Religion can be a very touchy subject. Some people believe beyond a doubt in their mind that God exists, that there is a heaven, and that we can be forgiven for all the wrongs we commit against others. Other people strongly feel that God is a myth and that science is able to prove away most of the beliefs held by deeply religious people. There’s good reason that so many folks don’t talk publicly about their own deeply held religious views — or lack thereof. These huge celebrities are not only atheists, but they have also spoken out with very clear reasons for why don’t believe in God — or any religion for that matter. They include actors, actresses, tech moguls, sports figures, and even the world’s greatest living scientist.
Morgan Freeman has played the voice of God and he has even produced a religious TV show called The Story Of God. Despite his religious work in entertainment, he has said on more than one occasion that he is a man of science and his faith is firmly rooted in the work being created by scientists. Regardless of what he says, we will always be a fan of his work as God — even if the doesn’t believe in some sort of divinity.
Bill Gates is the richest man on the planet and he doesn’t believe in God. He’s constantly giving away billions of the dollars he has earned over his long and illustrious career, but he’s not crediting God for his success. During a Rolling Stone interview, Gates said, “I agree with people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths. Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them.” Gates did say he believes it makes sense to believe in God, but people come to that conclusion at different periods in their life.
When Harry Potter first debuted as a book series there were some people in the Catholic church who wanted to see the series banned for its focus on witchcraft over Christianity. It turns out Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe is actually very anti-religion. The mega-star has been very open about his atheistic views. In an interview with UK gay magazine Attitude he said, “I’m not religious, I’m an atheist, and a militant atheist when religion starts impacting on legislation.”
You don’t have to be deeply rooted in religious beliefs to fight against social injustices and to sing about creating a better world. In 1965, Lennon said, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right.” Lennon also wrote the 1970 song “God” in which the lyrics specifically state “I don’t believe in bible… I don’t believe in Jesus.” He might have been an atheist but Lennon also wanted to stop wars and other social injustices.
The Titanic and Avatar director has never shied away from his own beliefs — or lack thereof. Cameron has called agnosticism nothing but “cowardly atheism.” The famed Hollywood mogul once stated that with no physical proof of the soul, he can’t believe in the afterlife. Cameron is an open-minded person though and he said he would amend his belief if new information was discovered.
Another billionaire and another atheist. Sir Richard Branson revealed a complete lack of religion in his autobiography. While floating in his damaged balloon capsule many years ago, he said he still “did not believe in God,” even as his life hung in the balance at the mercy of the weather and mechanical fault. While he doesn’t believe in God, Branson does believe in the verifiable science of evolution.
Brad Pitt seems like a pretty nice guy and we know he’s a great actor. He cut through the political PR speak and once said that religion point-blank “doesn’t make sense.” He later explained that being raised in a bible-banging family led to a lot of “Catholic guilt” which he had no intention to continue with into adulthood.
British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is helping mankind better understand the universe with his attempt to create a scientific theory of everything. During an interview, he confirmed he was an atheist. “Before we understood science, it was natural to believe that God created the universe, but now science offers a more convincing explanation,” he said. That is the exact type of thinking that has landed other celebrities on our list of confirmed atheists.
Keira Knightley told Interview Magazine that she was an atheist. She then added that being a Christian would actually be easier for her life. “If only I wasn’t an atheist, I could get away with anything. You’d just ask for forgiveness and then you’d be forgiven. It sounds much better than having to live with guilt.” I guess she lives with a lot of guilt — and now we want to know what she’s hiding from us!
Hugh Laurie, much like his famous TV character, Dr. Gregory House, is an atheist. He has said that he doesn’t believe in God and that if there was a God they would be “looking down on us” and would “take away anything we took for granted.” It’s a pretty cynical outlook for what god would possibly be, but who are we to argue with logic that can’t really be disproven at this point in time.
When he was busy promoting his religious-based film Constantine, actor Keanu Reeves admitted that the movie made him question his atheism. He claimed that in recent years he has had “fewer doubts about Heaven and Hell” but said that ultimately he still didn’t believe in God. Constantine tells the story of a wayward man who uses his special gifts to expel demons from the human hosts they have possessed.
Nicholson said during a 1992 Vanity Fair interview that he doesn’t believe in God anymore. He added, “I can still work up an envy for someone who has a faith. I can see how that could be a deeply soothing experience.” Even with all the success in the world, some people are not willing to believe that their success was the product of some superior being who guided their careers.
He was raised in the Catholic faith but “Family Guy” and Ted creator Seth MacFarlane has made a career out of poking fun of religion. He has urged people to stay away from the church because science offers incredible evidence for the claims it makes. “The church says, ‘Oh, it’s right here in this book, see? The one written by people who thought the sun was magic?’” the comedian said.
Gladiator actor Joaquin Phoenix was raised as part of the Children of God cult and when he grew older he rebelled against all forms of religion. He has been very upfront about his refusal to believe in any type of God. “I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t believe in the soul.” He says the idea of God is “preposterous” but he also believes that people should believe in whatever makes them happy.
Aronofsky doesn’t believe in god but he does believe that through his filmmaking he has constructed his own god. He has referred to his own work as his god. “It’s probably because I’m Godless. And so I’ve had to make my God, and my God is narrative filmmaking.” If his god is Pi or Requiem For A Dream, I don’t think I want to live in a world where his reality becomes our god.
Actor Harvey Fierstein has stated that he doesn’t believe in God. Unlike other celebrities on our list, he doesn’t preach that people should do whatever makes them happy. Fierstein says the religions celebrated by people are “silly.” While he has never said outright that he’s an atheist, his comments have been pretty obvious as to where he stands on the non-religious spectrum.
This Oscar award-winning actress was asked in 2007 if she was a religious person. She wasted no time in stating, “No, I’m an atheist. But I absolutely love religions and the rituals.” Foster says her family “celebrates” almost all of the major religions. When her children ask about religion, Foster tells them they can choose what they believe in when they turn 18.
Alan Cumming believes that most Christians are just going through the motions with their religion. “I was made to go to church, but no, it wasn’t a very religious thing. And I’m completely atheist. I don’t hold any beliefs about God and stuff.” He was left alone at a Christmas party in New York City once when everyone else went to church for a midnight Mass. He stuck around the party and listened to music until the party resumed.
Like many other celebrities on our list, Larry King at first stated he was “agnostic” but later declared in an interview with Barbara Walters that he does not believe in God. “Nearly every time, with one exception – if it comes to religious topics everything is already said. I am an agnostic, so I don’t learn anything from them. But most of the time it’s exciting,” he revealed of his personal beliefs. When later asked if he was an atheist he admitted that he was.