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8 Atheist and Agnostic Scientists Who Changed the World

Non-believers are among our most respected and beloved heroes.

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7) Andrei Sakharov. Sakharov was a Soviet nuclear physicist, and was one of the developers of the Soviet atomic bomb. I know. Less than inspiring. But he is far better known as a Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights activist, free speech advocate, courageous dissident against Soviet repression, and tireless opponent of human rights violations everywhere. As a result of his writing and activism, he was stripped of his job, publicly denounced by the government, robbed of manuscripts by the KGB, arrested, internally exiled to Gorky, and force-fed during a hunger strike. He continued with his activism nonetheless... literally until the day he died. And... oh, yeah. Atheist The child of a pious mother and a passionately atheist father, Sakharov became an atheist at age 14, and remained one for the rest of his life. In 1988 he was given the International Humanist Award by the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

8) Thomas Edison. Betcha didn't know this one was an non-believer! Well, he was. Quote: "I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God." Quote: "So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake... Religion is all bunk." Quote: "I cannot believe in the immortality of the soul....I am an aggregate of cells, as, for instance, New York City is an aggregate of individuals. Will New York City go to heaven?....No; nature made us -- nature did it all -- not the gods of the religions." I assume I don't have to explain why Thomas Edison is inspiring. So the next time someone tells you atheists have no morality... tell them about Andrei Sakharov. The next time someone tells you atheists have no meaning in their lives... tell them about Stephen Hawking. The next time someone tells you atheists don't care about anyone but themselves... tell them about Eugenie Scott. and Alfred Kinsey. The next time someone tells you atheists have no reason to work for the greater good... tell them about Alan Turing and Neil deGrasse Tyson. The next time someone tells you atheists can't change the world for the better... tell them about Rosalind Franklin and Thomas Edison. Atheists aren't just your neighbors and colleagues. We're not just your friends and family. Atheists are your heroes. And whether you're religious or not, atheists can inspire anyone.