A Nobel laureate said the Bible is a "handbook of bad morals" and the world would be a better place without the Christian holy book.
Jose Saramago, who won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, denounced the Bible at the press conference for his new book, Cain, on Sunday in Portugal. His latest book is the retelling of the Genesis story of Cain and Abel.
During the event, he was quoted as saying, "The Bible is a manual of bad morals (which) has a powerful influence on our culture and even our way of life. Without the Bible, we would be different and probably better people," according to the news agency Lusa.
The 86-year-old author explained by describing the Bible as "a catalog of cruelty and of what's worst in human nature," according to The Associated Press. He went on to say "a cruel, jealous, and unbearable God exists only in our heads."
His irreverence was not only directed at God, but at religious institutions.
Saramago said he did not think his book would anger the Catholic Church "because Catholics do not read the Bible."
"It might offend Jews, but that doesn't really matter to me," he added.
The Roman Catholic Church in Portugal, where Saramago is from, has called his comments "offensive" and accused the controversial writer of pulling a publicity stunt.
Portugal's population is about 85 percent Roman Catholic, according to the CIA World Factbook.
The latest row with the Catholic Church is nothing new to Saramago. He caused a similar uproar in 1992 with the release of his book, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. In the book, Saramago writes that Jesus lost his virginity to Mary Magdalene and tried to avoid the crucifixion.
Saramago is an atheist and a member of the Portuguese Communist Party.