Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion
Diagoras of Melos
Often referred to as the "first atheist", Diagoras was a poet and sophist who openly spoke out against religion in ancient Greece and was forced to flee Athens for doing so. Unfortunately, little record of what he thought survives although we know that he publicly questioned the Eleusinian Mysteries, an elaborate series of ceremonies.
Einstein was regularly asked if he thought there was a god. In developing the theory of relativity, he realized there must have been a beginning to the universe. The question he struggled with was what came before the beginning? He concluded: "I do not believe in a personal God. If something is in me which can be called religion, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
A fearsome critic of organized religion, Twain wrote many of the sound bites atheists repeat today, such as: "If Christ were here, there is one thing he would not be: a Christian." Born in 1835, a year Halley's comet was seen, he ironically predicted "the Almighty" would take him next time the comet passed near Earth. He died in 1910, two weeks after the comet was spotted once more.
"The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God" (Psalm 53.1).