26 July 2009


English dramatist, critic

• "All great truths begin as blasphemies."

• “Beware of the man whose god is in the skies.” (Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon)

• “Bourgeois morality is largely a system of making cheap virtues a cloak for expensive vices.” (Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon)

• “The conversion of a savage to Christianity is the conversion of Christianity to savagery.”

• “Cruelty must be whitewashed by a moral excuse, and pretense of reluctance.”

• “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

• “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.”

• “The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.” (Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon)

• “Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside.” (Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon)

• “A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth.”

• “Man is the only animal of which I am thoroughly and cravenly afraid...There is no harm in a well-fed lion. It has no ideals, no sect, no party.”

• “Morality consists in suspecting other people of not being legally married.” (Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon)

• “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.”

• "Old men are dangerous; it doesn't matter to them what is going to happen to the world."

• “A pessimist thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it.” (Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon)

• “There are scores of thousands of human insects who are ready at a moment’s notice to reveal the Will of God on every possible subject.” (Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon)

• “There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.”

• “Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't.”

Today is George Bernard Shaw's Birthday.
He was born 153 years ago on July 26, 1856.

19 July 2009


(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
American author,
journalist, humorist

Many quotations have been attributed to Twain that came from other sources. If you find I have wrongly attributed a quotation to Twain, please leave a comment or email me at mythoughtsarefree@gmail.com. Thank you.
• “The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.” (Christian Science)

• “When I think of the number of disagreeable people that I know who have gone to a better world, I am sure hell won’t be so bad at all.” (Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon)

• “When in doubt, tell the truth.” (Following the Equator, 1897)

• “When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “You can’t pray a lie.” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1885)

• “You want me to believe it is a judicious, a charitable God that runs this world. Why I could run it better myself.” (Clara Clemens, My Father Mark Twain)

• “Zeal and sincerity can carry a new religion further than any other missionary except fire and sword.” (Christian Science)

• "India has two million gods, and worships them all. In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire." (Following the Equator)

• “Alas! those good old days are gone, when a murderer could wipe the stain from his name and soothe his trouble to sleep simply by getting out his blocks and mortar and building an addition to a church.”  (The Innocents Abroad)

• “A religion that comes of thought, and study, and deliberate conviction, sticks best. The revivalized convert who is scared in the direction of heaven because he sees hell yawn suddenly behind him, not only regains confidence when his scare is over, but is ashamed of himself for being scared, and often becomes more hopelessly and malignantly wicked than he was before.” (Letter San Francisco Alta California, November 15, 1868) 

• “The gods offer no rewards for intellect. There was never one yet that showed any interest in it...”  (Mark Twain's Notebook)

Read more about Mark Twain & his religious skepticism at the end of:

Find more quotations at the above post and these:

15 July 2009


(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
American author,
journalist, humorist

Many quotations have been attributed to Twain that came from other sources. If you find I have wrongly attributed a quotation to Twain, please leave a comment or email me at mythoughtsarefree@gmail.com. Thank you.

• “Such is the human race. Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.” (Christian Science)

• “Temperate temperance is best. Intemperate temperance injures the cause of temperance, while temperate temperance helps it in its fight against intemperate intemperance. Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “To eat is human, to digest divine.”

• “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.~ (Innocents Abroad)

• “Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.” (Mark Twain, a Biography)

• “Virtue has never been as respectable as money.” (Innocents Abroad)

• “Water taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.”

• “We get our morals from books. I didn’t get mine from books, but I know that morals do come from books ---theoretically at least.” (Remarks at the Opening of the Mark Twain Library)

• “Whatever the Church damns is saved; whatever it opposes prospers ---like anti-slavery and evolution.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “What’s the use you learning to do right, when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1885)

• “When angry, count four. When very angry, swear.” (Pudd’nhead Wilson, 1894)

• “Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

Read more about Mark Twain & his religious skepticism at the end of:

Find more quotations at the above post and these:

11 July 2009


(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
American author,
journalist, humorist

Many quotations have been attributed to Twain that came from other sources. If you find I have wrongly attributed a quotation to Twain, please leave a comment or email me at mythoughtsarefree@gmail.com. Thank you.

• “It is simple, direct, gracefully phrased; it always sounds well --IN GOD WE TRUST. I don’t believe it would sound any better if it were true.”

• "The motto stated a lie. If this nation has ever trusted in God, that time has gone by; for nearly half a century almost its entire trust has been in the Republican party and the dollar--mainly the dollar. I recognize that I am only making an assertion and furnishing no proof; I am sorry, but this is a habit of mine; sorry also that I am not alone in it; everybody seems to have this disease." (Mark Twain in Eruption)

• [In Germany] “I went to church the first Sunday, and on Tuesday came a tax of 12 marks for church support; I have not been since. I can’t afford religious instruction at that price. Only the rich can be saved here.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “...I would like, just for five minutes to understand the plan of the Creator, if He has any.” (Clara Clemens, My Father Mark Twain)

• “Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us would not succeed.” (Following the Equator, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar)

• “Lump the whole thing! say the Creator made Italy from designs by Michael Angelo.”

• “A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.”

• [Man] “has imagined a heaven, and has left entirely out of it the supremest of all his delights...sexual intercourse!...His heaven is like himself: strange, interesting, astonishing, grotesque. I give you my word, it has not a single feature in it that he actually values.” (Letters From the Earth)

• “Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion ---several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight.” (The Lowest Animal)

• “Man was made at the end of the week’s work, when God was tired.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “Many...people have the reasoning faculty, but no one uses it in religious matters.”

• “Martyrdom covers a multitude of sins.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-03)

• “The moral sense enables one to perceive morality ---and avoid it. The immoral sense enables one to perceive immorality and enjoy it.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”

• “No church property is taxed and so the infidel and the atheist and the man without religion are taxed to make up the deficit in the public income thus caused.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “No man that ever lived has ever done a thing to please God ---primarily. It was done to please himself, then God next.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” (Pudd’nhead Wilson, 1894)

• “O, compassionate missionary leave China! Come home and convert these Christians.” (The United States of Lyncherdom, 1901)

• “The only gospel in any monarchy should be the Rebellion against Church and State.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “The physician’s is the highest and worthiest of all occupations, or it would be if human nature did not make superstitions and priests necessary.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter; they are an entire banquet.”  (Mark Twain in Eruption)

• “The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.” (Notebook)

• “Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes, and wishes he was certain.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “The silent colossal National Lie that is the support and confederate of all the tyrannies and shams and inequalities and unfairnesses that afflict the people ---that is the one to throw bricks and sermons at.”

Read more about Mark Twain & his religious skepticism at the end of:

Find more quotations at the above post and these:

07 July 2009


(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
American author,
journalist, humorist

Many quotations have been attributed to Twain that came from other sources. If you find I have wrongly attributed a quotation to Twain, please leave a comment or email me at mythoughtsarefree@gmail.com. Thank you.

• “He had no principles and was delightful company.” 

• “Heaven for climate; Hell for society.” (Mark Twain's Speeches, 1910 edition)

• “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” (Mark Twain, a Biography)

• “Human beings seem to be a poor invention. If they are the noblest work of God where is the ignoblest?” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God’s fool, and all His works must be contemplated with respect.” (Letter to William Dean Howells, December 1977)

• “I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey.” (Autobiographical dictation, November 1906)

• “I cannot call to mind a single instance where I have ever been irreverent, except toward the things which were sacred to other people.” (Is Shakespeare Dead?)

• “If Christ were here now, there is one thing he would not be ---a Christian.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “If I can’t swear in heaven I shall not stay there.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “If man had created man he would be ashamed of his performance.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “...I haven’t a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices.” (Answers to Correspondents)

• [To a Catholic convert, 1885] “I look back with the same shuddering horror upon the days when I believed I believed, as you do upon the days when you were afraid you did not believe.”

• “In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.” (Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1894)

• “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”

• “It is best to read the weather forecast before praying for rain.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either one of them.” (More Tramps Abroad)

• “It is curious ---curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage be so rare.” (Mark Twain in Eruption)

• “It is not best that we use our morals week days; it gets them out of repair for Sundays.“ (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• "The Christian's Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes...The world has corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession- and take the credit of the correction. During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. the Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry.....There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain."  ("Bible Teaching and Religious Practice" Europe and Elsewhere)

Read more about Mark Twain & his religious skepticism at the end of:

Find more quotations at the above post and these:

03 July 2009


(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
American author,
journalist, humorist

*Read more about Mark Twain and his religious skepticism at the bottom of this post.

Many quotations have been attributed to Twain that came from other sources. If you find I have wrongly attributed a quotation to Twain, please leave a comment or email me at mythoughtsarefree@gmail.com. Thank you.

• “Adam was but human ---this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake; he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” (Pudd’nhead Wilson, 1894)

• “Adam was the only man who, when he said a good thing, knew that nobody had said it before him.” (Notebook, 1867)

• “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” (The Mysterious Stranger)

• “All I care to know is that a man is a human being ---that is enough for me; he can’t be much worse.” (Concerning the Jews)

• “All schools, all colleges, have two great functions: to confer and to conceal valuable knowledge. The theological knowledge which they conceal cannot justly be regarded as less valuable than that which they reveal. That is, if, when a man is buying a basket of strawberries, it can profit him to know that the bottom half is rotten.” (note written November 11, 1908, Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” (Following the Equator, 1897)

• “Be good and you will be lonesome.” (Following the Equator, 1897)

• "The best minds will tell you that when a man has begotten a child he is morally bound to tenderly care for it, protect it from hurt, shield it from disease, clothe it, feed it, bear with its waywardness, lay no hand upon it save in kindness and for its own good, and never in any case inflict upon it a wanton cruelty. God's treatment of his earthly children, every day and every night, is the exact opposite of all that, yet those best minds warmly justify these crimes, condone them, excuse them, and indignantly refuse to regard them as crimes at all, when he commits them. Your country and mine is an interesting one, but there is nothing there that is half so interesting as the human mind."

• [The Bible] “is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.” (Letters From the Earth)

• “A Christian mother’s first duty is to soil her child’s mind, and she does not neglect it.”

• “Christianity does not convert the Hindus, because our Bible miracles are not so large as theirs.”

• “Christians are all insane.”

• “Church ain’t a circumstance to a circus.” (Tom Sawyer, A Play)

• “The Church here rests under the usual charge ---an obstructor and fighter of progress; until progress arrives, then she takes the credit.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “Dreamed all bad foreigners went to German heaven, couldn’t speak the language, and wished they'd gone to the other place.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “The English are mentioned in the Bible: ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’” (Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar)

• “The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.” (What Is Man? 1906)

• “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” (Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar)

• “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” (Pudd’nhead Wilson, 1894)

• “Get your facts first...then you can distort ’em as much as you please.” (Quoted by Rudyard Kipling in From Sea to Shining Sea)

• “Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

• “Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.” (Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar)

• “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1885)

Find more quotations here:

Mark Twain grew up in a religious society, but he was a life-long religious skeptic. His wife agreed to marry him with his promise that he would attend church and become a good Christian, but as their marriage progressed, Livy became more skeptical while Twain was unable to accept the hypocrisy of religion. Twain attended church and was a good friend of several ministers including Twichell who became his best friend, despite Twain's skepticism. He wrote often about religion and made many religious references in his works. Many of these are tongue in cheek. Many of his writings mirror previous writings on religion by Robert G Ingersoll. Twain was writing for the masses and most of his readers were Christian. His writing was his livelihood, so he (fueled by Livy's censorship) was reluctant to offend.
In his later life, he directed that some of his religious writings be published 100 years after his death. He said that only dead men can tell the absolute truth. His only surviving child Clara (1874-1962) opposed publication of these works in the 1930's. Later, she decided to publish Letters From the Earth and other writings 50 years after her father's death. She explained her change of heart by saying, "Mark Twain belonged to the world." By 1960 she believed that public opinion had become more tolerant.
Clara died a few years later at age 88. Clara's only child Nina (1910-1966) had no children. Thus there were no direct descendants of Twain's after her death.

After I wrote the above, I found the following comments on Twain's religious skepticism by writer and Twain scholar Shelley Fisher Fishkin (April 1997):
"Clemens tells us that his first schoolteacher told him that if he prayed sincerely, his prayers would be answered. When young Sam Clemens prayed and his prayers didn't get answered, doubt began to set in. Indeed, later in life he would atribute to that early experience his conviction that Christianity and all religions are 'lies and swindles.' His mother and other members of his family sampled a variety of religious denominations during his youth, perhaps giving him further reason to doubt any one sect's assertions of its superiority over another. His first trip to Europe helped hone his skepticism about the contributions the Catholic church had made to civilization (imposing cathedrals did not, in Twain's view, justify the suffering imposed in the name of religion in European history). And when he married into the Langdon family, and learned the story of his father-in-law's founding of a new church in Elmira when his old congregation refused to condemn slavery, Twain must have recalled with some confusion the sermons he had heard in church throughout his childhood asserting that slavery was a system ordained by God. "Twain was not particularly unconventional during his youth. Indeed it was not until he was in his 30s that he began writing pieces that challenged norms widely accepted by those around him."
More of Fishkin's comments on Mark Twain can be found HERE.

02 July 2009


Are you a lonely atheist, agnostic, freethinker, humanist, skeptic, deist?

Would you like to meet like-minded freethinkers for intellectual or philosophical discussions, companionship, friendship?

You might want to check out meetup.com.

You can enter a country, and if applicable a zip code, and enter a key word like "atheist" and it will direct you to local organizations, if there are any, that meet in your area.
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