Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ten Atheist Musicians

Atheism is much more prevalent in some fields of work than others. Scientists, for example, espouse atheism at a rate significantly higher than the general population, while, well, priests do not (that Mel Gibson film notwithstanding). I don't know where musicians show up on the list: given how many Grammy winners thank God at the podium, maybe not very high. Yet atheists show up in every walk of life, and here are ten musicians who don't seem to likely to break out into a renedition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" any time soon.

1.BJÖRK: The Icelandic symbol for weirdness has been quoted as saying, "If I get into trouble, there's no God or Allah to sort me out. I have to do it myself."Björk: Atheist

2.SIMON LE BON: Simon Le Bon, onetime tabloid fixture and lead singer of Duran Duran, speaks in detail about his spiritual journey: "Losing my faith was very gradual." He adds, "I started thinking, 'Well, what if it's just people trying to personify life? To personify the fact that there is matter, and that there is a universe? If there is a God, that's it. God doesn't have a brain, God doesn't think, God is just existence.' And when you get to that point, you realise, if that's what God is, then there's no such thing."Simon Le Bon: Atheist

3.PAUL HEATON: Frontman not only of the Beautiful South but also of the Housemartins, a 1980s band known in part for explicitly Christian lyrics penned by him, Paul Heaton is an unexpected name to find on this list. Yet Paul Yeaton is quite avowedly atheist, despite the message "Take Jesus - Take Marx - Take Hope" appearing on the cover of the Housemartins' début.Paul Heaton: Atheist

4.TRACEY THORN: Half of the popular English duo Everything But the Girl has the following to say: "I've always been an atheist. We grew up in a village and I was like, 'I'm not joining the Christian Youth Club'. Believing something that's unprovable is not how my mind works."Tracey Thorn: Atheist

5.MICKY DOLENZ: One of the Monkees, of course, and he was interviewed by The Onion as one of a wide range of celebrities to whom the question, "Is there a God?" was put. His interesting answer: "No. God is a verb, not a noun."Micky Dolenz: Atheist

6.ROBERT SMITH: The lead singer and sole constant member of decades-old institution The Cure, Robert Smith has stated, "I don't believe in god. I wish I did."Robert Smith: Atheist

7.LINTON KWESI JOHNSON: Perhaps less well-known than the other names here, but a personal favourite and a legend in the rather arcane musical field of 'dub poetry'. Jamaican-British, he speaks of the Rastafarian tradition in this way: as an atheist, "I couldn't reconcile myself to the idea that Haile Selassie was God."Linton Kwesi Johnson: Atheist

8.SHIRLEY MANSON: The lead singer of 90s band Garbage has been openly atheist since she was twelve years old and denounced religion as "bullshit" while at her dinner table.Shirley Manson: Atheist

9.RICHARD RODGERS: Of an older vintage than the other names on this list, the famous composer of American musicals is described in a biography as follows: "Richard became an atheist, and as a parent he resisted religious instruction for his children. According to his wife, Dorothy, he felt that religion was based on 'fear' and contributed to 'feelings of guilt.'"Richard Rodgers: Atheist

10.BRIAN ENO: Understanding Brian Eno can at times be a difficult and frustrating exercise, but give this one a try: "Well, I'm an atheist, and the concept of god for me is all part of what I call the last illusion. The last illusion is someone knows what is going on. That's the last illusion. Nearly everyone has that illusion somewhere, and it manifests not only in the terms of the idea that there is a god but that knows what's going on but that the planets know what's going on. Astrology is part of the last illusion. The obsession with health is part of the last illusion, the idea that there's that if only we could spend time on it and sit down and stop being unreasonable with each other we'd all find that there was a structure and a solution underlying plan to it all, for most people the short answer to that is God."Brian Eno: Atheist