Are 500 million atheists right or wrong?

Ted Williams: A great baseball hitter and a proud atheist.

Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams, considered by many as the greatest pure baseball hitter of all time, lived as a proud atheist.

Sports writers generally ignored Williams lack of religious belief. Yet, he never hid it.

When asked about the time he spent with kids at cancer centers, always without reporters or photographers present, Williams would say he was there because “there is no god to help them.  If we had one, these kids would not be dying like this.  People like me need to try and help them because there is no god to do it.”

“Ted wanted to be cremated,” former teammate Johnny Pesky noted in Sports Illustrated. “He was an atheist. He didn’t believe in religion.”

Daughter Claudia Williams, writing in her book: Ted Williams, My Father, said she and her brother paid $100,000 to store Williams head and body cryogenically in suspended animation because they did not have religion:

No one would spend over $100,000 and subject themselves to public outrage and ridicule for someone they don’t dearly love. There was no ill intent or devious plan. … It (cryonics) was like a religion, something we could have faith in.

It is no different from holding the belief that you might be reunited with your loved ones in heaven.

Williams is not the only prominent world citizen who lives or lived their lives without allegiance to any deity or god.

Actress Jodie Foster says she does not believe in God but says it is her children’s beliefs are their own, not hers.

“I’m an atheist. But I absolutely love religions and the rituals, even though I don’t believe in God,” Foster told Entertainment Weekly. “We celebrate pretty much every religion in our family with the kids.”

Mark Twain expressed a lot of skepticism about God and religion but added; “The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.”

“I’ve always said I don’t believe in God,” says Spanish actor Javier Bardem.  “I believe in Al Pacino.”

“I am an atheist,” said legendary CBS new correspondent Andy Rooney.  “I don’t understand religion at all. I’m sure I will offend a lot of people for saying this, but I think it’s all nonsense.”

Physical theorist Stephen Hawking said there was no God to create the universe.  “Spontaneous creation is why there is something rather than nothing, why we exist, why the universe exists,” he wrote. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue torch paper and set the universe going.”

Harvest University “Humanist chaplain” Greg Epstein says the myth of God came from those who needed an excuse for things they could not explain.  “To suggest that one cannot be good without belief in God is not just an opinion, mere curious musing — it is prejudice.”

Noted author Isaac Asimov:

If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.

Other well-known atheists:  Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook; Actress Katherine Hepburn; singer-songwriter Billy Joel; British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Albert Einstein and many others.

States the organization, American Atheists:

Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Writes Phil Zuckerman in Psychology Today:

According to the latest international survey data, as reported by Ariela Keysar and Juhem Navarro-Rivera in the recently published Oxford Handbook of Atheism, there are approximately 450-500 million non-believers in God worldwide, which amounts to about 7% of the global adult population. And according to the Pew Research Center, if we broaden the category to include all non-religious people in general — those unaffiliated adults who do not identify with any religion — we’re talking 1.1 billion people, which equals about 16.5% of the global adult population. As such, “non-religious” is actually the third largest “religion” in the world, coming only behind Christianity (in first place) and Islam (in second). Thus, there are more secular men and women on planet earth — many of whom are atheists and agnostics — than there are Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, Sikhs, Jains, or Jews.

Those same surveys say 18.6 million Americans identify themselves as Atheists — about 8 percent of this country’s population.  The United Kingdom has 30 percent (14.6 million).  As Zuckerman notes:  Some 500 million worldwide may shun belief in any god or religion.

Some non-believers prefer to call themselves “agnostics.”  “I’ve sworn off agnosticism, which I now call cowardly atheism,” says director James Cameron, who now calls himself a “converted agnostic.”

In the interest of full disclosure, most of my work each week comes at a contract reporter and photojournalist for BH Media Newspapers, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett, who calls himself a “pragmatic agnostic.”

Reported The New York Times on May 9th, 1997:

“Mr. Buffett’s parents were observant Presbyterians and he, too, sang in the choir. Early on, though, he became an agnostic. He avoids houses of worship. His concerns are entirely secular. ‘The nice thing about an agnostic is you don’t think anybody is wrong,’ Mr. Buffett said.”

Actress Julilanne Moore, a publicly declared atheist, was once asked what she would like God to say to her when she appears “before the pearly gates.”

“I suppose he would say ‘You were wrong.  I do exist,’ ” she answered with a laugh.

Or maybe she will not find any pearly gates or anyone waiting for her when she dies.  Like all of us, she will die to know if her beliefs or lack of beliefs were right or wrong.

© 2004-2021 Blue Ridge Muse

2 thoughts on “Are 500 million atheists right or wrong?”

  1. “Like all of us, she will die to know if her beliefs or lack of beliefs were right or wrong.”

    We know nothing happens after you die. So no one is ever going to find anything out after death. Consciousness just ends.

  2. 500 million athiests are both right and wrong. They’re right to think that theism, in all its different manifestations, mono or otherwise, have nothing to do with the potential for a reality they pretend to understand. But atheists are wrong to draw conclusions from the absence of any direct proof there for G-d. Our species simply remains in a profound ignorance on the question. Any other position is intellectually, if fashionably dishonest. Like religion itself, no more than prejudice and bias. Will there ever be an proof that meets the highest understanding of truth and reality such as science itself strives for? HIstory has yet to judge.

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