Greatest atheist ever

Famous atheists (evolution diagram)
An annotated cover section of Nick Spencer's Atheists: the Origin of Species (2014), artwork by Phill Hatton, showing famous atheists: Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Karl Marx, Bertrand Russell, and Richard Dawkins; numbers shown being top 100 ranking position; each brand of atheism conceptualized as a different type of species. [3]
In genius rankings, greatest atheist ever refers to the greatest, biggest, and most-powerful atheists of all time ranked by density of ideas, work, impact, influence, and god-overthrowing revolution factor—the millennial-old “theory of god” (see also: god theory) being the most deeply ingrained, established, entrenched and believed, the world over, proto-scientific theory ever; below is a work-in-progress meta-analysis ranking of the top one-hundred greatest atheists; below is a ranked listing of the top 35+ greatest atheists.

Overview
In the 16th century, Epicurus (341-270 BC) held the general "chief atheist" as he was head of the "school most accused of atheism" (Bacon, 1597). In the 17th century, Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677) held the standing rank of the "greatest atheist ever" (Bayle, 1682), above that of Epicurus.

Then came Jean Meslier (1664-1729) whose Testament jaw-dropped most atheists for the next century; the fruition of which giving rise to singular phenomena of Baron d’Holbach (1723-1789), his famous intellectual atheism salons, the Hume-Holbach dinner party (1763) anecdote, his finished product atheism manual The System of Nature (1770), who thereafter was ranked as the "Newton of the atheists".

Then came Thomas Paine (1737-1809) who, with his appealing-to-the-masses easy-to-read book Age of Reason (1794), one of the most oft-cited atheist's bibles, held reign on the title, in a colloquial sense, of "greatest atheist", for about a century.

Then came Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), the most-powerful brand of atheism seen to date, whose finished products far-surpassed all previous atheists to date. After Nietzsche, atheists could only be ranked as greatest "per century" (e.g. Bertrand Russell, 20th century) or per country (e.g. Percy Shelley, most famous of all British atheist).

The history of ranking atheists by “greatness” is a relatively new subject; Monydit Malieth (2013) is a rare example of being able to give cogent loose top atheist ranking. Moreover, to confuse matters, the recently seen "new atheism", being but a weaker and atrophied variety of a number of classical hardened atheisms, have much pop-appeal and fan-fare to it, therein clogged with over-zealousness; one example being the Sep 2015 forum post (Ѻ): “Richard Dawkins [#27] > Neil Tyson”, with 25+ likes and 26+ replies (Tyson admits that he is an agnostic and not even an atheist; Dawkins admits that he is not 100% in his disbelief in god).

List
The following 35+ individuals, a power ranking the 250+ chronologically-listed famous atheists, is the work-in-progress ranking of the aiming-to-be top 100 greatest atheists ever; the rare breed of powerful female atheists, of note, are highlighted in pink:

100 Greatest Atheists
#
Person
Date
Significance

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.Paul d’Holbach 75Baron d’Holbach
(1723-1789)

| Extreme atheist
1770Baron d'Holbach (reason quote)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. He is widely known as the “Newton of the atheists” (Ѻ) even cited so in history of atheism documentaries. (V|1:45)
2.Friedrich Nietzsche 100Friedrich Nietzsche
(1844-1900)
1882 God is [Dead] billboard (2010)[HD:40] Quote: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

Left: the 23 Dec 2010 pro-Christian “God is” billboard (Ѻ), on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel , which replaced the American Atheists 26 Nov 2010 “Christmas is a myth” billboard (Ѻ) , graffiti bombed with the word “Dead” (Ѻ), in reference to Nietzsche’s famous proclamation.
3.Epicurus 75Epicurus
(341-270 BC)
310BCThe Swerve (2011)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.
4.Jean Meslier 75 nJean Meslier
(1664-1729)

|
Extreme atheist
1729Meslier meteor“Meslier’s Testament is the most singular phenomenon ever seen among all the meteors fatal to the Christian religion.”
Voltaire (1766) [2]

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 DawkinsThe God Delusion (2006) seem like a work of reasoned scholarship”, as atheism historian Nick Spencer characterizes (Ѻ) him.
5.Goethe (1809) 75Johann Goethe
(1749-1832)
1809God Assassin (labeled) 3 Grand Poobah (Ѻ) of modern chemical atheism; described by Albert Camus (1942) as the trainer of the "greatest assassins of god", namely: Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Freud, in respective order.

“The moral symbols of nature are the elective affinities discovered and employed by the great Bergman.”
— Johann Goethe (1809), comment to Friedrich Riemer, Jul 24

[HD:19] His Elective Affinities, which "overturns everything holy" according to Heinrich Heine (1810), showed how physical chemistry invalidates the logic of the Ten Commandments, the sixth commandment in particular.
6.Ludwig Buchner 75Ludwig Buchner
(1824-1899)

| Extreme atheist
1855Buchner man reacts with woman quote (c.1855)Modern Christian apologists consider Büchner the father of atheistic evangelism (Ѻ), or antitheism, in Germany, a counterpart to Thomas Huxley, who some consider to be the first atheistic evangelist—though Huxley himself denied, supposedly, that he was an atheist, preferring the term agnostic, which he coined in 1868—the ‘atheistic evangelism’ standard, as some have categorized, since then has been carried by Bertrand Russell, Henry Mencken, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris.
7.John Stewart 75John Stewart
(1749-1822) ↑↓

Traveled “by foot” around the entire world to study “morality” systems; the result of which being the following very-peculiarly entitled godless treatise on Newtonian-based moral motion (frontispiece shown adjacent):

The Moral State of Nations: Travels Over the Most Interesting Parts of the Globe, to Discover the Source of Moral Motion; Communicated to Lead Mankind Through the Conviction of the Senses to Intellectual Existence, and an Enlightened State of Nature. In the Year of Man's Retrospective Knowledge, by Astronomical Calculation 5000

He employs not only a godless (astronomically-calculated) dating system, similar to Thimsian atheism (see: Goethean calendar); but also promulgates a "moral motion" (or moral movement) theory (akin to Goethe's moral symbols logic).

Note: currently number #2 ranked atheist by denial/belief combination rankings (see: Atheism types by denial).

Note: the “Advertisement” (Ѻ), to his Moral State of Nations, which he indirectly refers to as the “Bible of Nature”, states that he presents a scheme of “pantheism”, a golden mean between “deluded superstition, dogmatic deism, and chaotic atheism”.
8.Ludwig Feuerbach 75Ludwig Feuerbach
(1804-1872)

| Extreme atheist
1841Morality squared 2Known for this Essence of Christianity; known as a "legendary atheist" (Ѻ) (Ѻ), whose “extreme atheism” (Ѻ) was sometimes tempered with “divine humanism”.

“Someday the scientific revolution, chemistry in particular, will dissolve Christianity in vat of nitric acid.”
Ludwig Feuerbach (1850), The Natural Sciences and the Revolution

“Whenever morality is based on theology, whenever the right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established. Morality is then surrendered to the groundless arbitrariness of religion.”
— Ludwig Feuerbach (c.1860) (Ѻ)

In atheism genealogy, is characterized as the “grandfather of Marxian atheism and Freudian atheism” (Hans Kung, 1990).
9.Wilhelm Ostwald 100Wilhelm Ostwald
(1853-1932)
1901 Ostwald Sunday Sermon (labeled)Described by American chemical engineer Stephen Contakes (2012), one of his sides shown adjacent, as “physical chemistry’s original new atheist”, prior to all the Sam Harris initiated post 9/11 huff-and-puff without substance new atheists. [1]

“Everything we sensually experience can be reduced to energy relationships between our sense organs and the world around us.”
— Wilhelm Ostwald (1809), autobiographical reflection of his spring “pentecostal inspiration”; as recounted in his Lifelines: an Autobiography, 1926

“Research workers were, at one time, obliged to endeavor to ensure that their theories did not contradict those of the church; nowadays, in contrast the church is at pains to prove that its teachings are compatible with those of science. In other words, the church acknowledges science as the higher authority.”
— Wilhelm Ostwald (1909). “On Catalysis”, Nobel Lecture

“I am made from the C-H-N-O-S-P combination from which a Bunsen, Helmholtz, Kirchhoff came.”
— Wilhelm Ostwald (1926), Lifelines: an Autobiography

“Ostwald, who was the most ‘radical atheist’ among these scholars [Marx, Buchner, Fourier, Weber, Riehl], used the instrument of the ‘Monistic Sunday Sermons’ to spread his ideas on rationality.”
— Gird Spittler (2010), “Beginnings of Anthropology” [10]

In 1901, gave a seven part lecture series on "natural philosophy", wherein he sought to upgrade, in his own words, the classical atheistic “matter-and-motion theory (or scientific materialism)” with the new replacement theory named of energetics; in 1905, he was relieved of his lecture duties owing to “religious questions” issues, as biographer Eduard Farber puts it, at the time of the official obsequies for freethinker Johannes Wislicenus (1935-1902); after retiring in 1906, with Ernst Haeckel, he founded the “Monisten Bund” or German Monist League (Ѻ), in Jena, a free-thinking organization; in 1910, Haeckel elected Ostwald as the president of the Monist League, after which he began giving his famous “Monistic Sunday Sermons”, at the center of which was his energy or energetics based universal belief, which usurped god and religion; in 1912, his The Energetic Imperative, outlined a thermodynamic imperative to Kant’s “categorical imperative”.
10.Arthur Schopenhauer 75 (1855)Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)1814Schopenhauer bust (Nietzsche quote)Trained by Goethe, at age 18, in the art of chemical atheism, he become the first "god assassin", whose work intellectually mentored Friedrich Nietzsche in the art of god assassination.

“Schopenhauer was the first admitted and inexorable atheist among us Germans.”
Friedrich Nietzsche (1882), The Gay Science (Ѻ)

“Schopenhauer prided himself on being the first true atheist in German philosophy, and scorned his contemporaries’ attempts to substitute a world spirit for a bankrupt deity. Yet he never abandoned a notion of cosmic justice.”
— Susan Neiman (2004), Evil in Modern Thought: an Alternative History of Philosophy (Ѻ)

He called all of his dogs “Atma”, the Hindu name for the supreme and universal soul, from which all individual souls arise, owing to his theory of individuality, which maintained that in lower animals there was little individuality (Ѻ); the logic of which, in modern terms, being the great chain of being reductionism ideology that humans derive from hydrogen atoms [below that fermions and bosons] which have identical individuality.
11.Julien la Mettrie 75Julien la Mettrie
(1709-1751)
1745An “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?”

“Humanity will not be happy until it is atheistic.”
— Julien la Mettrie (c.1748) (Ѻ)

“They have spiritualized matter rather than 'materializing' the soul.”
— Julien la Mettrie (c.1748), the “incomprehensible” monadism of Leibniz and his supporters

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 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)
12.Voltaire 75Voltaire
(1694-1778)
1864 Voltaire (Christian captain parable)[HD:9] [L50:6] (Ѻ) Read and translated: Jean Meslier; published on The Three Imposters; his Philosophical Dictionary (1764), is credited as being first atheism/agnostic like encyclopedia (Bill Cooke, 2006); known, in his day, as the most “influential atheist of Europe” (Ѻ); technically, although: an "atheism-curious agnostic deist" (see: Voltaire on religion); one of the books to avoid in the Christian captain parable (along with Thomas Paine [#26] and Robert Ingersoll [#27]).
13.Freud 75Sigmund Freud
(1856-1939)
1895[HD:51] [L50:15] (Ѻ) In his “A Project for Scientific Psychology”, he sought to base all of mental phenomena on the logic of free energy (Gibbs energy) and bound energy (entropy), an atheism-implicit (implicit atheism) program; eponym of Freudian atheism, a synthesis of Feuerbach, Epicurean atheism (Epicureanism), and German atheism; noted Moses religio-mythology debunker (Moses and Monotheism, 1939).
14.Johannes Wislicenus 75Johannes Wislicenus
(1935-1902)
1885 Wislicenus-Kolbe anecdote“That must disappear!”
Johannes Wislicenus (1885), order to his guide, during his orientation tour of the University of Leipzig, as the new chemistry professor successor to Hermann Kolbe, in reference to Kolbe’s Biblical quotation "God has arranged all things by measure and number and weight" (Wisdom of Solomon 11:20) in large letters, such as depicted adjacent, above the periodic table chart of the chemical elements at the front of his lecture theater (Ѻ)
15.Percy Shelley 75nPercy Shelley
(1792-1822)
1811 Husband of Mary Shelley [L50:26] (Ѻ), whose Frankenstein: the Modern Prometheus (1814), delved into the electrochemical seeming reanimate nature of life and death; adjacent is a 1935 Scientific American article “Can Science Raise the Dead? (Ѻ) (Ѻ), a modern heart-resuscitation spinoff of the earlier dead frog leg twitching electrochemical arc experiments of Luigi Galvani (1791). (see: laboratory produced life).

“If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature is made for their destruction.”
— Percy Shelley (1811), The Necessity of Atheism (inspired by Spinoza)

“Every time we say that god is the author of some phenomenon, that signifies that we are ignorant of how such a phenomenon was able to operate by the aid of forces or causes that we know in nature.”
— Percy Shelley (1811), The Necessity of Atheism (inspired by Spinoza)

Described as the “most famous of all British atheists”; his: The Necessity of Atheism, got him expelled from Oxford.
16.Sam Harris 75Sam Harris
(1967-)
2004New Atheism (Harris)Launching the "new atheism" movement, something he began to initiate the day after 9/11, as he described in his 2004 The End of Faith:

“I began writing this book on September 12, 2001. Many friends read and commented on a long essay that I produced in those first weeks of collective grief and stupefaction, and that text became the basis for this book.”

which would go on to sell over 250,000 copies within three years alone. (Ѻ)
17.Pierre Laplace 100Pierre Laplace
(1749-1827)
1802I had no need of that hypothesis“I had no need of that [god] hypothesis.”
— Pierre Laplace (1802), response to Napoleon why the divine was not found in his new celestial mechanics book (see: Napoleon Laplace anecdote)
18.icon 75 (test)Critias
(c.460-403BC)

“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)

● Sutton, Dana. (1981). “Critias and Atheism” (Ѻ), The Classical Quarterly, 31(1):33-38.
19.Benedict Spinoza 75Benedict Spinoza
(1632-1677)

[HD:6] Debatably labeled a pantheist or atheist, per his “god OR nature” style of argument; was a springboard for a number of atheists to follow: Goethe, Shelley, Einstein, among others.
20.Giordano Bruno 75Giordano Bruno
(1548-1600)
1600Giordan Bruno (burned alive)A debatably-labeled (Ѻ) (Ѻ) “atheist” and or “courageous thinker who lay under the stigma of atheism” (Ѻ), in opposition to Thomas Aquinascausality argument, added Lucretiusatomic 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. [2]
21.Bertrand Russell 75Bertrand Russell
(1872-1970)
1927 [HD:51] [L50:8] (Ѻ) Oft-ranked as the greatest atheist of the 20th century, for his Why I Am Not a Christian (1927)—itself sometimes referred to as an “atheist’s bible”—among later television appearances; quote: “I see no reason, [owing to the universal nature of] the second law of thermodynamics, to believe in any sort of god, however vague and however attenuated.”
22.Lucilio Vanini 75nLucilio Vanini
(1585-1619)
1619Italian 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".
23.Jefferson 75Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826)

Separation of Church and State (Jefferson) f[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)
24.Ayn Rand 75Ayn Rand
(1905-1982)

| Extreme atheist
1957The first women to publicly state on television that she does not believe in god; her "objectivism" is atheism-based philosophy, with a number of followers.
25.icon 75 (test)Theodorus of Cyrene
(c.340-250BC)

“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 [9]

Classified, along with Diagoras of Melos, as one of the first two “outright atheists”. [7] Studied the lectures of determinism philosopher Zeno of Citium. [8]
26.Karl Marx 75Karl Marx
(1818-1883)

The eponym of “Marxian atheism”, a derivative of Epicurean atheism, Ludwig Feuerbach, and new scientific ideas, the result of which was dialectical materialism.
27.Richard Dawkins 75Richard Dawkins
(1941-)
DN=6.5/6.9

Dawkins atheismIn 1986, in his The Blind Watchmaker, he argued for the view that humans were not created by God, but by blind random purposeless chance; his 2006 The God Delusion, takes aim at the theory of god, arguing that god does not exist, that religion is a delusion, and in which he introduced the 1-7 Dawkins scale of belief in the existence of God, on which he says he is about a 6.5 or "6 leaning towards 7" whatever that means.
28.Thomas Paine 75Thomas Paine
(1737-1809)
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;
29.Robert Ingersoll 75Robert Ingersoll
(1833-1899)
1879Ingersoll diagram (1879)[HD:34] Nicknamed the “great agnostic”; image shown is the frontispiece from his 1879 The Gods and Other Lectures (Ѻ); by 1888, two response books were published subtitled the “great American atheist” (Ѻ); his Some Mistakes of Moses (1880), is one of the books cited in the Redford deconversion model; is one of the most-prolific atheism quotesmiths; one of the rocks to avoid in the Christian captain anecdote.
30.Thomas Hobbes 75Thomas Hobbes
(1588-1679)
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”. [4]
31.John Tyndall 75John Tyndall
(1820-1893)
1874
Tyndall-Stewart-Tait debate
Tyndall employed the absurdity of the all terrestrial things or living agents (Joseph Butler, 1736) arising from "dead atoms" argument, so conclude that religion needs to step aside; his unbendable opinion being the following:

“All religious theories, schemes and systems, which embrace notions of cosmogony, or which otherwise reach into the domain of science, must, in so far as they do this, submit to the control of science, and relinquish all thought of controlling it.”

The Tyndall-Stewart-Tait debate continued until 1878, culminating in James Maxwell’s last and final poem “A Paradoxical Ode” (1878).
32.Paul Dirac 100Paul Dirac
(1902-1984)
1927God playing dice (John C. Holden)“Any further assumption implied by belief in a god which one may have in one’s faith is inadmissible from the point of view of modern science, and should not be needed in a well-organized society.”
— Paul Dirac (1933), hand-written note to self

In 1927, during the fifth Solvay Conference, famously, during smoky hotel lounge conversation, began to rip on Einstein, and his “god talk”, e.g. his "god does not play dice" statement, depicted adjacent, to Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli.
33.Diagoras 75Diagoras of Melos
(c.448-388BC)

“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.
34.Thomas Edison 75Thomas Edison
(1847-1931)
1910[HD:41] His 1910 New York Times interview (see: the Edison on the soul) on whereabouts of William James [HD:38], following is passing, is a fairly cogent and frank religion-ripping piece of work.
35.Hippocrates 75Hippocrates
(c.460-370BC)

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.





Quotes
The following are related ranking quotes:

“Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus and Democritus and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no god, than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty, without a divine marshal.”
Francis Bacon (1597), “Of Atheism”

Spinoza [#19] was the greatest atheist there ever was and who was so infatuated with certain principles of philosophy that, to meditate on them better he went into retirement, renouncing all that may be called the pleasures and vanities of the world and concerning himself only with abstruse meditations.”
Pierre Bayle (1682), Various Thoughts on the Occasion of the Comet

Thomas Paine [#28], deeply shocked at the rising atheism in France, wrote his Age of Reason in which he urged the belief in a supreme being but attacked the established religions so fiercely that he was execrated in England and America as the world’s greatest atheist.”
— Author (1943), “Article” (Ѻ), New York History

“Now that fact had the guts to go to bat for Madalyn Murray, our leading living atheist, how about doing something on Thomas Paine, America’s greatest atheist ever? When are we going to publicly acknowledge the role Paine played in creating our democracy?”
— Author (1964), “Article” (Ѻ), Fact Magazine

“Even Nietzsche, the world’s greatest atheist, was well aware of this basic dishonesty; he wrote ‘we godless anti-metaphysicians still take our fire, too, from the flame lit by a faith that is thousands of years old, that Christian faith, which was also the faith of Plato, that god is truth, that truth is divine’.”
— David Seel (2000), Parenting Without Perfection (pg. 159)

“In addition to being an effort and a plea to advance atheism, this book is also a tribute to the greatest atheist of the modern era and arguably the greatest atheist of all time, Friedrich Nietzsche.”
— David Eller (2007), Atheism Advanced: Further Thoughts of a Free Thinker (pg. xiv)

“When we think of the giants of atheism, Nietzsche is traditionally seen as standing at the very very top. Why is this? For two reasons. One, Nietzsche is perhaps the most coherent articulator of classical atheism. Two, Nietzsche takes this classical atheism to a novel extreme, an extreme length, which few people rarely go to.”
— David Deane (2012), “Nietzsche’s Atheism” (Ѻ), Apr 20

Nietzsche [#1] is the supreme philosopher when it comes to the topic of morality. His critique of religion is easily the most comprehensive attack on religiosity of all time; therefore making him the greatest atheist that has ever lived. Epicurus [#4] is the first great atheist in history; Schopenhauer [#10] is the first modern atheist; and Nietzsche is the greatest atheist of all time. Albert Camus [FA:100] called Nietzsche the ‘most famous of god’s assassins’.”
Monydit Malieth (2013), The Future Affects the Past [4]

“One of my favorite woodshed sorties involves the [splitting] of the friendship between Ludwig Wittgenstein, a great Christian thinker of the twentieth century, and Bertrand Russell [#21], one of the greatest atheist philosophers of the twentieth century.”
— Leonard Sweet (2012), What Matters Most (pg. 106)

Ostwald was certainly an atheist in the strong sense. The 1969 biography by Rodnyj and Solowjew contains a section on Ostwald entitled ‘A Pugnacious Atheist’ [‘als streitbarer Atheist’] and an entire German language book on this subject was published in 1960: Science versus Faith in God: From the Atheist writings of the Great Chemist Wilhelm Ostwald (Friedrich Herneck).”
William Jensen (2015) [2]

References
1. (a) Contakes, Stephen. (2013). “Exploring the New Atheist Movement with Wilhelm Ostwald” (Ѻ), Yumpu.com.
(b) Stephen Contakes (faculty) – Westmont College.
2. (a) Jensen, William. (2015). “Email to Libb Thims”, Jul 5.
(b) Herneck, Friedrich. (1960). Science versus faith in God: From the atheist writings of the great chemist Wilhelm Ostwald (Wissenschaft contra Gottesglauben: Aus den atheistischen Schriften des grossen Chemikers Wilhelm Ostwald). Jena.
(c) Rodnyj, N.I. and Solowjew, J.U. (1969). Wilhelm Ostwald (in Russian; translation to German). Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1977.
3. Spencer, Nick. (2014). Atheists: the Origin of Species. Bloomsbury Publishing.
4. Malieth, Monydit (aka Tonnerre). (2013). The Future Affects the Past: What Destination is Time Rushing To? (greatest atheist, pg. 57). Red Lead Books.

External links
50 Greatest Atheists (2013) – VikasLather.WordPress.com.
Top Ten Atheists (Thims vote-probing quickly-made draft) (2015) – TheTopTens.com.
50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time (2000) – Brainz.org.

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