Celebrity atheists/Talk

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Larry - You're dividing people into "philosophers", whose opinions matter, and "nonphilosophers", who are mere "celebrities"? A distinction that could only seem relevent to a philosopher, I think.

And then Darwin, Dawkins, and Rand are lumped in with the celebrities?

- Tim

Yes, in an article about atheists, it's much more important to mention the names of Russell (and Darwin, yes) than, say, Noam Chomsky or Carl Sagan. No, their opinions don't matter. That's correct. :-) --LMS

Absolutely. The fact that Linus Torvalds is an atheist is largely irrelevant to his claim to fame (being a programmer who started something kinda neat), whereas the fact that, say Alan Turing is (I guess, he might have been agnostic) an atheist is very important because his work touches on the limits of knowledge and the possibilities of artificial intelligence, both areas of considerable interest to religion.

Are we quite sure that all of these people are properly called atheists (and not agnostics or something else)? --LMS

I doubt it. I pulled out Darwin because anyone who has read his letters would know that he was an agnostic. Work is needed here, methinks. John Lynch

I disagree with the Einstein entry and would like to see a reference to his calling himself an atheist. I know that he once described his concept of God as that of Spinoza: the whole universe and all its laws are holy and identical with God. He also interpreted Buddhism in a similar way and preferred it over the other religions. --AxelBoldt

Einstein did say, "God does not play dice with the universe" in reference to quantum mechanics. (To which, I understand, Neils Bohr replied "Albert, stop telling God what to do.")

Suggested rule: every entry here needs a quote beside it, where that person clealy labels themselves an atheist or states directly that there is no God. As it stands, this is ridiculous.

Mark Twain published an essay called "the eternal stranger" or something to that effect in which he said (paraphrasing here; I read it 10 years ago) that God had no right to expect humans to worship Him simply because He had created them, because no one had asked him to. That, to me, does not sound like an atheist; rather, it sounds like an embittered believer. He may well have become an atheist later. I would like to see a quotation proving him an atheist, if one is available. --KQ

I'm afraid I don't see the point of this page. Are we going to set up Celebrity Christians, Celebrity Buddhists, Celebrity agnostics...

Also, I think it would be rather harmful to pigeonhole certain people into this catagory. The line between atheist and agnostic is often very blurry, and many people hover between theism and atheism for significant periods of their lives. I guess what I'm asking is, what value is there in including this list in Wikipedia? I just don't see the pros, but I do see numerous cons. -- STG

Ditto. Furthermore, celebrity atheists smacks of the desperation of an atheist applying Logical fallacy/Appeal to authority, Logical fallacy/Appeal to popularity, and Logical fallacy/Bandwagon. This community doesn't put with this from Christians, so why kowtow to atheists? <>< tbc

I see no reason to exclude such lists. The World War II page has a list of names associated with that topic; the Nazi page has a list of names associated with that topic; a list of well-known socialists hasn't been made yet but it would certainly add something to the socialism page; a list of noted Hawaiians on the Hawaii page, a list of noted atheists on the atheism page, and so forth, would just mean more information than before. - Tim

Also - I started a list of noted and reputed atheists; if some were note consistent atheists, well, they are still reputed atheists (Darwin, for instance). Someone else (named Larry) changed the list to a "celebrity atheist" list, but we can change it back to "noted and reputed", to get around the objection being raised about pigeonholing people. - Tim

I have to agree with the dubious usefulness of this list at all--and the only reason I moved it to its own page was that I didn't want to engage the (fairly trivial) question whether we should have such a list. The point is that it seems to be a bogus appeal to authority (as tbc pointed out)--what other reason is there for the list. On the other hand, you know, it really is useful information (as long the description of the people on the list is suitably qualified per above comments). We ought also to have a disclaimer...heck, I'll just do this myself. :-) --LMS