If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
What do the bad fruits of Knock apparition say?
On the night of the 21st of August 1879 the Virgin Mary flanked by St Joseph and a bishop thought to be St John the Evangelist and an altar with a lamb and cross on it allegedly appeared on the gable wall of the Parish Church of Knock for a few hours. Fifteen people witnessed the vision including a child of five (page 60, The Evidence for Visions of the Virgin Mary). Witness statements were published in a highly altered and edited form that differed hugely from the real ones the witnesses made. That witnesses didn't do the slightest thing about the lies speaks strongly against them as honest people.
The following book has proved invaluable. Knock The Virgin's Apparition in Nineteenth Century Ireland, Eugene Hynes, Cork University Press, Cork, 2008
The Knock apparition seems very convincing on the face of it. Appearances can be so deceiving! It does not really matter how the hoax was performed. What matters is the evidence that something tricky was going on. The figures that appeared were Jewish and thus the statement of the Jewish Law that one witness isn't enough as evidence would have been endorsed by them. Jesus and God in the New Testament reaffirm that rule. And the bishop was holding a gospel book indicating approval for gospel teaching. Thus the apparition implies that we must not take any testimony as sufficient if there is only the one witness.
The Catholic Church has built a huge shrine at Knock, Ireland to honour an alleged appearance of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, there that took place in 1879.
Pilgrims, many of whom had to virtually starve to get the money together, go on pilgrimage there.
Many sick and dying people go to great trouble and expense to honour Mary at the place where she supposedly appeared.
Many go away disappointed at not getting a miraculous cure at Knock.
The Church rakes in millions from donations.
Attempts to remove civil rights from people and to block the state from taking a neutral approach to Catholicism and religion in general are made in honour of the Knock apparition. Its evil influence lives today.
Charles Haughey, Irish Prime Minister, gave millions of pounds in state aid to provide Knock with an airport. This was during a time of recession. The taxpayer's brutally earned money was taken out of the mouths of those on hospital waiting lists to pay for all this. Hospitals had to do without. Haughey, at least that one time, took Jesus seriously when Jesus said that nobody at all must be preferred to Jesus (Matthew 10:37). Jesus once welcomed it when a woman wasted hugely expensive ointment on his feet though critics said it should have been sold to the poor. No wonder Haughey, who went to Mass every day, was so callous.
If the apparition was a hoax, then the joke continues until today.
The apparition encouraged sacrilege
Catholicism teaches that if an apparition is a lie or from Satan you will see problems with the immediate fruits. If they are bad, they are taken as evidence that the vision is not from a loving God.
The apparition led to people picking the cement out of the Church wall and putting it in danger of collapsing (page 89). Commonsense proves that if a vision on the gable was reported that it would have to happen! Would the Virgin knowing people would do this have appeared at Knock and caused the desecration of a Church? They were stealing. Strangely it got so bad that stones were being pulled out before anything was done about it. Yet many in the Church held that many of the early miracle cures at Knock were connected to the pious use of the cement (page 88, The Apparition at Knock). Apparitions of lights on the gable and even of the Virgin herself were seen after the vision but the Church dismissed those stories.
There was no report of love for the vision or fervent prayer or great joy during the vision
The Knock visionaries acted more like people seeing something interesting but not as in seeing a miracle. Their relative lack of enthusiasm says that there was something odd but nevertheless unremarkable about what they were looking at.
“I continued looking on for fully an hour, and then I went away.”
“I remained looking on for fully fifteen or twenty
minutes; then I left and returned to my own house.”
“I remained only ten minutes, and then I went away.”
“I remained now for the space of at least a quarter of an
hour, perhaps longer.”
The lack of devotion and the failure to mention the spiritual things you would feel during a vision is telling. They did not care to even stay too long!!
An apparition that cannot produce reasonable fruits
during its occurrence can hardly do so afterwards.
The apparition caused danger
The Knock apparitions were not the work of God. The fact that an old lady, Brigid Trench 75, was led to stand for an hour in pouring rain honouring a vision helps prove that. A vision being optional for belief cannot have the right to encourage an old lady to risk death by pneumonia. Even if we cannot find an explanation for the vision then that does not mean that we cannot keep looking for one or that there is none. An unlikely but natural explanation is better than a magical or supernatural explanation. Bizarre things do happen in nature.
The visionaries abandoned a dying woman
Judith Campbell was an apparition witness. In her testimony, she declared that Mary Beirne called at her house at 8 and asked her to go and see the apparition (page 31, The Apparition at Knock). She did not say how long she stayed. She did not mention abandoning her dying mother and leaving her on her own. Her mother was dying and Judith left her in her sickbed to look at the vision. Manipulator!
Bridget Trench 75 was in Campbell's house. She left at 7.30 upon hearing of the apparition which she prayed at for an hour (page 30, The Apparition at Knock). That means she could have gone back to keep an eye on dying Mrs Campbell when Judith appeared at 8 but didn't.
The visionaries left the vision because Mrs Campbell had been found unconscious at her door and needed help. Judith had thought she was dead when she discovered her (page 82, The Apparition at Knock). The old lady heard about the vision and wanted to see and got out of her bed and made it to the door where she fell. She died the next day.
Why does the Church say that if the witnesses hadn't run off and abandoned the vision to help dying Mrs Campbell, it would be a sign that the apparition was false? (page 83, The Apparition at Knock). Surely a vision taking a daughter away from her mother is false then with that logic? And the apparition did that! Keeping the daughter away from the dying mother is more serious than keeping people at a gable when an old and abandoned woman is dying. Judith left her mother's sickbed unattended. Because of the apparition, nobody was with the old woman. Why did the vision not vanish the very moment the alarm was raised about Mrs Campbell? It lingered on as if disapproving of them going away. God will not send a vision unless he wants people to see it. Yet in Knock we have an apparition that was around before the first witness saw it. She ignored it for a while and it was still there when she and friends went to see it. It was still there when they all left the apparition site. However, they helped Mrs Campbell and when they returned to the gable the vision was gone. It vanished during their ten or fifteen minute absence. It is strange that Judith didn't have her mother carried out to see the vision in the hope of a miracle.
Why is the apparition nearly killing a dying woman not a disproof of its authenticity?
Why did all the visionaries have to leave? They behaved strangely. Even more so when they stayed fifteen to twenty minutes away.
There is no way that people in a rural community in Ireland would have let it happen that an old woman would be left alone to possibly die. It is enough to make one think that there was nobody at the gable that night.
Whatever the truth about Knock is, the lies and gullibility and extremism that followed it shows it is not from a benevolent supernatural source.
Knock and the resurrection of Jesus - let us think about that!
How could God give us fifteen modern witnesses to a miracle when he only gave us a handful of obscure and legendary witnesses to the resurrection? Why is Knock more believable than the resurrection of Jesus though the latter is essential for belief? In relation to the resurrection, none of the witnesses were cross-examined and no eye-witness reports were left behind. Knock didn’t have that problem. Knock certainly can claim to be more believable and authoritative than the resurrection of Jesus.
The Bible forbids the worship of images as they cannot see us. The people at Knock worshipped the images they saw even though the testimonies show that they saw an apparition of statues! Would God be behind such an encouragement to idolatry?
The Knock vision was triggered by at best seeing shapes
that could pass for the shapes of Mary and others on the gable. By
altering the depositions of the witnesses and hiding the real ones, the Church
was able to start the myth of Mary personally appearing there and it did this
during the lifetimes of the visionaries who said nothing to correct it.
This shows how the resurrection of Jesus legend could have taken off from
something very unremarkable. Perhaps a hoaxer joking with some followers
of Jesus and pretending to be the risen Jesus started off the Christian faith?
Knock is absolute proof that such a thing is possible. And we must
remember that there is no evidence that anybody who supposedly seen Jesus risen
would have accepted the accuracy of the gospel resurrection accounts or would
have taken the idea of gospels very seriously. So if it is possible with
Knock it is infinitely more possible with the resurrection accounts.
Evidence that God was not behind the Knock Experience
If Mary appeared at Knock, she would assume that the witnesses would take it as confirmation that the Catholic Church was the one true religion and provided by God for healing sinners with the truth and the sacraments. And it would imply that Catholics should continue with such devotions as the apparitions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St Margaret Mary Alacoque in France. This devotion was very popular in Ireland. However, this devotion is based on a twisted Jesus who can only be described as brutal and evil. In The Gospel According to Woman we read the proof of this. Jesus told her she was to be the plaything of his love and for her to surrender to him so he could gratify himself at her expense (page 154). Jesus told her on her profession day that she must be insensible to all that was earthly (page 154). Jesus in a vision got her to drink the blood from his side (page 154). Once before Lent she had a vision of Jesus in which he was plastered in blood and covered in wounds crying that nobody seems to have pity on him (page 155). The implication is that he was expecting her to respond and nobody else. She was glorifying herself by recording this incident. Her revelations and the spirituality of the Church informed her that her anorexia was holy and was not a sickness. These problems can be evidence that Catholicism is a false religion. The Devil had no need to fabricate the Knock apparition for the people were as Catholic as could be reasonably expected. So we must assume that what happened there was a hoax.
In interpreting the non-verbal message of the apparition, it is vital that we put ourselves in the shoes of the visionaries. Jesus said the world was about to end. Today's liars in the Church say that he only meant that it was near from his viewpoint and with him a thousand years would be just like a day. But Jesus said that to ignorant and badly educated people in a climate of last days predictions. When he said it to them knowing what they would take it to mean it shows he meant it in the way they understood it. Apply the same principle to the Knock witnesses. Thus the Knock apparition would have intended to support and provide evidence for the authenticity and divine authority of the Catholic Church.
The women testifying to the apparition have their testimony invalidated by the Bible itself. The Bible forbids women to teach religion. There is no verse allowing it at all. There is nothing to encourage it. But what about Mary you may say. Mary teaches in Luke's gospel. But that gospel accepts visions and apparitions so its possible that some man reported a vision about Mary's activities. The bishop in the apparition held a book containing Bible readings indicating the validity of the Bible.
The Church permits belief in apparitions if it finds the apparition has made the witness holier and changed their spiritual life. The Knock witnesses were never known for exceptional holiness. None of them became priests or nuns. The Church never asked them how it changed them and never checked for signs of the presence of God's Holy Spirit in the witnesses. Thus Church approval for Knock is invalid even according to the Church's own rules.
The Knock apparition was just people looking at a sight they considered unusual if not miraculous. In other apparitions, the witnesses go into a state of ecstatic joy and a trance. This might be significant. Or it might not be. The Bible speaks of great joy during visions from Heaven but never mentions the witnesses going into trances. It does condemn Mediums and mediums go into trances and ecstatic states to have visions.
Even false apparitions are followed by what are described as good fruits. The fruits will be healings and conversions. The only real way to be sure an apparition is authentic and from God is if miracle cures take place. Not all healings are to be considered miracles. There could be a natural explanation. Not a single proven miracle cure has been reported at Knock. In fairness to the Church, it has not declared any cure authentically miraculous. This contrasts with Lourdes where the Church has declared a number of healings to be miraculous and scientifically inexplicable. It does not inspire confidence that the Knock apparition was really from God.
A Marion Carroll admits to deceiving her family about her MS and how bad it was. She claimed she was cured at Knock. The sceptic says she might have lied about the cure. Believers say that her deception of her family was understandable and does not prove she would lie about a cure. They have it that if you lie for a good reason it does not prove that you would lie for a bad one. That is nonsense. Nobody lies just for a bad reason. They lie because they see good in lying. And if you would steal 10p off your father you could easily steal it from your mother too. What the believers and sceptics both should do is admit that she may have lied or may not and leave it at that instead of taking sides. Its the only fair and honest thing to do.