It’s no secret that Rush is my all-time favorite band and that their amazing drummer, Neil Peart, is also one of my favorite writers. He’s written several books along with the lyrics to all their songs and he has always been open about being an atheist. This is from an interview a couple years ago when he was asked about something he’d written about the church signs he saw as he traveled the Bible Belt:
And I mentioned before that anger and outrage can sometimes be an inspiration, and it gets me writing about it. And people will say to me “Why are you a faith-basher?” And I say well, I don’t feel like a faith-basher, and it’s not something I’ve thought about all day. It’s something that my life has been full without any of that aspect, I don’t really understand it or understand why it’s needed, and it’s a kind of brainwashing in almost all cases where poor children have been brought up and formed into these molds, that you are suddenly this ‘ism’ that is after your name from the time you’re born. They don’t choose it, and for whatever reasons they never do question it, where I did from the beginning. I went to Sunday school as a little kid and when they’d tell us to sing the song about god watches each sparrow fall and all of that, and I said well no, I don’t really think so. When you look at the world now, I saw the comic and the great writer Stephen Fry the other day talking about that, he said people would say “what if you went to heaven and met God?” And he said oh, that wouldn’t be a pleasant meeting. I’d say why did you create those parasites that grow behind babies’ eyes and destroy their vision on the way out and all of that. That’s not any kind of a god to be worshiping, is it?
And I always say too, if I’m going to go up to heaven and meet St. Peter and Jesus and God and Allah and Buddah, whichever one you wanna pick, I’m gonna be okay, because I have lived a life based on that and I believe in generosity and charity and kindness and courtesy, those are things that just seem good to me anyway, I don’t need a threat to make me behave that way and I don’t need a reward.
If you’re a Rush fan, none of this will surprise you. His lyrics have been full of atheist ideas from the beginning. There was a lot more on the subject in this interview, but I got tired of transcribing it. If you want to hear it all, I’ll put it below. The religion stuff starts at about the 50 minute mark.