Celebrity : The Atheist, The Agnostic and The Ambigous

I have found this great list of celebrityes and their beliefs. I will post here only a few of them that i found to be more interesting. For the rest of them check the link(its a big list).

The Atheist and the Materialist

Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992) was a science-fiction writer and science popularizer who wrote an enormous number of books about a wide variety of subjects, including history, Shakespeare, and the Bible.
[I]f 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. — Isaac Asimov, I. Asimov: A Memoir
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. Ive been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didnt have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that Im a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I dont have the evidence to prove that God doesnt exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesnt that I dont want to waste my time. — Isaac Asimov, in “Free Inquiry”, Spring 1982, vol.2 no.2, p. 9
Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism. –Isaac Asimov, “On Religiosity,” Free Inquiry ††
When I die I wont go to heaven or hell, there will just be nothingness. — Isaac Asimov, interviewed in Bill Moyers television series “A World of Ideas”

David Cronenberg: Director
In a February 1992 interview in Esquire magazine Cronenberg is said to describe himself as “not just an atheist, but a total nonbeliever.”
From an interview in Film Threat, February 1997, p. 11:
Q: Most of your films deal with various characters personal spirituality, yet you have never dealt directly with religion.
A: The reason why is that Im not interested. Youre absolutely right. For me, its not even worth discussion. It doesnt interest me. It interests me only to be discarded. If I start there, Im mired in a discussion that is very unfruitful to me. Im simply a non-believer and have been forever. To discuss religion is to put me in a debate with myself. Im interested in saying, “Let us discuss the existential question. We are all going to die, that is the end of all consciousness. There is no afterlife. There is no God. Now what do we do.” Thats the point where it starts getting interesting to me. If I have to go back and say, “What if there is a God?” then Im doing a debate that is not very interesting. You have to create one character who believes and another that doesnt. Its not an issue.
and on pp. 11-12:
Q. How were you raised?
A. Im an atheist and my parents were both atheists so it was never a big issue, and if I wanted to become an Orthodox Jew, it was never, “You must not do that.” And I certainly went through all those things as a kid wondering about the existence of God or not, but at a very early age, I decided we made it up because we were afraid and it was one way to make things palatable.

Fidel Castro: Cuban Leader
A wire service story writes of his audience with the pope: “Castro was educated by Jesuit priests as a young man, but later shed his religion for revolution, Marxism and atheism. Nonetheless, he bowed slightly when he met the pope and told him it was a great honor to be in the Vatican.”
Bill Gates
Gates was interviewed November 1995 on PBS by David Frost. Below is the transcript with minor edits.
Frost: Do you believe in the Sermon on the Mount?
Gates: I dont. Im not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something Im a huge believer in. Theres a lot of merit in the moral aspects of religion. I think it can have a very very positive impact.
Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, youd say you dont know?
Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I dont know if theres a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.
Gates was profiled in a January 13, 1996 TIME magazine cover story. Here are some excerpts compiled by the Drudge Report:
“Isnt there something special, perhaps even divine, about the human soul?” interviewer Walter Isaacson asks Gates “His face suddenly becomes expressionless,” writes Isaacson, “his squeaky voice turns toneless, and he folds his arms across his belly and vigorously rocks back and forth in a mannerism that has become so mimicked at MICROSOFT that a meeting there can resemble a round table of ecstatic rabbis.”
“I dont have any evidence on that,” answers Gates. “I dont have any evidence of that.”
He later states, “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. Theres a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”

Bruce Lee
“Lee felt that anything which substituted the ways or beliefs of others in the place of teaching you how to cultivate your own was a step in the wrong direction. For this reason, Lee was opposed to the doctrines–or rather the dogmas–of organized religion.
When asked by journalist Alex Ben Block in the summer of 1972 what his religious affiliation was, Lee answered: None whatsoever.
Block then pressed him further, asking him if he then believed in God: To be perfectly frank, I really do not.
The submitter, Brad, comments Lees responses to these questions are perfectly understandable given the depth and nature of his philosophy. Lee believed that we are beings of self-made soul that were part of a vast, eternal process. Therefore, any person or organization that held creed or, in the martial arts nomenclature, style as the ideal was moving in the wrong direction, away from spiritual growth and knowledge of self…Lee was once asked by his younger brother Robert if he believed in God, to which he replied, I believe in sleeping.”

Angelina Jolie
“Lionsgate intends to make a film based on Russian author Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged, and market it worldwide. According to Variety, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are considering leading roles in the film. Jolie is known to be a huge fan of Rand and her novel.” — from an April 27, 2006 IGN report [1] by Paul Davidson.
In the September 6, 2000 edition of The Onion A.V. Club titled “Is There A God?”, celebrities were asked the question. Jolie was among those asked.
Actress and tabloid fixture Angelina Jolie will soon play computer-game character Lara Croft.
The Onion: Is there a God?
Angelina Jolie: Hmm… For some people. I hope so, for them. For the people who believe in it, I hope so. There doesnt need to be a God for me. Theres something in people thats spiritual, thats godlike. I dont feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also dont really know if its better to just not believe in anything, either.

John Malkovich
John Malkovich, with 2 Oscar nominations and dozens of films to his credit, was in Chicago directing a play in January of 2000 at the Steppenwolf Theatre, which he helped found several years ago. The play was a fictionalized story about Sigmund Freud entitled “Hysteria.” He was interviewed by Martha Lavey for a WTTW Chicago Public television program entitled “Artbeat Chicago” which aired on January 6. Here, Malkovich explains his thoughts on Sigmund Freud:
“I think he was fantastic, a fantastic man. I mean, flawed, sure, but I dont even know what that means. I think his basic premise is people are strong enough to bear and to comprehend, and if they could remember and name the source of various griefs and sorrows, that they would, by that act, be able to live with them, and I think thats quite a fantastic notion.
I also particularly like him because he was an atheist, and I grew tired of religion some time not long after birth. I believe in people, I believe in humans, I believe in a car, but I dont believe something I cant have absolutely no evidence of for millenniums. And its funny — people think analysis or psychiatry is mad, and THEY go to CHURCH…”

The Agnostic : Antonio Banderas
From an interview in People Magazine, April 2006
Q: The movie [Take the Lead] has an uplifting message. Are you religious?
A: I have to recognize that I am agnostic. I don’t believe in any kind of fundamentalism. I prefer to take life in a different way, with a sense of humor. I try to teach my kids to be open. Whatever they believe is fine with me.
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), biologist who founded evolutionary biology by raising the concept of descent with modification from vague speculation to rigorous science. He proposed an important mechanism, natural selection, though he did not think that it was the exclusive mechanism of evolution. His published his Origin of Species when he learned that Alfred Russel Wallace had also thought of natural selection, caling it an “abstract” of a much larger tome that he one day hoped to write. He carefully avoided discussing the question of human evolution, instead treating it in some later books like The Descent of Man.
He performed naturalist duties in his famous Beagle voyage, which he later wrote at length about, and he did detailed studies of barnacles and orchids, showing how their various parts were modified in different ways to serve different purposes.
He started out as a rather orthodox Anglican who had wanted to become a country clergyman, but his religious beliefs gradually evolved toward agnosticism; in his biography, he wrote things like
I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine. (p. 87)

Umberto Eco  : Writer
Umberto Eco is an Italian writer best known for his novel “The Name of the Rose.” The book was made into a movie starring Sean Connery. His religious beliefs are summed up by Nora Gallagher in an LA Times review of his latest book, “Belief or Nonbelief? A Confrontation.”
Gallagher says:
Eco is the nonbeliever, an agnostic intellectual who left the church when he was 22, but he is neither angry nor anti-religious. He thinks that a person may not believe in God but “one should not have the arrogance to declare that God does not exist.”

Uma Thurman : Actress
From an About Uma bio published November 1995 in Cosmopolitian magazine:
Full Name: Uma Karuna Thurman Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts, USA Date of Birth: April 29, 1970 Current Residence: New York City, New York, USA Current Occupation: Film Actress Religion: Agnostic (Buddhism if must choose)
“I grew up in a mostly Buddhist environment. My father, when very young, was the first American to be ordained as a Buddhist monk. He now teaches Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University and is regarded as this countrys foremost authority on Buddhism. When the Dalai Lama comes to America, its my father who is his host. When asked if I consider myself Buddhist, the answer is, Not really. But its more my religion than any other because I was brought up with it in an intellectual and spiritual environment. I dont practice or preach it, however. But Buddhism has had a major effect on who I am and how I think about the world. What I have learned is that I like all religions, but only parts of them.”

Roman Polanski : Film Director
His autobiography, Roman, describes him as an atheist. He intentionally made “Rosemarys Baby” ambiguous so that it can be interpreted as having no genuine supernatural events (all just in Mia Farrows head).
Apparently Polanski has drifted from atheist to agnostic. The following is from a March 5, 2000 New York Post interview discussing his [recent] movie, The Ninth Gate, starring Johnny Depp:
Polanski, who has previously made movies about satanism and vampires, claimed to have no interest in the occult.
“Im totally disinterested, personally, with that sort of thing,” he said. “It does absolutely nothing for me. Im neither religious nor superstitious. At best I can be counted as an agnostic. Science and technology get me a lot more excited.” –BZ

The Ambiguous : Arthur C. Clarke
See his autobiography. Also, in The Making of Kubricks 2001, Clarke says that he is an atheist.
It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him.
— Arthur C. Clarke
In an April 1, 1997 profile in the New York Times Clarke speaks about his new book 3001, the latest and perhaps final in the series of books beginning with 2001:
In the world of 3001 Clarke envisions for the story, the writer of the piece, John F. Burns, says: “Perhaps most controversially, religions of all kinds have fallen under a strict taboo, with the citizenry looking back on the religious beliefs and practices of earlier ages as products of ignorance that caused untold strife and bloodshed. But the concept of a God, known by the Latin word Deus, survives, a legacy of mans continuing wonder at the universe.
“In this, Clarke is giving vent to one of the few things that seem to ruffle his equable nature. Religion is a byproduct of fear, he says. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isnt killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity? ”
28 May 2001 – A reader reports that in a CNN interview when Clarke was asked if he believed in God, he replied, “I do not believe in God, but I do not disbelieve in her either.” If anybody can confirm this and provide a date of the interview, please send it in. Thanks.
A reader writes: Arthur C. Clarke was a strong atheist. When he was in the British military, he was adamant about having his religion listed as atheist. Refer to his biography for more info.

Dalai Lama
“Basically, religions may be divided into two groups. One group, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and some ancient Indian traditions, I call God religions. Their fundamental faith is in a Creator. The other group of religious tradition, including Jainism, Buddhism, I usually call godless religions. They do not believe in a Creator. But, of course, God is a sense of infinite love. The religions are not so different in this understanding. But God in the sense of Creator, something absolute, that is difficult to accept.
“According to some, godless religion is more effective; according to others, God religions are more effective. The position is individual; it is a matter of choice.”
Update (28-May-01): A reader writes in with some background describing how Buddhists (and presumably the Dalai Lama) think of gods:
“This is one of the fuzzy areas of Buddhism, and one that is hard to explain … while there are gods in most branches of Buddhism, they are not of the same stature as Yaweh, Allah, or even Zeus. They are not omnipotent, omniscient, nor worshipped in the Judeo-christian sense of the word. For most Buddhists, these have the same stature as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
“They are in some ways a role model or target behavior: Kwan Yin being a model for compassionate behavior in Chinese Buddhism, the various colors of Tara are models for healing, compassion or protective behavior in Tibetan. In this way, they are used during meditation as a focus point, almost a visual aid for guided visualization.
“They are also used as a symbolic way to talk about something by personifying it: Mara is the goddess of evil and temptation but only for purposes of discussing evil as an abstraction or worldly force. Demons were used in old teaching tales to play the part of the undesireable behavior, and gods or minor dieties played the part of the good guys.
“Complicating things further, Buddhism usually grafted itself onto a healthy local culture with a strong shamanic tradition in the local religion. And because Buddhism has no one True God requirement, the local religions and the gods of that culture usually persist in a slightly altered form. Among a local peasantry in most Buddhist areas you will find that they take the local gods and demons more seriously than urban Buddhists of the same area do. But because Buddhism emphasizes behaviors more than beliefs, if a Javanese village wants to have a ceremony to placate the Water Demon, they are not considered any less Buddhist for it.”

Natalie Portman
Rolling Stones: 20 June 2002, Vol. 1, Iss. 898, pg. 52-58, by: Chris Heath, “The Private Life of Natalie Portman”
Of her religion, Portman says, “Im much more like the product of a doctor than I am a Jew.” She is uncomfortable about the concept of the afterlife. “I dont believe in that. I believe this is it, and I believe its the best way to live.”

Monica Lewinsky : former Presidential Mistress
TIME: What steps are you taking to put your life back together?
Lewinsky: I think probably the biggest step that I am taking is trying to work on myself in therapy. Its hard. Its painful.
TIME: You have been praying from time to time?
Lewinsky: I think, for me, my definition of praying might be a little different. I think, for me, in some ways therapy is sort of praying. Its like what you learn in therapy and what you walk away with. You kind of think to yourself, oh, I really hope that I can learn to assimilate. But Im not very religious.
from “My Story: Exclusive interview and photos of Monica Lewinsky”, TIME magazine, March 15, 1999, p. 36.

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