For me, Robert G. Ingersoll takes the cake. His command of language and reason were impeccable, and his writings and recorded speeches never fail to inspire.
George H. Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God" also agreed so well with my mind, that I'm reading it yet again for the sheer enjoyment of his crystal-clear logic and readability.
Who are some of yours?
Old School: Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain
"In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing."
Middle School: Bertrand Russell
My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true. Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.
New School: Hitchens
People are frightened of death, and the central lie of all religion is that there’s a cure for this and an exception we’ve made in your own case: an eternal life offered if you make the right propitiations and the right abjections. Well, I’m sorry. I think that it's the height of immorality to lie to people like that. That’s why [religion] survives.
Excellent. I particularly enjoyed the Russell quote, as I sometimes hear atheists say things along the lines of, "It would of course be nice if god existed to watch over us and for an afterlife to await us, but it's simply untenable to believe those things..." or some such lament. I, for one, completely disagree. I am quite glad that I have one life to live in a staggering beautiful, natural universe, without the big brother paranoia of some looming, ever-watchful entity (whatever that means) or dread of eternal existence. Quite succinctly put.
Christopher Hitchens, case closed.
I could watch Neil degrasse Tyson youtube videos all day, I think.
His tweets are pretty awesome too.
George Carlin for me. I guess I am more of a laid back kinda Atheist.
Oh man... George was amazing. I don't know of a greater comic, past or present. Cheers