If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
Egoism or Self-Centredness and Miracles
A miracle is what is not naturally possible. It is a supernatural occurrence. It is paranormal.
Religion uses miracles as evidence for the truth of its claims.
Miracles are events that seem to be against nature or the way natural law usually runs. In other words, they cannot be explained by nature. Examples are the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing to children, the unexplained cure of incurable illness, blood coming out of nowhere on Catholic communion wafers, the sun spinning at Fatima in Portugal in 1917 and most importantly Jesus Christ coming back to life after being dead nearly three days. It is thought that only God can do these things.
I am more sure I exist than I am that anything else does therefore I come first and I should be helping others only to please myself. This view is called egoism or self-centredness or rational selfishness.
We are not talking about selfishness in the sense of wanting to hurt others for its own sake.
The Christians hold that as we must sacrifice for God it is a sin to help others or God just to please yourself. That is loving yourself and using them to do it.
To think that miracles are done for a good purpose is mad for they should be happening discreetly to change our disordered selfish desires to make us more useful to others so that we practice rational selfishness instead of harmful selfishness. Miracles would be unnecessary and would imply a useless God who needs them to correct the result of his bungling and should have made our feelings ordered and the way they should be in the first place. Miracles if they can really be taken as signs from God imply then that we should be altruists and not egoists so they are done to encourage suffering for altruism is evil and demeaning. We can’t say that we should be altruists when others need help and egoists when they do not for we can always find something to do for others which means that we improve ourselves in the ways of selfishness and do good for others.
When I am most sure I exist nothing outside of me, be it an apparition of Jesus or some other miracle, has any business judging my motives or accusing me of doing wrong deliberately. I must judge myself which is another reason why it is so important to have a fully rational basis for the chief things like God and right conduct in our lives and why religion must be fought for it is wrong. So, nobody outside of me has any business telling me I have free will for that accuses me of being sinful. I know I can do bad but nobody knows if I meant it or not for nobody can be me but me. They can judge my actions but not me. Thus unless I can prove by my own individual experience that I have free will and can sin or be immoral (that is, do what I believe to be wrong of my own free will) I should not believe in it. (And experience does not prove it or even give evidence of it. It gives the opposites for I see how feelings and thoughts work up to the thought and desire that causes me to act just the way they would if they were a response to some force controlling me. They work like the reactions inside a computer that lead to the computer carrying out your command. But that’s not relevant here.) So for an apparition, religion teacher, minister or priest, Bible or anybody else to tell me that I am a sinner or have been immoral or have free will is for them to degrade me and endeavour to trample upon me.
You may never feel more free and more happy than when you indulge your desire to help others and when you do it to indulge. You are doing it for you and not them. It follows that even if we might be wrong, we should assume that others help us for themselves and not for our sake.
If people report miracles that is not going to do us any good. So we can assume that they more than most are doing it because they want to believe in miracles.
Egoism is doing good for others while being motivated to do this simply because you enjoy it. It is the enjoyment you want. The good results for others are really a side-effect. This is harmful in the sense that it puts enjoyment above people's happiness. Its a form of selfishness. But it means that practically speaking you can be one amazing person. Egotism is defined as selfishness which does not work for the wellbeing of others but against it.
I have a bun. I want to eat it. My friend wants it too. I give it to him. Religion says that this is an act of altruism or self-sacrifice. It is the motive that must be examined.
If I give it because I can, I am not giving it for him.
If it give it because its unselfish then I am giving it for a principle and not for him.
If I give it to be unselfish then I must expect him to be unselfish and give it back. If I don't then I regard unselfishness as bad. Therefore I am not giving it because I intend to be good. A good result does not mean I had a good intention.
Egoism is about indulging desires. If we are naturally egoists, then the notion of God doing miracles as signs is ridiculous. Why? Because all he needs to do is tweak our emotional responses. We have no control over our feelings. We think we have control and loads of it. When I feel miserable and go for a walk to cheer myself up it seems I am controlling the feeling. But I did not make the good feeling. It happened just because I went for a walk. It might not have happened. So I never control my feelings.
If I am an egoist, then my god is me. I can't have another god. God setting up a religion with miracles and a theology to win me would only show God's own ignorance.
We are all egoists. We only do what we want to do under the circumstances. And wanting to do something necessarily implies you want to feel fulfilled by doing this thing. So what is the point of a God looking for worship from us and doing miracles for that purpose when all I love is myself? If miracles oppose egoism as religion claims then they are evil and want me to curse the way I am. Only I can decide what I should or shouldn’t do so God should mind his own business and not be making out that it is my duty to believe what he says.
God is only a bully for commanding me to love him. And so is anybody who is his messenger for they urge that duty upon me. Miracles are bad if they encourage such degradation.
Miracle stories are enjoyable. People find lies more
interesting than the truth. So there is a danger of those stories being lies.
Another attraction is how people think that when they experience miracles that
they are favoured by God and those who do not have experience are not favoured
or not favoured yet. To say that some are chosen to experience miracles is to
say that they are favoured over others. It boosts their egos which is why you
can be in big trouble if you tell a religious believer in miracles to have some
All miracles, assuming they happen at all, are evil -
indirectly if not directly.
Further Reading ~
A Christian Faith for Today, W Montgomery Watt, Routledge, London, 2002
Answers to Tough Questions, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Scripture Press, Bucks, 1980
Apparitions, Healings and Weeping Madonnas, Lisa J Schwebel, Paulist Press, New York, 2004
A Summary of Christian Doctrine, Louis Berkhof, The Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1971
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Veritas, Dublin, 1995
Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Karl Keating, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988
Enchiridion Symbolorum Et Definitionum, Heinrich Joseph Denzinger, Edited by A Schonmetzer, Barcelona, 1963
Looking for a Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993
Miracles, Rev Ronald A Knox, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1937
Miracles in Dispute, Ernst and Marie-Luise Keller, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1969
Lourdes, Antonio Bernardo, A. Doucet Publications, Lourdes, 1987
Medjugorje, David Baldwin, Catholic Truth Society, London, 2002
Miraculous Divine Healing, Connie W Adams, Guardian of Truth Publications, KY, undated
New Catholic Encyclopaedia, The Catholic University of America and the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc, Washington, District of Columbia, 1967
Raised From the Dead, Father Albert J Hebert SM, TAN, Illinois 1986
Science and the Paranormal, Edited by George O Abell and Barry Singer, Junction Books, London, 1981
The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan, Headline, London, 1997
The Book of Miracles, Stuart Gordon, Headline, London, 1996
The Case for Faith, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000
The Encyclopaedia of Unbelief Volume 1, Gordon Stein, Editor, Prometheus Books, New York, 1985
The Hidden Power, Brian Inglis, Jonathan Cape, London, 1986
The Sceptical Occultist, Terry White, Century, London, 1994
The Stigmata and Modern Science, Rev Charles Carty, TAN, Illinois, 1974
Twenty Questions About Medjugorje, Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D. Pangaeus Press, Dallas, 1999
Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer, Freeman, New York, 1997
The Problem of Competing Claims by Richard Carrier