Sathya Sai Baba was a Hindi holy man who claimed to be God (claimed we’re each god, actually, but he had the power to perform miracles since he’d accepted the fact, whereas others were bound by their lack of faith). He died a few short years ago, though since resurrection is listed amongst his powers, presumably we may yet get a chance to meet him.
He performed a number of miracles—such as producing ash from his empty hands, pouring seemingly unlimited amounts of ash from a vase, being able to read minds, cure terminal illnesses (cancer was his specialty), see into the future and the past… He even once, when speaking with a man, was able to sense that the man’s wife had just caught on fire; Baba instantly transported 400 miles, put the flames out, and then returned to finish his conversation. He also was known to raise the dead.
This is all documented.
But that you can talk to all of the people involved, that you can see the evidence for yourself, has not roused a single Christian (that I’m aware of) to convert, or even to investigate. They’re so convinced that he’s a fraud that no evidence would convince them otherwise. But when Mother Teresa performs a miracle, from beyond the grave no less, then–even with the miracle scientifically explained and a confessed hoax–they refuse to acknowledge even the most basic questions as to it’s authenticity.
They want to believe one, and not the other. The quanta of proof is irrelevant in either case. They have chosen the belief first, and then accumulated evidence to support it, discarding that which does not.
Now I’m open to miracles, but I expect well rationed and reasoned proof (and they must indeed be miracles, not simply long shot coincidences). Thanks to the “miracle” of modern technology, Sai Baba’s handiwork is easily available on YouTube. I must admit one or two of them are a touch impressive, but the vast majority are so laughably fake that it’s surprising to find that these videos are posted–not by skeptics–but by his supporters. What troubles me is that of all his, I’ve yet to see him do anything that can’t be reproduced by Penn Jillette, David Copperfield, or Marjoe Gortner (a spectacularly successful Evangelical preacher/faith healer, and self professed fraud).
Every miracle attributed to Mother Teresa is just as easily explained (also admitted fraud); that they could qualify her for canonization is an embarrassingly low bar for what constitutes a “miracle”, and strongly suggests that the church doesn’t expect any better evidence to come along. It undermines the credibility of the entire notion of sainthood, if this is what it takes to make a saint.
With genuine sincerity I apologize to my Mormon brothers and sisters, but the best example of what I consider to be open fraud is Joseph Smith. The story of the founding of Mormonism is so patently counterfeit that I sometimes think Mormons are a comedy troupe that have simply let the joke run too long. What’s more, nearly every other Christian (Catholic, Protestant, Baptist and so on) agrees with that assessment. And yet these same Christians are unable to take that critical eye and apply it inward, incapable of seeing that–in the face of a vast universe (multiverse, actually), we are so infinitesimally small and insignificant that to suggest there is a being that created it all with us in mind, that he cares who we sleep with and why, and picks sides at football games, is not one ounce more credible than the notion that we are aliens waiting to get our own planet(1)Yes, this is the Mormon belief. They tried to rebut the perception in the essay Becoming Like God, but they actually dodged the issue. If they opened with this planet business, I suspect fewer people would answer the door. But take their beliefs, and their incredulity is immediately suspended–and beliefs, even those which are demonstrably false, are swallowed hook line and sinker.
The bible is a political document. Stories written decades after the fact, passed down one very long game of telephone with translations, mistranslated and transcription errors, fiddled with by kings and scribes, with self-contradictory claims, based on retelling of stories and miracles cobbled together from other gods, then edited, re-edited, pieces made bigger and smaller by kings, while new lines were dropped in and pulled out, translation and transcription errors finding their way in. And while no one has been able to find a consensus on what it all means, it’s none the less conclusive evidence of God, or at least good enough to murder or condemn each-other over.
When the Jew tells explains why he doesn’t believe in Christian revelation, he’ll understand why I don’t believe in his. When the Christian refutes Mormon revelations, he’ll understand my objection to the New Testament. When the Mormon refutes Sathya Sai, he will have provided me every argument I need against Mormonism.
Unless you receive the revelation yourself, all revelations are hearsay. If it’s hearsay, there is no difference between so-called “revealed” religions, and any other faith.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Yes, this is the Mormon belief. They tried to rebut the perception in the essay Becoming Like God, but they actually dodged the issue. If they opened with this planet business, I suspect fewer people would answer the door|