I've seen this quote floating around all over the place. It's often used in popular Christian-lite reading (see the first page of the Google Books search for the quote), but is it true? I have never seen a worthwhile publication linked as a source, nor a date and I don't believe it's in keeping with Mr Shaw's personality or beliefs.

The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. It’s (sic) counsels which should have established the millennium, led, instead, directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions of worshippers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.

-- Supposedly George Bernard Shaw on his deathbed

Did George Bernard Shaw really convert on his deathbed, or is this quote mis-attributed? Or does it come from somewhere else?

1 Answer 1


This is false. That quote was derived from a line of dialogue by a character in his 1932 play "Too True to be Good." The full text of which can be found here. If you search "bankrupt" it is the only result that comes up and you can instantly see the striking similarity between the quotes.

THE ELDER [rising impulsively] Determinism is gone, shattered, buried with a thousand dead religions, evaporated with the clouds of a million forgotten winters. The science I pinned my faith to is bankrupt: its tales were more foolish than all the miracles of the priests, its cruelties more horrible than all the atrocities of the Inquisition. Its spread of enlightenment has been a spread of cancer: its counsels that were to have established the millennium have led straight to European suicide. And I--I who believed in it as no religious fanatic has ever believed in his superstition! For its sake I helped to destroy the faith of millions of worshippers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now look at me and behold the supreme tragedy of the atheist who has lost his faith--his faith in atheism, for which more martyrs have perished than for all the creeds put together. Here I stand, dumb before my scoundrel of a son; for that is what you are, boy, a common scoundrel and nothing else.

There is no evidence that Shaw summarized this line of dialogue at any time near his death and contrary to some claims this was written more than 18 years and no less than 8 major works before his death.


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