Jim Wilson collected a sampling of songs that may appeal to the FreeThought community:
A few years back Steve Martin, an outspoken Atheist, wrote a song called Atheists Don’t have no Songs which lamented the lack of irreverent songs and artwork to counter the preponderance of explicitly religious material that we are often surrounded with. I pondered this and decided to dig up some of my favorite songs with FreeThought themes. They deal with religion, science, or Skepticism from an irreverent point of view. I cannot guarantee that the creators are all Atheists or make any claims about the intended messages. It may even be that some of these were not intended to be Atheistic at all. I cannot get into the minds of the creators but I can say they all deal with themes Atheists can identify with. Many of these musicians are Atheist and have other material that is critical of religion. Songs include numerous genres including beat poetry and spoken word material. One word of caution, some of these songs contains material that may not be suited for young children and NSFW (Not Safe for Work). Enjoy!
1. Reality Asylum by Crass
“Jesus died for his own sins, not mine!” This in-your-face spoken word piece by seminal British punk band Crass presents a nasty attack on everything Jesus stands for as a symbol rather than as a person. The original version appeared on the group’s debut album The Feeding of the 5000 (named for the fact that, they originally intended to only produce 5000 copies). The employees at the record plant refused to print the album, with this piece as the opening track so on many first pressings the first few minutes contain no sounds and are listed under the title The sound of Free Speech. I have heard at least one individual compare this track to a Hitch-slap put to music. Others just find it very unsettling.
2. Opiate by Tool:
“If you want to get your soul to heaven, trust in me .Don’t judge or question.” This is the title track of the LA band’s debut album which deals heavily with the evils of religion and takes its name from Karl Marx’s pronouncement that religion is the Opiate of the people. Keep in mind that Marx was writing at a time when Opiates were the pain killer of choice making his statement more akin to saying, “religion is the Tylenol of the people.”
3.Storm By Tim Minchin:
“Throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be—not magic!” This is Tim Minchin’s 10 minute beat poem about an encounter with a hippie named Storm. It is widely considered his masterpiece as well a good introduction to Skeptical thinking. Also, this piece comes with a nice animated video that goes with the words.
4. Do the Evolution by Pearl Jam:
Nice evolution themed piece by Pearl Jam with a video that features animation from Kevin Altieri (better known for his work with Batman The Animated Series) and Todd McFarlane (known for his work with the Spawn comic series).
5. Born Secular by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
“God goes where he wants, and who knows where he is now? Not in me!”
This a pretty little number from a side project of Rilo Kiley front woman Jenny Lewis. The album has several songs with lyrics that are critical of religion but this one always managed to standout for its simplicity and the point message.
6. What God Wants part 2 by Roger Waters:
“God wants dollars. God wants cents. God wants pounds, shillings, and pence.” The former Pink Floyd front-man attacks the greed of those in charge of organized religious institutions (or at least that’s how I interpret it).
7. Dance Like a Monkey by the New York Dolls:
“You’re designed so intelligent!” This is a fun rocker from one of the seminal bands of the early New York punk scene. Their influence is incalculable to say the least. This particular piece from one of their more recent albums, seems to be making fun of both sides in the evolution creationism discussion and has an interesting animated video to go with it.
8. Strawman by Lou Reed: “Does anyone need another president or the sins of Swaggart parts 6, 7, 8, and 9?” Aggressive piece by the former Velvet Underground front-man named for the logical fallacy where someone attacks an oversimplified version of an opponent’s argument. This piece gives specific reference to the sex scandal of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart.
9. Holy Smokes by Aesop Rock:
‘”Till priest’s laps are slapped with parental advisory warnings: I’ll be auditioning gods in my office on Monday morning.” Underground rapper Aesop Rock offers this lyrically dense, critique of his own religious upbringing.
10. Atheist Christmas Carol by Vienna Teng
How this ties in with atheism and Christmas was always unclear to me, but it’s certainly a beautiful song.
11. Listen to my Voice by Gary Numan:
“Listen to my voice and please try and understand, the one you call messiah is lie” Gary Numan first gained international attention with his quirky electro pop song Cars in the early eighties. In the late nineties, he chose to embrace the heaviness and dark subject matter of some of the bands he inspired. Now he is a vocal Atheist and his writing features more prominent criticisms of religion.
12. Pope Song by Tim Minchin:
Another Tim Minchin song. This one is the singer’s reaction to the news that the Pope may have been involved in covering up child abuse. This song features profuse swearing and a fun animated video. (NSFW)
13. God by John Lennon
“God is a concept by which we measure our pain.” This song features the disillusioned former Beatle’s laundry list of things he no longer believes in including God, Jesus, and the Bible. It seems his list of things he does believe in is much shorter. This was a highlight of his controversial and hard edged album Plastic Ono Band.
14. The End of Christianity by The Stooges
Hard rocking track from proto-punk pioneers: The Stooges. Enough said.
15. Losing my Religion by REM
A big hit for alternative rock giants REM. “Losing my religion” is actually a southern expression for becoming angry as in, “You better stop that right now! I’m losing my religion with you!”
16. Thoughts of a Dying Atheist by Muse
I always dismissed Muse as a bit of a Radiohead rip-off but I felt that our readers may enjoy this one.
17. (Don’t Need) Religion by Motorhead
“Don’t need no blind belief. Don’t need no comic relief.” Motorhead was one of the few bands punks and metal heads could agree on. They prided themselves as the band that would kill your grass if they moved in next to you. Enjoy the reckless abandon of this straight-forward rocker.
18. Wooden Jesus by Temple of the Dog
For many members of generation X, listening to Temple of the Dog’s only album is a rite of passage. The album captures members of Pearl Jam and Sound Garden shortly before both groups became famous. It also was a fitting tribute to singer Andrew Wood whose tragic death took place shortly before hand.
19. Living in the moment by Mason Jennings
This is a nice live performance of Mason singing a song about living for today and not worrying about some promised after life.
20. Heresy by Nine Inch Nails
“God is dead and no one cares. If there is a hell, I’ll see you there”. Heavy, abrasive, and electronic. From that filthy nightmare of an album, The Downward Spiral.
21. Sister Anne by MC5
“She’s gonna make it her own crusade. She’s got a heart of gold. Gonna save a bitch’s soul from goin’ down Satan’s highway.” Kick out the Jams! This track by Detroit proto-punks, MC5, captures that overly religious friend or family member who is too good-natured for their own good.
22. Religious Wars by the Subhumans
“In the name of God, they left you to die”. This is a wonderful punk piece criticizing religious violence.
23. The Poetry of Reality by Symphony of Science
“There’s real poetry in the real world.” This is an uplifting project that puts the words of well-known scientists to music. This piece features Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, and more.
24. Poison by Tombstone of Da Deadman
Some great hip hop about the evils of religion. Let’s face it, it is poison.
25. Demystification by Zounds
“I want some demystification about what’s going on.” Nice post-punk piece about demystifying your life.
26. Imagine by John Lennon
And last but certainly not least…