Talk:List of atheists in science and technology

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Why is Einstein not on this list? He did claim to be atheist — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:38, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

What is your source? Vegasprof (talk) 23:30, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

National and equivalent aspects in consideration[edit]

Observe: The added description of Jewish cultural affiliation is of important view from sociocultural and ethnical viewpoints. The fact stands that certain countries (ex former Soviet Republics)) and certain groups have are highly represented among professed atheist. Nationality is already mentioned so I this should be no problem. OBSERVE. In question of Judaism the active religious practice or background is not here considered but the identical parallel aspect to nationality. The before mentioned aspect is not found so readily in other great religions of the world and if visited upon them would be an oblique.

Further elaboration of subject

Jewish atheism refers to atheism as practiced by people who are ethnically, and to some extent culturally, Jewish. Because Jewishness encompasses ethnic as well as religious components, the term "Jewish atheism" does not necessarily imply a contradiction. Based on Jewish law's emphasis on matrilineal descent, even religiously conservative Orthodox Jewish authorities would accept an atheist born to a Jewish mother as fully Jewish.[1] One recent study found that half of all American Jews have doubts about the existence of God, compared to 10–15% of other American religious groups.[2]


Who is a Jew

Jewish by birth - As a result, mere belief in the principles of Judaism does not make one a Jew. Similarly, non-adherence by a Jew to the 613 Mitzvot, or even formal conversion to another religion, does not make one lose one's Jewish status. Thus the immediate descendants of all female Jews (even apostates) are still considered to be Jews, as are those of all their female descendants. Even those descendants who are not aware they are Jews, or practice a religion other than Judaism, are defined by this perspective as Jews, as long as they come from an unbroken female line of descent. As a corollary, the children of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother are not considered to be Jews by halakha unless they formally convert according to halakha, even if raised fully observant in the mitzvot.[3]


  1. ^ What Makes a Jew "Jewish"? – Jewish Identity
  2. ^ Winston, Kimberly (September 26, 2011). "Judaism without God? Yes, say American atheists". USA Today. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  3. ^ Angel, Marc, Choosing to be Jewish: the Orthodox road to conversion, pp.114–117

Pgarret (talk) 10:50, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

"... atheism as practiced by people who are ...". Just a subtle hint, old chap: one doesn't practice atheism.
Having let that sink in, I'll note, sorry, OBSERVE, that you do make a reasonable point about cultural background. But surely it is relevant to every last one of the people on these lists, not just those of Jewish extraction. It certainly matters to Richard Dawkins, yet as I mentioned elsewhere, it would be ridiculous to call him an Anglican.
And certainly, nationality similarly matters, and yes, it is included. But it is included because the majority of these summaries are lifted straight from the opening paragraph of their main WP entries, where it generally is mentioned, for some reason. We could just have a plain list of names, with nothing but the reference attached, but that would make for a pretty tedious read. So, we have a few words describing who the person is. Who they are, in relation to the list -- in this case, science and technology people.
Sure, these ones' Jewish background is, well, part of their background. And it'll be described in their main, linked entry -- and even in the reference here, if it matters. But it has no place in the dozen or so words describing them in the list. Any more than, in the list of atheist authors, it's relevant to have "Douglas Adams: Tall British author of..."
Apart from anything else, to apply upfront -- in the first word or two, as if it's of prime importance -- an unqualified religious label to people on a list of atheists is misleading, confusing and looks plain oxymoronic (in other words, bloody daft). "Oh well I only mean culturally..." doesn't cut it, cos it ain't on the page to be seen.
But anyway, given that the descriptions are taken from the main entries, and the main entries do not mention their 'Jewishness' at the start, I fail to see why it needs mentioning here. But if it does, I'm afraid we really will have to have Dawkins called an Anglican, for he has frequently spoken of his church-y family background, love of Bach cantatas and Christmas carols, to mention but a few bits. If Jonathan Miller is 'Jewish', Dawkins is C of E.
Good luck not looking ridiculous. And by extension, including 'Jewish' next to Lawrence Krauss is exactly as ridiculous. Sorry.
Oolon (talk) 15:49, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

The list is festered with sloppiness[edit]

It seem this that large chunks of this are quite unWikipedian and also an slippery attempt at promoting atheism through desperately squeezing in "famous" names in the attempt to persuade of something. This list is untrustworthy as it happily hops throughs in names and cherry picks sources or even worse chooses to uses bad sources to further an opinion as a fact.

write anything and source it quite liberally, but when it comes to claiming something as fact and marking it as someone's convictions be it marxist or atheist or even hindu the rules are as follows:

Pgarret (talk) 17:41, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Oh get over yourself. Nobody should be on this list without a good reference -- and boy have we had spats about that in the past. But if they have a good reference, then in they bloody well go, regardless of what you or anyone else thinks about it.
Of course it features 'famous names' -- you'll be hard pressed to find any other sort of person in Wikipedia, surely?
It's not promoting atheism, it's simply listing atheists (sensu lato, iirc). The only way I can see it 'promoting atheism' is if it were to make theists uncomfortable, seeing so many Nobel laureates and other very smart people featured. But that's their look-out.
I do not understand this 'hopping through names'. It's in alphabetical order.
It does not (or shouldn't) "cherry pick sources": it is referenced; and if there are counter references for someone, then bloody post them and we'll discuss it. Till then, if it's the only reference, then it counts, live with it.
And as for using bad sources: the editors who added entries considered the sources valid; if you have evidence to the contrary, bloody post it. Till then, kindly refrain from deleting well referenced entries and so furthering your opinion as fact.
Oh and by the way, I'm unclear how something can be "festered" with sloppiness. Did you mean 'infested'?
Oolon (talk) 09:51, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
What are the standards for inclusion in this list? List of Christian thinkers in science lists only 48 names of 20th Century scientists, so there is presumably a very high bar for inclusion into that list. On the other hand, William James Sidis was a man of essentially zero accomplishment. Why is he here? And don't give as a reason that he has a Wikipedia page: so does Teodor Kaczynski. Vegasprof (talk) 00:05, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Adding individuals to this category may be in violation of several WP rules and guidelines[edit]

Statements and claims presented as a fact must be backed by balanced, certified and strong unequivocal research and scholarship with the help of multiple sources. Loose claims here and there are just opinions and does not amount to an fair and balanced view. Varying authors can be be used as a source for presenting an opinion for such and such, but it is still not to be deemed authoritative and conclusive.

WP:CAT Categories regarding religious beliefs of a living person should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief in question (see WP:BLPCAT), either through direct speech or through action. For a dead person, there must be a verified consensus of reliable published sources that the description is appropriate.
WP:CHERRY fact picking. Instead of finding a balanced set of information about the subject, a coatrack goes out of its way to find facts that support a particular bias. An appropriate response to a coatrack article is to be bold and trim off excessive biased content
WP:EXCEPTIONAL - Exceptional claims require exceptional sources
WP:SCICON The statement that all or most scientists, scholars, or ministers hold a certain view requires a reliable source. Without it, opinions should be identified as those of particular, named sources. Editors should avoid original research especially with regard to making blanket statements based on novel syntheses of disparate material.
WP:FRINGE -A theory that is not broadly supported by scholarship in its field must not be given undue weight in an article
WP:YESPOV Ensure that the reporting of different views on a subject adequately reflects the relative levels of support for those views, and that it does not give a false impression of parity, or give undue weight to a particular view.
WP:WEIGHT -Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources.
WP:YESPOV -Avoid stating opinions as facts
WP:NOR -Any analysis or interpretation of the quoted material, however, should rely on a secondary source (See: WP:No original research)
These may be furthermore of use
WP:NOTOPINION -Opinion pieces, although some topics, particularly those concerning current affairs and politics, may stir passions and tempt people to "climb soapboxes".
WP:NOTRELIABLE - Questionable sources are those that have a poor reputation for checking the facts, lack meaningful editorial oversight, or have an apparent conflict of interest.[8] Such sources include websites and publications expressing views that are widely considered by other sources to be extremist or promotional
WP:ASSERT When a statement is a fact (a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute) it should be asserted without prefixing it with "(Source) says that ...", and when a statement is an opinion (a matter which is subject to dispute) it should be attributed to the source that offered the opinion using inline-text attribution.
WP:SYN :Synthesis of published material that advances a position. Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources.
Thank you and hope to make Wikipedia a better place!

Culturally religious atheists[edit]

I've now had to go through and pull out all the recently inserted references to various folks as "Jewish" (of various nationalities) in their descriptions. Jonathan Miller, Marvin Minsky, Steven Rose, on and on. If they're actually Jewish, their inclusion might be thought somewhat iffy. But they're not. They are all merely culturally or perhaps ethnically Jewish, which for the purposes of a list of atheists in some field or other would seem as relevant as their skin colour. The references mention their backgrounds, if relevant; there is no non-ludicrous reason to list eg Jonathan Miller as "British Jewish physician, actor...". So I've mostly reverted to what we had: the first line or so from their main WP entries.

I'll also note that the helpful soul who edited those into the list [note to self: check other lists] not only missed a few of these Red Sea Pedestrian atheists (Lawrence Krauss, Oliver Sacks), but far worse: he/she completely failed to go through adding the religio-cultural backgrounds to all the others. (One might therefore suspect a hymenopteran in the headgear.) Even of those who have happily talked of it. So if it is felt that I'm misguided in removing these bits, I do so look forward to reading the one that goes, in precisely the same way:

Edited to add: Strikes me that there might however be a use for a list of culturally Jewish (and Hindu, and Muslim... and maybe Caucasian, Black, Hispanic, East Asian etc...) atheists. If someone has more time than sense and fancies doing it: knock yerself out.

Oolon (talk) 13:29, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Ah. Oh well. Seems there already is a list of Jewish atheists. Good show! Oolon (talk) 15:01, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

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Inaccurate article![edit]

I have seen the wikipedia's list of deists, and more than one scientist listed here also is listed in that other list. Obviously,m the criteria for entering people on the list is flawed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:44, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

Gay-Lussac is on both lists because he was raised catholic but later became a deist. The source used is a misleading paraphrasing of another source.Tesla (talk) 21:21, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

Group list by last name[edit]

I suggest to group the list into sections A–Z by last name, and to move all portrait images into a separate Gallery section (or group them into Galleries for each letter-section). Would that make sense? -- Cheers, Rfassbind -talk 20:20, 15 August 2015 (UTC)

Anyone disagrees? Please let me know before I start working on it. -- Thx, Rfassbind – talk 23:20, 31 August 2015 (UTC)

@Rfassbind: So I see the alphabetization happened, but what about moving photos to the gallery format? The side layout does not always render well on mobile devices, so I too prefer using a photo gallery. RobP (talk) 14:24, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

Removal of John Stewart Bell and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar + others.[edit]

I don't understand why John Stewart Bell and especially Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (+ some other people here) were removed from this list. According to Wikipedia guidelines: "When adding living persons to the list, the WP:BLPCAT policy requires that the person identify themselves as belonging to this religious category, and that the person's religious beliefs are relevant to their notable activities or public life. A reliable source must be provided." The policy does not say anything about deceased people (John Stewart Bell died in 1990 and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar died in 1995). Both scientists had reliable sources (especially Chandrasekhar) for the inclusion of this list. Apparently they were removed because their atheism were not relevant to their activities or public life. By following that criterion, you could say the same thing for most of the scientists and engineers in this list. Many of the scientists and engineers in this list (both living and deceased) were not advocates for atheism or were involved in any public demonstration for atheism. It was just a stance that they took in regards to their view on God. If we were to follow this criterion, Richard Dawkins and a few others would be the only members on this list. Ninmacer20 (talk) 03:58, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

Hi Ninmacer, just as you cited for the guidelines of inclusion on this list, it is not enough that the scientists would identify that they do not have a belief in god. Being alive or dead is not really an issue either since there are some from the 18th century on the list too. One needs to have the "person identify themselves as belonging to this religious category, and that the person's religious beliefs are relevant to their notable activities or public life. A reliable source must be provided." In the cases of people who have been removed from the list so far, it is clear that based on the sources provided, their atheism is not relevant to their notable activities (e.g their scientific endeavors) or nor did they use their atheism in their private OR public life in a significant fashion. However, some on the list are known to have used their atheism in their public or private lives such as Peter Atkins or Richard Dawkins - so they fit the inclusion criteria quite well. Merely identifying being an "atheist" or saying "they do not believe in a god" is not enough to include on the list since there are atheists who do not identify with atheism nor do they want to be associated with it, for example, Frans De Waal is an atheist, but he does not align with active atheism and has actually criticized it [1].
An issue with some of the entries that may result in exclusion is how some of these people identify themselves or are identified by biographers. For example, John Stewart Bell's citation has him as a "Protestant atheist" (which means he identified more with Christianity than with atheism), Abhay Ashtekar is an atheist who seems to be influenced by the Bhagavad Gita more than atheism, Julius Axelrod is an atheist, but identifies more with Jewish culture than anything else. Many other similar entries are still in this list which may require to be cleaned out. Mayan1990 (talk) 11:20, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

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W.D. 'Bill' Hamilton[edit]

Just removed Bill Hamilton again, as per his own wiki page and source. The source cited here (a review of the book cited for Hamilton's agnosticism) seems only to make reference to the reviewer's own atheism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Andiewithanienotay (talkcontribs) 13:24, 14 June 2016 (UTC)

Who belongs and who does not belong on the list[edit]

Hi, just fleshing out on the criteria on the list because of recent add attempts.

When this article is edited, the fixed criteria wording clearly states: "Please note: This list is subject to the WP:BLPCAT policy and the WP:LISTPEOPLE guideline. Please familiarize yourself with both before editing this list. When adding living persons to the list, the WP:BLPCAT policy requires that the persons identify themselves as belonging to this religious category, and that the persons' religious beliefs are relevant to their notable activities or public life. A reliable source must be provided."

Merely being an atheist is not enough to be put on this list (otherwise the list would be too long and irrelevant). People who have clear identification and notability for their atheism in the form of belief, belonging, and behaviors (common criteria in sociology) such as Richard Dawkins or Peter Atkins or Victor Stenger (all of whom actually do things with their atheism - they write books on atheism, they speak for atheism, they are very active with their atheism personally) should be on the list. This criteria is from wikipedia, not something that is made up.

When looking at the people that were attempted to be re-added:

James F. Crow - is only worried about creationism and is not active about his atheism.

Gordon Gould - does not say much about him being an atheist or that it is notable in his life.

Dan Shechtman - does not say anything about his atheism in his life.

Does this help clarify? Mayan1990 (talk) 06:35, 18 June 2016 (UTC)

I noticed that many additions of people who merely identify as atheist, but whose atheism does not play a role in their public life or nor are they notable for it have been added. They will have to be removed since they do not follow wikipedia policy. Also I noticed that some editors have manipulated the intro to go against Wikipedia policy.
When adding living persons to the list, the WP:BLPCAT policy requires that "the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief or orientation in question, and the subject's beliefs or sexual orientation are relevant to their public life or notability, according to reliable published sources." So to be on the list, the subject must 1) identify with atheism and 2) their atheism must be notable or relevant to their public life. For instance, someone like Peter Atkins fits the criteria by the policy. Someone merely being a scientist and being an atheist is not enough to include on this list. Some of these people on the list explicitly say that they live or identify with their Jewsih, Hindu, etc rather than their atheism. Keep in mind that many forms of atheism are available, such as secular humanism and if anyone on the list identifies with that then they should be on the list. Huitzilopochtli1990 (talk) 02:49, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

Ramos1990's 2 March 2017 mass deletion of entries from "List of atheists in science and technology" seems overzealous. How would his cited inclusion criterion of "relevance to [an individual's] public life or notability" square with Wikipedia lists such as "19th-century deaths from tuberculosis"? Nihil novi (talk) 07:25, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

I would have to disagree since people are not following wikipedia policy. I removed many entries a year ago because of this and it seems people are not following wikipedia policy. In fact some editors have ignored the policy and have even altered the lead wording and in doing so manipulated the policy. As such, it should be rectified.
Furthermore, this category is not the same as "19th-century deaths from tuberculosis" since that one is NOT a biographical category. This list is biographical. It is what it says when you edit this page too. It emphasizes that point.
Many of the entries here were literally in because someone is simply was an atheist. Some of them were also improperly sourced (YouTube and other non-reliable sources). Being an atheist is not enough of a reason to include because as the wikpedia policy states, "the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief or orientation in question, and the subject's beliefs or sexual orientation are relevant to their public life or notability, according to reliable published sources." 2 criteria must be met. Like I mentioned before, there are people who are atheists and actually DO something with their atheism such as Richard Dawkins or Peter Atkins. They write about their atheism, they incorporate it, etc so they fit the wikipedia policy very well. Others clearly do not because the sources merely state that they are atheists and say nothing else. Many people can be "atheists" just by the fact that they do not believe in God, but mere lack of belief in God does not mean that they lean towards it as their preferred worldview or moral basis. Some of the entries explicitly state that they stick to their traditions like Judaism or Hinduism but they do not have a belief in God - so they lean away from atheism and stick to their traditions. The list becomes meaningless and becomes incredibly long for no good reason and in doing so obscures scientists who are atheists and actually are active as "secular humanists", "humanists", "secualr" etc.
The policy was put in to keep some degree of relevance and reasonable length to an article.Huitzilopochtli1990 (talk) 08:18, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

@Ramos1990: hi. I think if a scientist mentioned him/her self as Atheist it is enough (WP:BLPCAT: self-identified with the belief). you said whose atheism does not play a role in their public life or nor are they notable for it but personal believes are personal things so definitely it does not need to be a person who is a significant Atheist figure like R. Dawkins. we have also List of Christians in science and technology and some of people who were mentioned in the list were not religious figure (Christianity does not play a role in their public life or nor are they notable for it and the were only Christian people (Perhaps non practical Christian) --– Hossein Iran « talk » 08:03, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

Many of the scientists in the Christian list actually wrote on both science and religion or engaged both to some extent (they were known to be committed to Christianity) so many of those entries seem valid since their Christianity was relevant to their public life or notability. In other words, their Christianity DID something for them. It was not a nominal identity. Per the WP Policy here is what actually says "the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief or orientation in question, and the subject's beliefs or sexual orientation are relevant to their public life or notability, according to reliable published sources." Christain atheists do not belong here unless their atheism does something.
Merely identifying as an atheist is not enough to include on the list. Their atheism must be relevant to their public life or notability. They do not have to be high profile, they merely have to have done SOMETHING with their atheism (e.g. written a book on atheism or been active in atheist organizations or publicly spoken on atheism in some extensive fashion or been promoting atheism in an extensive fashion etc) not just say in one line in an interview that they do not have a belief in a god. If a guy on the Christian list said "Christianity was nice" and that was it, they do not belong there either. Most likely Christians have done things with their Christianity, whereas atheists may not.Huitzilopochtli1990 (talk) 08:17, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

Questionable entries[edit]

There are many names on this list which do not fit into the category of "science and technology". Mathematicians, for example, are neither scientists, nor technologists.

The entry for Richard Stallman describes him as "American software freedom activist, hacker, and software developer" -- neither hacking nor activism make him a scientist or a technologist.

I suggest using the AAAA list of recognized sciences, and a standard engineering journal (e.g., Engineers World) to determine whether someone is doing significant work in a recognized branch of science or technology. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:31, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

I think that the word "science" in this article here is used in the most inclusive sense of the word. It could mean much more than natural sciences (like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc.). Please check out the article, Formal science, to give you a better idea. Ninmacer20 (talk) 14:16, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Joe Weber[edit]

I believe Joe Weber does not belong on this list. I have removed him a couple of times, and others have returned him to the list.

1) I do not know of any evidence that his "atheism is relevant to [his] notable activities or public life" (one of the criteria for inclusion on this list). Regardless of his personal beliefs, he was a member of Temple Beth Emet in Anaheim CA and Temple Sinai in Washington DC until he died, he took an aliya at his grandchildren's Bar and Bat Mitzvahs in the 1980s and 1990s, and said kaddish for his deceased relatives. To the best of my knowledge, he made no public statements about his theology (or lack thereof) during his lifetime, and the source here is a quote from his wife made after his death.

2) The source used here to call him an atheist is a quote from his wife, saying that both she and Weber were atheists. However, in another source, the preface to Visit to a Small Universe[1] (pages xii - xiii), she wrote, "my marriage to physicist Joe Weber...partially motivated my conversion to Judaism." Furthermore, you can hear audio of her publicly leading kaddish at the American Physical Society Meetings in memory of Harry Lustig at EAWH (talk) 17:06, 7 December 2016 (UTC)

The side portraits?[edit]

Pardon me if this has been discussed somewhere else before, but what is the logic behind who is selected to be included on the side portraits (same goes for every other list of x y's)?

LaunchOctopus (talk) 21:10, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

My main criteria for providing a portrait on "List of atheists in science and technology" has been the availability of an adequate one on Wikimedia Commons; and time and space available.
Please feel free to add portraits to this article.
Nihil novi (talk) 22:00, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
I was operating under a rule of only putting portraits of people that either were clearly serious atheists, or people that are very well known (although I question whether Freud can be considered a scientist).
LaunchOctopus (talk) 03:00, 11 January 2017 (UTC)


Do we really need all these side portraits? I think that only the most prominent scientists should have them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by DeusNovo00 (talkcontribs) 22:11, 12 January 2017 (UTC)

Illustrations provide additional information about the individuals, and are more readily absorbed than mere words, which require a great deal more processing and even so do not have the same effect.
Moreover, and tellingly, nearly all these individuals are "the most prominent scientists".
Nihil novi (talk) 03:20, 13 January 2017 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Trimble, Virginia (1992). Visit to Small Universe. Masters of Modern Physics. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9780883187920.