Mark Twain's Quotes

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."

-Mark Twain

"If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian."

-Mark Twain, "Notebook"

"Of the delights of this world, man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven"

-Mark Twain
"The Bible is "a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology."

-Mark Twain, "Mark Twain and the Bible"
"If there is a God, he is a malign thug."

-Mark Twain
"There is one notable thing about our Christianity: bad, bloody, merciless, money-grabbing and predatory as it is - in our country particularly, and in all other Christian countries in a somewhat modified degree - it is still a hundred times better than the Christianity of the Bible, with its prodigious crime- the invention of Hell. Measured by our Christianity of to-day, bad as it is, hypocritical as it is, empty and hollow as it is, neither the Deity nor His Son is a Christian, nor qualified for that moderately high place. Ours is a terrible religion. The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilt."

-Mark Twain, "Reflections on Religion"
"There was no place in the land where the seeker could not find some small budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land but one-- the pulpit. It yielded last; it always does. It fought a strong and stubborn fight, and then did what it always does, joined the procession-- at the tail end. Slavery fell. The slavery texts -in the Bible remained; the practice changed; that was all."

-"Mark Twain and the Three R´s, by Maxwell Geismar, p.109
"One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed it - they also believed the world was flat."

-Mark Twain
"It ain´t the parts of the Bible that I can´t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."

-Mark Twain
"It is by the fortune of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either."

-Mark Twain
"The Christian Bible is a drug store. It´s contents have remained the same but the medical practice continues. For 1,800 years these changes were slight--scarcely noticeable... The dull and ignorant physician day and night, and all the days and all the nights, drenched his patient with vast and hideous doses of the most repulsive drugs to be found in the store´s stock.. He kept him religion sick for eighteen centuries, and allowed him not a well day during all that time."

-"Mark Twain and the Three R´s, by Maxwell Geismar, p.107, from Twain´s Bible Teaching and Religious Practice essay, in "Europe and Elsewhere", 1923
"These people´s God has shown them by a million acts that he respects none of the Bible´s statues. He breaks every one of them himself, adultery and all."

-"Mark Twain and the Three R´s, by Maxwell Geismar, p.124
"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."

-"Mark Twain and the Three R´s, by Maxwell Geismar, p.110, from Twain´s Bible Teaching and Religious Practice essay, in "Europe and Elsewhere", 1923
"Man is a Religious Animal. Man 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. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother´s path to happiness and heaven.... The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste."

-Mark Twain, The Lowest Animal essay, 1897, in Letters from the Earth
"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"

-Mark Twain, Reflections on Religion, 1906
"I bring you this stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched, and dishonored from pirate raids in Kiao-Chow, Manchuria, South Africa, and the Phillipines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her soap and a towel, but hide the looking-glass."

-Mark Twain, Speech to the Red Cross, New York, Dec. 31, 1899 -also listed as "Christianity" A Salutation Speech from the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth, New York, Dec. 31, 1900
"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 doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for 800 years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, 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."

-Mark Twain, Bible Teaching and Religious Practice essay, "Europe and Elsewhere", 1923
"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, Mark Twain in Eruption
"Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul."

-Mark Twain
"Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes, and wishes he was certain of."

-Mark Twain, Notebook, 1879
"Strange...a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied seventy times seven and invented Hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man´s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!"

-Mark Twain
"In religion and politics, people´s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing."

-Autobiography of Mark Twain
"Monarchies, aristocracies, and religions are all based upon that large defect in your race -- the individual´s distrust of his neighbor, and his desire, for safety´s or comfort´s sake, to stand well in his neighbor´s eye. These institutions will always remain, and always flourish, and always oppress you, affront you, and degrade you, because you will always be and remain slaves of minorities. There was never a country where the majority of people were in their secret hearts loyal to any of these institutions."

-Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger
"A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows."

-Mark Twain
"(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. This Bible is built mainly out of fragments of older Bibles that had their day and crumbled to ruin. So it noticeably lacks in originality, necessarily. Its three or four most imposing and impressive events all happened in earlier Bibles; there are only two new things in it: hell, for one, and that singular heaven I have told you about."

-Mark Twain, "Letters from the Earth"
"What a man misses mostly in heaven is company."

-Mark Twain
"Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either."

-Mark Twain, "Following the Equator", ch. 51, Pudd´nead Wilson´s New Calendar (1897)
"You have noticed that the human being is a curiosity. In times past he has had (and worn out and flung away) hundreds and hundreds of religions; today he has hundreds and hundreds of religions, and launches not fewer than three new ones every year. I could enlarge on that number and still be within the facts."

-Mark Twain, "Letters From the Earth"
"...Man is a marvelous curiosity. When he is at his very very best he is a sort of low grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm. Yet he blandly and in all sincerity calls himself the ´noblest work of God.´"

-Mark Twain, "Letters From the Earth"
"If I cannot smoke cigars in Heaven, I shall not go."

-Mark Twain
"There is nothing in either savage or civilised history that is more utterly complete, more remorselessly sweeping than the Father of Mercy´s campaign among the Midianites. The official report deals only in masses, all the virgins, all the men, all the babies. all ´creatures that breathe,´ all houses. all cities. It gives you just one vast picture far as the eye can reach, of charred ruins and storm-swept desolation... Would you expect this same conscienceless God, this moral bankrupt, to become a teacher of morals, of gentleness, of meekness, of righteousness, of purity?"

-Mark Twain, "Letters from the Earth"
"It is the Creator´s Grand Army, and he is the Commander-in-Chief... With these facts before you, now try to guess man´s chiefest pet name for this ferocious Commander-in-Chief? I will save you the trouble but you must not laugh. It is Our Father in Heaven."

-Mark Twain, "Letters from the Earth"
"If science exterminates a disease which has been working for God, it is God that gets the credit and all the pulpits break into grateful advertising-raptures and call attention to how good he is. Yes, he has done it. Perhaps he waited a thousand years before doing it. They forget to say that he is the slowest mover in the universe, that his Eye That Never Sleeps, might as well, since it takes a century to see what any other eye can see in a week."

-Mark Twain, "Letters from the Earth"
"The two testaments are interesting, each in its own way. The Old one gives us a picture of these people´s Deity before he got religion. The other one gives us a picture of him as he appeared afterwards. The Old Testatment is interested mainly in blood and sensuality. The new one is Salvation. Salvation by fire."

-Mark Twain, "Letters from the Earth"
"it is believed by everyone that when he was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous and cruel, but that when he came down to earth, he became the opposite... sweet, gentle merciful, forgiving. He was a thousand billion times crueler than ever he was in the Old Testament... Meek and gentle? By and by we will examine that popular sarcasm by the light of the hell which he invented."

-Mark Twain, on Jesus Christ, in "Letters from the Earth"
"´In God We Trust.´ It is the choicest compliment that has ever been paid us, and the most gratifying to our feelings. 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."

-Mark Twain, from "Mark Twain´s Notebook"
"If the man doesn´t believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. It mean, it does nowadays, because now we can´t burn him."

-Mark Twain, "Following the Equator"
"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."

-Mark Twain, Bible Teaching and Religious Practice essay, Europe and Elsewhere, 1923
"When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn´t know."

-Mark Twain´s Notebook
"Blasphemy? No, it is not blasphemy. If God is as vast as that, he is above blasphemy; if He is as little as that, He is beneath it."

-Mark Twain, a Biography
"This is a Christian country. Why, so is hell. Inasmuch as "Strait is the way and narrow is the gate, and few-few-are they that enter in thereat" has had the natural effect of making hell the only really prominent Christian community in any of the worlds; but we don´t brag of this and certainly it is not proper to brag and boast that America is a Christian country when we all know that certainly five-sixths of our population could not enter in at the narrow gate."

-Mark Twain in Eruption
"Christianity will doubtless still survive in the earth ten centuries hence- stuffed and in a museum."

-Mark Twain´s Notebook, 1898
"You can never find a Christian who has acquired this valuable knowledge, this saving knowledge, by any process but the everlasting and all-sufficient "people say". In all my seventy-two years and a half I have never come across such another ass as this human race is."

-Mark Twain´s Autobiography
"The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive... but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born."

-"Mark Twain, a Biography"
"Where was the use, originally, in rushing this whole globe through in six days? It is likely that if more time had been taken in the first place, the world would have been made right, and this ceaseless improving and repairing would not be necessary now. But if you hurry a world or a house, you are nearly sure to find out by and by that you have left out a towhead, or a broom-closet, or some other little convenience, here and there, which has got to be supplied, no matter how much expense or vexation it may cost."

-Mark Twain, "Life on the Mississippi"
"Presbyterianism without infant damnation would be like the dog on the train that couldn´t be identified because it had lost its tag."

-"Mark Twain, a Biography"
"Jesus died to save men- a small thing for an immortal to do, & didn´t save many, anyway; but if he had been damned for the race that wouldhave been act of a size proper to a god, & would have saved the whole race. However, why should anybody want to save the human race, or damn it either? Does God want its society? Does Satan?"

-Mark Twain, Notebook #42
"There is nothing more awe-inspiring than a miracle except the credulity that can take it at par."

-Mark Twain, Notebook, 1904
"...missionarying was a better thing in those days than it is in ours. All you had to do was to cure the head savage´s sick daughter by a miracle- a miracle like the miracle of Lourdes in our day, for instance- and immediately that head savage was your convert, and filled to the eyes with a new convert´s enthusiasm. You could sit down and make yourself easy now. He would take the ax and convert the rest of the nation himself."

-Mark Twain, What Is Man? and Other Essays, "Switzerland, the Cradle of Liberty"
"It was the most earnest ambition I ever had....Not that I ever really wanted to be a preacher, but because it never occurred to me that a preacher could be damned. It looked like a safe job."

-Mark Twain, a Biography
" is not a new thing for a thoroughly good and well-meaning preacher´s soft heart to run away with his soft head."

-Mark Twain, "Temperance and Women´s Rights"
"Preachers are always pleasant company when they are off duty."

-Mark Twain´s Travels With Mr. Brown
"So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: "Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor´s religion is." Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code."

-Mark Twain, a Biography
"We despise all reverences and all the objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our own list of sacred things. And yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy to us."

-Mark Twain, "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."

-Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad"
"The easy confidence with which I know another man´s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. I would not interfere with any one´s religion, either to strengthen it or to weaken it. I am not able to believe one´s religion can affect his hereafter one way or the other, no matter what that religion may be. But it may easily be a great comfort to him in this life- hence it is a valuable possession to him."

-Mark Twain, a Biography
"I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man´s reasoning powers are not above the monkey´s."

-"Mark Twain in Eruption"
"The altar cloth of one aeon is the doormat of the next."

-Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898
"We don´t cut up when mad men are bred by the old legitimate regular stock religions, but we can´t allow wildcat religions to indulge in such disastrous experiments."

-Mark Twain, The Washoe Giant in San Francisco in "The New Wildcat Religion"
"I have no special regard for Satan; but I can at least claim that I have no prejudice against him. It may even be that I lean a little his way, on account of his not having a fair show. All religions issue bibles against him, and say the most injurious things about him, but we never hear his side. We have none but evidence for the prosecution and yet we have rendered the verdict. To my mind, this is irregular. It is un-English. It is un-American; it is French. Without this precedent Dreyfus could not have been condemned. As soon as I can get at the facts I will undertake his rehabilitation myself if I can find an unpolitic publisher. It is a thing we ought to be willing to do for anyone who is under a cloud. We may not pay him reverance, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents. A person who has for untold centuries maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilites of the loftiest order. In his large presence the other popes and politicians shrink to midgets for the microscope. I would like to see him. I would rather see him and shake him by the tail than any member of the European concert."

-Mark Twain, "Concerning the Jews" essay
"When the human race has once acquired a supersitition nothing short of death is ever likely to remove it."

-Autobiography of Mark Twain
"When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself."

-Mark Twain, "Is Shakespeare Dead?"
"I will tell you a pleasant tale which has in it a touch of pathos. A man got religion, and asked the priest what he must do to be worthy of his new estate. The priest said ´imitate our Father in Heaven, learn to be like Him.´ The man studied his Bible diligently and thoroughly and understandingly, and then with prayers for heavenly guidance instituted his imitations. He tricked his wife into falling downstairs, and she broke her back and became a paralytic for life; he betrayed his brother into the hands of a sharper, who robbed him of his all and landed him in the almshouse; he inoculated one son with hookworms, another with the sleeping sickness, another with gonorrhea; he furnished one daughter with scarlet fever and ushered her into her teens deaf, dumb, and blind for life; and after helping a rascal seduce the remaining one, he closed his doors against her and she died in a brothel cursing him. Then he reported to the priest, who said that THAT was no way to imitate his Father in Heaven! The convert asked wherein he had failed, but the priest changed the subject and inquired what kind of weather he was having, up his way."

-Mark Twain, Letters From The Earth, Harper & Row, N.Y., 1942 (pb), p. 39
"Who are we to create a heaven and hell for ourselves, excluding animals and plants in the bargain, just because we have the power to rationalize?"

-Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger"
"It was the schoolboy who said, ´Faith is believing what you know ain´t so´.

-Mark Twain, "Following the Equator," ch. 12, "Pudd´nhead Wilson´s New Calendar" (1897)
"I have seen several entirely sincere people who thought they were (permanent) Seekers after Truth. They sought diligently, persistently, carefully, cautiously, profoundly, with perfect honesty and nicely adjustedjudgment--until they believed that without doubt or question they had found the Truth. That was the end of the search. The man spent the rest of his life hunting up shingles wherewith to protect his Truth from the weather. If he was seeking after political Truth he found it in one or another of the hundred political gospels which govern men in the earth; if he was seeking after the Only True Religion he found it in one or another of the three thousand that are on the market. In any case, when he found the Truth he sought no further; but from that day forth, with his soldering-iron in one hand and his bludgeon in the other he tinkered its leaks and reasoned with objectors."

-Mark Twain, from "What is Man?"
"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."

-Mark Twain
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