Shame on the Catholic Church! Pope Francis gave the Catholic Church two of its youngest saints on Saturday, canonizing the sibling hoaxers falsely believed to have seen the Madonna 100 years ago in a Portuguese town that is now a major pilgrimage site.
If the post-truth era triumphs, if alternative facts supersede evidence, if polls are so wrong, it is because the relationship people have with the real world has changed. Throughout time, individuals have tried to escape the reality of life, through religion, drugs, or alcohol. Today, modern technologies allow a genuine democratization of the unreal. Everyone can live in a parallel world consisting of gods, prophets, avatars, churches, video games, augmented reality, or sitcoms. Each can lead an alternative life by proxy.
Hundreds of thousands of morons, many of whom slept outdoors to hold their places, broke into applause as fluffy Francis proclaimed the hoaxers – Francisco and Jacinta Marto – the newest of the Church’s saints.
The two hoaxers died at the ages of 10 and 9 years old, within three years of the 1917 apparitions, making them the youngest saints of the Church who were not martyrs.
Today we know very well we are just a sort of apes, all religions are wrong, there is no God, there is no afterlife, and all miracles are hoaxes. God is the most unpleasant character in all fiction! But many people refuse to accept reality that when they die that will be the very end of them, that they will cease to exist. Hoi polloi live on wishful thinking that they will live forever near God in another life! Hitler used to say that hoi polloi believe big lies, not small lies!
All religions are big lies. Basic to religion is a presumed distinction between humans and animals, and a presumed uniqueness of humans in the universe. Based on evolutionary biology and astronomy, science rejects this stupid distinction. God is imaginary and religion is a complete illusion. Belief in God is nothing but a silly superstition, which leads a significant portion of the population to be delusional.
We are becoming a homo deus, because we are fundamentally redesigning our species and a vast number of other species. We are redesigning life itself. We use instruments to modify our own gene code such that we may birth the next human species. Our god-like technology to redesign life leads to multiple human species on this and other planets. That is a somewhat terrifying prospect, if purely data-driven, algorithmic hominids were to treat us as we have treated our closest relatives: chimps, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas.
The Virgin of Fatima hoax is venerated by Catholics around the world, a following underscored by the many national flags fluttering in the morons, estimated at more than half a million.
In the homily of a huge outdoor Mass, Francis prayed that the Madonna would protect the most vulnerable members of society, “especially the sick and the disabled, prisoners and the unemployed, the poor and the abandoned”.
The rise and fall of religious beliefs is difficult to predict with assurance. It’s doubtful whether many Romans in the early second century would have predicted the rise of Christianity, whether many Europeans in the early sixteenth century would have predicted the Reformation and the subsequent rejection of Catholicism by much of the continent, whether many Americans in the early twentieth century would have foreseen the simultaneous decline of mainstream Protestant denominations and the rise of Protestant fundamentalism, or whether many in the West anticipated the recent spike in atheists, agnostics, and other nonbelievers. Perhaps over the next one hundred years, some faith will sweep aside other beliefs; perhaps religious beliefs, in general, will decline precipitously and all but disappear. Either outcome is possible.
However, a much more likely outcome is a significant increase in the number of nonbelievers, accompanied by a decrease, but not a collapse, in the number of believers. This increase could come fairly quickly if nonbelievers reach a critical mass, which would allow for greater acceptance and the sense among many nominal believers that it’s no longer socially injurious to acknowledge that one is an atheist or agnostic. The big break in the United States will come if and when a number of politicians who are open atheists and nominal believers to come out of the closet. But even if there is an exponential increase in the number of nonbelievers, it’s improbable that religion will be completely abandoned. Religious belief is resilient. Some debate whether religious belief has a genetic basis, but regardless of whether it has a biological foundation, it’s undeniable it has deep cultural and psychological roots. Beliefs that have had a firm grip on the human psyche for millennia are unlikely to vanish in a century.
It makes no difference whether our moral impulses are evolved or learned. The theory that explains morality should be neutral with regard to whether our moral attitudes, habits, preferences, and proclivities are a product of genes or cultures. Culture itself is ultimately a product of evolution. Whether you think instinct is purely biological or a learned habit, or a combination of the two, it comes down to the same goal: the minimization of harm to biological organisms.
The common morality is composed of those core moral norms that have been accepted across cultures. For humans to live together in peace and prosper, we need to follow norms such as do not kill, do not steal, do not inflict pain gratuitously, tell the truth, keep your commitments, reciprocate acts of kindness, and so forth. The number of core norms is small, but they govern most of the transactions we have with other humans. This is why we see these norms in all functioning human societies, past and present. Injunctions against violence, deceit, and betrayal are familiar in every society and every legal system. They have been voiced in works as different as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Icelandic Edda, and the Bhagavad-Gita. Any community in which these norms were lacking could not survive for long. We cannot live together in peace without these core moral norms. This shared core of moral norms represents the common heritage of civilized human society.
Two huge tapestries made from century-old photographs of the children dressed in the traditional peasant garb of the times hung from the church that is now the focal point of the sanctuary visited by about seven million people each year.
The story of Fatima’s hoaxers has captivated Catholics since their first hoodwinked vision on May 13, 1917. The Church hoodwinks the Madonna gave three hoaxers – Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their older cousin Lucia Dos Santos – three messages, the so-called secrets of Fatima. Dos Santos became a nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97, and efforts are underway to make her a saint as well.
The first two secrets were revealed soon and concerned a vision of hell, seen by believers as a prediction of the outbreak of World War Two, a warning that Russia would “spread her errors” in the world, and a need for general conversion to God and prayer.
The “third secret” intrigued the morons for more than three-quarters of a century, inspiring books and cults convinced that it predicted the end of the world.
In 2000, the Vatican said it was a prediction of the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul on May 13, the same day of the first hoodwinked apparition in 1917.
John Paul believed the Madonna had diverted one of the bullets that hit him from his vital organs. He donated it to the sanctuary, where it is now embedded in the crown of the statue of the Madonna.