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Famous Humanists

Below is a list of just some of the world’s most prominent leaders, thinkers, and activists in philosophy, justice, science, and the arts.


  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Ambrose Bierce
  • Salman Rushdie
  • Samuel T. Colderidge
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Percy Shelley
  • William Shakespeare
  • Ayn Rand
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Robert G. Ingersoll
  • Thomas Paine
  • Gore Vidal
  • Samuel T. Clemens

“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”

– Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”

– Margaret Atwood, Surfacing

“The natural world is a package deal; you don’t get to select which facts you like and which you don’t.”

“How did we let an ideological resistance to inquiry become such a prominent part of our society?”

– Bill Nye, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation

“We needn’t resort to myth to get that spine-chilling thrill of being part of something grander than ourselves. Our vast universe provides us with enough profound and beautiful truths to live a spiritually fulfilling life.”

– Sasha Sagan, For Small Creatures Such As We, 2019

Scientists and Science Advocates

  • Richard Dawkins
  • Luther Burbank
  • Steve Wozniak
  • Stephen Jay Gould
  • Charles Darwin
  • Howard Hughes
  • Carolyn Porco
  • Thomas Huxley
  • Carl Sagan
  • Linus Pauling
  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Bill Nye
  • Marie Curie
  • Francis Crick
  • Albert Einstein
  • Carl Sagan
  • Steven Pinker
  • Thomas Edison
  • Edward O. Wilson
  • Jonas Salk
  • Sasha Sagan


  • Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
  • Jeremy Bentham
  • Aristotle
  • Daniel Dennett
  • Sidney Hook
  • Corliss Lamont
  • John Dewey

“The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.”

– John Dewey, Experience and Education

“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.”

– John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action

“My religious superstition gave place to rational ideas based on scientific facts, and in proportion as I looked at everything from a new standpoint, I grew more happy day by day.”

– Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eighty Years and More: Reminiscences, 1815-1897

Prominent Activists

  • Gloria Steinem
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Jessica Valenti
  • Margaret Sanger
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Dan Savage
  • Betty Friedan
  • Jack Kevorkian
  • Philip Randolph

Political Leaders

  • Jared Huffman
  • John Adams
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Barney Frank
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Francois Mitterrand
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Jamie Raskin
  • James Madison
  • Pete Stark

“I’m thrilled to be a co-founder of the new Congressional Freethought Caucus, which will help spark an open dialogue about science and reason-based policy solutions, and the importance of defending the secular character of our government. There currently is no forum focused on these important issues, and with this Administration and certain members of Congress constantly working to erode the separation of church and state, this new caucus is both important and timely.”

– April 30, 2018 Press release from Jared Huffman’s US Congressional Office

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day

“In a rational society we would want our presidents to be teachers. In our actual society we insist that they be cheerleaders.”

–Steve Allen, Reflections

“Religious believers of the world, you are free to continue to debate the simple, narrow question that divides you from atheists, but you have no right, in so doing, to treat the Humanists of the world with contempt. You owe them a deep debt of gratitude, for not only have they shed much light on a naturally dark world but they have very probably helped civilize your own specific religion.”

–Steve Allen, Vulgarians at the Gate

Actors, Directors, Writers, and Entertainers

  • John de Lancie
  • Irving Berlin
  • Julia Sweeney
  • Kelly Carlin
  • Charles Schultz
  • John Lennon
  • Burt Lancaster
  • Steve Allen
  • Norman Lear
  • Walt Disney
  • Oliver Stone
  • Stephen Jay Gould
  • Gene Roddenberry
  • Katharine Hepburn
  • Kristen Bell
  • Dax Shepard

Media and Journalism

  • Amy Goodman
  • Cenk Uygur
  • Michelle Goldberg
  • Ira Flatow
  • H.L. Mencken
  • John Chancellor
  • Pacifica Radio Foundation
  • The Onion

“There’s a saying in Turkish: you close a book when you’re done with it and you drink a cold glass of water. I closed the Bible and I said somebody get me a cold glass of water, because I’m done with this. If this is God then I’m against him. I’m for humanity.”

– Cenk Uygur, From a speech on June 8, 2012 when accepting the American Humanist Association’s Humanist Media Award at the AHA’s 71st annual conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Our Next Program
June 9, 2024

Invisible No Longer: Politically Empowering the Humanist and Atheist Community