Atheists for Liberty: Remembering Daniel Dennett

NEW YORK, NY — It is with heavy hearts that we at Atheists for Liberty mourn the death of Daniel Clement Dennett III. Dennett, whose death was made publicly known on April 19, 2024, at the age of 82, leaves behind an immense legacy as a champion of reason, science, and free inquiry. At the time of this writing, the cause and official date of his death remain unknown.

As a vocal atheist and one of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism,” alongside Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens, Dennett fearlessly challenged religious dogma and superstition. His seminal works, such as Cartesian theater and “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon,” sought to explain religious belief through the lens of evolutionary theory, sparking important conversations about the role of religion in society. In spite of his jovial personality and sharp and powerful mind, Dennett was never deterred by circumstances. He authored over a dozen books, his latest being a memoir released back in October 2023 titled “I’ve Been Thinking.”

Beyond his intellectual achievements, Dennett was a staunch advocate for Free Speech and open discourse. As an organization dedicated to the defense of these fundamental liberties, Atheists for Liberty deeply admired his unwavering commitment to engaging with ideas, even those he disagreed with. His willingness to debate and his openness to changing his mind in light of new evidence embodied the very spirit of free inquiry.

“As of this April, Daniel Dennett was the only Horsemen who I have had the privilege to meet so far. Fresh out of high school in the Fall of 2016 at the FFRF Pittsburgh Convention, I saw a cheerful yet brilliant mind amaze hundreds of freethinkers with his intellect. His work shaped the century, even recently seeing him on podcasts and shows. He will be missed.” – Thomas Sheedy, President, Atheists for Liberty


“What a wonderful and brilliant man we lost today. He was a true thought leader, original and kind spirited. Goodnight sir.” – David Silverman, Advisory Board Chair, Atheists for Liberty


“We have seen the passing of a giant whose influences will echo down through the generations. While philosophers like Judith Butler will leave a legacy of obfuscation, Daniel Dennett used his mental gifts to clarify and illuminate while he lived, and his writings will glow with brightness in the decades to come.” – Razib Khan, Advisory Board, Atheists for Liberty


“RIP Daniel Dennett, March 28, 1942 – April 19 2024. Great mind. Big loss. Sad day.” – Michael Shermer, Advisory Board, Atheists for Liberty


“Daniel Dennett was one of the most insightful philosophers of not just our time, but any time. His contributions ranged over a wide area of human experience, including consciousness, the role of evolution, morality, the scientific enterprise, and of course, religion. Without in any way disparaging the excellent work of the other “Horsemen,”  Dennett’s work Breaking the Spell was, and remains, the best analysis of the phenomenon of religion. His death deprives us of a discerning thinker, an exceptional writer, and a superb and considerate educator.” – Ronald Lindsay, Advisory Board, Atheists for Liberty


“I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Daniel Dennett with whom I had a chat on my show back in 2017.  He was a true polymath in that his positions spanned many topics including atheism, secularism, philosophy of mind from an evolutionary perspective, memetics, and the free will debate.  He will be missed.” – Gad Saad, Advisory Board, Atheists for Liberty


“Daniel Dennett was a brilliant thinker, and his book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea is a mind-blowing testament to the depth of his intellect. It is one of several books I read as a budding scientist that solidified my desire to pursue a career in evolutionary biology. He is one of a very small number of people who I count among my “intellectual heroes.” I have learned so much from him over the years, and have been continually inspired by his sharp mind, warm heart, and unsurpassed sense of wonder. Humanity is worse off in his absence. He will be greatly missed.” – Colin Wright, Advisory Board, Atheists for Liberty


“In addition to making an indelible contribution to the field of philosophy, Dan Dennett was an incredibly kind and decent person. He was funny, sincere, and always kept it real. I will miss him deeply.” – Peter Boghossian, Advisory Board, Atheists for Liberty


‘Daniel Dennett inspired many atheists and rationalists around the world with his keen philosophical mind and his insights into irrational belief systems. He was one of the informal founders of what’s been dubbed the atheist movement, and it will never be the same without him. You will be missed, Daniel.’ – Michael Sherlock, Advisory Board, Atheists for Liberty


As we bid farewell to this remarkable thinker, we at Atheists for Liberty reaffirm our commitment to carrying forward his legacy of reason, science, and free speech. We will continue to fight against the forces of censorship, dogmatism, and irrationality, armed with the intellectual tools that Dennett helped to forge.

His ideas will continue to inspire and guide us as we work towards a more enlightened, rational, and free world.