|A screenshot of an atheism genealogy video (Ѻ), showing the core famous atheists and branches, such as: atomic theory branch (Epicurean atheism), the Feuerbach branch (Freudian atheism and Marxian atheism), and the Goethe branch (Schopenhauer-Nietzsche atheism).|
The hyperlink acronym FA:#, e.g. Marcus Aurelius (FA:#24), indicates an individuals famous atheist rankings, chronologically.
The following are example quotes of famous atheists grouped into association:
“Nietzsche launched a new building project that represents an advance for atheism. Meslier denied all divinity, Holbach dismantled Christianity, Feuerbach deconstructed god. Then Nietzsche introduced transvaluation: atheism is not an end in itself. Do away with god, yes, but then what? Another morality, a new ethic, values never before thought of because unthinkable, this innovation is what makes it possible to arrive at atheism and to surpass it. A formidable task, and one still to be brought to fruition.”— Michel Onfray (2005), Atheist Manifesto 
Atheists | 1-100
See also: Greatest atheist ever (ranked)The following are noted atheists “1 to 100” — assumed, attributed, categorical, labeled, famous, extreme, and or legendary — chronological ordered, by either birth (reaction start) or event significance (next: 101-200, 201-300, 310-400); those colored light pink are noted female atheists:
|Atheists 1 to 100|
|c.1320BC||“Akhenaten’s fascination for the sun disc Aten is akin to constituting atheism.”|
— Donald Redford (1984), Akhenaten: the Heretic King; cited by Karl Luckert (1991) in Egyptian Light and Hebrew Fire (pg. 109)
|600BC||The first crypto "god doubter" in history, according to Jennifer Hecht (2003); like for his belief that "all is water", out of which earth and fire are second principles.|
|600BC||A sect of Indian materialism-based atheists; a reaction to the difficulties of Hinduism.|
|580BC||“Anaximander was the chief of the old atheistic philosophers.”|
— Ralph Cudworth (1678), The True Intellectual System of the Universe (pg. #)
|530BC||“There has been a considerable number of those whom history calls ‘atheists’. Leucippus, Democritus, Xenophanes, and others of the atomistic and Eleatic schools (Ѻ), are said to have been such. In his Intellectual System, Cudworth puts into this category Seneca and the younger Pliny among the Romans. Since the reformation, such men as: Rabelais, Machiavel, Bruno, Vanini, D'Alembert, Diderot, Buffon, Condorcet, Mirabeau, La Place, Frederic II, and even Pope Leo X, have been charged with atheism.” |
— Willis Lord (1875), Christian Theology for the People (pg. 67)
|475BC|| “The universe, that is the all, is made neither of gods nor of men, but ever has been and ever will be an eternal-living fire, kindling and extinguishing in destined measure.”|
— Heraclitus (c.470BC) His fragments (Ѻ) indicate a difficult-to-pin-down exact belief system, but approximately the following type of pantheism logic:
“god = fire/lightening [principle] + reason/cause [λόγος]”
Generally, a type of agnosticism-to-atheism of the Olympian gods, amid a search for a universal principle, rooted in fire, electricity, flux, and eternal change.
|450BC||Often called the 'father of atomic theory', he was the first to conceive of the theory of atoms, arguing that the universe consisted entirely of atoms and void, a theory purposely contrived so to contradict Greek philosopher Parmenides' earlier view that voids are impossible; called by Francis Bacon, in his "On Atheism" (1597), the chief or head of the school "most accused" of atheism.|
|450BC||Held water to be the first principle, out of which fire arise; believed the soul to be made of water (not blood); classified as a materialist and atheist.|
|467BC|| Was the first person to be legally “indicted for atheism”, per his assertion that the sun was not a god (Helios), but rather a fallen meteorite (467BC); in 438BC, a law was passed against Anaxagoras-like atheism: “society must denounce those who do not believe in the divine beings or who teach doctrines about things in the sky” (Hecht, 2003; pg. 10). |
When, according to Voltaire (1764), he claimed that the sun was not driven by Apollo, mounted on a chariot, but rather, based on the "evidence" of examined fallen meteors, and the reasoned postulate that moon light was reflected sunlight, that it was a hot or fiery stone, moving in a fifth element, in addition to the standard four elements, he called “aether”, which he conceived of as being in constant rotation and carried with it the celestial bodies, he was called an atheist, and had to flee.
|450BC||Empedocles is oft-classified as an early atheist; the following quote is representative of this view:|
“If horses could draw, god would have four limbs and run very fast.”— Empedocles (c.450), aphorisms (Ѻ)
Theophilus (c.120-184) (Ѻ) believed that Empedocles “taught atheism”, about which he says as follows:
“What good did it do Epicurus to maintain that there is no providence; or Empedocles to teach atheism; or Socrates to swear by the dog, and the goose, and the plane-tree, and AEsculapius struck by lightning, and the demons whom he invoked? And why did he willingly die? What reward, or of what kind, did he expect to receive after death? What did Plato's system of culture profit him? Or what benefit did the rest of the philosophers derive from their doctrines, not to enumerate the whole of them, since they are numerous? But these things we say, for the purpose of exhibiting their useless and godless opinions.”
Irenaeus (130-202AD) viewed most of the pre-Socratics as “atheists” in their materialist explanations of the origin of the world, including: Homer, Thales, Anaximander, Empedocles, and Anaxagoras. Clement of Alexandria (150-215), likewise, saw Thales, Anximenes, Diogenes of Apollonia, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Empedocles, and all of the atomists as such.
|The first person to be “labeled” an atheist, for the following views:|
“Concerning the gods, I am unable to discover whether they exist or not, or what they are like in form; for there are many hindrances to knowledge, the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of the human mind.”
Technically, these views are what we now characterize as “agnostic”, a term coined in 1869 by Thomas Huxley.
|c.440BC|| “He was a wise man who invented god.”|
— Euripides (c.450BC), “Concerning God” (Ѻ); oft-attributed, incorrectly, in 20th century (Ѻ), to Plato, in the form “He was a wise man that invented god”
Was threatened with an indictment for atheism (Lange, 1865; pg. 7).
|Was “indicted for atheism” (Hecht, 2003; pg. 11).|
|12.|| Prodicus |
| God theory: Gods were what the ancients invented to equate the sun, rivers, and other beneficial things with. (Empiricus, 200AD). Tried for figure out, from a secular linguistic point of view, how humans learn the names of their gods; latter classified as an atheist by early contemporaries (Hecht, 2003; pg. 8)|
He also advanced an account of Demeter (Isis) and Dionysus (Osiris) as mortals who taught agriculture and viticulture, and who were accorded divine honors after their deaths in recognition of their gifts to humanity. The argument that the gods familiar to the Greeks were once mortals was a key element in the suspicion that sophists like Prodicus were atheists
|13.||Diogenes of Apollonia (c.460-400BC)||Labeled, by Irenaeus (130-202AD), an atheist per his materialistic account of the world.|
|Retrospectively characterized a secular historian, in his god free account of things; Thomas Hobbes (1629) defended him against the charge of atheism.|
|“Some men said something stretched out their hands tither, where we Greeks now speak of ‘air’ and thus they call the whole ‘Zeus’ and say: he knows everything, he gives and takes, he is king of everything.” |
| “Critias seems to be from the ranks of the atheists when he says that the lawgivers of ancient times invented god as a kind of overseer of the right and wrong actions of men. Their purpose was to prevent anyone from wronging his neighbors secretly, as he would incur the risk of vengeance at the hands of the gods.”|
— Sextus Empiricus (c.200AD) (Ѻ)
|17.|| Hippocrates |
|Quote: “Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. We will one day understand what causes it, and then cease to call it divine. And so it is with everything in the universe.” Note: while often deemed atheist, the Hippocratic oath (Ѻ) speaks of “gods and goddesses” being witness to oath.|
|“With reason did the Athenians adjudge Diagoras guilty of atheism, in that he not only divulged the Orphic doctrine, and published the mysteries of Eleusis and of the Cabiri, and chopped up the wooden statue of Hercules to boil his turnips, but openly declared that there was no god at all.”|
— Athenagoras (200AD), A Plea for the Christians
Semi-labeled as the "first true atheist"; known as “Diagoras ‘the Atheist’ of Melos”, a disciple of Democritus (Ѻ), cited by Cicero, among others, sometimes referred to, in the history of atheism (Ѻ), as the “first atheist” or history's earliest known “confirmed atheist”, as some (Ѻ) describe him.
|In his satirical play The Clouds (Ѻ), tells a dialogue about the nature of rain (natural or Zeus caused), between a fictional atheist character Socrates and a lay character Strepsaides, who thinks rain is caused by “Zeus pissing into a sieve” (Hecht, 2013; pg. 12).|
|c.290BC||Penned an essay, now lost, entitled “On Gods” (Περì ῶεῶν), wherein, supposedly, he debunks religion and proves gods non-existent.|
|287BC||Successor to Theophrastus; David Hume declared his brand of atheism to be: “the most dangerous of the ancients.”|
|c.270BC||Was considered an atheist in the ancient world (Ѻ); his atheism was discussed by the Anon Theophrastus (c.1659).|
|c.260BC|| “The Theodoreans derived their name from Theodorus, known as ‘the atheist’, and adopted his doctrines. Theodorus was a man who utterly rejected the current belief in the gods. And I have come across a book of his entitled Of the Gods which is not contemptible. From that book, they say, Epicurus borrowed most of what he wrote on the subject.”|
— Diogenes Laertius (c.225), Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers 
“Diagoras and Theodorus flatly deny that there were ever gods at all.”
— Michel Montaigne (c.1580)
Classified, along with Diagoras of Melos, as one of the first two “outright atheists”.  Studied the lectures of determinism philosopher Zeno of Citium. 
|c.300BC||Epitaphs: “head of school most-accused of atheism” (Francis Bacon, 1597); “chief father of atheism” (Jonathan Edwards, c.1750) (Ѻ); “father of atheism” (Monydit Malieth, 2013); eponyms: Epicureanism; Epicurean atheism; is the main conduit of atheism, throughout history, in atheism genealogy; e.g. Marxian atheism, Freudian atheism, and Jeffersonian atheism (American atheism) all stem from him, along with all the other big atheist, e.g. Giordano Bruno, Pierre Gassendi, Walter Charleton, among unlistable others; in his “Letter to Herodotus” (Ѻ), he, supposedly, relegates the gods to the role of non-interfering material entities, in capable of controlling human affairs.  Diogenes Laertius (c.225) asserts, to note, that he borrowed most what he wrote from “outright atheist” Theodorus and his On the Gods.|
|c.310BC||Epicurus' first female disciple; argued against Theophrastus.|
|A follower of atheists Theodorus and Theophrastus; would “often vehemently assail belief in the gods” (Laertius, 230AD).|
|45BC|| Supposedly, was first to transliterate the Greek word ἄθεος, from the privative ἀ- + θεός "god", meaning "godless", into the Latin átheos (Ѻ), i.e. to introduce the "atheism" to the modern western world.|
“There are many questions in philosophy to which no satisfactory answer has yet been given. But the question of the nature of the gods is the darkest and most difficult of all …. So various and so contradictory are the opinions of the most learned men on this matter as to persuade one of the truth of the saying that philosophy is the child of ignorance.”
One of the first neutral commentators on atheism, specifically atomic atheism, namely differences on free will of Democritus vs Epicurus/Lucretius (describing him as a "brilliant genius", and atheists, e.g. Diagoras; also the person credited with coining the term “moral” and moral science; the originator of the "anti-chance argument" (aka typing monkeys argument); technically: an atheism-curious skeptical agnostic, approximately.
|In his On the Nature of Things, a summary of the main points of the atomic theory of Leucippus, Democritus, Epicurus, in poetic form, on “gods” his aim is the following:|
“My object is to dispel the fear of the gods, which arises simply from the fact that there are so many things which men do not yet understand, and therefore imagine to be effected by divine power.”
On where everything came from, without a "creator", he has the following to say:
“For surely the atoms did not hold council, assigning order to each, flexing their keen minds with questions of place and motion and who goes where. But shuffled and jumbled in many ways, in the course of endless time they are buffeted, driven along, chancing upon all motions, combinations. At last they fall into such an arrangement as would create this universe.”Lucretius' aim, according to American chemist-theologian Edwin Slosson, was to abolish belief in all gods from the mind of mankind.
|55AD||“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”|
— Seneca (c.50AD), attributed; paraphrase of Lucretius; rephrased by Edward Gibbon (Ѻ)
|29.||Pliny the elder |
|77AD|| “The enlightened and benevolent Pliny [in his Natural History] thus publicly professes himself an atheist.”|
— Percy Shelley (1811), The Necessity of Atheism
|c.80AD||A Chinese rational materialist who debunked most aspects of Chinese folk religion and magical thinking, via logic and natural thinking.|
|Supposedly a “secret atheist” like Cicero (Ѻ).|
|31.|| Pliny the Younger|
|A retrospectively categorized Roman atheist, along with Seneca (Cudworth, 1678).|
|In the renaissance, theists used the label "slave of Lucian" or "student of Lucian" as code for atheist.|
|An adherent of stoicism, an oft-classified “anti-theist” (Ѻ) or "philosophical agnostic and practical atheist" (Hecht, 2004); representative quote:|
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
|Surnamed the “atheist” by his trinitarian enemies (Ѻ); listed by Jean Meslier (1729) in his Testament (pg. 343) as a famous atheist; generally cited (Ѻ) atheist.|
|c.400|| “All formal religions are delusive and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.”|
— Hypatia (c.400)
“Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he or she be in after years relieved of them. The reason for this is that a superstition is so intangible a thing that you cannot get at it to refute it.”
— Hypatia (c.400)
She was stripped, stoned, and burned for her anti-Christian, anti-religious, pro-science views.
|36.|| Tribonian |
|Classified by Jean Meslier (1729) in The Testament (pg. 344) as an atheist.|
|37.||Ibn al-Rawandi |
|38.|| Zakariya Razi|
|c.900||Characterized as an "outspoken deist" and a "full-time freethinker" (Ѻ); some of his religion-debunking quotes are very-ripe (see: Middle ages geniuses).|
|c.1030||Ranked (Ѻ), by Luke Meuhlauser (2009), alongside: Epicurus, Jean Meslier, Robert Ingersoll, and Noam Chomsky, as a top classical nonbeliever; categorized (Ѻ) as an Arab atheist.|
|Classified by Jean Meslier (1729) in The Testament (pg. 343) as an atheist.|
|41.|| Omar Khayyam|
|c.1120||[HD:1]; Jabari (Ѻ) 2016 top 20 smartest atheist; described by Christopher Hitchens (2007) as a skeptic, whose poetry was satirizing the claims and practices of religion. |
|1239|| Frederick II not only published some treatise that denied the divinity of Jesus, Moses, and Muhammad, declaring each of them imposters, but conducted experiments to test the truths of various religious models, e.g. that Adam and Eve were the first two humans (language deprivation experiments) and soul detection experiments. |
“Frederick II, this pestilent king, a scorpion spitting out poison from the stinger of his tail, has notably and openly stated that—in his own words—the whole world has been fooled by three impostors, Jesus Christ, Moses, and Muhammad, two of whom died honorably, while Jesus himself died on the cross. Moreover, he has dared to affirm, or rather, he has fraudulently claimed, that all those who believe that a virgin could give birth to the god who created nature, and all the rest, were fools. And Fredrick has aggravated the heresy by this insane assertion, according to which no one can be born without having been conceived by the prior intercourse of a man and woman; he also claims that people ought to believe nothing that cannot be proven by the strength and reason of nature.”
— Pope Gregory IX (1239), address to monarchs
This resulted in the anonymous Treatise on the Three Impostors (aka The Atheist’s Bible), either written by Frederick II or Simon of Tournai (1130-1201) or Bernardino Ochino (1487-1564), which began to circulate (Ѻ) in the centuries to follow; in 1770, the great Enlightenment satirist Voltaire, published a response to the hoax treatise entitled Epistle to the Author of the Book of the Three Impostors (Épître à l'Auteur du Livre des Trois Imposteurs) (Ѻ), which contains one of his best-known quotations, "If god didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent Him."
|Associated with the three impostors theory; categorized as having been charged with atheism and or a “secret atheist”, along with Machiavelli, Bodin, Arentino, Montaingne, Charron, and Gassendi. (Ѻ)|
|44.||Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)|
|4#.||Pope Leo X|
|1514|| Famously gave a Good Friday Vatican toast (1514), wherein he referred to the story of Jesus as a profitable fable:|
“How well we know what a profitable superstition this fable of Christ has been for us and our predecessors.”
Also categorized as having been charged with atheism and or a “secret atheist”, along with Machiavelli, Bodin, Arentino, Pomponazzi, Montaingne, Chrarron, and Gassendi. (Ѻ)
|46.|| Francois Rabelais |
|1532||His The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel tells the story of two giants who make fun of religion.|
In 1535, was rumored to be a “materialist” and to deny the immortality of the soul (Ѻ), and eventually was convicted of the “crime” of atheism, tortured, strangled, and then burned, with his books.
|48.|| Bonaventure des Periers |
|1537||Published, in the protection of Marguerite of Navarre, Cymbalum Mundi, said to be (Ѻ) one of the first humanist-like and or crypto-atheist books on “unbelief”; Lucien Febvre, supposedly, labels him as the first “real atheist” (Hecht, Doubt: a History [pg. 280] 2004); after being “charged with atheism”, supposedly, he committed suicide by running himself though his sword. (Ѻ)|
|49.|| Piero Strozzi|
|1558||On his deathbed, after being wounded in battle, plainly renounced god, denied immortality, and asserted that the scriptures were fiction (Hecht, 2004, pg. 286).|
|1758||His Essay on Mind, which was burned a Paris, espoused atheistic, utilitarian, and egalitarian doctrines; was materialistic in its conception of the universe; and argued that a "nonreligious morality" is what really guided most people's virtues.|
|51.|| Geoffroy Vallee|
|1574||Burned at the stake for heresy and or atheism; he cited the unbelief evident in Ecclesiastes and Psalm 1. He claimed that believers were “like parrots” reciting the irrational views they had memorized before they left the cradle. He asserted that one should only believe that which could be learned by the senses and those ideas for which one could show rational proof.|
|52.||Alvise Capuano (c.1525-1580)||1577|
|53.||Jean Bodin |
|c.1580||A famous "secret atheist"; his Colloquium of the Seven about Secrets of the Sublime (c.1580), supposedly, became and “underground classic” of 17th century atheism.|
|c.1580|| “Man is certainly stark mad: he cannot make a worm, yet ye will make gods by the dozen.”|
— Michel Montaigne (c.1570) (Ѻ)
[HD:2] Many commentators assert that he was an atheist or skeptic who hid is true beliefs for his own protection or for the sake of social stability; evidence for the claim he was an atheists rests on his reply to the second objection against Raymond Sebond’s circa 1425 Natural Theology: the Book of Creatures. (Ѻ)
|1586||During his inquisition trial, in Venice, states that he was an atheist, that he believes there is no god, and that the world was created by chance or “the world is made at random” (“ch'el mondo sia fatto a caso”) (Ѻ) (Hecht, 2003; pg. 292).|
|56.|| Pomponio Rustico |
|1587||Was executed (Ѻ) and or burned in Rome for his “libertine materialistic tendencies” (Ѻ) and for stating thing such as “the stories on the Bible are worthy only of derision”. (Hecht, 2003; pg. 292).|
|1600||A debatably-labeled (Ѻ) (Ѻ) “atheist” and or “courageous thinker who lay under the stigma of atheism” (Ѻ), in opposition to Thomas Aquinas’ causality argument, added Lucretius’ atomic theory together with Copernican heliocentrism to argue for an infinite world’s hypothesis, and for these views, which he would not recant, was burned at the stake. Bruno's burning, in the history of atheism (Ѻ), is said to mark a transition point for the re-emergence of atheism; though, to note, his works remained on the Index of Prohibited Books until 1965, and it was not until 2000 that he received a public apology from the Catholic Church. |
|1601||His Of Wisdom (De la sagesse), a system of moral philosophy that develops ideas of Michel Montaigne, was characterized, for centuries, as a “seminary of atheism” (Hecht, 2004; pg. 307); he was listed in Marin Mersenne’s c.1640 “catalog of atheists”.|
|59.|| Christopher Marlowe|
|[HD:3] England’s most-famous “alleged atheist” of the time; in his The Jew of Malta, the Italian political thinker Niccolo Machiavelli (anglicized to “Machevil”) declares, “I count religion but a childish toy … ”; his Doctor Faustus, Marlowe’s most important play, was even more dangerous: Faustus declares, “I think hell’s a fable”, which some have attributed as his view. (Ѻ)|
|60.||Paolo Sarpi |
|1607||Characterized as the “first philosopher to develop systematic arguments for atheism”. (Ѻ)|
|61.|| William Shakespeare|
|62.||Lucilio Vanini |
|1619||Italian philosopher, physician and free-thinker, who was one of the first significant representatives of intellectual libertinism; among the first modern thinkers who viewed the universe as an entity governed by natural laws (nomological determinism); was the first literate proponent of the thesis that humans evolved from apes; was executed for the "crime of atheism".|
|1651||[HD:5] His Leviathan: or the Matter, Form, and Power, of a Common Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, an attempt to develop a political theory out of the mechanical view, sometimes associated with the term “atheist’s bible” (Ѻ), is described by British atheism historian David Berman, as a “crypto-atheistic work”. |
|64.||Ralph Cudworth |
|1678||His True Intellectual System of the Universe: Wherein All the Reason and Philosophy of Atheism is Confuted, and Its Impossibility Demonstrated, with a Treatise Concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality (1678) attempted to refute the atheism of Pierre Gassendi; his materialistic hylozoism model, however, later brought the charge of “atheism” to his name (Anthony Collins, 1713).|
|1652||The so-called “main conduit for the transmission of Epicurean ideas to England”, and friend of Thomas Hobbes and reader of Pierre Gassendi, published his The Darkness of Atheism Dispelled by the Light of Nature, followed by Physiologia Epicuro-Gassendo-Charletoniana: or a fabrick of science natural, upon the hypothesis of atoms (1654), largely based Gassendi’s Animadversiones (1649), Epicurus's Morals (1656), and Natural History of the Passions (1674).|
|c.1659||French materialistic atheism free thinking author of Theophrastus Redivivus, an aggressive history of atheism and religion disproof, Greek philosophy to present.|
|1656|| [HD:6] Excommunicated from Judaism for asserting that there was no “immortal soul”, among other things such as that the Torah was not the literal world of god, and the Jews were not the chosen people|
Debatably labeled a pantheist, atheist (or secret atheist), or polite pantheist, per his “god OR nature” (nature = god) style of argument; was a springboard for a number of atheists to follow: Goethe, Shelley, Einstein, among others.
|c.1665|| “Although there is no recompense to be looked for, yet truth is truth, and the love of it constrains me to die in its defense.”|
— Mahomet Effendi (c.1665), Turkish atheist (Ѻ)(Ѻ) for his atheism; as reported (Ѻ) by Pierre Bayle and Bernard Mandeville
|[HD:7] Note: possibly not an atheist, but rather an anti-atheist theist (Ѻ).|
|69.|| Kazimierz Lyszczynski |
|1689||Known as the “first Polish atheist” (Ѻ); executed for the crime of atheism.|
|70.||Daniel Scargill |
|71.|| Charles Blount |
|1679||A “practical atheist” (Ѻ) whose Anima Mundi: an Historical Narration of the Opinions of the Ancients Concerning Man’s Soul after this Life according to Unenlightened Nature (1679), aimed at comparing Christianity with paganism, was deemed an “atheistical, heretical pamphlet” (Ѻ)|
|1682||In his Various Thoughts on the Occasion of the Comet, in commentary on the famous comet of 1680, argued that comets were a natural phenomenon, that comets did not presage disaster, and presented the “first-ever all-out defense of the morals of an atheist (see: atheistic morality)”, as Jennifer Hecht (2003) summarizes things.|
|1696||The self-proclaimed atheist and first person called a "free thinker".|
|74.|| Thomas Aikenhead|
|75.||Nicolas Freret |
|7#.|| Jean Meslier |
|→ Extreme atheist
|1729|| “Meslier’s Testament is the most singular phenomenon ever seen among all the meteors fatal to the Christian religion.”|
— Voltaire (1766) 
Oft-said to mark the start of "true atheism"; overtly, a French Catholic priest (abbe) who was discovered, upon his death (dereaction), to have written an atheism advocating essay like book entitled Testament, that denied the existence of the soul, dismissed the notion of free will, denounced all belief in God, and all religion, with a “frenzied anger that makes Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (2006) seem like a work of reasoned scholarship”, as atheism historian Nick Spencer characterizes (Ѻ) him.
|76.|| Anthony Collins|
|77.||Lord Bolingbroke |
|Although not a proclaimed atheist himself, he held certain views of opposition to church and theological teachings; Baron d’Holbach, e.g., quotes (Ѻ) from Bolingbroke’s Good Sense.|
“The church of the country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. For my part, I would say, ‘welcome infidelity!’, ‘Welcome atheists!’, ‘Welcome anything!’, in preference to the gospel, as preached by these divines. They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke (1678-1751) (Ѻ) have together done.”
— Frederick Douglass (1852), cited by Jennifer Hecht (2003) in Doubt: a History (pg. 418)
|79.|| David Hume|
|1740||[HD:10] Described by John Adams [HD:14] as an “atheist, deist, and libertine”; denounced by John Q. Adams as the “atheist Jacobite” (Ѻ); known as the “great infidel”; oft-classified as an agnostic atheist; his first work A Treatise on Human Nature (1740), which includes considerations against an immortal soul, develops a system of morality independent of a deity, attempts to refute occasionalism, and argues against a necessary being, led to the charge of atheism. (Ѻ)|
|80.||Julien la Mettrie|
|1745||Was said to have held, according to Voltaire, as rumored by Maupertuis, to have held the post of the “royal atheist” (or “court atheist”) of Frederick the Great (1712-1786); an “extreme materialist” (Ѻ) philosopher Julien la Mettrie—a translator of Seneca’s essay on happiness—in his The Natural History of the Soul (1745), argued for a mechanist materialistic position, according to which there was no need of the soul to animate matter, that life was a property of matter, not something breathed into; to quote: “What is the soul, but an empty word to which no idea corresponds?” Likewise, his 1747 Man a Machine, dubbed a “materialist manifesto” (Ѻ), rooted in quasi-atheistic principles, caused a scandal because it denied Cartesian dualism, i.e. it denied that there was a distinction between humans, who alone had souls (in the pineal gland), and animals who, like machines, had none. He rejected immortality, arguing that humans, like all other beings in the entire universe, consist of nothing but matter. He attacked the monadism proposed by Gottfried Leibniz and his supporters as “incomprehensible” writing that: “They have spiritualized matter rather than 'materializing' the soul.” He was known throughout Europe as an advocate of godlessness and vice, was eventually condemned, his books were burned, after which he fled to Prussia, where he was granted a safe haven by King Frederick II, where he was asked to be the King’s personal physician. (Ѻ)|
|1745||Is described as “an atheist friend of La Mettrie” (Ѻ); Voltaire, in his article “Atheism”, in his Philosophical Dictionary (1764), makes Maupertuis an interlocutor in his fictional dialogue between god worshippers and modern atheists (Ѻ); in his debate with Denis Diderot (see: Maupertuis-Diderot debate) is described as an “exchange or polemic of two authors trading accusations of atheism”. (Ѻ)|
|82.|| Jean-Francois de la Barre|
|1766||Was tortured, beheaded, and his body burned for alleged vandalism of a crucifix; a case that became celebrated because Voltaire tried unsuccessfully to have the sentence reversed (Ѻ); adjacent (right): is a circa monument to Barre at Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre (1906); adjacent (left): interrogation of the chevalier de La Barre as depicted on the monument to him in Abbeville (1907)|
|1768||[HD:9] Translated (watered down version of): Jean Meslier; known as the most “influential atheist of Europe in his day” (Ѻ); technically: an "atheism-curious agnostic deist" (see: Voltaire on religion); one of the rocks to avoid in the Christian captain anecdote;|
|8#.|| Jacques-Andre Naigeon |
|1769||The so-called “monk of atheism” (Ѻ), a friend of Baron d’Holbach (Ѻ), who in circa 1869 had begun to increasingly politicize d’Holbach and his views; and who assisted d’Holbach in the classic atheist works, such as Jean Meslier.|
|85.|| Benjamin Franklin|
|[HD:13] AskMen.com Top 10 Unknown Atheist (Ѻ) (#10)|
|86.|| Denis Diderot|
|[HD:11] Read: Jean Meslier; sometimes incorrectly labeled as the "first true atheist"; some label him an "explicit atheist" |
|→ Extreme atheist
|1770|| Read: Jean Meslier; explicit atheist; wrote volumes against religion, the most famous being The System of Nature (1770), itself known as the “Atheist’s Bible”; for thirty years (1750-1780), at his second mansion Le Château de Grand-Val, outside of Paris, he ran a bi-weekly intellectual salon, with the entice of excellent food, expensive wine, and a library of over 3000 volumes, he attracted many notable visitors, including: Diderot, Grimm, Condillac, Condorcet, D'Alembert, Marmontel, Turgot, La Condamine, Helvétius, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, David Hume, and Benjamin Franklin.|
“All children are born atheists; they have no idea of god.”— Baron d’Holbach (1772), Freethoughts Opposed to Supernatural Ideas 
He is widely known as the “Newton of the atheists” (Ѻ) even cited so in history of atheism documentaries. (V|1:45); the famous: Hume-Holbach dinner party (1763) has been characterized as "atheist's greatest coming out party" (Hecht, 2003).
|88.|| John Adams |
|89.|| Edward Gibbon|
|1776||[HD:12] Has an enlarged reputation for harboring “irreligion” or atheism (Ѻ); his 1776-1788 six-volume The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, noted for its open criticism of organized religion; quote: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful” (Ѻ); and or a paraphrase of Seneca the Younger. (Ѻ)|
|90.|| Ethan Allen|
|91.|| Matthew Turner|
|1782||The supposed scholar (Ѻ), or possibly two authors combined, of Answer to Dr. Priestley’s Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever (Ѻ), in response to Joseph Priestley’s book against atheism (Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion, 1772), published by an anonymous “Mr. Hammon”, by stating the following, becomes the first overt or avowed atheist in Britain:|
“As to the question whether there is such an existent being as an atheist, to put that out of all manner of doubt, I do declare upon my honor that I am one.”
|92.||Marquis Condorcet (1743-1794)||Charged with atheism.|
|1789||Author of the godless "moral motion" (or moral movement) theory.|
|94.|| William Godwin|
|1792|| “I became in my 36th year an atheist.”|
— William Godwin (c.1810), "Autobiography"; one the best example of an avowed in print Enlightenment atheist 
|95.|| Thomas Paine|
|1794||[HD:15] Known as the “leading atheistic writer in the American colonies” (Ѻ); his The Age of Reason (1794) is the most-widely cited “atheist’s bible”, historically (Ѻ)(Ѻ); one of the rocks to avoid in the Christian captain anecdote;|
|96.||Marquis de Sade|
|1795|| An Epicurean atheist with focus on the aim to define living bodies within a sensuous order of matter ‘naturally’ seeking the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain. (Ѻ) |
“Religion — as noted by Marquis de Sade (1797), Novalis (1798), Marx (1843), and Dirac (1927) — is but an opiate or opium for the mind; and like all drugs, it can be replaced, upgraded, or in some cases treated, with a better or less symptomatic one.”— Libb Thims (2014), personal note, Sep 17
Described as the “most shocking of French atheists”; his The Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795) argued for speculative and also ‘practical’ atheism, supposedly in some type of “immoralism” terms. 
|97.||Joseph Lagrange |
|Quote: “How comes it, then, that Laplace was an atheist? At the Institute neither he nor Monge, nor Berthollet, nor Lagrange believed in God. But they do not like to say so.” (Napoleon to Gaspard Gourgaud, c.1814)|
|98.||Gaspard Monge |
|Quote: “How comes it, then, that Laplace was an atheist? At the Institute neither he nor Monge, nor Berthollet, nor Lagrange believed in God. But they do not like to say so.” (Napoleon to Gaspard Gourgaud, c.1814)|
|Quote: “Bah! Laplace was an atheist, and Berthollet too. At the Institute they all were atheists, and yet Newton and Leibnitz were believers. Atheists compare man to a clock; but the clock-maker is a being of superior intelligence. They grant that creation is the result of matter, as warmth is the effect of fire.” (Napoleon to Gaspard Gourgaud, c.1814)|
|100.||Elihu Palmer |
|10#.||Thomas Jefferson |
|1802||[HD:17] In 1800, during his presidential campaign, he was said to be unfit to hold office because he did not have orthodox religious beliefs and called a “howling atheist”; in 1802, he added the separation of church and state clause to the Constitution; in the years to follow he became reticent, vacillated in belief system labels over time; in private letters, variously refers to himself as "Christian" (1803), "a sect by myself" (1819), an "Epicurean" (1819), a "materialist" (1820), and a "Unitarian by myself" (1825). (Ѻ)|
Next | Previous
● Famous atheists: 101-200 | 1840 to 2009
● Famous atheists: 201-300 | 2010 to present
The following are related quotes:
“In the list given by Drachmann , others designated atheoi in the period up to the 3rd century BC are Diogenes of Apollonia, Hippo of Rhegium, Diagoras of Melos, Prodicus of Keos, the aristocrat Critias of Athens, Theodorus of Cyrene, Bion of Borysthenes, and Euhemerus of Messina.”— Michael Palmer (2013), Atheism for Beginners 
“Michel Foucault, Ludwig Feuerbach, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Santayana, Denis Diderot, John Mill, Richard Dawkins, Noam Chomsky, Bertrand Russell, Bertolt Brecht, Ayn Rand, Democritus, David Hume, Albert Camus, Sigmund Freud.”— Cary Solomon (2014), God’s Not Dead (film); the “what do these individuals have in common?” scene 
● Atheism timeline
● Famous publications
● Famous publications by age
1. (a) God’s Not Dead (film) – Wikipedia.
(b) Broocks, Rice. (2012). God's Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty. Thomas Nelson.
2. Palmer, Michael. (2013). Atheism for Beginners: a Coursebook for Schools and Colleges (Protagoras, pg. 15; Epicurus, pg. 16; Bruno, pg. 22 Bradlaugh, pgs. 202-03). Lutterworth Press.
3. (a) Palmer, Michael. (2013). Atheism for Beginners: a Coursebook for Schools and Colleges (pg. 15). Lutterworth Press.
(b) Drachmann, A.B. (1922). Atheism in Pagan Antiquity (pg. 13). Gyldendal.
4. Berman, David. (2013). A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell (pg. 110). Routledge.
5. Hitchens, Christopher. (2007). The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever (p. 7). Da Capo.
6. List of atheist philosophers – Wikipedia.
7. Schodde, Carla. (2013). “Ancient Atheism” (Ѻ), FoundInAntiquity.com, Jul 10.
8. Anon. (c.1000). “Theodoros”, Suda (Ѻ). Publisher.
9. Laertius, Diogenes. (c.225BC). Life of Aristippus (“known as the atheist”, pgs. 86; On the Gods, pg. 97), in: Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (Ѻ), Book 2 (pg. 97) (translator: Robert Hicks). Publisher, 1925.
10. Spittler, Gird. (2010). “Beginnings of the Anthropology Work”, in: Work in a Modern Society: The German Historical Experience in Comparative Perspective (editor: Jurgen Kocka) (pg. 45) (Ѻ). Berghahn Books.
11. (a) Onfray, Michael. (2005). Atheist Manifesto: the Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (Traite d’Atheologie) (translator: Jeremy Leggatt) (pg. 34). Arcade Publishing, 2007.
(b) Atheist Manifesto – Wikipedia.
12. Berman, David. (2007). “Unbelief during the Enlightenment”, in: The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (editor: Tom Flynn; foreword: Richard Dawkins) (§:276-80, esp. pg. 277). Prometheus Books.
14. (a) Burkert, Walter. (1985). Greek Religion (pg. 314). Harvard University Press.
(b) Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (pg. 8). HarperOne.
● The 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time – Brainz.org.
● Category:Atheists (127+) – RationalWiki.org.
● List of atheist authors – Wikipedia.
● A to Z of Famous Atheists – MachinesLikeUs.com.