Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?


The Catholic Church investigated the apparitions of Mary the Mother of Jesus at Lourdes and Fatima. It accepted them as real apparitions. Medjugorje has been condemned by the Church.
The investigation of the apparitions is unscientific in the extreme. No effort is made to show that the lady seen looks the same in the apparitions. Mary is pale in some apparitions. Has rosy cheeks in others. And she has brown skin in others. Her hair colour ranges from light brown to black. The height changes too from apparition to apparition. Mary supposedly left a miracle painting of herself at Guadulupe in Mexico and the Church accepts it as a true miracle. It is never shown to alleged visionaries. They are never queried, "Is this the woman you see?" The Church just assumes that Mary gives herself a head and body transplant every time she appears. The Church never compares the lingo and characteristics of an apparition it is investigating to the lingo and characteristics of accepted apparitions. Yet that is necessary to see if the same person is appearing. So Mary changes personalities too! Commonsense would suggest that it is a different being appearing in different apparition sites and claiming to be Mary. If the apostles were seeing a vision claiming to be of the resurrected Jesus who didn't talk and look the same as in life then one can question if the being really is who he says he is. It is ridiculous to imagine Mary having to do miracles to show that it is her appearing when all she has to do is stick to the same mannerisms, personality, vocabulary and bodily appearance in her apparitions. Why change? If Mary changes herself so much then why does she bother visiting anybody and not send an angel or something? Her changing all the time downgrades the standard. A low standard of evidence for the supernatural is very useful to the likes of Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith who have to counterfeit miracles to get followers. Her reluctance to appear as a Jewess with dark skin is perturbing and did nothing to mitigate Roman Catholicism's hysterical anti-semitism. It looks like homage paid to the racism of that cult. How Mary is a Mary who appears as a Caucasian?
Marian apparitions almost always induce a state of ecstasy upon the witnesses. The witnesses hardly blink during the vision and stare upwards in a trancelike state. They say they are enraptured in joy. But there is no authority for ecstasy at all in the Bible. The resurrection witnesses did not claim - as far as we know - to have gone into such a trance. Paul speaks of visions but does not mention the trance. Jesus said we must do all the good we do to give God joy and do it only for him. He is the ultimate value. Marian ecstasy have people finding intense happiness in the presence of the Virgin and their focus is on her alone. Thus the ecstasy is a sign that if the apparition is supernatural then it is not from God.
Lourdes is the most popular Marian Shrine in the world. There Mary allegedly appeared to St Bernadette in 1858 and since then there has been alleged miracles of healing that have been accepted as real by the Church. Lourdes is possibly the only reported Marian apparition site that is worth investigating for unlike Fatima and La Salette and other apparitions, there are first-hand critical reports of the happenings.
Most people these days accept that religion should exist to fulfil human needs. In other words, religion should be formulated in a way that helps people best. Of course Jesus who said that we must love God above all and must love ourselves and others in second place disagreed but let us ignore his fanaticism. His God was lawgiver. Laws have to be obeyed whether they are good laws or not so we are expected to obey God meekly even if what he commands seems evil to us. We know the consequences when religions start putting themselves before people and even their own members. We won’t tolerate that any more not even if we are members of religion ourselves. If you put people first then you must take them to Lourdes demanding a miracle to help them. But Lourdes implies that this attitude is evil. God heals who he will. So the alleged healings are only superficially humanitarian. They are more concerned about bolstering a spiritual agenda that degrades people. Believers will have to ask themselves if sixty something healings at Lourdes justify a message going to millions and influencing them that urges that religion matters more than human beings.

This apparition attracted people to an infectious dump and had them drinking from a spring there. An apparition that had not been checked out by the Church and authenticated had no right to have people doing that even if she was going to protect them for they had insufficient evidence that she was going to. Even a vision accepted as true by the Church would have no right. the Church claims that she has the right to change her mind for she only permits belief in visions and doesn’t command belief in them. This shows that if anything appeared it was not Mary. The spring was of allegedly miraculous origin but now the Church admits that it was there all the time Church (page 87, The Appearances of the Blessed Virgin at the Grotto of Lourdes). Many of the healing miracles that have been accepted by the Church are unconvincing when looked at up close (page 177, Believing in God).

Extra-ordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Miracle believers deny this. Murders happen and yet we demand a huge pile of evidence before jailing killers for murders are out of the ordinary. Miracles are more uncommon than murders and the same quantity of evidence would be no good for verifying them. Believers demand extraordinary evidence for extraordinary miracles they don’t like such as Buddha’s enlightenment but they don’t for the miracles that suit their religious preferences! The evidence they present is only an excuse. They would believe without it. Miracles invariably induce blind faith and blind faith is only good for bigotry and dishonesty and blindness. Not very godly are they?
The Church claimed to authenticate that Mary appeared to Bernadette. It did not. What it authenticated (leave aside the question about whether the authenticating is of any validity) was that Bernadette was having trances that couldn’t be explained by doctors and that a spring appeared and that healings took place. None of this proves that Bernadette really saw Mary. She might have lied or misunderstood. Or the vision might only have been pretending to be Mary. She may have went into a miraculous trance that affected her brain to make her imagine she saw the Virgin Mary. For the Church to say that it authenticated the apparitions of Mary at Lourdes is simply for it to lie. So here we have an extraordinary claim, that Mary appeared for which there is little evidence if you want to be generous. But the truth is there is NO evidence at all. So the miracles of Lourdes if they are sent to support the claims of a religion did nothing only support lies. We know that the stranger or more unlikely the claim, the evidence needs to be of a standard and strength to match the strangeness of the claim. The evidence needs to be in proportion to the level of unbelievableness of the claim. You don’t need the same evidence that Charlie met Annie at Loch Ness that you need to justify believing that Charlie saw the monster there. Lourdes and all the accepted Catholic apparitions deny this truth and so are evil and trying to drag us into superstition.
Fatima was allegedly visited by Mary in 1917 when she was reported to have appeared by three children two of whom died a few years later. The vision climaxed in the Miracle of the Sun in which a vast crowd is supposed to have witnessed a solar miracle in which the sun changed colour and seemed to some to come down below the clouds. There are so few accounts of this miracle that we can safely say it is unimpressive and mass hysteria and lies can explain it for no two witnesses saw the same thing. When you look at the sun you are bound to see some strange things for it is so scary to do that and it is so bright. The trigger that caused them to focus on the sun was Lucia telling them to put their umbrellas down.

Like the Lourdes vision, this one predicted eternal salvation for the visionaries. An apparition has no right to do that for it is not as certain as the faith for the Church allows people to disbelieve in apparitions if they wish while they are not allowed to doubt the creed. The miracles then suggest that they are equal to the authority of the Church in which case they contradict the faith of the Church and are heretical and the Devil is doing them.

The visions of Fatima have chief visionary Lucia alone testifying to most of what happened during the visions and what the lady said and she certainly much of this seems to have been forgotten by her until the 1940’s. The important stuff did not surface until then, which suggests fraud. She had clearly fooled the previous commissions of investigation by not telling all and they cannot do their job properly unless they hear it all and yet her apparitions claim was accepted as valid by the Church by then. So we have one unreliable witness to spiritual events and we are taught to believe that divine truth is the most important thing there is. The God of the Bible forbids this reliance on one person and even more so in the ultimate matters (Deuteronomy 19:15). This shows that only the Devil could have appeared at Fatima and to Bernadette at Lourdes.

The Fatima Lady promised a strange light would appear to show that the next world war was near. The light never appeared but Lucia had to make do with an Aurora Boralis – a natural event! The Lady meant something supernatural for natural strange lights have been with us all the time. Lucia was a liar. Deuteronomy 18 says that anybody who makes true prophecies in the name of God and gets one wrong is a fake. Her lady is a fake then for making an unimpressive prophecy.

The appearances of the Virgin Mary to six visionaries in Medjugorje since 1981 have been promoted and carried on even in the parish Church despite the opposition of Bishop Zanic and Bishop Peric.

The bishop of the diocese where the apparition happens is the one who has to decide if anything supernatural is happening and if it is from God and yet this Lady counsels disobedience. Catholic doctrine going back to the time of Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century insists that whoever disobeys a legitimate order of the bishop separates himself from Christ and the Church. Catholics might say that the bishop is wrong and should not be obeyed but apparitions are subordinate to Church authority. Mary would not appear in a diocese if it would lead to trouble with the bishop. This is enough to show that the lady is not the Blessed Virgin for the Church says the real Mary will not encourage disobedience. In other apparitions, if the vision asked for something and the Church forbade it the vision commended the visionary for obeying the Church after all it was only a private revelation and not equal to the scriptures or the Church Christ had commissioned to govern his people. The Virgin Mary would appear where she would not cause trouble for the Church.

The Church cannot approve of Medjugorje for it will start a precedent and will leave apparitions that run for years and decades open to acceptance by the Church. If Medjugorje were really from God the apparitions would have stopped long ago to give the Church a chance to approve of them. The real Virgin Mary would not appear in a situation when her apparition cannot be approved. That would be an affront to the Church and herself. This apparition appeared in the Parish Church in defiance of the Church authorities and was itself disobedient.

One time the Virgin appeared and then Mary appeared and chased this Virgin away saying the first was the Devil. This looks too staged for the Devil would know that she would not be letting him take his form unless she was planning to make a fool of him.

The Virgin approved of the heretical book condemned by the Church, Poem of the Man-God and approved of Frs Prusina and Vego working in Medjugorje despite their being banned by the Vatican and the Bishop

The Virgin said, “But why are you praying? To be with God. To experience God within you. After five minutes of prayer something ought to happen within you, if you do it properly” (March 1985).

This denies that quality and not quantity matters. It is putting a time limit on God’s power. The lady has to be talking about getting a spiritual thrill. She equates an experience of pleasure with God. The Mormons do the same with the Holy Spirit.

The Lady stood up for the reputation of a priest who was accused of fathering a child by a nun and it was later found that the accusation was true.

The visionaries were often reluctant to take part in medical examinations relating to the ecstasy in which they allegedly saw the Virgin.

On one occasion Jacov was to touch the apparition as a test to see what the equipment monitoring him would come up with and if he was touching anything and he forgot to ask her permission and she left and it was not done. How convenient and why did Mary not remind him when she said that she did not mind the tests? If he had asked she would have allowed it so this is tantamount to the virgin forgetting and God’s memory must be as bad as her’s.

Once, the Virgin saw one of the visionaries in a harness for testing his physical reactions to the apparition she said that was not necessary when asked for her opinion. The doctor, Botta, found this offensive thinking that the Lady was accusing him of doing wrong in testing. Dr Botta was then told that the Virgin only meant that prayer was needed and that the tests were just accessories and was not accusing him. But this answer just tells him he was accused! If the Virgin was the real Mary or the Devil they would welcome tests. Prayer is not the essential. Prayer will not tell you what is true or false in relation to the authenticity or otherwise of an apparition.

The visionaries say they have no connection with the outside world when they have their vision but a French cameraman pretended to be about to stab Vicka Ivankovic in the eyes with his fingers. She jumped and jerked her head away from him and later it was explained that she thought Mary was going to drop her baby Jesus and she was going to grab him! But then why did she jerk away from the Lady? This incident was recorded on tape and was once shown on a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary. If they were seeing anything they would know that Mary would not be so inept that she would drop the baby for she was full of God’s power.

The first commission of bishops was appalled by the absurd story of God going to destroy the world over a bloody hanky which was recorded as approved by the Virgin in Vicka’s diary. She was so ashamed that later she chose to deny there was such a diary. If she had been falsely accused of having this diary why did she not appeal the commission for a transgression against canon law? Excerpts from the diary were published by her devotees. She sometimes claimed her memory was bad so she had to have had a diary.

The visionaries are stupid for they believe the lady when she says she is the Queen of Peace and how can she be when her God that she wants us to become subject to in all things is to blame for people going to Hell for he could prevent us having full consent to sin so that mortal sin would be impossible and without mortal sin he cannot send us to Hell forever. He could make us a bit retarded in that area but give us trustworthy faculties in everything else.

In 1982, Vicka told the bishop that the Virgin wanted him to know that he was too harsh with the Franciscans. She could not tell him in what way which proves the Virgin never said it at all. The Virgin would not be so vague.

Medjugorje claims to be the site of the last apparitions. The threats it makes its fruits useless because we cannot help suspecting that they are produced by fear and not love. Its desire to prevent its supporters from agreeing with the Church should the Church approve apparitions after its time is a sure mark of inauthenticity. The real Virgin would not say if the apparitions were final and would leave it to the Church to work that out with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Medjugorje Virgin is tying the hands of the hands of the Church and yet she can have no right to authority without the Church. What does that say? The apparitions are not from Heaven!

It is truly outrageous how the Catholic Church claims to establish that Mary appeared at Fatima in 1917 and Lourdes 1858 and in other places and never bothers checking the wording of the messages to ensure that they came from the same person. For example, at Medjugorje the Virgin always finishes with “Thank you for your response to my call”. She never does this anywhere else even if she is as garrulous as she as at Medjugorje. Why does she say so little at Lourdes and nothing at Knock and talk so much at other apparitions where she repeats herself all the time and utters trite platitudes? The personalities and wording don’t match. She always looks different too. At Fatima and La Salette and Lourdes she was very white in her complexion and was darker elsewhere. The Virgin would not have pale Caucasian skin. She was a Jewess. The view that she accommodates herself in personality and wording and appearance to the visionary she appears to is nonsense. Why can’t she appear as a Jew to them when they are put in ecstasy anyway or given a spiritual high by the vision, and accept her whatever way she appears? The apparitions are not of the same person. Even to the naked eye looking at messages from all over the world, the style and content is so different and that certainly points to the visions of being of something that is pretending to be the Virgin Mary or the visionaries being liars. Even if they are really going into miraculous ecstasy, that doesn’t meant they are seeing Mary for real. The view that she makes herself suit the visionaries is just a rationalisation – it is an excuse for believing in the visions as being of Mary despite all evidence to the contrary. Obvious evidence comes first. What is seen and heard comes first. If Mary doesn’t respect that then she doesn’t deserve her apparitions to be believed in. Rationalisations prevent one seeing the truth. For example, if you tell a woman that her husband was seen having sex with a prostitute and she reasons that he was only pretending to have sex she will be blind to the facts. Anything that encourages rationalisation, such that as those apparitions do with them all being different, is bad. In their eagerness to deceive people into believing in apparitions, the Church leaders keep attention away from the obvious and even exclude it from their investigations! So when you see a man standing over a woman murdered about a minute ago you are permitted to overlook the possibility that he was the killer? You must ignore the most obvious route.
Apparitions are accompanied by the inducement of a state of supposedly miraculous ecstasy in the seers. They feel really high and enjoy the experience so much. The experience is union with God that is a little taste of Heaven. By claiming ecstasy, the seers are claiming to have God in their souls and the ecstasy is described as a state of intense prayer. Jesus said that if you pray, try and keep it private if you can because of the risk of pride which can hide itself even in the guise of humility. To flaunt your humility is a form of pride and the Bible warns that the heart is very prone to self-deception. That means genuine seers would have their ecstasies in private. Bernadette of Lourdes and the visionaries of Medjugorje and Fatima made no effort to hide theirs. Whatever was causing the ecstasies, it was not God. And their humility must be questioned and especially when it is the likes of the Medjugorje visionaries who are known for their ordinariness and opulence.
The three super-shrines of the Catholic Church have been covered. And all of them have been found wanting. They report healing miracles which need a team of experts to examine them. Even if the experts declare something a possible miracle the Church might not. Christians have pointed out that Jesus' miracles were so obvious that no investigation team was needed. That is why they think the Catholic miracles are hoaxes, based on mistakes or are satanic trickery.
The Church itself teaches that most apparition claims are probably not from God. Apparitions such as Medjugorje and Garabandal have caused huge trouble for the Church as has many others. Clearly it is best not to pay much attention to apparitions at all!
Believing in God, PJ McGrath, Millington Books and Wolfhound, Wolfhound, Dublin, 1995
Bernadette of Lourdes, Rev CC Martindale, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1970
Bernadette of Lourdes, Fr Rene Laurentin, Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 1980
Counterfeit Miracles, BB Warfield, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1995
Eleven Lourdes Miracles, Dr D J West, Duckworth, London, 1957
Encountering Mary, Sandra L. Zimdars-Swartz, Princeton University Press, Princetown NJ, 1991
Evidence for Satan in the Modern World, Leon Cristiani, TAN, Illinois, 1974
Looking For A Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993
Lourdes, Antonio Bernardo, A. Doucet Publications, Lourdes, 1987
Mother of Nations, Joan Ashton, Veritas, Dublin, 1988
Powers of Darkness Powers of Light, John Cornwell, Penguin, London, 1992
Spiritual Healing, Martin Daulby and Caroline Mathison, Geddes & Grosset, New Lanark, Scotland 1998
The Appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Grotto of Lourdes, JB Estrade, Art & Book Company Westminster, 1912
The Crowds of Lourdes, Joris Karl Huysmans, Burns Oates & Washbourne, London, 1925
The Evidence for Visions of the Virgin Mary, Kevin McClure, Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, 1985