The powerless Mary
by: John Tyrrell
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The cover story in current edition of National Geographic is about the Virgin Mary, identifying her as "the most powerful woman in the world." I have an electronic subscription - but I deleted the issue, unread, in disgust at the scientific dishonesty expressed by that designation.* That claim is nothing more than religious propaganda.
Perhaps the article itself presents a more balanced view on the effects of belief than does the blurb on the cover, and I will not argue against the idea that belief can provide the impression of power. But beliefs - particularly religious beliefs - can be held independently of reality. Religious belief in Mary's power does not require her to have such powers, or for her even to have existed.
But presuming Mary, the mother of Jesus existed some two thousand years ago, she is no longer a woman in this world. She's dead. Even those who direct their prayers towards her do not claim she is here on Earth**, but in heaven, interceding with God (the entity who supposedly is both her son and her son's father) to at least answer some prayers. And there is no credible evidence that any prayers directed towards Mary have any more effect than those prayers directed at one of the thousands of the other saints or prayers directed towards God directly.***
They are all equally useless.
And I mourn the loss of a publication which for over 125 years did a fairly good job of popularizing science.
* I don't see it as a coincidence that this issue came out after National Geographic Magazine, formerly published by an independent non-profit, was taken over by Fox, and Fox is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, appointed by Pope John Paul II as a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great.
** I will admit I am ignoring the various visions people have had of her over the centuries. But even the Catholic church discounts the overwhelming majority of these apparitions.
*** Of course, a quick web search will find any number of Mariology sites just slavering over this National Geographic article and encouraging more prayers directed at Mary.
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