Famous Atheists: Science and Technology

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Famous Atheists: Science and Technology


Peter Atkins (1940–): English chemist, Professor of chemistry at Lincoln College, Oxford in England.

Julius Axelrod (1912–2004): American Nobel Prize winning biochemist, noted for his work on the release and reuptake of catecholamine neurotransmitters and major contributions to the understanding of the pineal gland and how it is regulated during the sleep-wake cycle.

Sir Edward Battersby Bailey FRS (1881–1965): British geologist, director of the British Geological Survey.

Sir Patrick Bateson FRS (1938–): English biologist and science writer, Emeritus Professor of ethology at Cambridge University and president of the Zoological Society of London.

William Bateson (1861–1926): British geneticist, a Fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he eventually became Master. He was the first person to use the term genetics to describe the study of heredity and biological inheritance, and the chief populariser of the ideas of Gregor Mendel following their rediscovery.

Patrick Blackett OM, CH, FRS (1897–1974): Nobel Prize winning English experimental physicist known for his work on cloud chambers, cosmic rays, and paleomagnetism.

Susan Blackmore (1951–): English psychologist and memeticist, best known for her book The Meme Machine.

Sir Hermann Bondi KCB, FRS (1919–2005): Anglo-Austrian mathematician and cosmologist, best known for co-developing the steady-state theory of the universe and important contributions to the theory of general relativity.

Paul D. Boyer (1918–): American biochemist and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1997.

Calvin Bridges (1889–1938): American geneticist, known especially for his work on fruit fly genetics.

Sheldon Brown (1944–2008): Bicycle mechanic and technical authority on almost every aspect of bicycles.

Ruth Mack Brunswick (1897–1946): American psychologist, a close confidant of and collaborator with Sigmund Freud.

Sean M. Carroll (1966–): American cosmologist specializing in dark energy and general relativity.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910–1995): Indian American astrophysicist known for his theoretical work on the structure and evolution of stars. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983.

William Kingdon Clifford FRS (1845–1879): English mathematician and philosopher, co-introducer of geometric algebra, the first to suggest that gravitation might be a manifestation of an underlying geometry, and coiner of the expression “mind-stuff”.

Frank Close OBE (1945–): British particle physicist, Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, known for his lectures and writings making science intelligible to a wider audience, for which he was awarded the Institute of Physics’s Kelvin Medal and Prize.

Brian Cox OBE (1968–): English particle physicist, Royal Society University Research Fellow, Professor at the University of Manchester. Best known as a presenter of a number of science programmes for the BBC. He also had some fame in the 1990s as the keyboard player for the pop band D:Ream.

Jerry Coyne (1949–): American professor of biology, known for his books on evolution and commentary on the intelligent design debate.

Francis Crick (1916–2004): English molecular biologist, physicist, and neuroscientist; noted for being one of the co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

Sir Howard Dalton FRS (1944–2008): British microbiologist, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from March 2002 to September 2007.

Richard Dawkins (1941–): British zoologist, biologist, creator of the concepts of the selfish gene and the meme; outspoken atheist and popularizer of science, author of The God Delusion and founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science


Arnaud Denjoy (1884–1974): French mathematician, noted for his contributions to harmonic analysis and differential equations.

Paul Dirac (1902–1984): British theoretical physicist, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, predicted the existence of antimatter, and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933.

Thomas Edison: American inventor, one of the best inventors of all time. During his career Edison patented more than 1,000 inventions, including the electric light, the phonograph, and the motion-picture camera.

Albert Ellis (1913–2007): American psychologist who in 1955 developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.

Sandra Faber (1944–): American University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, also working at the Lick Observatory, who headed the team that discovered ‘The Great Attractor.

Leon Festinger (1919–1989): American social psychologist famous for his Theory of Cognitive Dissonance.

Richard Feynman (1918–1988): American theoretical physicist, best known for his work in renormalizing Quantum electrodynamics (QED) and his path integral formulation of quantum mechanics . He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.

Sigmund Freud (1856–1939): Father of psychoanalysis.

Erich Fromm (1900–1980): renowned Jewish-German-American social psychologist, psychoanalyst, and humanistic philosopher, associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory.

Christer Fuglesang (1957–): Swedish astronaut and physicist.

Vitaly Ginzburg (1916–2009): Russian theoretical physicist and astrophysicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2003. He was also awarded the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1994/95.

Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002): American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science, one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation.

Susan Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield, CBE (1950–): British scientist, writer and broadcaster, specialising in the physiology of the brain, who has worked to research and bring attention to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Jonathan Haidt (c.1964–): Associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, focusing on the psychological bases of morality across different cultures, and author of The Happiness Hypothesis.

E. T. ‘Teddy’ Hall (1924–2001): English archaeological scientist, famous for exposing the Piltdown Man fraud and dating the Turin Shroud as a medieval fake.

Sir James Hall (1761–1832): Scottish geologist and chemist, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and leading figure in the Scottish Enlightenment.

Beverly Halstead (1933–1991): British paleontologist and populariser of science.

W. D. Hamilton (1936–2000): British evolutionary biologist, widely recognised as one of the greatest evolutionary theorists of the 20th century.

G. H. Hardy (1877–1947): a prominent English mathematician, known for his achievements in number theory and mathematical analysis.

Stephen Hawking: arguably the world’s pre-eminent scientist advocates atheism in The Grand Design

Peter Higgs (1929–): British theoretical physicist, recipient of the Dirac Medal and Prize, known for his prediction of the existence of a new particle, the Higgs boson, nicknamed the “God particle”.

Lancelot Hogben (1895–1975): English experimental zoologist and medical statistician, now best known for his popularising books on science, mathematics and language.

Nicholas Humphrey (1943–): British psychologist, working on consciousness and belief in the supernatural from a Darwinian perspective, and primatological research into Machiavellian intelligence theory.

Sir Julian Huxley FRS (1887–1975): English evolutionary biologist, a leading figure in the mid-twentieth century evolutionary synthesis, Secretary of the Zoological Society of London (1935–1942), the first Director of UNESCO, and a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund.

Frédéric Joliot-Curie (1900–1958): French physicist and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1935.

Steve Jones (1944–): British geneticist, Professor of genetics and head of the biology department at University College London, and television presenter and a prize-winning author on biology, especially evolution; one of the best known contemporary popular writers on evolution.

Stuart Kauffman (1939-): American theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher concerning the origin of life on Earth. He is best known for arguing that the complexity of biological systems and organisms might result as much from self-organization and far-from-equilibrium dynamics as from Darwinian natural selection, as well as for applying models of Boolean networks to simplified genetic circuits.

Lawrence Krauss (1954-): Professor of physics at Arizona State University and popularizer of science. Krauss speaks regularly at atheist conferences, like Beyond Belief and Atheist Alliance International.

Harold Kroto (1939–): 1996 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

Alfred Kinsey (1894–1956): American biologist, sexologist and professor of entomology and zoology.

Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749 –1827): French mathematician and astronomer whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics, and anticipated the discovery of galaxies other than the Milky Way and the existence of black holes.

Richard Leakey (1944–): Kenyan paleontologist, archaeologist and conservationist.

Sir John Leslie (1766–1832): Scottish mathematician and physicist best remembered for his research into heat; he was the first person to artificially produce ice, and gave the first modern account of capillary action.

H. Christopher Longuet-Higgins FRS (1923–2004): English theoretical chemist and a cognitive scientist.

Samarendra Maulik (1881–1950): Indian entomologist specialising in the Coleoptera, who worked at the British Museum (Natural History) and a Professor of Zoology at the University of Calcutta.

John Maynard Smith (1920–2004): British evolutionary biologist and geneticist, instrumental in the application of game theory to evolution, and noted theorizer on the evolution of sex and signalling theory.

Ernst Mayr (1904–2005): a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, historian of science, and naturalist. He was one of the 20th century’s leading evolutionary biologists.

John McCarthy (1927–2011): American computer scientist and cognitive scientist who received the Turing Award in 1971 for his major contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He was responsible for the coining of the term “Artificial Intelligence” in his 1955 proposal for the 1956 Dartmouth Conference and was the inventor of the Lisp programming language.

Sir Peter Medawar (1915–1987): Nobel Prize-winning British scientist best known for his work on how the immune system rejects or accepts tissue transplants.

Jeff Medkeff (1968–2008): American astronomer, prominent science writer and educator, and designer of robotic telescopes.

Jonathan Miller CBE (1934–): British physician, actor, theatre and opera director, and television presenter. Wrote and presented the 2004 television series, Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief, exploring the roots of his own atheism and investigating the history of atheism in the world.

Peter D. Mitchell (1920–1992): 1978-Nobel-laureate British biochemist. His mother was an atheist and he himself became an atheist at the age of 15.

Jacques Monod (1910–1976): French biologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1965 for discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis.

Desmond Morris (1928–): English zoologist and ethologist, famous for describing human behaviour from a zoological perspective in his books The Naked Ape and The Human Zoo.

Fritz Müller (1821–1897): German biologist who emigrated to Brazil, where he studied the natural history of the Amazon rainforest and was an early advocate of evolutionary theory.

Hermann Joseph Muller (1890–1967): American geneticist and educator, best known for his work on the physiological and genetic effects of radiation (X-ray mutagenesis). He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1946.

PZ Myers (1957–): American biology professor at the University of Minnesota and a blogger via his blog, Pharyngula.

Paul Nurse (1949–): 2001 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine.

Robert L. Park (born 1931): scientist, University of Maryland professor of physics, and author of Voodoo Science and Superstition.

Linus Pauling (1901–1994): American chemist, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (1954) and Peace (1962)

John Allen Paulos (1945–): Professor of mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia and writer, author of Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up (2007)

Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936): Nobel Prize winning Russian physiologist, psychologist, and physician, widely known for first describing the phenomenon of classical conditioning.

Sir Roger Penrose (1931–): English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College. He is renowned for his work in mathematical physics, in particular his contributions to general relativity and cosmology. He is also a recreational mathematician and philosopher and refers to himself as an atheist.


Francis Perrin (1901–1992): French physicist, co-establisher of the possibility of nuclear chain reactions and nuclear energy production.

Massimo Pigliucci (1964–): Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the Stony Brook University who known as an outspoken critic of creationism and advocate of science education.

Steven Pinker (1954–): Canadian-born American psychologist.

Norman Pirie FRS (1907–1997): British biochemist and virologist co-discoverer in 1936 of viral crystallization, an important milestone in understanding DNA and RNA.

Ronald Plasterk (1957–): Dutch prize-winning molecular geneticist and columnist, and Minister of Education, Culture and Science in the fourth Balkenende cabinet for the Labour Party.

Derek J. de Solla Price (1922–1983): British-American historian of science.

Frank P. Ramsey (1903–1930): British mathematician who also made significant contributions in philosophy and economics.

Richard J. Roberts (1943–): British biochemist and molecular biologist. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1993 for the discovery of introns in eukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing.

Steven Rose (1938–): Professor of Biology and Neurobiology at the Open University and University of London, and author of several popular science books.

Marshall Rosenbluth (1927–2003) American physicist, nicknamed “the Pope of Plasma Physics”. He created the Metropolis algorithm in statistical mechanics, derived the Rosenbluth formula in high-energy physics, and laid the foundations for instability theory in plasma physics.

Oliver Sacks (1933–): United States-based British neurologist, who has written popular books about his patients, the most famous of which is Awakenings.

Carl Sagan (1934–1996): American astronomer and astrochemist, a highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics, and other natural sciences, and pioneer of exobiology and promoter of the SETI. Although Sagan has been identified as an atheist according to some definitions, he rejected the label, stating “An atheist has to know a lot more than I know.” He was an agnostic who, while maintaining that the idea of a creator of the universe was difficult to disprove, nevertheless disbelieved in God’s existence, pending sufficient evidence.

Robert Sapolsky (1957–): Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University.

Marcus du Sautoy (1965–): mathematician and holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science.

Amartya Kumar Sen (1933–): 1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics.

Claude Shannon (1916–2001): American electrical engineer and mathematician, has been called “the father of information theory”, and was the founder of practical digital circuit design theory.

Edwin Shneidman (1918–2009): American suicidologist and thanatologist.

Michael Smith (1932–2000): British-born Canadian biochemist and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1993.

Richard Stallman (1953–): American software freedom activist, hacker, and software developer.

Victor J. Stenger (1935–): American physicist, emeritus professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado. Author of the book God: The Failed Hypothesis.

Jack Suchet (1908–2001): South African born obstetrician, gynaecologist and venereologist, who carried out research on the use of penicillin in the treatment of venereal disease with Sir Alexander Fleming.

Eleazar Sukenik (1889–1953): Israeli archaeologist and professor of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, undertaking excavations in Jerusalem, and recognising the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls to Israel.

Leonard Susskind (1940–): American theoretical physicist; a founding father of superstring theory and professor of theoretical physics at Stanford University.

Raymond Tallis (1946–): Leading British gerontologist, philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic.

Frank J. Tipler (1947–): American mathematical physicist and professor at Tulane University.

Gherman Titov (1935–2000): Soviet cosmonaut and the second human to orbit the Earth.

Linus Torvalds (1969–): Finnish software engineer, creator of the Linux kernel.

Alan Turing (1912–1954): English mathematician, logician, and cryptographer; often considered to be the father of modern computer science. The Turing Award, often recognized as the “Nobel Prize of computing”, is named after him.

Matthew Turner (died ca. 1789): chemist, surgeon, teacher and radical theologian, author of the first published work of avowed atheism in Britain (1782).

J. Craig Venter (1946–): American biologist and entrepreneur, one of the first researchers to sequence the human genome, and in 2010 the first to create a cell with a synthetic genome.

W. Grey Walter (1910–1977): American neurophysiologist famous for his work on brain waves, and robotician.

James D. Watson (1928–): 1962-Nobel-laureate and co-discover of the structure of DNA.

Joseph Weber (1919–2000): American physicist, who gave the earliest public lecture on the principles behind the laser and the maser, and developed the first gravitational wave detectors (Weber bars).

Steven Weinberg (1933–): American theoretical physicist. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979 for the unification of electromagnetism and the weak force into the electroweak force.

David Sloan Wilson (1949–): American evolutionary biologist, son of Sloan Wilson, proponent of multilevel selection theory and author of several popular books on evolution.

E. O. Wilson (1929–): American biologist, researcher (sociobiology, biodiversity), theorist (consilience, biophilia), naturalist (conservationist) and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants.

Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS FRSL (1929–): developmental biologist, author, and broadcaster.

Steve Wozniak (1950–): co-founder of Apple Computer and inventor of the Apple I and Apple II.

Elizur Wright (1804–1885): American mathematician and abolitionist, sometimes described as the “father of life insurance” for his pioneering work on actuarial tables.

Will Wright (1960–): American computer game designer and co-founder of the game development company Maxis.

Victor Weisskopf (1908–2002): Austrian-American theoretical physicist, co-founder and board member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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