The Atheist Academic: Positive Atheist Role Models
You seem them at any awards show that you’ve made the mistake of watching. “I want to thank GOD ALMIGHTY!”, they shout. “I couldn’t have been here without JESUS!” I always cringe, look away, and remind myself that their art is what matters, and not their mistaken beliefs about who inspired it. But lately, I’ve stopped to think about the impact that these role models have on impressionable young children and teenagers. We hear, all the time, about people who are worried about superstars’ messages about drugs and violence. But (of course) I never hear about how awful it is that superstars shove their religion in young peoples’ faces.
Luckily, there have been some atheists who have “come out of the closet”, so to speak, and spoke out in support of atheism, or nontheism. CNN recently posted a gallery of famous atheists, including Daniel Radcliffe, Keira Knightley, and Hugh Laurie. But even looking through this gallery, you can see that most of the famous atheists are just people famous for BEING atheist, or are scientists, who are often assumed atheist anyway. There are few musicians or actors who are blatantly atheist.
I know that nobody HAS to say whether they are religious or not. In some ways, I prefer that — let’s keep religion out of the equation completely. But the problem is that the religious people are SO outspoken, and then the nonreligious just don’t mention anything, and so we end up not having strong atheist role models. Instead, we have strong Christian role models — hell, we have a whole genre of crappy music dedicated to it — and then atheists are just ignored.
So this is my call for more famous atheist people to “come out of the closet”, so to speak. Atheist scientists are great, but it would be nice to show the world that ANYONE can be an atheist. Rock stars. Authors. Pop princesses. Movie stars. Television actors. Let’s make the word “atheist” less of a stigma and more of just another descriptive term. How many authors on this site use a pseudonym because we’re afraid to lose our jobs if we’re found to write for an atheist site? Why is that okay? It’s time that we change the culture in our nation and be more accepting of the atheist point of view.
This could start with the famous people. So thank you to Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Laurie, and everyone else who shamelessly identifies as being non-religious. I hope that, some day, more people are brave like you. And I hope that I can stop hearing people thank God at award ceremonies.
Because, seriously, that shit is annoying.