quick to dismiss BS with actual facts and does so in an approachable fashion.

  84. Hume, Bertrand Russell, Freddie Jules Ayer, Jerry Coyne and Lawrence Krauss

  85. In reply to #137 by MrPickwick:

    Dead: Bertrand Russell

    Alive: Noam Chomsky

    Glad I’m not the only Chomsky fan. One reason is that as much as I admire Prof. Dawkins, and that is a lot, I think of the two Chomsky shows a bit more moral courage than Dawkins. Dawkins spends most of his energy pointing out the evil of Muslims and Christians. I agree with everything Dawkins says when he points these things out but for Dawkins to take those stands really doesn’t take much moral courage.

    It reinforces his image with the people who buy his books anyway. From an economic standpoint when Dawkins criticizes Islam it’s the equivalent of Bill O’reilly criticizing liberals. Of course Dawkins has excellent arguments and BillO is a clown, I’m comparing the risk they take via their positions not the quality of their argument. As they say in politics it’s “red meat for his base” Things his followers will want to hear and will make him more likely to get invited to talk shows and punditry. Not that I think there is anything wrong with that. I wish I had books and was invited to talk shows and I agree with the critical things Dawkins says about Islam.

    But when Chomsky takes most of his moral positions he isolates himself from a big part of mainstream US public opinion. You can find Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins talking about how awful Islam is before the second gulf war but good luck ever seeing Chomsky on CNN or PBS pointing out — what he said at the time and what we now know is indisputably true — not just that invading Iraq isn’t necessary as the liberals were saying but that all the claims of WMD and ties to Al Queda are fabricated just as Cheney and Rumsfield manufactured lies about the Soviet Union when they created Team B in the Bush whitehouse.

    And Chomsky has always taken stands far outside the mainstream of accepted US public policy which included criticizing the Pentagon — the major funders of his research at MIT.

  86. Was Hitchens before he died, though I never agreed with his sympathy to US imperialism. Amongst the still living Sam Harris is forging ahead with ground breaking forays in to the human psyche as a new approach to questions of ethics and faith. He is a gifted orator and debater. Neil Degrasse Tyson is passionate and extremely adept at explaining complicated science to laymen. Lawrence Krauss is another favorite who does a fine job when he isn’t pissed of with his rivals.

  87. In reply to #139 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #137 by MrPickwick:

    Dead: Bertrand Russell

    Alive: Noam Chomsky

    Glad I’m not the only Chomsky fan. One reason is that as much as I admire Prof. Dawkins, and that is a lot, I think of the two Chomsky shows a bit more moral courage than Dawkins.

    By the same argument Ayn Rand shows more moral courage than Dawkins as she could and did alienate a lot of her religious right base. (Indeed, I was first schooled in the noxious ways of the woman by a doting American christian who refused to speak of her atheism or dismissed it as a “no comment” statement but when pressed deemed it a flaw.)

  88. In reply to #142 by phil rimmer:

    By the same argument Ayn Rand shows more moral courage than Dawkins as she could and did alienate a lot of her religious right base. (Indeed, I was first schooled in the noxious ways of the woman by a doting American christian who refused to speak of her atheism or dismissed it as a “no comment” statement but when pressed deemed it a flaw.)

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say Ayn Rand had a religious base, at least not at first. She became famous as a right wing libertarian at a time when the right wing wasn’t as ideologically zealous as they are now. You still had people like William F. Buckley who could actually create coherent thoughts and you could be a right winger and an atheist.

    But I do agree with you, it would have been easier for Rand as she got older to renounce her atheism and “see the light” of Christianity. She would have been embraced even more by conservatives in the power elites of the US. And that she didn’t do that I actually agree shows some degree of moral courage. I never thought Rand was a charlatan, I think she believed that she was a true intellectual.

    The thing is I don’t think moral courage is enough. If your ideas are vapid and pseudoscience it’s more of a curiosity, since most people who are at her intellectual level like Chopra are also essentially moral cowards, saying exactly what will get them back on CNN and invited to places of power. Getting back to Rand she did show moral courage in sticking to her atheism but she was a creep in many other ways, see the article I linked to from Michael Shermer earlier in this thread.

  89. In reply to #143 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #142 by phil rimmer:

    Yes you are right to say Rand didn’t start out with any kind of religious base and that the right of old was intellectually more impressive than now. The “courage” came later.

    Still, ignorance, stupidity can make us appear courageous.

    The thing is I don’t think moral courage is enough.

    Nor I. I think I just wanted to say (perhaps agree) that having confidence that a hero/role model is speaking an important truth (in Chomsky’s case an important political truth) in the face of great opposition is the measure of a valuable courage, not just some tenacity or mule-headedness.

    It is surely Chomsky as a political role model rather than an atheistic one that has the admirable courage?

  90. My high school Biology teacher Mr Alistair Cairns from Glasgow….debts of gratitude to him….
    and then as an adult I came across Chris Hitchens and well…..who needs another after you find Hitch ?

  91. We have to harken back to the days when the Galaxy was young and the black holes were new…..

    The Greatest atheist mind ever roamed these times and space with the level of stardom that even the Crab Nebula hasn’t seen yet….

    The great Oolon Colluphid!

    The author of the Cosmic trilogy of:

    “Where God Went Wrong”
    “Some More Of God’s Greatest Mistakes”
    “Who Is This God Person Anyway?”
    “Well, That About Wraps It Up For God.”

    Along with his coffee table books;

    “Everything You wanted To Know About Guilt But Were To Ashamed To Ask” AND
    “Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Sex But Have Been Forced to Find Out.”

    Without these enlightening books, we would still be trudging along the savannah looking for grubs to eat and picking bugs out of our neighbors hair…

  92. Atheism, to me, is mostly a consequence of scientific enlightenment. The need to make it known is mostly a consequence of the moral imperative.

    Richard influenced me in both ways… but I have to lend credit to others who influenced me through scientific enlightenment: Douglas Hofstadter, Nicholas Humphrey, Daniel Dennett, Richard Feynman, my few but excellent science and math teachers growing up and my dad who’s been an outlier all his life.

    And credit must be given to those who made proclaiming yourself an atheist a moral necessity: Christopher Hitchens, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Sam Harris.

    I can’t thank Richard enough because The Selfish Gene is really what opened me up to this world of knowledge, honest scrutiny and awe-inspiring intellectual curiosity.

  93. After reading the comments I realise there are so many I’ve inadvertently missed. A. C. Grayling, whose gentle charm and reasoned arguments are so persuasive, Brian Cox with his infectious sense of wonder and curiosity. Who could resist Tim Minchin? Carl Sagan must hold a place near the top as well. There are so many!

  94. In reply to #133 by no1453:

    Nobody yet mentioned Douglas Adams. He had a quiet (and funny) way of showing just how big the universe can be.

    Stephen Fry lovingly updated Adam’s ‘Last Chance to See’ series – a wide sweep of the hat for both.

  95. Isaac Asimov! So many reasons for this including all his wonderfull books fiction and non fiction alike.

  96. For me it was the kind, caring and patient voice of Seth Andrews. There are many, but he comes first.

  97. The Hitch. Not as a role ‘model’ as such, but the first person I’d read / heard who answered the questions in my mind and helped me find my own way out from the myth and bluster of religions, spirituality and attribution of the human spirit to something ‘other’.

  98. For myself, Penn Jillette really freed me from religion. His use of humor and “in-your-face” exposure of some of the ridiculous religious beliefs were exactly what I needed!

  99. Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Seth Andrews, David Smalley, JT Eberhand, Matt Dillahunty

  100. AronRa and Christopher Hitchens, in that order! If not for Aron, I doubt I would have ever known about Hitch.

  101. My Wife is my role model. When we first got together she was and had been an Arheist for most of her life. While in college at Texas A & M she took classes on religion and is very well read on the subject. When I got with her I was a Christian. But had a TON of doubt and many many questions. Over the weeks and months that followed she and I discussed those questions and examined those doubts. I never felt pressured to agree with her. She was, in a sense, my teacher. She answered all my questions with amazing insights and love. After working through my doubts and doing some reading on my own, I abandoned the lies and opened my eyes to life and how really amazing it is. We continue to have awesome discussions to this day.

  102. Seth Andrews – Calm, thoughtful and articulate – his affable demeanor is a role model for how I want theist to view atheist

  103. Umberto Eco. Not even sure if he’s an atheist (Wikipedia says he is, but hmm…) but his book Foucault’s Pendulum does such a great job of fleshing out skepticism vs. credulity in an artistic way. “That was the day I became a skeptic. Or rather, I regretted having been credulous…”

  104. Mr. rarthur.wahlers, I too have many nagging questions I would like to know how you were convinced there is no God? Can you help me I just haven’t had anyone like your wife that can ease my mind.

  105. Seth — The Thinking Atheist. Like me, he spent most of his life as a Christian. Like me, his family and most of his friends are Christian. And, like me, he doesn’t dislike Christians and is quick to point it out when the need arises. It’s guys like Seth that will ultimately break through with many theists. While there is certainly a time and place for the smug atheist, those are a dime a dozen. I want to be like Seth.

  106. My parents, Kalman and Cookie Kaufman. Agnostic for all my childhood, they decided they were atheist while I was in high school. They taught me to think for myself. At age 10 they sent me to Hebrew School. Not to learn how to be Jewish, but to give me a background for when people were going to be prejudiced against me for being Jewish. Every day when I came home we would discuss what I learned and rake it over the logic and reasoning coals to make sure I wasn’t just accepting everything I was told on faith. If I had made a reasoned decision to believe in god, they would have accepted it. Instead, I made a reasoned decision that there was no god. And they were proud of me. All my life I listened to them debate and discuss the rediculessness of religion, blind faith and the existence of god with anyone who would stand still long enough. My mother and my Father are all the role models I need.

  107. Matt Dillahunty, Edward Current, TheNonStampCollector, TheThinkingAtheist. They’ve been deeply influential on my own philosophical views through their value of reason and logic, their humor, their wit, and their ability to discuss in simple terms.

  108. Besides Richard Dawkins? That would have to be a tie across many people. AronRa and Matt Dillahunty first spring to mind because they were the first real people who really inspired me to be more active in my secularism. And, for a person who I doubt anyone else would pick, Vlad Dracula. He used religion as a political tool, switching religions every time a new alliance demanded it, and I have no doubt that he put no stock in any individual religion. Is this definitive proof? Absolutely not. But as a leader, he demonstrated ruthlessness, cunning, strategy, a flair for the dramatic, and a perpetual disrespect for nonsense and superstition. I will never claim that he was anything close to resembling a decent human being, but he is certainly an inspiring historical character.

  109. Tis I. I have given up on roll models and looking up to people and hero worship. Every time in my life that I have admired someone and then met them I have been very disappointed and sometimes really disgusted. I admire and enjoy and am grateful for the books and videos produced by many people. But liking someones work no longer means that I am automatically a fan of that person. I still like some of the things written by Hemingway but I would not have liked to be in the same room with the man. Perhaps I am jaded or perhaps I have matured, I don’t really care what labels are put on me by people who don’t really know me. An old saying goes something like, the bum I step over on the sidewalk is my superior in that I learn from him. I am open to what people can teach me but I do not put anyone on a pedestal anymore. The man in the mirror is the only man who can keep a roof over my head. I work out my role without a model.

  110. Christopher Hitchens. He lived it and walked as he talked it. His eloquent bravado and honest discourse rings true beyond the vulnerability and humility he demonstrated when confronting his own mortality.

  111. All the host and co-host of The Atheists Experience.

    I have been a atheist for 30 years. Anytime religion came up I changed the subject as quickly and quietly as possible. Lately if religion comes up I’m going to come on out and say it “no I don’t believe in any god or goddess.” I leave the next move to them if they choose to engage in a conversation I am confidant I can defend my position. Over the past few years The Atheist Experience has shown me how to listen to a argument, think about it and explain why that’s a bad argument.

  112. I would have to say Sam Harris. I read Letter to a Christian Nation and I was no longer afraid to admit that I was an atheist.

  113. Hitch stood out for a long time, and when he passed, I felt as if the flag had fallen, and although many were capable, I felt that the vacuum was just too great; then over the last year Lawrence Krauss seems to have taken up the fight with a renewed urgency and vigor. Definitely an emerging star from my perspective.

  114. Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette, Bill Maher, Bill Nye. I they’re all current ‘gateway’ atheists; sufficiently mainstream to have the potential to reach/educate/convert the largest number of non-atheists.

  115. Gore Vidal and Stephen Fry .

    Gore Vidal (Who I was very fortunate to meet, albeit VERY briefly, in the early 90s) is a VERY witty and clear cut essay writer, if ever you get to read any of his work I would really recommend it!

    Do i really have to explain Stephen Fry? B-)

  116. My favourite atheist role model is Thomas Clark of Naturalism.org because he has taken atheism to the next level. Many atheists are dead wrong–some accommodate religion like Steven Jay Gould with his NOMA, others outrageously oppose Darwinian evolution, like Thomas Nagel. And many, while they don’t believe in God, believe in the supernatural, like the mind is more than the brain–mostly philosophers. Naturalists by definition (the world is material, deterministic and without contra-causal free will) are better equipped to get it right. Of course that will eliminate a sizable group from the existing constituency , but I’m not sure if that’s a real loss. After all, aren’t they just as deluded as the religious?

  117. For me, the first two major figures were Giordano BRUNO & Spinoza. I was already an atheist when I learned about them, their work & life, it was a great source of inspiration & courage to speak up ( mainly in my family, a very traditional French provincial Catholic one). Now, obviously Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Neil de grass Tyson, Lawrence Kraus, & our dear late Hitch…

  118. In memory of the undeniable Christopher Hitchens, our champion, our candle and voice, I would like to nominate Sam Harris my atheist role model.
    Richard
    I thank you for tipping me over the edge some 7 years ago.
    Living with truth, logic, evidence and reasoning seems not just obvious but emotionally honest.
    Much respect
    Mark Shankland

  119. Other than “The Four Horsemen”, Frank Zappa, Carl Sagan, John Lennon, Julia Sweeney, Eddie Izzard, Penn Jillette, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Tim Minchen, Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, Bill Nye, George Carlin, Dan Barker, Jerry Dewitt, James Randi …wow, so many other good ones that I’m sure I’m forgetting…

  120. I’m surprised that no one (that I’ve seen) has mentioned Clarence Darrow. For the Scopes trial alone, schooling William Jennings Bryan (and the nation) in their idiocy.

    Can any rational person believe that the Bible is anything but a human document? We now know pretty well where the various books came from, and about when they were written. We know that they were written by human beings who had no knowledge of science, little knowledge of life, and were influenced by the barbarous morality of primitive times, and were grossly ignorant of most things that men know today.

    • Clarence Darrow
  121. Oh come on, none of you have modeled your role in this world after any of these people mentioned.

  122. In reply to #168 by DaisyK2tog:

    My parents, Kalman and Cookie Kaufman. Agnostic for all my childhood, they decided they were atheist while I was in high school. They taught me to think for myself. At age 10 they sent me to Hebrew School. Not to learn how to be Jewish, but to give me a background for when people were going to be p…

    Would have liked to have known you at school. I thought I was the only one during my own school years. I learned to keep my opinions to myself and tried not to be drawn into discussions where I would have to show my true colours. I think things are very different these days.

  123. Dr. Carolyn Porco, head of the Cassini Imaging team, an imaging lead for Voyager and colleague of Carl Sagan is both a hero and role model of mine. She is able to play the political game, is an outstanding communicator of science and space exploration to a sometimes indifferent public in our country and maintains her dedication and contribution to ring science. She has written well for Edge.org, has one of the most enthusiastic TED presentations ever and keeps pumping out inspiring images from Cassini including an updated Saganesque Pale Blue Dot from the rings of Saturn looking back at Earth. The US can still move past its infatuation with the imaginary as long as scientists like Carolyn Porco are around to inspire those who look up with wonder, awe and curiosity.

  124. Neil DeGrasse Tyson for his dedication in bringing science to the public and bringing the public to science.

  125. I would presently chose Steven Novella of SGU fame for being fair,rational,knowledgeable and concise.

  126. I don’t have role models. But atheists, past and present, who I admire are:

    Stephen Fry, Lawrence M Krauss, Steven Pinker, A.C Grayling, Richard Dawkins, Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell, Charles Bradlaugh, Annie Besant(later she became a theosophist), Francisco Ferrer, Wildwoodclaire, Bionic Dance, AronRa, Brett Palmer, Truth Surge, Potholer54, Hement Mehta, and the guy who does The ThinkingAtheist

  127. In reply to #23 by GPWC:

    In reply to #20 by Katy Cordeth:

    Well we are discussing whether Pat Condell is an atheist role model, so it is on topic. I say he is.

    I guess you’re right. Not about Condell’s being in any way admirable or a good role model, obviously; about its being on-topic. He’s an excellent role model… but only if your goal is to foment race war and increase the sum total of intolerance in the world.

    And I think you have all your work ahead of you to prove that he is a racist or has links to EDL or BNP.

    Oh, he’s savvy, I’ll give him that. Much more so than most of his knuckle-dragging fanbase. Nor does he publicly support far-right organisations; he just posts fawning clips on Youtube about them.

    No, what he does is make inflammatory videos, whipping up the good folks who follow him, and then presumably sits back and grins as they go out torching mosques and protecting the public at large from evil terrorists.

    What a superhero.

    I watched the link and read the comments. I use the old definition of racism, so calling out Muslims on something can’t be racist.

    I didn’t even know there was a new definition, or that we had an option of which to use. I tend to go with the one which maintains racism is discrimination directed toward those “united by common history, language, cultural traits, etc,” because of these shared characteristics. Richard, Sam Harris, Condell et al can rail against this for as long as they like, claiming they should be able to go about their business promoting racial profiling, and tweeting gushing messages of support at neo-Nazis to their little hearts’ content, all the while innocent as newborn lambs because of course yawn “There’s no such thing as Islamophobia.”

    No one gets to rewrite the dictionary; not Dawkins, not Harris, not (and, dare I suggest, the new Fourth Horseman, now that Christopher Hitchens is no longer with us) Pat Condell, just because it suits their agenda and they’re fed up being called racist.

    Talk about out-of-control egos. I guess they never heard the old saying about how if the mountain will not come to Mohammad… If you’re being accused of racism, not just by a few but by the intelligentsia at large, the correct course of action surely would be to examine your behavior and perhaps, ya know, stop saying racist stuff? These guys want to define racism on their own terms. Samuel Johnson must be spinning in his grave.

    But, I realise the word (because it has become so powerful and potent) is now employed by all sorts of people to shut down any sort of criticism of people who live abroad or who are from a different culture. Pat doesn’t subscribe to that and goes at it with vigour. Sure, he makes generalisations and is not subtle, but I haven’t got any problem with that when he is making a general point.

    On this video, he is making the point that feminists who would and should be attacking Islam for its stance on women, hold back for fear of being called a racist. A point I think that RD has made in a similar way about liberals and their queasiness to really criticise religion.

    It’s a canard beloved of New Atheist types to maintain that all criticism of the movement’s attitude toward Muslims from those like Glenn Greenwald, Owen Jones etc is down to political correctness; that charges of racism are just oversensitivity or squeamishness. cf.

    It’s an attempt by New Atheists to shut down criticism of them, GPWC.

    I’m afraid I’m with Mr Meyers on this one, and here is the link again in case anyone wonders what we’re talking about: Pat Condell is a “racist cretin”.

    Apologies for the late response.

  128. In reply to #99 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #4 by Katy Cordeth:

    Thomas Paine

    And yet in the Age of Reason alone…

    “I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.”

    and…

    “The moral duty of man consists in imitating the moral goodness and beneficence of God manifested in the creation toward all his creatures. That seeing, as we daily do, the goodness of God to all men, it is an example calling upon all men to practice the same toward each other.”

    plus another 200 references to God used to secure the rightness of his own arguments suggests only a taste for a Deity that serves his ends as much as his opponent’s God serves theirs. His plea is for one a little more primal and less formed.

    Did you actually count the number of times KM is mentioned in Thomas Paine’s writings? Boy, I wish I had the leisure time some people here enjoy.

    I honestly don’t care if he was an atheist by today’s standards, or at all. It’s his logic that appeals to me:

    “It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication; after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.”

    True, he did say things like “Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” But didn’t Stephen Hawking at the end of his most famous book say something about knowing the mind of God?

    It’s rhetoric is all. Tom was speaking in the language of his time, to an audience that took God’s existence as a given.

    Here are a few more of his comments on religion:

    “Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”

    “Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.”

    “One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.”

    “All 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.”

    “Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.”

    “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.”

    “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.”

    “The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the sun, in which they put a man called Christ in the place of the sun, and pay him the adoration originally payed to the sun.”

    “All the tales of miracles, with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for impostors to preach and fools to believe.”

    Many more here

    I will not let you take one of my heroes away from me, Phil Rimmer! So help me Dawkins.


    If you’re interested, there’s a Mark Steel Lecture – I know, I know, I never shut up about Steel – about “the stinking, atheist old troublemaker” available here.

    Left click to listen or right click to download.

    Unless you’re on an Apple computer.

    Or using a tablet.

    In either case you’re on your own.

  129. In reply to #203 by Katy Cordeth:

    If you’re interested, there’s a Mark Steel Lecture – I know, I know, I never shut up about Steel – about “the stinking, atheist old troublemaker” available here.

    Left click to listen or right click to download.

    Unless you’re on an Apple computer.

    Or using a tablet.

    In either case you’re on your own.>

    From one tablet user…thanks, it works fine. Funny a..n..d informative. Quite the little gem.

  130. There’s also a lecture, available to listen to here, about Thomas Paine by somebody called Hitchems, Hitchins?

    I think this fellow might even have written a book about Tom.

  131. I found my role models from the real adults in my life when I was a kid. Most of us do – usually subconsciously.

    Then I grew up and took responsibility for my own life.

    Peace.

  132. Roger Ebert (film critic) – tho technically not an ‘atheist’; preferred no label – open minded.

    Ebert’s blog pertaining to leaving religion behind is quite similar to the Todd Steiffel article. Rational realization that “god” is naught but a blip on the Universe’s radar.

    Ebert, to my surprise and delight a few years back, wrote numerous intelligent / easy to read blogs, including bashing the movie ‘Expelled’.

  133. Epicurus, Democritus, Cornelius Castoriadis, Grayling and Dawkins equally. Jiddu Krishnamurti is a nice vehicle also.

  134. Can I put in a word for Edward Gibbon? In the mid to late Eighteenth Century His ‘History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ completely undercut Christianity’s claim to have triumphed by divine providence and pinned it down to entirely earthly and often deeply discreditable causes. He showed the Christian hoop-la about its own persecution to be absurdly overblown propaganda. His scholarship was so vast, and his understanding of theology was so formidable that outraged Christians who attacked him in print were completely annihilated. His writing is so measured, so powerful and so full of the most wonderful ironic humour that he reached a huge audience. From then on any writer who wished to attack the antecedents and legitimacy of Christianity had an unimpeachably respected and authoritative ally.

  135. John Lennox! If you listen to someone like him the only thing you can do is place yourself on the opposite corner of the claim so he surely makes a lot of atheists by his stupidity. But amongst the guys talking for atheism I really like Rick Gervais for his story how he became an atheist. This is how I think it should work …

  136. John Lennox! If you listen to someone like him the only thing you can do is place yourself on the opposite corner of the claim so he surely makes a lot of atheists by his stupidity. But amongst the guys talking for atheism I really like Rick Gervais for his story how he became an atheist. This is how I think it should work …

  137. In reply to #203 by Katy Cordeth:

    I will not let you take one of my heroes away from me, Phil Rimmer! So help me Dawkins.

    But he’s very much a hero of mine, just a political hero (and so, helped by Hitchkins). He is probably one of my favourite pamphleteers (hugely important people, passionate, right but non-rigorous.) He was very probably as atheist as you could be at the time, but he wasn’t so concerned about promoting atheism as promoting his political ideals. His utterly political use of language in relation to God and the appeals to God’s authority made him an exemplary rhetorical politician casting the nets as wide as he could and knowing the predominantly religious nature of his audience. I suspect Obama of trying to recoup lost ground by doing exactly the same thing now.

    This is not being the exemplary advocate for the vacuity of religion.

    Certainly, and at the time, his vision was set on something far loftier than God.

    Now with the democratic principal tried and mostly vindicated we need to address second order issues.

  138. Christopher Hitchens (moral fiber), Alan Watts (reality check), Neil deGrasse Tyson (unbiased scientific inquiry), Carl Sagan (human and cosmic wonder), Louis CK (grounded ego), Aron Ra (over all role model – and not just because everyone seems to think I am him).

  139. In my opinion Sir Julian Huxley summed religion up best with his great quote, ” Operationally, god is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat “. All we need to know about religion in less than Twenty words.
    Ludovic Kennedy’s book All in the Mind (A farewell to god) summed it up well.

  140. In reply to #203 by Katy Cordeth:

    Now, of course, I realise “atheist role model” is open to a sliding scale of interpretation in this question.

    Atheist Role Model-

    A subscriber to Atheism who by their words and deeds most admirably, usefully and effectively demonstrates this subscription to and their promotion of Atheism.

    An atheist who promotes improvements in the world that have more likely roots in non belief than belief.

    A admirable person who is incidentally an Atheist.

    A admirable person who is incidentally atheist.

    PS thanks for all the quotes. I hope more people take him as a hero figure in whatever category.

  141. Clem Attlee, under whose government the National Health Service and Welfare State were established.
    Mikhail Gorbachev, presided over the disintegration of the evil Soviet empire.
    Nelson Mandela, the world’s greatest freedom fighter.
    Bill Gates, the world’s leading philantropist.
    Bob Geldof, magnificent humanitarian record.

  142. My role “Models” are anyone and everyone that thinks and questions,and asks “why”.It can be a Dawkins a Hitchens a Fry or little Johny next door,who asks “why did god,let my goldfish die”.The plethora of experts and knowedgable people is wonderful,but a child that turns to you and says ” That does not seem right” is a true eye opener

  143. In reply to #217 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #203 by Katy Cordeth:

    Now, of course, I realise “atheist role model” is open to a sliding scale of interpretation in this question.

    Atheist Role Model-

    A subscriber to Atheism who by their words and deeds most admirably, usefully and effectively demonstrates this subscription to and t…

    I just purchased the audiobook version of Christopher Hitchens’ Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man from iTunes.

    Given Hitchens’ status in New Atheism – if we were Catholic I imagine he would have been canonized by now – I’m surprised Tom isn’t more of a notable in the movement himself.

  144. Hypatia of Alexandria and Director Alejandro Amenabar for the film Agora. Although history can be subjective I think this is one story that should not be forgotten.

  145. In reply to #223 by daleken:

    Hypatia of Alexandria and Director Alejandro Amenabar for the film Agora. Although history can be subjective I think this is one story that should not be forgotten.

    I liked that movie a lot. I have a total crush on Rachel Weiz. The movie did take some liberties though, it portrayed Hypatia as essentially using the scientific method, appealing to empirical evidence to refute the existing philosophy/science of the time which as far as we can know she would have been very unlikely to do, it just wasn’t part of the Aristotilean model of knowledge that she employed. But most people wouldn’t notice or care and there were some excellent messages (and based on true events… again as far as we can know) about the horrors of selecting dogma over knowledge.

  146. In reply to #224 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #223 by daleken:

    Hypatia of Alexandria and Director Alejandro Amenabar for the film Agora. Although history can be subjective I think this is one story that should not be forgotten.

    I liked that movie a lot. I have a total crush on Rachel Weiz. The movie did take some liberties though…

    But this very complaint of the movie, that it took liberties about what was known at the time, or the modes of teaching, say, is to miss the very point of the movie-

    If, in these times of religious or other passions libraries are destroyed, we do not know what wisdom or burgeoning methods may have been lost.

    Hypatia as a mathematician, the translator of Apollonius’s work on conics and author of eight volumes on this was ideally placed to produce this vision of planetary motion a thousand years earlier.

    It is the core hypothesis of the movie that something astonishing may have been lost. If not this thought or mode of thinking, what others? The specifics are not the point, but for all that, they were cleverly chosen.

  147. Robert Ingersoll

    He was making all the great arguments 140 years ago and like Darwin many lies were told about death bed conversions. You can download his lectures for free. He truly was the Hitch of his day.

  148. Me.

    I decided the supernatural was bullsh1t on my own. Then I read some of these other folks who backed my thoughts up and made me realize I wasn’t alone in sniffing out total b.s.

    Go me.

  149. The commentaries and writings of the late Christopher Hitchens gave me the confidence to adopt a manner of “militant atheism” that I avoided in the past. He tore the veneer off of the issue of respect for all beliefs.

  150. In reply to number 201 by Katy Cordeth.
    Even if Pat Condell is a “racist cretin,” this would not change the fact that the Koran contains very negative and insulting myths about the Jews and implies that all Jews are descended from apes and pigs.Every Muslim in the world believes the Koran is the infallible word of the Creator of the universe.

  151. Christopher HItchens. His eloquence, his courage, and his vast knowledge of literature, society, politics and art make him a role model for me. I really feel his loss.

  152. Dan Dennet, AC Grayling, Cristopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, not in any particular order. Each opens a special angle of looking at reality and wonder, leading to stimulating thinking.

  153. Aristophanes, Democritus, Euripides, Eratosthenes, Lawrence Krauss, Feynman, Socrates, Sagan, James Joyce, Salman Rushdie, Hitchens, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Dan Dennett, Einstein, Spinoza, George Carlin, Bertrand Russell, Thomas Paine, Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Pinker, Pat Churchland, Francis Crick, Darwin, Jacob Bronowski, Arthur C Clarke, Assimov, Sakharov, Richard Strauss, Freud, Frank Zappa, Charlie Parker, Ibn al-Rawandi, Hobbes, Rousseau, Victor Stenger, James Randi, Margaret Downey, Linus Pauling, Paul Dirac, Subrahmanyan Chandresekhar, Alan Turing, claude Shannon, James Watson, Peter Higgs, Stephen Weinberg, Leonard Susskind, Stephen Hawking, Richard Leakey, Sean Carroll, Matt Ridley, Babu Gogineni, Sue Blackmore, AC Grayling, Vinod Wadhawan, Umberto Eco, Woody Allen, Sartre,

    Sent from my iPod

  154. What about a persecuted atheist?
    In 1922, John William Gott described Jesus as a clown. For his blasphemy, he was sentenced to 9 months’ hard labour.

  155. What about a persecuted atheist?
    In 1922, John William Gott described Jesus as a clown. For his blasphemy, he was sentenced to 9 months’ hard labour.

  156. In reply to #232 by Bob Springsteen:
    >

    In reply to number 201 by Katy Cordeth.

    Even if Pat Condell is a “racist cretin,”

    He is.

    …this would not change the fact that the Koran contains very negative and insulting myths about the Jews and implies that all Jews are descended from apes and pigs.

    I never suggested otherwise.

    Every Muslim in the world believes the Koran is the infallible word of the Creator of the universe.

    What nonsense.

    The author of this article for one would take issue with such an assertion.

  157. In reply to #237 by Katy Cordeth:

    “Every Muslim in the world believes the Koran is the infallible word of the Creator of the universe.”
    What nonsense.The author of this article for one would take issue with such an assertion.

    The author of the article is an atheist ex-Muslim. His argument is that The Koran inspires terrorism, although most Muslims are not very familiar with the Koran and don’t lead their lives in accordance with it. This is similar to Christians who choose to ignore the scriptures, whether or not they believe they are the word of God. As far as I can see, on a quick reading of the article, there is nothing in the article that supports your assertion.

  158. In reply to #238 by aldous:

    In reply to #237 by Katy Cordeth:

    The author of the article is an atheist ex-Muslim.

    According to Ali A. Rizvi, he’s an atheist Muslim, not an ex-Muslim. It’s the first thing he says in his article and I’m inclined to take him at his word. Same as when Richard Dawkins says he’s a cultural Christian.

    aliamjadrizvi is a member of this site, so you might want to take it up with him.

    His argument is that The Koran inspires terrorism, although most Muslims are not very familiar with the Koran and don’t lead their lives in accordance with it. This is similar to Christians who choose to ignore the scriptures, whether or not they believe they are the word of God.

    That has nothing to do with this topic. The thread I linked to is still open and if you want to discuss it over there I’d be happy to oblige – RDFRS has been dead as the grave for the past few days.

    As far as I can see, on a quick reading of the article, there is nothing in the article that supports your assertion.

    The only assertion I’ve made, other than about a certain person’s cretinitude, in my comment #237 was that it’s nonsense to suggest every single one of the world’s Muslims believes the Koran is the unimpeachable word of God.

    Are you suggesting they do all believe it?

  159. In reply to number 237 by Katy Cordeth.
    The Koran plays a different role in Islam to that of the Bible in Christianity.There has been no reformation in Islam. For a Muslim to claim the Koran is not infallible is to say the Prophet was a liar. The penalty in Islam for blasphemy is death. Even most born again Christians are not fundamentalists. To describe oneself as a Muslim Atheist is an oxymoron. You will not find one Muslim in a mosque on a Friday brave enough to say the Koran is not a revelation from God. There are many verses in the Koran that call for the death of all infidels. Religion of Peace???

  160. In reply to #239 by Katy Cordeth:

    According to Ali A. Rizvi, he’s an atheist Muslim, not an ex-Muslim. It’s the first thing he says in his article and I’m inclined to take him at his word. Same as when Richard Dawkins says he’s a cultural Christian. …it’s nonsense to suggest every single one of the world’s Muslims believes the Koran is the unimpeachable word of God.

    An atheist rejects religious belief. Therefore, an atheist Muslim is an ex-Muslim, just as an atheist who is a cultural Christian is not a believing Christian. Since the criterion is belief and not culture, as the issue is about belief in the Koran, your objection fails. It is, no doubt, not the case that every one of more than a billion Muslims has total belief in the Koran, but that wasn’t the issue. You claimed that the article by Ali A. Rizvi refuted that assertion and it doesn’t. What he said was that Muslims don’t follow the Koran not that they don’t think it’s the word of God.

  161. In reply to #240 by Bob Springsteen:

    The Koran plays a different role in Islam to that of the Bible in Christianity.There has been no reformation in Islam.

    The Reformation was about rejecting the authority of the Pope and affirming the authority of the Bible. Since Christianity is the Religion of Hypocrisy that has meant, in practice, that Christians pretend to follow Jesus while doing the opposite.

  162. In reply to number 238 by aldous.
    I am not an ex-Muslim. From the cradle to the grave my only religion is Aston Villa.

  163. In reply to number 242 by aldous.
    To say that all Christians are hypocrites is to miss a very important point. No one is quite sure what the true teachings of Christ are. Even the most venerated biblical scholars of the reformation – John Calvin and Martin Luther – advocated killing apostates and witches. There is no place in the New Testament where Jesus challenges the authority of Old Testament Law. This Law called for the death penalty for witchcraft, apostasy, homosexuality,and adultery. There is no place in the New Testament where Jesus objects to slavery. A whole host of Evangelical Christians in the 18th century advocated slavery. In the New Testament, St Paul even instructs slaves to obey their masters. The only reason born again Christians do not commit these crimes against humanity today is because of the advancement of democratic politics.

  164. In reply to #244 by Bob Springsteen:

    No one is quite sure what the true teachings of Christ are.

    In that case, there would be no reason to pay any attention to these teachings at all. However, the general direction of Christ’s thinking is clear enough. No possible interpretation can support the Holocaust, world wars and the general inhumanity of Christian nations throughout history.

  165. In reply to number 245 by aldous.
    The general direction of Christ’s thinking is not clear. In some sections of the New Testament, Jesus endorses violence. Luke 22:36 reads: Jesus said to the Disciples “The one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one.” Why would he instruct his followers to buy a sword if they were supposed to turn the other cheek? Read the Sermon on the Mount and you may get a Mother Teresa. Read other parts of the gospels and you can make a case for Thomas De Torquemada.

  166. In reply to #246 by Bob Springsteen:

    Jesus endorses violence. Luke 22:36 reads: Jesus said to the Disciples “The one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one.”

    True, but if you read on, you will see that Jesus did (figuratively) turn the other cheek when he was arrested. In any case, the possession of two swords and even using one to cause a temporary injury, falls some way short of carrying out the Holocaust and two World Wars, to say nothing of millennia of war and atrocities.

  167. In reply to #240 by Bob Springsteen:

    In reply to number 237 by Katy Cordeth.

    The Koran plays a different role in Islam to that of the Bible in Christianity.There has been no reformation in Islam. For a Muslim to claim the Koran is not infallible is to say the Prophet was a liar. The penalty in Islam for blasphemy is death. Even most born again Christians are not fundamentalists. To describe oneself as a Muslim Atheist is an oxymoron. You will not find one Muslim in a mosque on a Friday brave enough to say the Koran is not a revelation from God. There are many verses in the Koran that call for the death of all infidels. Religion of Peace???

    That the penalty for apostasy in Islam is death is sort of the point, Bob. We can’t know how many atheist Muslims there are in the world because of this fact, and the assertion you made that “Every Muslim in the world believes the Koran is the infallible word of the Creator of the universe,” is patently untrue.

    There can be a world of difference between what someone is prepared to say in public, or within the confines of a mosque on a Friday morning, and what they truly believe. People lie, especially religious people… especially Muslim religious people according to my pal Amos.

  168. In reply to #241 by aldous:

    In reply to #239 by Katy Cordeth:

    …You claimed that the article by Ali A. Rizvi refuted that assertion and it doesn’t. What he said was that Muslims don’t follow the Koran not that they don’t think it’s the word of God.

    No, sorry, our wires are crossed. I wasn’t talking about Mr Rizvi’s article, I was talking only about him and the way he chooses to identify himself.

  169. In reply to #249 by Katy Cordeth:

    I wasn’t talking about Mr Rizvi’s article, I was talking only about him and the way he chooses to identify himself.

    It’s usual that an atheist is brought up in some religion or other. A Muslim/Protestant/Catholic atheist has renounced the religion but may continue to follow cultural aspects. Celebrating Christmas, admiring the Ghent altarpiece, visiting cathedrals, enjoying carol singing are not what makes you a Christian or a devotee of any religion at all. As you point out, Richard Dawkins often refers to himself as a cultural Christian, a former Christian who has abandoned the religion. Same with Mr Rizvi in relation to Islam.

  170. In reply to number 248 by Katy Cordeth.
    Good point, Katy. Your pal Amos is correct when he says Muslim religious people lie. Islamic law allows and even encourages lying by its followers, if it is done in the interest of advancing Islam. On this showing, the present negotiations with Iran’s theocrats is a complete waste of time.

  171. In reply to #251 by Bob Springsteen:

    In reply to number 248 by Katy Cordeth.

    Good point, Katy. Your pal Amos is correct when he says Muslim religious people lie. Islamic law allows and even encourages lying by its followers, if it is done in the interest of advancing Islam. On this showing, the present negotiations with Iran’s theocrats is a complete waste of time.

    Is there an irony deficiency at work on this website?

    If you’re talking about taqiyya, which you obviously are whether you know it or not, then please read the following article by Juan Cole:

    Iran’s Forbidden Nukes and the Taqiya Lie

    It’s the second time I’ve linked to it in as many days. Sigh


    When did this thread, concerning atheist role models, become all about Muslims? It got derailed days ago yet the mods haven’t stepped in and put things back on track.

    What with the dearth of new threads recently and the apparent lack of moderation, does anyone else get the feeling things may be winding down at RDnet and the powers that be are getting ready to shut up shop?

  172. In reply to number 247 by aldous.
    The holocaust and two world wars and all the crimes committed against humanity in history will seem like a Sunday picnic compared with what Jesus is going to do to all unbelievers. Revelation 21:8 tells us that when he returns all infidels will be thrown into The Lake of Fire, where they will be tortured day and night forever and ever. Perhaps we should advise Christians to stuff the Sermon on the Mount where the sun doesn’t shine?

  173. In reply to #251 by Bob Springsteen:

    Your pal Amos is correct when he says Muslim religious people lie.

    In endorsing the statement ‘Muslim religious people lie’ you are providing a sample of Islamophobia, if that’s supposed to mean that this is a unique, or specific, characteristic of Muslims.

  174. In reply to number 254 by aldous. How does quoting Islamic law make me Islamaphobic? I can love Muslims without having to like Islam.

  175. In reply to #20 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #19 by GPWC:

    In reply to #17 by Katy Cordeth:

    Pat Condell? Gross, hateful racist.
    Pat Condell in all his videos is Not a racist ; but a truly logical atheist.
    Progressive liberals (who support moronic Islamists) are also the subject of his rants.

    Oh dear, Katy, your Guardian leftie credentials are showing again. So certain you are right, now that’s scary. Please show me one video of Pat Condell’s where he says anything racist. Tell us why you rea…

  176. In reply to #255 by Bob Springsteen:

    In reply to number 254 by aldous. How does quoting Islamic law make me Islamaphobic? I can love Muslims without having to like Islam.

    ” In endorsing the statement ‘Muslim religious people lie’ you are providing a sample of Islamophobia, if that’s supposed to mean that this is a unique, or specific, characteristic of Muslims.” You are endorsing a statement by

    Your pal Amos

    not “quoting Islamic law”.

  177. First of all I should say, it takes an ass-hole to know one. How dare you attempt to tell me what to think? Because you abhor someone you think that I should too? I respect and love whom I want to. I don’t need a reactionary such as yourself to direct me as to who to admire. People like yourself belong in someone’s church, adhering to their message. Know this, I am not a pussy Atheist, who want to be friendly or polite, I choose Atheists role models whom I believe have backbones and spines, as my role models. Now, you can choose the ones that suit you. But, to suggest that I choose people because you think they are more worthy, is a farce. The next time you see my name, don’t even try to take me on. By the way, my thoughts are similar to Pat’s. There you have it. Go fuck yourself.

  178. In reply to #259:

    Was this in response to me? I have a feeling it was. Even though your post has been removed, I do hope you haven’t had your commenting privileges withdrawn. I found it a hoot by the way. “Don’t even try to take me on.”

    ‘larious. It seems Pat’s fans are as filled with rage as he is.

    Here’s a song for you to enjoy…

  179. To choose Thomas Paine as your Atheist role model, tells me who you are. You are not an Atheist. Why do you take this challenge? Are you aware this is an Atheist question, and not a deist one? Now. you run along little girl, and get prepared for the “afterlife.”

  180. In reply to #261 by essie9950:

    To choose Thomas Paine as your Atheist role model, tells me who you are. You are not an Atheist. Why do you take this challenge? Are you aware this is an Atheist question, and not a deist one? Now. you run along little girl, and get prepared for the “afterlife.”

    Oh, it is me. I thought it was. I hope you enjoy the song. I jolly well am an atheist, even if I don’t spell it with an upper-case a.

  181. Definitely Sam Harris. His defence of torture, ethnic profiling, pre-emptive nuclear strikes, benign dictatoships in the Middle East, Israel’s more brutal actions towards the Palestinians and gun ownership are admirable. I also admire his ideas about Eurabia and how Muslims are planning to outbreed everyone. Plus, his flirtations with pseudo science and Myticism just make me all warm in my stomach.

  182. In reply to #237 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #232 by Bob Springsteen:

    In reply to number 201 by Katy Cordeth.

    Even if Pat Condell is a “racist cretin,”

    He is.

    Well, considering Condell’s hate-filled attacks have extended to Bulgarians, Arabs, the Roma and Africans, I would say that you would be on fair firm ground with that belief.

  183. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Bill Maher, George Carlin, Aaron Ra, Bill Nye

  184. I’m trying to be different – I’m not sure if he was an atheist but he certainly had a one hell of a go at de-bunking the New Testament in 1836. He is David Strauss. His book “Das Leben Jesu – kritisch bearbeitet ” – “Life of Jesus – critically examined” was a sensation and still is though conveniently shoved under the carpet by the Christian Church. (Incidentally, it was later translated into English by none other than Marian Evans aka George Elliot who was certainly no Christian – so I might as well add her).

  185. Robert Green Ingersoll, Dan Barker and Hemant Mehta – warm, friendly and rational.

  186. Ayaan Hirsi Ali – Courage and integrity in the face of murderous ignorance.
    Sam Harris – For deploying the English language with such precicion and clarity in defense of reason and intellectual integrity, Christopher Hitchens – The whole package, the greatest show on earth, One of those people admired and I dare say envied, as in, It must have been cool to be Christopher Hitchens
    …and anyone else who speaks, writes, or acts in defense of reason especially those that do it in the face ignorance and intolerance backed by state institutions and groupthink adled concensus.

  187. my Atheism doesn’t depend on role models but I respected the most Christopher Hitchens

  188. I forgot to include Desmond Morris astounding author of the Human Zoo and the Naked Ape, he really helped me understand the reality of the human animal…

  189. In reply to NUMBER 274 by Katy Cordeth. Hi Katy. It was a sad day for music lovers around the globe when the milksop of popular music (Barry Manilow) announced he was an atheist while the Einstein of popular music (Dylan) remained a believer.

  190. In reply to NUMBER 274 by Katy Cordeth. Hi Katy. It was a sad day for music lovers around the globe when the milksop of popular music (Barry Manilow) announced he was an atheist while the Einstein of popular music (Dylan) remained a believer.

  191. Ayaan Hirsi Ali deserves a mention for her bravery. I honestly think Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins though. No other people I can think of have done more to spread the idea that it is perfectly acceptable to challenge religious ideas regardless of the fact it may offend religious people. It must also be said that they are, the most well-known (or scariest whatever you prefer) atheists amongst religious people. So they must have done something right.

  192. I can name very many people, for example, I really cannot help mentioning Christopher Hitchens whenever I talk about the impact of religion, but there is one Latvian Gastroenterologist Anatolijs Danilans, very much liked by many different people, educator, who tirelessly explains the true nature of pseudoscientific diets and so called “body purification”.
    But, what I like him most is his reverence towards human body, for example he has said that human body is a true wonder to study and marvel and why should anybody need to replace such chance with stupid fantasies!

  193. In reply to #276 by Bob Springsteen:

    In reply to NUMBER 274 by Katy Cordeth.

    Hi Katy. It was a sad day for music lovers around the globe when the milksop of popular music (Barry Manilow) announced he was an atheist while the Einstein of popular music (Dylan) remained a believer.

    Sir, you are talking to a fanilow! I didn’t know he was an atheist though. Perhaps his brilliant – that’s right – song Mandy is really about the woman in this clip.

    “And that’s Capricorn, is it?”

    As good as Barry is, though, I can’t help wondering if his back catalog would be even better were he not an atheist. I’m eternally grateful that Johnny Cash happened to believe in God, and not just because it meant he gave us stuff like this, this and this.

  194. In reply to NUMBER 280 by Katy Cordeth. Johnny Cash a Christian?? Would Yahweh accept a boy named Sue (Deuteronomy 22:5).

  195. Richard Dawkins and Daniel Denett. I would also like to include Eugine Scott for fighting the numbnuts who still want to ignore evolution!! My own father, an atheist in a super religious country.

  196. This question: “Who is your atheist role model?” sounds like there is a goal/aspiration to a person’s life. Why does it matter who is atheist or who is theist? Asking or answering this kind of question means you don’t really understand the true meaning of evolution. There is no right or wrong in a moral sense in the evolution system. Getting excited about an atheist or getting joy out of bashing a theist do not make any sense in this evolution system.

  197. In reply to #33 by hannah.crazyhawk:

    Carl Sagan. 🙂

    yes he’d be mine too but that’s because I’m deep into Demon-Haunted World

  198. Although I am not an atheist I would like to share the atheists who I think are good role models: Charles Darwin

    I also appreciate the writings of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

    I appreciate that Mr. Harris always seems to try to be respectful of those who do not share his views.

  199. Lawrence Krauss, Bill Maher, also Jon Stewart (I sume he is an atheist).
    To mention a few.

  200. I don’t think it is sensible or considerate to view or label people as role models. All of us make errors, even those we idolise. Some of our idols make more errors than we do. And maybe the pressure we put on people to meet certain standards makes it less easier for them to be kind, considerate, sensible human beings. I say, we should recognise, encourage and praise kind and sensible deeds, and assist and lend a helping hand and a hug to those who fall. We all fall at times. We should recognise the value in all people, just not a select few. All human beings have value. All humans beings have worth and something to offer.

  201. Sometimes we can learn more from those who have hurt us than those who have supported or set out to inspire us. Sometime those who hurt us, or fall short of the standards we expect, are our greatest teachers. Sometime those who hurt us, or fall short of the standards we expect, cultivate love in our hearts more than those who have supported or set out to inspire us.

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