Famous Atheists, Freethinkers, Deists and Agnostics part 8

Sir Leslie Stephen, https://i2.wp.com/www.rug.nl/let/onderzoek/onderzoekcentra/biografieinstituut/afbeeldingen/stephen.jpg

English writer and thinker (1832-1904).
Sir Leslie Stephen was one of Britain’s most famous agnostics of the nineteenth century. In fact while Thomas Huxley was the person who coined the term agnostic it was Stephen who popularized it.
Leslie Stephen was born into a family of prominent Evangelicals of the Clapham Sect. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. At Cambridge he was made a fellow which in those days required taking holy orders and he was ordained an Anglican priest. By 1862 his developing religious doubts led him to resign his fellowship and by 1864 he left Cambridge for good.

He married Thackeray’s daughter, Harriet Marian in 1867 but she died in 1875 leaving him one child. He later married Julia Jackson Duckworth and had four children including his best known child the novelist Virginia Woolf.

After abandoning his academic career he made his living as a journalist and writer. He edited the Dictionary of National Biography. He also wrote extensively on history, religion, and philosophy.

Leslie Stephen’s agnosticism was rooted in considerations of the problem of evil. Attempts to resolve this problem by emphasizing the transcendence and incomprehensibility of God was to him simply evasiveness. Such apologetics was in his view simply a disguised skepticism.

The rejection of belief in God for Stephen raised the question of how to ground morality if there is no deity. That is he sought to answer the Dostoyevskian question “If there is no God is not everything permitted?” Stephen sought to answer this question in his book The Science of Ethics. There he proposed a scientific ethics in which J.S. Mill’s utilitarianism would be synthesized with evolutionary theory.

In addition to The Science of Ethics, Stephen wrote many other works including Essays on Freethinking and Plainspeaking (1873), An Agnostic’s Apology and Other Essays (1893), as well as History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century (1876), and The English Utilitarians (1900). [James Farmelant]

William Howard Taft,

William Howard Taft.jpg

=”” size=”5″>American President and Chief Justice (1857-1930).
I thought it was interesting that an American president in this century said: “I do not believe in the divinity of Christ and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.”
Rudolf Carnap,


German-American philosopher (1891-1970).
A central figure of the Vienna Circle which was devoted to the philosophy of logical positivism. In his Intellectual Autobiography printed in The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap ed. by Paul Schilpp (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1963) he described the basic worldview he shared with the rest of the Circle. The first is the view that man has no supernatural protectors or enemies . Second, we had the conviction that mankind is able to change the conditions of life in such a way that many of the sufferings of today may be avoided . The third is the view that all deliberate action presupposes knowledge of the world , that the scientific method is the best method of acquiring knowledge and that therefore science must be regarded as one of the most valuable instruments for the improvement of human life. In Vienna we had no names for these views; if we look for a brief designation in American terminology for the combination of these three convictions, the best would seem to be ‘scientific humanism.'”
Joseph McCabe,

English anti-religion campaigner (1867-1955).
One of the giants of not only English Atheism, but world Atheism, Joseph McCabe left a legacy of aggressive Atheist and antireligious literature that remains fresh and insightful today. His many works — he wrote nearly 250 books — could constitute a library of Atheism by themselves.
Born in 1867, Joseph McCabe became a Franciscan monk at the age of nineteen. But disgusted with his fellow monks and the Christian doctrine, he left the priesthood for good on February 19, 1896.

Not long afterwards, he began to write — first against the priesthood itself and then for the position of Atheism. He was one of the founding members of Britain’s Rationalist Press Association, and was a prolific writer for Haldeman-Julius Publications. He was also a much-respected speaker, giving, by his own estimate, three or four thousand lectures in the United States, Australia, and Great Britain by the age of eighty. Still fighting against the injustices and dishonesties of religion, he died on January 10, 1955, at the age of eighty-seven. The epitaph he requested was “He was a rebel to his last day.” [The Secular Web]

Other Famous Atheists or Agnostics :Woody Allen – Actor

Dr. Melvin Konner

Michael Kinsley

William B. Davis

Gillian Anderson

Madison Arnold

Paul Kurtz

Milan Kundera

Russell Baker

Iain M. Banks

Alexander I. Lebed

Richard Leakey – Anthropoligist

Greg Bear – Science Fiction Author

Steve Benson

Stanislaw Lem

Mike Leigh

Jim Bohanan

Sir Herman Bondi

Tom Leykis

Michael Martin

Dr. Nathaniel Branden

Marlon Brando – Actor

Jonathan Meades

Antonio Mendoza

John Byrne

Dean Cameron

Marvin Minsky – Scientist
</span>Hans Moravec

Fidel Castro

Dick Cavett – TV Actor

Dr. Taslima Nasreen
Ted Nelson

Noam Chomsky – Scientist

Paul and Patricia Churchland

Kai Nielsen

Camille Paglia

Alexander Cockburn

John Conway

Jean Luc Godard

Julia Phillips

Michael Crichton – Author

Dr. Francis Crick

Paul Pfalzner

Paula Poundstone – Comedian

Crowded House – Rock Group

Ron Dakron

Katha Pollitt
Jean-Pierre Rampal

Daniel Dennett – Author

Amanda Donohoe

Paul Provenza

Brian Ritchie

Greg Egan

Barbara Ehrenreich

Rick Reynolds

Al Goldstein

Garth Ennis

Brian Eno – Musician

Richard Rorty

John Sayles

Nuno Filipe


Pamela Sargent

George H. Smith

James Forman

Jodie Foster – Actress

J.J.C. Smart

Mira Sorvino – Actress

Ed Fredkin

Janeane Garofalo – Comedian

Lee Smolin

J. Michael Straczynski

Simone de Beauvoir, French author, feminist, and philosopher (1908-1986).

Linus Carl Pauling, American chemist (1901-1994).

Mao Tse-tung, Chinese Communist leader and theorist (1893-1976).

Francois Mitterrand, French Politician (1916-1996). Publicly called himself an atheist on several occasions.

Spalding Gray

Joe Haldeman

Gore Vidal – Author

James A. Haught

Bill Hayden
Annika Walter

Sir Alfred Hitchcock – Author

Christopher Hitchens

Nicholas Humphrey

Dr. Ian Wilmut

William Shatner – Actor

Neil Kinnock

W. P. Kinsella

John Mortimer

Mr. Lavanam

Paul Krassner

Stanley Kubrick – Director

Nick Zedd

Ring Lardner Jr.

Ursula K. LeGuin

Tom Lehrer – Comedian

Salman Rushdie – Author of “The Statnic Verses”

Leonard Peikoff

Gerda Lerner

Michael Lewis

Stephen Jay Gould

Mark Pauline

Todd McFarlane – Author

Sir Ian McKellen

Edward O. Wilson

Adam Corolla

Randy Newman – Musician

Jack Nicholson – Actor

Frank Mullen

Douglas Coupland

Arthur Miller – Author

Mike Mills

Robin Lane Fox

Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam)

Gary Numan – Musician

Ronald Numbers


Vladimir Pozner

Ferdinand Piech

Roman Polanski – Author

Lionel Jospin

James Randi

Chris Robinson

Terry Pratchett

Harvey Fierstein

David Feherty

Mona Sahlin

Ron Reagan Jr.

Larry Flynt – Publisher

Antony Flew

Jyoti Shankar

Neil Rogers

Nat Hentoff

Pierre Boulez

Michael Smith

Sebastião Salgado

Billy Bragg

Mikhail Gorbachev

Benjamin Spock

Robert I. Sherman

Greg Graffin

Wendy Kaminer

Burt Lancaster, American actor (1913-1994).

Robert Smith

Bill Gates – Founder – Microsoft

Derek Humphry

Ingmar Bergman

Rodney Stark

Stephen Chapman

Richard Dawkins

Warren Buffett – Businessman

Katharine Hepburn – Actress

Florence King

Dr. Dean Edell

Douglas Adams – Author

Pierre Berton

Penn Jillette

Paul Edwards

Harlan Ellison – Scinece Fiction Author

Susie Bright

Howard Hughes, American manufacturer, film producer, and recluse (1905-1976).

Jack Germond

Dave Matthews – Musician

Arthur C. Clarke – Science Fiction Author

Quentin Crisp

Harry Harrison

Christopher Reeve – Actor

Albert Ellis

Clive Barker

Teller – Comedian

Michael Crichton – Author

Vic Chesnutt

Billy Joel – Musician

Max von Sydow – Actor

Thomas J. Altizer

Asia Carrera

Virginia Woolf, English author (1882-1941).

Paul Watson

Peter William Atkins

Michael Stipe (R.E.M.)

Sir John Gielgud – Actor

Bruce Wright

Richard Feynman, American physicist (1918-1988).

Shulamit Aloni

Nina Hartley

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. – Author
=””>Dan Barker

David Cronenberg


Steven Weinberg

Robert Frost, American poet (1874-1963).

Marie Curie, Polish-born French chemist and physicist (1867-1934).

Joseph Conrad, Polish-born English author (1857-1924).

For a list of living celebrity atheists, I recommend Reed Esau’s excellent, Celebrity Atheist List.   A BIG THANK YOU TO BLU222 (MYSPACE)- SHE DID ALL THE HARD WORK. 🙂


One Response to “Famous Atheists, Freethinkers, Deists and Agnostics part 8”

  1. bmepain Says:

    Greets! Really funny. Big ups!

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