When the Roll Is Called Down Yonder

Officially America may be "one nation under God," but the world is actually a fiery pit of skepticism when it comes to the Supreme Being. In "Celebrities in Hell" (Barricade Books, trade paper), Warren Allen Smith offers a handy and, well, irreverent compendium of famous freethinkers, which includes "agnostics, atheists, naturalists, pragmatists, secular humanists or nontheists of some stripe." (Pedants might seek out the author's more comprehensive 1,200-plus-page-tome "Who's Who in Hell," also by Barricade Books.) Excerpted from the infernal record book are quotes from a few noncomformists.

George Clooney: "I don't believe in heaven and hell. I don't know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won't allow this life--the only thing I know to exist--to be wasted."

Phyllis Diller: "We were not created by a deity. We created the deity in our image. Life began on this planet when the first amoeba split. Mankind will still be seeking God, not accepting that God is a spirit; can't see it, touch it, only feel it. It's called Love."

Carrie Fisher: "I love the idea of God, but it's not stylistically in keeping with the way I function. I would describe myself as an enthusiastic agnostic who would be happy to be shown that there is a God."

Janeane Garofalo: "Organized religions and their dogmas only serve to indoctrinate the participants into sheeplike common behaviors. This type of blind assimilation promotes the popularity of Top 40 count-down radio stations and movie sequels. Skepticism toward groups, holy or otherwise, is enriching and makes you a far more entertaining person."

Matt Groening: "Technically I'm an agnostic, but I definitely believe in hell--especially after watching the fall TV schedule."

Angelina Jolie: "There doesn't need to be a God for me. There's something in people that's spiritual, that's godlike. I don't feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also don't really know if it's better to just not believe in anything, either."

John Malkovich: "I grew tired of religion sometime not long after birth. I believe in people, I believe in humans, I believe in a car, but I don't believe something I can't have absolutely no evidence of for millenniums."

Jack Nicholson: "I don't believe in God now [speaking in 1992]. I can still work up an envy for someone who has a faith. I can see how that could be a deeply soothing experience."

Nick Nolte: "I have difficulty with God and with beliefs. You have to ask the question, 'If God created man in his own image, what kind of an image is God?' "

Uma Thurman: "What I have learned is that I like all religions, but only parts of them."

Bruce Willis: "Organized religions in general, in my opinion, are dying forms. They were important when we didn't know why the sun moved, why weather changed, why hurricanes occurred. Modern religion is the end trail of modern mythology. But there are people who interpret the Bible literally. Literally! I choose not to believe that's the way."

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