Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, attained worldwide fame as both a writer and
the opinion of Ernest Hemingway that modern American literature begins with Huckleberry Finn.
from seven to seventy continue to delight not only in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Huck, but also in the adventures of
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, The Prince and the Pauper,
and many more.
Mark Twain was an atheist.
In his autobiography he gave his personal testimony about his view of life:
“A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and
struggle for bread; they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other.
Age creeps upon them and infirmities follow; shames and
humiliations bring down their prides and their vanities.
Those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. The burden of pain, care,
and misery, grows heavier year by year.
At length ambition is dead, pride is dead, vanity is dead; longing for release is in their place.
comes at last – the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them—
and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence;
where they achieved nothing, where they were a mistake and a failure
where they left no
sign that they had ever existed –
a world that will
lament them a day and forget them forever” (Autobiography, Vol. II, p. 37).
The testimony of an atheist.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) Bertrand Russell came
from one of England’s most distinguished families, and he added considerable luster to the family reputation.
He first gained attention with his book Principles
of Mathematics (1903) and seven years later published with Alfred North Whitehead a book which opened a new era in the study
of the principles of mathematics and philosophy, Principia Mathematica.
More than forty books followed, on such divergent subjects as philosophy, education,
politics, and sex.
In 1950 Russell
received the Nobel Prize for literature and was described as a “defender of humanity and freedom of thought.
He lectured at Cambridge, Harvard, the University of Peking, the
University of Chicago, and the University of California.
Late in life, in the early 1960 he again came to the forefront of public notice by leading pacifist demonstrations
against nuclear weapons.
was an atheist.
also made a testimony. We find his evaluation of life expressed in a letter to Lowes Dickinson:
“Why should you suppose I think it foolish to wish
to see the people one is fond of? What else is there to make life tolerable?
We stand on the shore of an ocean, crying to the night and
the emptiness; sometimes a voice answers out of the darkness.
But it is a voice of one drowning; and in a moment the silence returns."
(Autobiography, p. 287).
The testimony of an atheist.