As a popular music historian (of a sort), I am constantly banging head first into hit songs about people's imaginary friends. And, as such, I mourn for the nation and the world.

So ...

Question 1). Which are your most hated god-centric popular songs? (Mine are, in order, "God Bless The U.S.A." (Lee Greenwood), "Jesus Take The Wheel" (Carrie Underwood) and "Jesus Walks" (Kanye West).

Question 2). Do you have any god-centric popular songs that you rather like, despite their theme? (I'll only admit to "Spirit In The Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, though there are one or two others.)

Question 3). This one is going to be a stumper, I fear. Aside from "Imagine" by John Lennon, is there/are there another/other popular song(s) which are expressly atheistic/humanistic and specifically don't call upon an invisible friend? (I say "popular," in that there are probably many by a variety of indie artists, but those don't necessarily swim in the mainstream where everyone would have heard it on the radio.)

There are a million reasons why there wouldn't be -- not the least of which it's hard to sing about a negative of something (belief), but maybe I'm overlooking something.

Tags: Atheism, Culture, Music, Pop

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I'd suggest you check out this last.fm group, Anti-Christian Phenomenon. Apparently it's got a lot of atheist lyrics. I haven't really listened. >_>
I listen to many different kinds of music, and I don't care either way whether a song is popular or not just as long as I like it.
Anyway, I hear a lot of god references in reggae. They call him "Jah".
I disagree with a lot of things I hear in music, but it just doesn't seem as serious when it's in song form, I've learned to ignore it I guess. I only listen to music for the way it makes me feel, not for the messages.
I cannot say I know anything about 1 and 2, as for 3... I find it easier to find songs which are clearly antichristian than humanist/atheist :P
I wrote a song called "Thats why the spineless are atheist". It definitely is, now ever will be a hit lol. There is a video of me playing it on my blog about invertebrates: http://other95.blogspot.com/2007/10/spineless-song-of-week-video-bl... (yes its a little blog-promotion). The band Freakwater also made a song called "Gone to Stay" which was covered by country singer Loretta Lynn. The chorus goes:

"There's nothing so pure as the kindness of an atheist

simple act of unselfishness that never has to be repaid 

And there's nothing so sure as a razor blade above your wrist

When you think you just can't stand it
That you're gonna leave empty handed

Do you still dream of being saved"

I covered it on my personal website: http://web.mac.com/kzelnio/Site/Song_Vault/Entries/2007/12/9_Gone_t...
Or you watch me play it drunkenly in my garage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLe-aN7LTts

Its a great song if you folky inclined. Worth $0.99 on iTunes.
Just checked out that Last.fm group. Curiously, most of it there is in the "death metal" vein, with Iron Maiden, Mettalica and Slayer being the most well-known of what's there.

And, interestingly, these all tend to either be not focused on anything of a philosophical/"spiritual" nature or are overtly nihilistic (which is kind of sad, if you consider the argument that god-people make that atheists must be a really depressed bunch without a special imaginary friend).

See, on one hand you have music that is meant to be "inspirational," which is a nice thing to be. But somehow it always turns into a god-thing (see entry, American Idol Inspirational Night) or is "inspirational" without a god reference, but is only thinly disguised. (Example: "You Light Up My Life" by Debbie Boone & LeAnne Rimes)

The only songs I find purposely "inspirational" without a supernatural bent tend to be about believing in yourself (Example: "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly) or about believing in love (Example: "Found A Cure" by Ashford & Simpson).

Just something I think about constantly, seeing as I swim in this stuff daily.
Actually, the ACP forum on last.fm has mostly black metal than death metal. Iron Maiden, Slayer and Metallica are in the correct order also NWOBHM and the two latter thrash :p So it's obvious you might know tons of pop music but obviously less in terms of metal and rock <.br />
I also think atheism and nihilism goes a little hand in hand too; I know that I myself am a little inclined towards nihilism although I am a pagan because certain ideas in nihilism are not completely out of the water. Since I must be happy-go-round actually being a believer, I am not surprised if atheists also are inclined towards nihilism since some of the nihilistic views are logical in the eyes of the atheist. Or so I see it.
Everytime I see "nihil" I think about The Big Lebowski...

Maybe I need write more atheist songs.
We obviously need it :) I might run off making some too!
Re: Black metal v. death metal.

100% right. My knowledge of the metal sub-genres is limited to their names and that's about it. I have and have heard the music of the biggest stars in the over-arching metal genre, but have only heard of the overwhelming majority of what's out there now.

And I certainly think that "hard music" (the industry term for much of this) is generally dark, which would appeal to many non-theists.

It really isn't my particular bag, though I do like some of it.
I am discussing with another person on last.fm whether there is more to it than just the religious part...

We seemed to narrow down a few specific factors that more or less include most metalheads in one or another way, such as love for nature, interest in fantasy, horror and sci fi literature, general interest in religion and other myths, etc. It's all very interesting. I can link it to you if you wish to read further.

What's more is that many of the people who adhere to these interests might have been doing so before they became metalheads.
Well, actually, at least as I've heard it, "Jesus Walks" has the lyrics ...

(Googling)

... Damn!

You know, I've always thought he was singing "I'm here to turn atheists into believers." And I was wrong.

Thanks for the Tool songs!

And I had totally forgotten about what's probably the biggest overtly atheistic song to ever hit the charts, "Dear God" by XTC.

Also, I know Michael Stipe (R.E.M.) is an out atheist, but I don't know if any of his songs actually address that directly (so far as I can remember).


Now I hate that song a scintilla less.
1 & 2) As soon as I hear anything relating to "jesus" or "god" on the radio I change the channel ASAP. So I can't really think of any songs off the top of my head that I can't bear to listen to.

3) If you are into hard rock or industrial music at all you'll like these songs:

"Judith" - A Perfect Circle:
You're such an inspiration for ways
That i will never ever choose to be.
Oh so many ways for me to show you
How your savior has abandoned you.

Fuck your god!
Your lord, your christ
He did this,
Took all you had
And left you this way.
Still you pray, never stray,
Never taste of the fruit.
Never thought to question why.

It's not like you killed someone.
It's not like you drove a hateful spear into his side.
Praise the one who left you
Broken down and paralyzed.
He did it all for you.
He did it all for you.

Oh so many ways for me to show you
How your dogma has abandoned you.
Pray to your christ, to your god.
Never taste of the fruit,
Never stray, never break,
Never choke on a lie,
Even though he's the one who did this to you
Never thought to question why.

It's not like you killed someone.
It's not like you drove a spiteful spear into his side.
Talk to jesus christ as if he knows the reasons why
He did this all to you.

He did it all for you.
He did it all for you.

-AND-

"Heresy" -Nine Inch Nails

He sewed his eyes shut because he is afraid to see
He tries to tell me what I put inside of me
He's got the answers to ease my curiosity
He dreamed a god up and called it Christianity
Your god is dead and no one cares
If there is a hell I'll see you there
He flexed his muscles to keep his flock of sheep in line
He made a virus that would kill off all the swine
His perfect kingdom of killing, suffering and pain
Demands devotion atrocities done in his name
Your god is dead and no one cares
Drowning in his own hypocrisy
And if there is a hell I'll see you there
Burning with your god in humility
Will you die for this?

-AND-
(A classic)
"Man in the Box" -Alice in Chains

I'm the man in the box
Buried in my shit
Wont you come and save me, save me

Chorus
Feed my eyes, can you sew them shut?
Jesus christ, deny your maker
He who tries, will be wasted
Feed my eyes now youve sewn them shut

Im the dog who gets beat
Shove my nose in shit
Wont you come and save me, save me

Those are probably three of my favorite songs, but then again I'm into hard rock. I've heard all of these on radio, and they are three fairly popular songs/artists.

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