This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In canonizing Mother Teresa as a saint ("Pope declares Mother Teresa a saint," Sept. 5), the pope publicly confirmed the essential tenets of Catholicism:
That God could have stopped Catholic priests from raping altar boys. But, overall, He didn't want to.
And millions throughout the world rejoiced in this good news.
Such is religion.
Granted, the pope didn't frame the issue quite that way. But it's true just the same.
One miracle is as possible or impossible as another. Preach that an omnipotent deity can perform miracles, and you also preach that at other times He chooses not to.
The reality is that the priests really did rape altar boys. And the reality is God didn't stop them. There is no excuse of "metaphor" to hide behind here, as moderate theists so often do when it comes to their holy scripture.
Put simply, God was either unable or unwilling to intervene. The Catholic God purportedly is omnipotent and hence was able to stop the rapes even though He didn't. The Catholic God is also omnibenevolent. So sitting out and willfully letting the rapes continue was also the right thing for Him to do.
In essence, that's what every Christian believes liberal moderates as well as conservative fundamentalists. Though few like to admit it.
Such is the human brain on religion.
Christianity is not only ridiculous and repugnant. It is also deeply dishonest. No reasonable earthly father would allow his children to be raped, if he could readily intervene to stop it. No reasonable person would praise an earthly father who willfully let such rapes occur.
But substitute "Heavenly Father" for "earthly father," and now His faithful supplicants shout, "Laus Deo!"
Let's review. In order for Mother Teresa to be declared a saint, the church needed to recognize that she'd performed not just one miracle but two.
The first miracle was the purported healing of Monica Beresa, who claimed she'd been cured of a cancerous tumor by a beam of light emitted from Mother Teresa's picture in a medallion placed on her abdomen. But her doctor stated that it was a cyst caused by turberculosis, not a cancerous tumor, and attributed her gradual recovery thereafter to her months of medication. Even her husband declared the miracle a "hoax."
Curiously, a call to put the medallion to the test to cure another tumor goes unanswered, despite the suffering it presumably would save.
Pope Francis recognized the second purported miracle last December, after a Brazilian man recovered from a brain infection when his wife prayed fervently to Mother Teresa to heal him.
This is superstition of the lowest order. Don't understand something? "God did it."
Seeking intellectual respect, Pope Francis recently declared that God is not "a magician, with a magic wand." But as the pope's canonizing Mother Teresa shows, he's happy to promote God's magic when it makes for good PR.
It's nice that Mother Teresa miraculously healed two people, according to her church. How unfortunate, though, that she didn't bother to heal the many others who have died under the care of her Missionaries of Charity, often in squalid conditions with poor medical treatment, despite the unaccounted-for millions of dollars raised in her name.
The reality is, when an outcome truly would require a miracle, then intercessory prayer to saints and gods never works. Never.
Pray for rain, as Gov. Rick Perry of Texas once enjoined his state to do, and sure enough, it will rain somewhere, sooner or later. But, notes Marshall Brain, pray for an adult human amputee to regrow a limb almost instantly, just as Mother Teresa cured the Brazilian man, and it doesn't ever happen. Ever.
Apparently, Mother Teresa hates amputees. Either that, or God does. He'll routinely regrow limbs for salamanders. But for people? Meh. Not so much.
Primitive superstitious beliefs are not reason to rejoice. Mass self-delusion is not reason to rejoice. Rejecting reality is not reason to rejoice.
They are reason to mourn.
Mother Teresa was no saint. In more ways than one.
Gregory A. Clark is an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah who accepts and professionally tries to develop treatment approaches that are based on evidence.