American author, U.S. journalist, lecturer, and humorist (1835-1910).
Mark Twain wrote a book entitled "Letters from Earth", of which he wrote in 1909: "This book will never be published... in fact, it couldn't be, because it would be a felony."
The following quotations were written by Mark Twain, showing his irreverence and disbelief for conventional religions:
It is best to read the weather forecast before praying for rain.
A man is accepted into church for what he believes—and turned out for what he knows.
Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion—several of them.
Man is without doubt the most interesting fool there is. He concedes that God made the angels immune from pain and death, and that he could have been similarly kind to man, but denies that he was under any moral obligation to do so.
Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.
[The Bible] has noble poetry in it... and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies.
"'In God We Trust.' I don't believe it would sound any better if it were true."
"It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."
"Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of."
"There is no other life; life itself is only a vision and a dream for nothing exists but space and you. If there was an all-powerful God, he would have made all good, and no bad." [Mark Twain in Eruption]
"Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness... It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast" [Reflections on Religion, 1906]
"O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it..." ["The War Prayer"]
"[The Bible is] a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology." ["Mark Twain and the Bible"]
"Man is a marvelous curiosity ... he thinks he is the Creator's pet ... he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea." [Letters from the Earth]
"If there is a God, he is a malign thug."
Mr. Clemens was once asked whether he feared death. He said that he did not, in view of the fact that he had been dead for billions and billions of years before he was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
Mark Twain's Creed
I believe in God the Almighty.
I do not believe He has ever sent a message to man by anybody, or delivered one to him by word of mouth, or made Himself visible to mortal eyes at any time in any place.
I believe that the Old and New Testaments were imagined and written by man, and that no line in them was authorized by God, much less inspired by Him.
I think the goodness, the justice, and the mercy of God are manifested in His works: I perceive that they are manifested toward me in this life; the logical conclusion is that they will be manifested toward me in the life to come, if there should be one.
I do not believe in special providences. I believe that the universe is governed by strict and immutable laws. If one man's family is swept away by a pestilence and another man's spared it is only the law working: God is not interfering in that small matter, either against the one man or in favor of the other.
I cannot see how eternal punishment hereafter could accomplish any good end, therefore I am not able to believe in it. To chasten a man in order to perfect him might be reasonable enough; to annihilate him when he shall have proved himself incapable of reaching perfection might be reasonable enough; but to roast him forever for the mere satisfaction of seeing him roast would not be reasonable... even the atrocious God imagined by the Jews would tire of the spectacle eventually.
There may be a hereafter and there may not be. I am wholly indifferent about it. If I am appointed to live again I feel sure it will be for some more sane and useful purpose than to flounder about for ages in a lake of fire and brimstone for having violated a confusion of ill-defined and contradictory rules said (but not evidenced) to be of divine institution. If annihilation is to follow death, I shall not be aware of the annihilation and therefore shall not care a straw about it.
I believe that the world's moral laws are the outcome of the world's experience. It needed no God to come down out of heaven to tell men that murder and theft and the other immoralities were bad, both for the individual who commits them and for society which suffers from them.
If I break all these moral laws I cannot see how I injure God by it, for He is beyond the reach of injury from me-- I could as easily injure a planet by throwing mud at it. It seems to me that my misconduct could only injure me and other men. I cannot benefit God by obeying these moral laws-- I could as easily benefit the planets by withholding my mud. (Let these sentences be read in the light of the fact that I believe I have received moral laws ONLY from man-- none whatever from God.) Consequently I do not see why I should be either punished or rewarded hereafter for the deeds I do here.
Writings of Mark Twain