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Things atheists have said

(123 Posts)
Bags Tue 28-May-13 19:55:12

British actress Emma Thompson said in a 2008 interview: "I'm an atheist; I suppose you can call me a sort of libertarian anarchist. I regard religion with fear and suspicion. It's not enough to say that I don't believe in God. I actually regard the system as distressing: I am offended by some of the things said in the Bible and the Quran, and I refute them."

Penn Jillette, half of the Emmy Award-winning magic duo Penn & Teller, wrote the book "God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales." In it he said: "If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true, and someone would find a way to figure it all out again."

British actor Hugh Laurie, known for his lead role on the medical drama "House," confirmed his atheism in a 2007 interview with The Sunday Telegraph. "I don't believe in God," he said, "but I have this idea that if there were a God, or destiny of some kind looking down on us, that if he saw you taking anything for granted, he'd take it away."

British entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson said in a 2011 interview with CNN's Piers Morgan that he believes in evolution and the importance of humanitarian efforts, but not in the existence of God. "I would love to believe," he said. "It's very comforting to believe."

Seth MacFarlane, creator of the animated series "Family Guy," has become vocal about his atheism. Asked about it in a 2009 interview with Esquire, he said: "It's like the civil-rights movement. There have to be people who are vocal about the advancement of knowledge over faith."

Ricky Gervais, creator of the British series "The Office," wrote about his religious journey in an essay published in 2010 by the Wall Street Journal. "Wow. No God. If mum had lied to me about God, had she also lied to me about Santa? Yes, of course, but who cares? The gifts kept coming," he said. "And so did the gifts of my new found atheism. The gifts of truth, science, nature. The real beauty of this world."

British evolutionary biologist and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins' views about religion were summed up in his bestselling book "The God Delusion." In it he wrote: "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further." His coming-out campaign suggests atheists should be proud rather than apologetic.

Christopher Hitchens, a British author and antitheist who died in 2011 at age 62, viewed religion as "the main source of hatred in the world." In his book "God is Not Great," Hitchens wrote: "There are days when I miss my old convictions as if they were an amputated limb. But in general I feel better, and no less radical, and you will feel better too, I guarantee, once you leave hold of the doctrinaire and allow your chainless mind to do its own thinking."

Neuroscientist and author Sam Harris is a well-known atheist and a vocal critic of religion. In "The End of Faith," he wrote: "We will see that the greatest problem confronting civilization is not merely religious extremism: rather, it is the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations we have made to faith itself."

more here if anyone's interested

Bags Tue 28-May-13 19:55:50

I especially like what Penn Jillette said.

Bags Tue 28-May-13 19:57:15

And Seth MacFarlane.

whenim64 Tue 28-May-13 21:03:04

Thanks for taking the trouble to put those quotes together, Bags. For me, atheism is not just about an absence of belief in a god, nor an aggressive route to denounce the beliefs of others, but a reasoned, thought-through mindset about how man-made belief systems can be created to control large groups and nations of people. We can choose to subscribe to those beliefs or not, but indoctrination or brainwashing into religion or atheism is never a good thing for any person who is perfectly capable of weighing up and choosing for her/himself.

Lilygran Tue 28-May-13 21:13:42

On another thread, I mentioned that it was not 'religious' people who kept going on (and on and on and on) about religion but those who described themselves as atheists. I ask myself; if God is a delusion, why does it bother you Bags that people believe? You obviously feel the need to spread the word.

Bags Tue 28-May-13 21:44:32

I think you'd understand if you read the quotes, lily. As Seth MacFarlane says, it's like the civil rights movement; there have to be people who are vocal about the advancement of knowledge over faith.

Secualrism is good for society, and you don't get secualrism without pushing for it.

Bags Tue 28-May-13 21:49:06

lily, why do you read the threads I start if you don't like them?

j08 Tue 28-May-13 22:20:05

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j08 Tue 28-May-13 22:20:31

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j08 Tue 28-May-13 22:20:54

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Aka Tue 28-May-13 22:25:22

Interesting Bags but all Caucasian and hardly representative of global atheism. I'd like to see more international and multicultural views.

grumppa Tue 28-May-13 23:14:40

I agree with Aka. It would be good to hear or read the thoughts of atheists from Islamic, Hindu, Sikh etc. backgrounds.

In the "helium" thread you started, Bags, Petallus said a little while ago "Well yes it doesn't matter that much in the big scheme of things if people want to take a pop at religion. At least these days you won't get arrested and tortured on the rack for it."

It is very easy to "take a pop" at Christianity in much of the western world, and to declare our atheism. I suspect that in many other places these days to proclaim one's atheism would be very high risk. I would rank the right not to believe with the other fundamental rights to be fought for in less tolerant societies.

Nelliemoser Tue 28-May-13 23:34:29

I am probably an atheist ??? Work that one out if you can! hmm

I don't have any wish to change the views of anyone who does (or doesn't) believe but I would be interested in listening to the reasoned arguments of both sides.

I do object to being "beaten about the head" by the views of either position; as met in the style of Richard Dawkins or the more extreme evangelical sections of the C of E.

A friend has a daughter who is of the evangelical wing, has told her mum that she will not go to heaven if she is not a believer.

Why should anyone else be offended if someone else says that they do, or do not, believe in a supreme being.

The problem seems to me to be that some people on either side of this debate, feel they have a missionary duty to convert the non believers of the opposing camp.

Is it only me that cannot understand why people don't just agree to differ and leave it at that?

Bags Wed 29-May-13 05:52:57

Anyone who wants to add what atheists who may have been brought up in other religions have said, please do. I haven't come across quotes by people from other cultures yet, except that one by the person who styles themself the AkistaniAtheist. I'm assuming s/he was raised Muslim, but I'm aware that is an assumption. I think there is a forum for ex-muslims of Britain.

One reason for the cultural bias may be that it's safe to be an atheist in western cultures that have been largely christian until recently. This hasn't always been the case. At one time atheists kept quiet in the west because they would have been tortured or murdered as heretics.

It's not safe to be an atheist in most countries that are mainly Muslim. It's not safe to be in countries where christianity is still in its more primitive form (e.g. Nigeria), and so on. So the Caucasian 'bias' has an easy explanation. In time other places and people of other cultures will follow suit, but they will have to establish some fundamental human rights first, so that whether people are of faith or not does not determine how they are treated by the law, or by mobs of "offended" faith-heads.

We still have some way to go on that score ourselves of course, which is why the National Secular Society exists. (I'm not a member).

Bags Wed 29-May-13 05:53:57

Oops, Pakistani – with p not without.

Lilygran Wed 29-May-13 09:23:54

I think the two lines of 'Why do you read it if it annoys you' and 'it's only offensive if you take offence' are equally silly and equally specious. A cop out, in fact. What interests me is why, being an atheist, Bags wants to convert other people from faith? Why is secularism superior? And why does it matter to you if other people believe? It obviously does. Why is it better to live in a Godless universe? How will my life be better?

Bags Wed 29-May-13 11:22:20

I don't want to convert anyone, lily. You are mistaken if you think that. I really don't care what other people believe unless those beliefs interfere with justice. In some cases religious privilege does just that – less so in the UK than in some parts of the world, but it still happens here because some religious people seem to think they need special consideration rather than equality. That's what secularism as I understand it (and as the Nat Sec Soc understands it) is about – making laws that apply equally to everybody regardless of their faith or lack of faith. It's not about abolishing faith or gods and neither are any of the threads I have started about atheism.

I talk about atheism because it interests me. If you choose to see this as an attack on your faith, rather than my just voicing what I think, what can I say? Trying to convert you or anyone else is not my intention. Talking about aspects of atheism, about how I think about it and religion are. Why shouldn't I do that? You are as free to talk about what interests you on whatever subject.

Bags Wed 29-May-13 11:26:42

Here is a link to the National Secular Society's explanation of what secularism is.

Bags Wed 29-May-13 11:28:00

You can be a secularist as well as being religious. People who favour fairness in law are often both. Secualrism is not the exclusive preserve of atheists.

Lilygran Wed 29-May-13 11:30:27

I don't see it as an attack on my faith. I see it as a campaign to change people's views in spite of your disclaimer, Bags and I wonder why you feel the need?

sunseeker Wed 29-May-13 11:34:49

As a believer, I am always interested to read the comments by Bags and others, nothing they say can shake my faith, and it sometimes amuses me the lengths they go to finding quotes that "prove" their case.

However, I do agree with lily that it is the non-believers who seem to always post about religion. Could this be a case of "protesting too much". Perhaps deep down they are unsure of their non-belief and therefore have to reinforce it in themselves all the time. (Digs out hard hat and ducks below the parapet)

Bags Wed 29-May-13 11:36:58

lily, if you persist in not believing what I say, there isn't anything I can say or do except shrug. You haven't actually called me a liar but you might as well!

Bags Wed 29-May-13 11:38:32

sunseeker, OK, for the sake of argument, just suppose I am unsure of my atheism. So, is it now allright to talk about it? Do I have permission because I'm a poor, confused, doubter?

Bags Wed 29-May-13 11:43:39

I don't think I've said much about atheism on gransnet for quite a long time. But even if I did, if the threads were ignored, they'd fizzle out.

sunseeker Wed 29-May-13 11:43:41

Bags not only am I a believer in God but I am also a believer in free speech! I would never condone anyone being prevented airing their views on any subject. Please do not take offence where none was intended.