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What they said before their death

Quotes from famous atheists

Galatians 6:7 "Do not be deceived: God is not to be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return."

►  Anton Lavey, 1930 - 1997

Author of the Satanic Bible and high priest of the religion devoted to the worship of Satan. One of his famous quotes is "There is a beast in man that must be exercised not exorcised." His last words were:

"Oh my, oh my, what have I done, there is something very wrong… there is something very wrong…"

►  Aleister Crowley, 1875 - 1947

An English occultist, he founded the religion of Thelema, whose philosophy is "Do what thou wilt will be the whole of the law". He identified himself as the prophet in charge of guiding humanity. During his lifetime, he gained widespread notoriety as a recreational drug experimenter, practitioner of sexual magic on children and animals, bisexual and individualistic social critic. He was denounced by popular press as "the wickedest man in the world" and a satanist. At his death he cried:

"I am perplexed. Satan get out!"

  • This is what Kathleen Symonds, Aleister Crowley's last landlady, recounted while with him in his last days: "... 'Mrs Thorne-Drury and myself followed the coffin from Hastings to Brighton. At the crematorium we found only a few mourners, perhaps two or three. I remember that a German lady placed some red roses on his coffin. There was no service. Louis Wilkinson, who had a beautiful voice, read his poem Pan and something else that Mr Crowley had written. When we got back to Netherwood in the taxi there was a tremendous thunderstorm with lightning, which continued for the whole of the night. Louis Wilkinson, who travelled back with us, said: 'That's just what Crowley would have liked'!

►  Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827

"Friends applaud, the comedy is over."

The website of Beethoven's publisher ( claims his secretary wrote that he had stated:

"Too bad, too bad, it's too late!"

►  Cesare Borgia, 1475 - 1507

Son of Pope Alexander 6th, Duke of Valentinois, politician whose struggle for power was a major inspiration for Niccolò Machiavelli. Before his death he said:

"I had provided, in the course of my life, for every thing except death, and now, alas! I am to die, although entirely unprepared."

Here's a statement from Cate: "Cesare Borgia was one of the most crafty, cruel, and corrupt men of that corrupt age. No crime was too foul for him to perpetrate or be suspected of. He was charged with the murder of his elder brother, Giovanni, duke of Gandia, and of Alfonso, the husband of Lucrezia; with plotting with his father the murder of Cardinal Corneto; and with incest with his sister. In his wars he had garrisons massacred, and carried off bands of women to gratify his lust."—Cate.

►  Charles IX, 1550 - 1574

King of France. Following his mother's advice, he ordered the massacre of the French Huguenots.

15,000 people were killed in Paris and 100,000 in other parts of France, for no other reason than the love of Christ. After this event, the guilty king suffered miserably for years. Finally he died of acute tuberculosis, his hoarse cough became bloody and his bleeding became very violent.

In his last hours he told his doctors:

"Asleep or awake, I see the mangled forms of the Huguenots passing before me. They drop with blood. They point at their open wounds. Oh! That I had spared at least the little infants at the bosom! What blood! I know not where I am. How will all this end? What shall I do? I am lost forever! I know it. Oh, I have done wrong".

He shouted to his nurse:

"What blood, what murders, what evil counsels have I followed. I am lost, I see it well".

He shouted to his mother:

"Who else but you is the cause of all this? God's blood, you are the cause of everything!".

To this his mother Catherine replied that she had a fool for a son.

►  Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, 1754 - 1838

French politician and diplomat. After studying theology, he became in 1780 general agent of the clergy and represented the Catholic Church to the French. On his deathbed he made the following retraction: 

"Touched more and more by serious considerations, led to judge in cold blood the consequences of a revolution which has brought about everything and which has lasted for fifty years, I have arrived, at the end of a great age and after a long experience, to blame the excesses of the century to which I belonged, and to condemn frankly the serious errors, which, in this long succession of years, have plagued and afflicted the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, and in which I had the misfortune to participate... I have never ceased to regard myself as a child of the Church. I deplore again the acts of my life, which have upset the Church, and my last wishes will be for it and its supreme leader."

From the Memoirs of the Prince of Talleyrand, published with a preface and notes by the Duke de Broglie, of the French Academy, volume V, pp. 482-484, in-8°, XVIII-650 p. Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1892.

►  Clarence Darrow, 1857 - 1938

Defense counsel in many dramatic criminal trials earned him a place in American legal history. He was the Scopes trial lawyer in the famous 1925 debate. On his deathbed, he asked several members of the clergy:

"Please intercede for me with the Almighty. During my life I have spoken many times against Christians, and I now realize that I may have been wrong."

►  David Hume, 1711 - 1776

Historian, economist and atheist philosopher famous for his theory of empiricism and skepticism of religion. 

The following account was published many years ago in Edinburgh, where he died. It is not known to have been ever contradicted. About the end of 1776, a few months after the historian's death, a respectable-looking woman, dressed in black, came into the Haddington stage-coach while passing through Edinburgh. The conversation among the passengers, which had been interrupted for a few minutes, was speedily resumed, which the lady soon found to be regarding the state of mind persons were in at the prospect of death. 

An appeal was made, in defense of infidelity, to the death of Hume as not only happy and tranquil, but mingled even with gaiety and humor. To this the lady said, 

"Sir, you know nothing about it; I could tell you another tale."

The gentleman replied:

"Madam, I presume I have as good information as you can have on this subject, and I believe what I have asserted regarding Mr. Hume has never been called in question."

The lady continued:

"Sir, I was Mr. Hume's housekeeper for many years, I was with him in his last moments; and the mourning I now wear is a present from his relatives for my attention to him on his death bed; and happy would I have been if I could have borne my testimony to the mistaken opinion that has gone abroad of his peaceful and composed end. I have, sir, never till this hour opened my mouth on this subject, but I think it a pity the world should be kept in the dark on so interesting a topic. It is true, sir, that when Mr. Hume's friends were with him he was cheerful and seemed quite unconcerned about his approaching fate; nay, frequently spoke of it to them in a jocular and playful way; but when he was alone, the scene was very different; he was anything but composed, his mental agitation was so great at times as to occasion his whole bed to shake. And he would not allow the candles to be put out during the night, nor would he be left alone for a minute, as I had always to ring the bell for one of the servants to be in the room before he would allow me to leave it. He struggled hard to appear composed, even before me. But to one who attended his bedside for so many days and nights and witnessed his disturbed sleeps and still more disturbed wakings -- who frequently heard his involuntary breathings of remorse and frightful startings, it was no difficult matter to determine that all was not right within. This continued and increased until he became insensible... He cried out on his deathbed:"I am in flames!"

It is said his desperation was a horrible scene.

►  Edward Gibbon, 1737 - 1794

English historian and rationalist scholar, author of the book "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire". The first volume of his book, published on February 17, 1776, was immediately a resounding success, although a bit scandalous because of the last two chapters in which he addressed, with great irony, the rise of Christianity. At his death he said:

"All is lost, irrecoverably lost. All is dark and doubtful"

- Elijah C. Clark, The victory practical handbook for ministers (Church of God, Cleveland TN 1944)

►  Genrikh Yagoda, 1891 - 1938

Secret police officer who served as director of the NKVD, the Soviet Union's intelligence and security agency, who was killed by Stalin, said:

"There must be a God, because my sins have reached me."

►  George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron), 1788 - 1824

Famous English poet and politician who became a revolutionary during the Greek war of independence. Byron was well known for his scandals, his sexual liaisons and illegitimate children, his beauty, and his debauchery. Then, too, the baron lived hard, consuming alcohol with legendary intemperance. After years of hedonism, Byron was facing the realities of suffering. He wrote this poem prior to his death:

"Tis time this heart should be unmoved, since others it has ceased to move: yet, though I cannot be beloved, still let me love! My days are in the yellow leaf; the flowers and fruits of Love are gone; the worm—the canker, and the grief are mine alone!".

Was it a general meditation about death?

►  Grigory Yevseyevich Zinoviev, 1883 - 1936

president of the Communist International, died at the hands of Stalin.. his last words were:

"Listen, Israel, our God is the only God."

►  Guy de Maupassant, 1850 - 1893

Famous French writer, of whom it was said: "critics praised him, men admired him, women adored him." He suffered an advanced case of syphilis and, on January 2, 1892, when he was staying near his mother, he tried to commit suicide by cutting his throat. Doctors were summoned, and his mother agreed reluctantly to his commitment. Two days later he was removed, according to some accounts in a straitjacket, to Dr. Blanche’s nursing home in Paris, where he died one month before his 43rd birthday. He wrote his own epitaph:

"I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing."

►  James Dean, 1931 - 1955

A Hollywood actor, he is remembered as a cultural icon of adolescent disillusionment and social estrangement. At the end of his life he said:

"My fun days are over."

►  Julian apostate, 330 AD - 363 AD

Roman emperor from 361 to 363, Greek philosopher and author. His rejection of Christianity and his promotion of neo-Platonic Hellenism earned him the name Julian the Apostate by the Christian Church. He hated Christians, and directed his forces in the battle against Persia in 363 AD. He was mortally wounded and as he lay dying on the battlefield with some of his blood mixed with dirt, he looked up to heaven and said in reference to Jesus Christ:

"You have conquered, O Galilean."

►   Joseph Smith, 1805-1844

American religious leader and founder of Mormonism and the Latter-day Saint movement, is said to have made several Masonic hand signals as he lay dying on the floor of an Illinois prison on several criminal charges. Lying bloody and desperate, Smith's hoarse voice could be heard shouting the plaintive Masonic wail, calling on all Masons to help a brother in great trouble:

"Is there no help for the widow's son?"

- Texe Marrs, Codex Magica (44)

►  Joseph Staline, 1878 - 1953

Revolutionary politician at the head of the Soviet. Here's what eyewitness said about his last days:  

At half past eight in the evening, according to the Register, they all gathered again in Stalin's office and continued to divide the power. In the morning out to the dacha again. And that went on every day. But they did want the helpless, still breathing dead man.

Professor Myasnikov:

"Malenkov let us know that he hoped the doctors could prolong the life of the patient long enough. We all understood that some time was needed to get the new government together and prepare public opinion."

Stalin sometimes groaned. At one point, only for a brief moment, his conscious gaze seemed to go round the faces by the bed. Then Voroshilov said: 

"Comrade Stalin, we, all your true friends and colleagues, are here. How are you feeling, dear friend?" 

But his eyes were devoid of all expression already. We spent all day March 5 injecting things, and writing press releases. Politburo members walked up to the dying man. The lower ranks just looked through the door. I remember that Khrushchev was also by the doors. In any case, the hierarchy was well observed -- Malenkov and Beria came first. Then Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Bulganin and Mikoyan. Molotov was not well, but came over two or three times, for a short time.,,

In an interview in Newsweek with Svetlana Stalin, daughter of Joseph Stalin, she recounted the death of her father: 

'Father was dying horribly and hard.. God only grants an easy death to the righteous... His face went dark and changed... his features were becoming unrecognisable.. The agony was terrible. We could see how it was stifling him.. At the last moment he suddenly opened his eyes. It was a horrid look -- either mad, or angry and full of the horror and sort of either pointed up somewhere, or shook his finger at us all... The next moment his soul, having made its last effort, broke away from his body.'

He died at 21:50

Leornado Da Vinci, 1452 - 1519

An Italian Scientist and Inventor, renaissance polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture and mathematics to name a new. Before his death, he said: 

"I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have."

He died of a stroke in 1519.

►  Mahatma Gandhi, 1869 - 1948

Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist. He used nonviolent resistance to successfully lead the fight for India's independence from British rule and in turn inspired civil rights and freedom movements around the world. Fifteen years before his death, he wrote: "I am unable to identify with orthodox Christianity. I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism, as I know it, entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being, and I find solace in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount." Before his death, Gandhi wrote::

"My days are numbered. I will probably not live very long, maybe a year or so. For the first time in 50 years, I find myself in the slough of despond. All about me is darkness...I am praying for light."

►  Mao Tse Tung, 1893 - 1976

He was a fierce atheist - but in 1936, when as a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party he fell very sick, he demanded to be baptized and received baptism from the hand of a nun. When his wife was shot by the troops of Chiang Kai-shek, he composed a religious poem "The Immortals".  And in an interview with the American newspaperman Snow in 1971, he said:

"Soon I will have to appear before God."

►  Mazarin, 1602 - 1661

French cardinal and advisor to kings. As the (de facto) ruler of France, he played a crucial role in establishing the Westphalian principles that guide the foreign policy of European states and the dominant world order. Some of these principles, such as the sovereignty of the nation-state over its territory and internal affairs and the legal equality between states, remain the basis of international law. He said at his death:

"Oh, my poor soul! what will become of thee? Whither wilt thou go?"

To the queen dowager of France, who came to visit him in his illness, and who had been his friend at court, he expressed himself in these terms: 

"Madam, your favors have undone me. Were I to live again I would be a capuchin rather than a courtier."

►  Michael Jackson, 1958 - 2009

The pop superstar desperately sought help from propofol, a drug he fatally overdosed on. As he drifted into eternity, he said:

 "I’d like to have some milk. Because I am aware that this is the only thing that truly helps me get to sleep, I beg you to kindly give me some milk so that I can get some rest."

►  Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769 - 1821

French emperor, and who, like Adolf Hitler, brought death to millions of people to satisfy his greedy ambitions, his thirst for power and his egotistical desire for world conquest, said on his deathbed:

"I die before my time, and my body will be given back to the earth. Such is the fate of him who has been called the great Napoleon. What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ!"

►  Robert Ingersoll, 1833 - 1899

American orator and writer during the golden age of freedom of thought. He was nicknamed "the great agnostic" because of his campaign in defense of agnosticism. At his death he said: 

"Life is the cold and barren value between two eternal peaks. I strive in vain to see beyond the distant height. I cry out and the only answer I hear, is the echo of my empty wail. O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul!"

(Some say it was this way: "Oh God, if there be a God, save my soul if I have a soul, from hell, if there be a hell!")

►  Septimius Severus, 145 - 211 BC

Roman emperor who caused the death and persecution of thousands of Christians who refused to worship the emperor and the gods. At his death he said:

"I have been everything, and everything is nothing. A little urn will contain all that remains of one for whom the whole world was too little!"

►  Sir Francis Newport, 1620 - 1708

English soldier, courtesan and politician. He became head of an English atheist club and a life of extravagance led to an incurable disease. He spoke the following words to those who had gathered around his deathbed:

"Whence this war in my heart? What argument is there now to assist me against matters of fact? Do I assert that there is no hell, while I feel one in my own bosom? Am I certain there is no after retribution, when I feel present judgment? Do I affirm my soul to be as mortal as my body, when this languishes, and that is vigorous as ever, O that any one would restore unto me that ancient gourd of piety and innocence! Wretch that I am, whither shall I flee from this breast? What will become of me?"

An infidel companion tried to dispel his thoughts to whom he replied:

"That there is a God, I know, because I continually feel the effects of His wrath; that there is a hell I am equally certain, having received an earnest of my inheritance there already in my breast; that there is a natural conscience I now feel with horror and amazement, being continually upbraided by it with my impieties, and all my iniquities, and all my sins brought to my remembrance. Why God has marked me out for an example of His vengeance, rather than you, or any one of my acquaintances, I presume is because I have been more religiously educated and have done greater despite to the Spirit of grace. O that I was to lie upon the fire that never is quenched a thousand years to purchase the favor of God, and be reunited to Him again! But it is a fruitless wish. Millions of millions of years will bring me no nearer to the end of my torments than one poor hour. O, eternity, eternity! Who can discover the abyss of eternity? Who can paraphrase upon these words - forever and ever!"

Lest his friends should think him insane, he said:

"“You imagine me melancholy, or distracted. I wish I were either; but it is part of my judgment that I am not. No; my apprehension of persons and things is more quick and vigorous than it was when I was in perfect health; and it is my curse, because I am thereby more sensible of the condition I am fallen into. Would you be informed why I am become a skeleton in three or four days? See now, then. I have despised my Maker, and denied my Redeemer. I have joined myself to the atheist and profane, and continued this course under many convictions, till my iniquity was ripe for vengeance, and the just judgment of God overtook me when my security was the greatest, and the checks of my conscience were the least."

As his mental distress and bodily disease were hurrying him into eternity, he was asked if he would have prayer offered in his behalf; he turned his face and exclaimed:

"Tigers and monsters! are ye also become devils to torment me? Would ye give me prospect of heaven to make my hell more tolerable?"

Soon after, his voice failing, and uttering a groan of inexpressible horror, he cried out

"Oh, the insufferable pangs of hell and damnation!"

And died at once.

►  Sir Julian Huxley, 1887 - 1975

English biologist, philosopher, educator, and author who greatly influenced the modern development of embryology, systematics, and behavioral and evolutionary studies. A convinced atheist, he said on his deathbed:

"So it is true after all, so it is true after all."

►  Sir Thomas Scott, 1535 - 1594

Chancellor of England. At his death he said:

"Until this moment I thought there was neither a God nor a hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am doomed to perdition by the just judgment of the Almighty."

►  Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Apple Inc. made this statement about three hours before his death as reported by his sister Mona Simpson:

"Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow".

Did he feel pain? Did he reflect on his life? Did he have a vision? We will never know.

►  Thomas Carlyle, 1795 - 1881

Once a Christian, Carlyle lost his faith while attending Edinburgh University, later adopting a form of deism. He ended his days by saying:

"I am as good without hope and without fear, a sad old man gazing into the final chasm."

►  Thomas Hobbs, 1588 - 1679

English philosopher, considered as one of the founders of modern political philosophy. At his death he said:

"I say again, if I had the whole world at my disposal, I would give it to live one day. I am about to take a leap into the dark."

- Elijah C. Clark, The victory practical handbook for ministers (Church of God, Cleveland TN 1944)

►  Thomas Paine, 1737 - 1809

Political activist, philosopher, and American revolutionary of English origin. He was the main atheist writer of the famous book entitled "The Age of Reason" in which he ridiculed the Christian religion. He slowly lost his friends and left America for England where he died prematurely. According to 

The Roman Catholic bishop Fenwick here are the events preceding his death.

A short time before Paine died I was sent for by him. He was prompted to do this by a poor Catholic woman who went to see him in his sickness and who told him if anybody could do him any good it was a Catholic priest. I was accompanied by F. Kohlmann, an intimate friend. We found him at a house in Greenwich (now Greenwich street, New York), where he lodged. 

A decent-looking elderly woman came to the door and inquired whether we were the Catholic priests, 'for,' said she: 

"Mr. Paine has been so much annoyed of late by other denominations calling upon him that he has left express orders to admit no one but the clergymen of the Catholic Church." 

Upon informing her who we were, she opened the door and showed us into the parlor... The lady said: 

"Gentlemen, I really wish you may succeed with Mr. Paine, for he is laboring under great distress of mind ever since he was told by his physician that he cannot possibly live and must die shortly. He is truly to be pitied. His cries when left alone are heart rending. "O Lord, help me!" he will exclaim during his paroxysms of distress; "God, help me! Jesus Christ, help me!" -- repeating these expressions in a tone of voice that would alarm the house. Sometimes he will say, "O God! what have I done to suffer so much?" Then shortly after, "But there is no God"; and then again, "Yet if there should be, what would become of me hereafter?" Thus he will continue for some time, when, on a sudden, he will scream as if in terror and agony, and call for me by my name. On one occasion I inquired what he wanted. "Stay with me," he replied, "for God's sake! for I cannot bear to be left alone." I told him I could not always be in the room. "Then," said he, "send even a child to stay with me, for it is a hell to be alone." 'I never saw,' she continued, 'a more unhappy, a more forsaken man. It seems he cannot reconcile himself to die."

Such was the conversation of the woman, who was a Protestant, and who seemed very desirous that we should afford him some relief in a state bordering on complete despair. Having remained some time in the parlor, we at length heard a noise in the adjoining room. We proposed to enter, which was assented to by the woman, who opened the door for us. A more wretched being in appearance I never beheld. He was lying in a bed sufficiently decent in itself, but at present besmeared with filth; his look was that of a man greatly tortured in mind, his eyes haggard, his countenance forbidding, and his whole appearance that of one whose better days had been but one continued scene of debauch. His only nourishment was milk punch, in which he indulged to the full extent of his weak state.

- Elijah C. Clark, The victory practical handbook for ministers (Church of God, Cleveland TN 1944)

►  Victor hugo, 1802 - 1885

He was a French Romantic writer and politician who is considered to be one of the greatest French writers of all time. Although raised by his mother as a strict Roman Catholic, Hugo later become extremely anti-clerical and fiercely rejected any connection to the church. On the deaths of his sons Charles and François-Victor, he insisted that they be buried without cross or priest, and in his will made the same stipulation about his own death and funeral. Shortly before his death, Victor Hugo had a stroke, and four days later, on his deathbed, while afflicted with pneumonia, Hugo said, 

“Here is the battle of day against night.” 

As he died, he whispered, 

“I see black light.” 

►  Vladimir Lenin, 1870 - 1924

Russian revolutionary, and politician, he was head of the government of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. When the Russian Revolution was in greatest danger, when Petersburg was surrounded by the troops of the anti-Communist general Kornilov, delivered a speech in which he exclaimed several times:

"Dai Boje" = "May God grant that we escape."

Lenin never used this expression except in this moment of deep crisis.

►  Voltaire, 1694 - 1778

  • French writer, historian and atheist philosopher famous for his wittiness, his criticism of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, as well as his defense of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. The talented French writer boasted "In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear". He once said of Jesus: "Curse the wretch!"

Here are some of his most famous quotes:

  • "Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror ...Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.”

  • "The Bible. That is what fools have written, what imbeciles commend, what rogues teach and young children are made to learn by heart."

At his death he said:

"I am abandoned by God and man; I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months' life."

(He said this to Dr. Fochin, who told him it could not be done.)

"Then I shall die and go to hell!. Oh, Christ, oh, Jesus-Christ!"

His nurse said: "For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night long he cried for forgiveness". A few years later, his house in Geneva was used by the Société Biblique de Genève to print Bibles

- Elijah C. Clark, The victory practical handbook for ministers (Church of God, Cleveland TN 1944)

►  Yemelyan Yaroslavsky, 1878 - 1943

Russian Bolshevik revolutionary, member of the Communist Party, journalist, historian and president of the League of Godless in the United States, asked Stalin from his deathbed:

"Burn all my books! Look, He is here! He waited for me. Burn all my books!"

May the Holy Spirit guide you in the understanding of this message.

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