From Freedom From Religion Foundation
On February 11, 1847, Thomas Alva Edison was born in Ohio, the youngest of seven. The inventor – famed for reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire before the age of ten, and for vowing at age 12 to read the entire contents of the Detroit Public Library – was largely self-taught.
Supporting himself at a very early age, Edison sold newspapers, worked for railroad companies and became a telegraph operator. He invented the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and improved the telegraph and telephone, becoming a highly successful businessman and manufacturer.
Edison, who held more than 1,300 US and foreign patents, famously noted: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
Edison, who died in 1931, told The New York Times in an interview (June 8, 1915 edition): “I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill.”
A lifelong freethinker, one of his oft-repeated lines (for which we could find only secondary sources) is: “So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake. . . . Religion is all bunk.”
In an interview with The New York Times (October 2, 1910) Edison said: “I cannot believe in the immortality of the soul … I am an aggregate of cells, as, for instance, New York City is an aggregate of individuals. Will New York City go to heaven? …. No; nature made us – nature did it all – not the gods of the religions.”