The debate over the existence of god has existed since organized religion came into existence. While the majority of the human race firmly and fervently believes in the existence of god, there is also a very vocal minority that believes religion is nothing other than creation of fancy and fascination. In fact, there are about 11 percent atheists in the American population. They claim that religion is a nonsense and childish approach to life and death and only purpose it serves is to distract humanity from important issues.
The motives behind turning to atheism are varied and different. These motives include philosophical, social, and historical aspects. And, you can often find atheists employing these aspects in their arguments against organized religion. However, not every atheist will argue with you for hours to bash god and religion, some of them prefer to keep low key.
And, we all know that the celebrities are a perfect representation of the general population. The only difference is that they are richer. Moving on, in this article, we will list the rich and famous non-believers. On another note, seeing how well they have done, it seems having no faith in religion doesn’t make that big difference in achieving success and leading a good life.
The former American professional cyclist is just 44 years old. And, in that time span, he has seen several ups and downs. He was a promising cyclist when he was diagnosed with stage three (advanced) testicular cancer (embryonal carcinoma). He retained self belief and hope during the challenging treatment procedure and returned stronger than ever. He began his comeback in 1998 by finishing fourth in the Vuelta a España. Next year, he won the Tour de France by finishing 7 minutes 37 seconds ahead of the second rider, Alex Zülle. This would be first of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles. A believer would have attributed such turn around in his fortunes to the presence of a higher power and the divine help. But, not Lance Armstrong. He attributed his stunning recovery and subsequent success to his belief in doctors who were treating him and his own ability to recover. In several interviews, he has revealed his distrust towards the organized religion and has declared, he is reluctant to deal with it.
In 2012, he was found guilty of doping by United States Anti-Doping Agency and was subsequently stripped of all his victories and achievements. He was also handed down a lifetime ban from competing in all sports. And, he can’t even blame higher power for his misfortune.
Although, his beautiful wife Angelina Jolie has recently became religious after working on a World War 2 survival movie ‘Unbroken,’ Brad Pitt still is very much an atheist. Jolie had a benefit of meeting Louis Zamperini who had survived for 47 days floating in a lifeboat after a plane crash, and was subsequently discovered and made prisoner by the Japanese. However, Pitt hasn’t met anyone who could convince him of presence of the higher power. However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have any life changing experience. Pitt has often talked about his trip to Morocco in the 90s when he was on a downward spiral. He saw poverty up close and realized the importance of life. This trip would bring his life on track and would make him one of the most celebrated activists. However, when it comes to religion and god, Pitt’s belief remains the same. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter given for the promotion of movie ‘Tree of Life,’ Pitt claimed that he oscillates between agnosticism and atheism. He also revealed that he had a very religious upbringing but he never shared a great relationship with religion.
You remember in the start of the article I mentioned about atheists, who aren’t afraid to let the world know what they think of religion and belief in higher power. Well, Emma Thompson is one of them. Thompson is often considered one of the greatest British actresses of her generation. She has won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, three BAFTA Awards and one Emmy Award. So, you can’t argue much about her credentials as an actress. She does prove that you don’t need god or religion to be successful. And, she doesn’t let an occasion pass to tell world about her opposition to organized religions. She has always regarded religion with fear and suspicion and has claimed that it makes life stressful. She has declared that saying she doesn’t believe in god is not enough, in fact, she is offended by some of the things written in the Bible and the Qur’an, and she sternly opposes them. However, she believes that if the guiding moral principles, the ethical principles, much of the Christian philosophy is applied properly, it can do lot of good. Also, she observes the Christmas tradition.
Jodie Foster has always believed in being different and having a unique personality. Her first major role was of a child prostitute in the highly acclaimed 1976 movie ‘Taxi Driver.’ Also, she has bagged an Academy Award for Best Actress for playing the role of a rape victim in 1989 drama ‘The Accused.’ So, when it comes to being an atheist, she is very different from some other names mentioned in this article. Now, although she has revealed on numerous occasions that she is an atheist, but she doesn’t have any mistrust or fear of the organized religion. In fact, she has often stated that she has a great respect for all religions. Plus, she has curiosity for the religions and likes to spend significant time in studying religious texts. Also, her family celebrates Christmas, Easter and other popular religions.
Another great thing about Jodie’s take on religion and atheism is – she has ensured that her children have a good understanding of the religions and do not grow up believing that atheism is superior to any religious beliefs.
Julianne Moore turned atheist after her mother’s death in 2009 from sudden septic shock. The loss of her mother devastated Moore, who was really close to her mother. After the tragic incident, she realized that there was no structure in the universe and religion was created to bring a structure to the society, to prevent chaos from reigning in. And, Moore believes that her decision to bring a strong sense of personal control to her life has made her successful. In interview with Inquisitr, she claimed that the idea about you being the center of your own life and having the power to script your own narrative is great as it allows you to focus on important aspects of life. And, using this principle, she has created her own life.
The man with arguably best narrative voice in the Hollywood doesn’t believe in god. In fact, in one interview, Morgan Freeman claimed that he is god. And, he isn’t talking about the role he played in the famous movie ‘Bruce Almighty.’ Now, if you take the statement at face value, it would seem that Freeman is another Hollywood egoist who has too inflated belief of his ability and presence. But, Freeman is not deluded like Kanye West. He has a history of making such comments about religion. Freeman believes that the religion and god have been created by men. He believes that man created god in his own image rather than other way around. So, he only believes in god because he thinks he is god. He has backed his argument with scientific facts. He argues that if god invented the earth and people, then the earth should be around 6000 years old. But, the scientific facts state that the earth is much older than that. Freeman also argues that there are no scientific facts to back presence of the higher power. And, Freeman who has anchored science channel show ‘Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman’ places firm emphasis on scientific facts.
Ok, you can’t expect Hugh Hefner to be a religious man while keeping in mind the type of lifestyle he has led. He has enjoyed relationship with majority of women who have modeled (also known as playmates) for his famous magazine Playboy. So, if he was a religious guy, he would have made bucket loads of confessions. In fact, his religious upbringing in a “conservative, Midwestern, Methodist” family did leave him burdened with guilt during his young days. He eventually rejected such a lifestyle to become a poster boy of the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s. He has often clearly stated that religion is a ridiculous myth. He believes that the religion has been invented to explain the inexplicable. It is motivated by the need to invent answers when none exists. He believes that the fear of eternal damnation in the afterlife shouldn’t discourage people from living their life. In his interviews, he often urges everyone to live life as if there is no reward in the afterlife. However, he does urges everyone to live in a moral way that will allow them to leave this world a much better place than they found it.
Keira Knightley has appeared in catalogues of popular movies such as ‘Atonement,’ ‘Silk,’ ‘The Duchess’ and ‘Anna Karenina’ and is one of the most bankable actresses in the show business. In 2007, she earned around $32 million and was the second highest paid actress that year. And, she attributes her success to her great work ethic, not to blessing from a higher power. In fact, she doesn’t put much stock in organized religion and god. Although, she isn’t as vocal as other celebrities in this list about her belief, but in couple of interviews, she has made it evidently clear what she thinks of god and religion. She once famously said that she regrets being an atheist and rejecting Catholicism, the faith in which she was raised. She stated that if she wasn’t an atheist, she could get away with anything. All she had to do was ask for forgiveness and forget everything. Being an atheist, she has to live with guilt for every wrong act she commits.
Javier Bardem doesn’t believe in god, he believes in Al Pacino. I am not making this up. Javier Bardem has said this in an interview with the British tabloid ‘The Guardian.’ So, Javier Bardem is an atheist and Al Pacino fan. He has even kept a tape of Al Pacino’s message on his answerphone saying that he wanted to tell Bardem that he loved his acting in the movie ‘Before Night Falls,’ in which Bardem starred alongside Johnny Depp, Olivier Martinez, Andrea Di Stefano and Santiago Magill. Coming back to Bardem’s atheist beliefs, Bardem lost belief in god at the age of 25 when his father died. Even before that he wasn’t a devout catholic. After his father’s death, he learned that religion was just a way of coping with death. He started to ask questions about the organized religion and started to freak out about the manipulation of people’s beliefs in order to gather fear. On legalization of gay marriage in Spain, he stated that if he was a gay, he would have married straight away just to spite church.
Daniel Radcliffe’s mother is Jewish and his father is a Protestant, but he doesn’t follow any religion. He has often claimed that he is a militant atheist, who usually believes that religion is harmful for the society. Although he doesn’t preach his atheist beliefs, but he does support individuals like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins who preach atheism. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t has faith. He has faith in his generation and believes as a society, they can move ahead and develop their own moral system that will be sustainable in accordance with modern culture.