This has got to be one of Sam Harris’ more powerful pieces, in my view. He begins with the utterly depraved and mind-numbing insanity of ancient forms of superstition, replete with human (often child) sacrifice and cannibalism. Then, the segue.
It is essential to realize that such impossibly stupid misuses of human
life have always been explicitly religious. They are the product of
what certain human beings think they know about invisible gods and
goddesses, and of what they manifestly do not know about
biology, meteorology, medicine, physics, and a dozen other specific
sciences that have more than a little to say about the events in the
world that concern them.
He doesn’t stop there. There has indeed progressed an evolution, so while human sacrifice and cannibalism are no longer practiced literally, they nonetheless proceed metaphorically.
And it is astride this contemptible history of religious atrocity and
scientific ignorance that Christianity now stands as an absurdly
unselfconscious apotheosis. […] Christianity amounts to the claim that we must love and be loved
by a God who approves of the scapegoating, torture, and murder of one
man—his son, incidentally—in compensation for the misbehavior and thought-crimes of all others.
The notion that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that his death
constitutes a successful propitiation of a “loving” God is a direct and
undisguised inheritance of the scapegoating barbarism that has plagued
bewildered people throughout history. Viewed in a modern context, it is
an idea at once so depraved and fantastical that it is hard to know
where to begin to criticize it. Add to the abject mythology surrounding
one man’s death by torture—Christ’s passion—the symbolic cannibalism of
And so what better way to preface the newly revealed fact that Mother Theresa herself knew it was ludicrously absurd, in her heart? That shouldn’t really be any surprise. She was on the inside, thus in a good position to see how vacuous the whole thing is.
Teresa’s response to her own bewilderment and hypocrisy (her term)
reveals just how like quicksand religious faith can be. Her doubts
about God’s existence were interpreted by her confessor as a sign that
she was sharing Christ’s torment upon the cross; this exaltation of her
wavering faith allowed Teresa “to love the darkness” she experienced in
God’s apparent absence…
Yes, the self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating myth. Centuries of Christians — and others who’ve been made fools of — have been taught, in essence, that resistance, condemnation, denial, and insurmountable logical arguments rendering believers as stupid fools would be used against the faith — and that such is confirmation that the faith is true! Can you imagine? It’s a common confidence racket used by scammers. "Now, they’re going to tell you that this is a scam…" Ever heard that one — other than in the scriptures, I mean?
So how long you gonna be their fool?
Such is the genius of the unfalsifiable. We can
see the same principle at work among her fellow Catholics: Teresa’s
doubts have only enhanced her stature in the eyes of the Church, having
been interpreted as a further evidence of God’s grace.
Ask yourself, when even the doubts of experts are thought to confirm a doctrine, what could possibly disconfirm it?