Letters From Earth, by Mark Twain

I can honestly say that there was a time when I was not certain whether or not I was Agnostic or Atheist. I study theology in Rome...which is very Biased to say the least. I wanted to fully understand this God person. I read the Bible, Koran, The Old testament and the New one too. I read and studied the Mormons and Jehovah Witness'. I learned as much as humanly possible about the eastern religions such as Hindi and Buddhism. The company I work for outsources to India and I work with a barrage of different religious people...Muslim, Hindi and Christians...all work together. So I am able to pick their brains. Whats great though is that I can ask them questions about their beliefs, and my co-workers never get upset with me or angry. They just figure I'm going to hell and that's my own choice.

Its been 7 years of constant study and observation. With very little understanding of what makes these people believe in this bullshit so much, I became more and more certain there is no God and that the ones who believe in it are mental. A couple of years ago I requested for Winter SolsticeAKA Christmas that all my friends buy me Classic books for gifts...I wanted to have this expansive library filled with classic literature for my future generations. So I got about 20 books...one was The Divine Comedy.It was a huge, coffee table version. This was the book that turned me into a Agnostic when I was like 15. I had realized that most of the Superstitions surrounding Christianity were from this book. People took a fiction story and turned it into Christian fact...blows my mind.

I got a couple of other books...your standard classics. Then I opened up the book that changed my life forever...Letters from Earth. Now, I'm sure that most of my Heathen Brethren already knew that Mark Twain was (partly) an Atheist. I'm also sure that most of you guys have already read this book, but I had never heard of it and was stoked that one of my Non-Heathen friends had picked it out for me. From page 1 of that book...I was blown away. It was funny and thoughtful and it made me a better non-believer. If you have never read this book, I strongly advise you to. It will make you think of God in a totally different way. If God did exist...haha....this book would be the bible.

So...im done with this blog. I felt like sharing what made my journey into Atheism complete.

You can read the story here for free...http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/twain/letearth.htm

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Comment by Moe Jones on March 7, 2010 at 11:37am
Letters from Earth. Got it! Its on the reading list. I've always been partial to Paine's Age of Reason and anything by Ingersoll. Bishop John Shelby Spong is good too if only because he's honest about the faith.
Comment by Steve Anthony on June 17, 2009 at 9:52pm
I know what you mean. It was a combination of George Carlin and Michael Shermer that started my journey. :)
Comment by Stephen Goldin on April 26, 2009 at 6:44pm
Check out The Best of Ernie Kovacs. The Nairobi Trio is the dumbest skit imaginable, and it still makes me laugh.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on April 26, 2009 at 1:05pm
I read Letters From the Earth as a teenager, was turned on to it by a friend. (He also gave me his copy of the Collected Writings of William Blake, but that's another tale.) I didn't need Mark Twain to turn me around, but already being a Twain fan, I loved reading this piece (collected in a book with related essays). I think Twain is more effective than dozens of dry arguments debunking Bible belief.

PS: I do know who Ernie Kovacs was, though I never saw him on TV. I once saw a documentary on him, but that's it. If any of his shows have survived and are available on DVD, I'd love to know. My late mate, who was older than I, was on of his shows in the '50s: I think he interacted with his audience. If you ever see one with a little black girl on it, let me know.
Comment by markystar on March 11, 2009 at 12:45pm
cool! i studied in rome (well, 35 km outside of rome). i loved it there. i was already a non-believer at that point (tho my university was a catholic one with close ties to the vatican, lol).
Comment by Stephen Goldin on March 6, 2009 at 7:21pm
Another wonderful piece of satire that had a profound effect on me was the PBS production of Steambath, starring Bill Bixby. I highly recommend it. It's available from Amazon on DVD.
Comment by Stephen Goldin on March 4, 2009 at 8:31pm
Congratulations on your epiphany! Letters did it for me, too. When I was 16 or so, the car crash death of Ernie Kovaks started me on the road to doubt. (Don't worry, I know you're too young to even know who he was. Suffice it to say he was someone of enormous talent whose sudden death affected me deeply.) I cried, I wondered how that could happen, I prayed for god to undo it, or at least put his talent into my body so his genius wouldn't be gone from the world. It didn't happen, and I began wondering what good was god, anyway?

A few years later I read Letters and fell in love with it. It made me laugh and think at the same time (much like George Carlin who was just, not surprisingly, awarded the Mark Twain Prize). It made me realize just how ridiculous the whole "religion" thing was.

Like you, I went through the whole phase in college of reading all I could about the different religions, and none of them convinced me. [An interesting side note: Years later I was starting to write an Arabian Nights fantasy adventure series that turned out to be my "Parsina Saga." Islam was the most boring of all the religions I'd found, so I decided to go back to its predecessor, Zoroastrianism, instead. While researching that, I found one of the greatest religious precepts right there in their holy doctrine: "As much as you possibly can, do not bore your fellow Man." I love that. Too bad the rest of the religion was so sexist. But I digress.] I reread Letters many times, and realized that the best defense against religion was to make fun of it.

That's the spirit that pervades my new book. If/when you get around to reading Polly! you'll see that I enjoy making fun of the nonsensical parts of religion. A young man in a different online atheist community, Atheist Nation, reviewed it and compared it (favorably!) to Twain, which flattered the hell out of me. (Of course, he also compared me to Ayn Rand. I don't know what to make of that, since I think she's full of shit.)

At any rate, loving this book is a sign of very good taste, and I'm sure you'll end up rereading it many times--just like I have.



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