Atheism & Music – Atheists Have No Songs

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm

This morning, I received a great article from Paste magazine written by Geoffrey Himes about religion and spirituality in popular music and the absence of music geared towards an atheist demographic.  It makes sense, really.  I mean, to me it seems that there’s only so much that can be said about a non-belief in a deity.  Not to mention the non-saleability of such music here in this most religious of countries.

One of the first Atheist-centric songs I hear was Atheists Don’t Have No Songs by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers:

Hysterical.  And frustrating.

Back to the Himes article.  This really hit home for me:

…I hunger for music that will reflect my own deepest values. But when I read through the many long lists of “Atheist Songs” on the Internet, I find that very few of those titles are actually about atheism itself. Many of them don’t even question the existence of God; they merely point out the many failings of his churches, which is not the same thing at all. Some of them deny God but accept Satan—or angels or goddesses or reincarnation or whatever, an obvious contradiction of the standard atheist position that no supernatural phenomena exist. Even the handful of songs that adhere to this consistent position are usually more interested in disproving the theist ideology than in exploring what atheism might mean in leading a productive, moral life.

Atheism, in and of itself, doesn’t have anything to do with “leading a productive, moral life”.  Many of my atheist friends will disagree with me on that, and I understand why.  As Steven Weinberg said:

“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”

I get it, but religion is different from what it means to be an Atheist.  Gods (lower-case ‘g’ intended there) and religions are two different things.  But back to the topic at hand.  I am going to begin searching out music that speaks to atheists, agnostics, humanists, etc.  I look forward to using Modern Atheist to share my findings with you.


  1. I’m not sure how one would make moving art or music that actively denies the existence of something. It’s kind of like not thinking about an elephant. Obviously, Lennon’s “Imagine” is a solid example, but it’s clearly aimed at folks who believe in all the things the song denies – it’s not written for atheists, we’ve already got the message.

    As far as I’m concerned, anything beautiful or poignant that DOESN’T explicitly or implicitly credit an outside supernatural force qualifies as atheist art.

    • I agree to the extent that there is an abundance of secular art. And atheism is nothing if not secular. I’m looking forward to finding music that might appeal to the person who is ready to challenge their beliefs regarding their god and their religion. Or stuff like this atheist classic from Steve Martin that atheists will enjoy for it’s anti-theist content. There’s plenty of stuff that could be considered humanist, but it will be fun to find things that are humanist within the context of anti-theism.

  2. Tool and A Perfect Circle (Both Maynard Keenan projects) have a number of songs that have a definite atheist/anti-religious slant. 🙂

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