Sacrifices a sad part of history

To the editor:

Consider the following excerpt from Afterword to Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris:

“Humanity has had a long fascination with blood sacrifice. In fact, it has been by no means uncommon for a child to be born into this world only to be patiently and lovingly reared by religious maniacs, who believe that the best way to keep the sun on its course or to ensure a rich harvest is to lead him by tender hand into a field or to a mountaintop and bury, butcher, or burn him alive as offering to an invisible God. Countless children have been unlucky enough to be born in so dark an age, when ignorance and fantasy were indistinguishable from knowledge and where the drumbeat of religious fanaticism kept perfect time with every human heart. In fact, almost no culture has been exempt from this evil: the Sumerians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Canaanites, Maya, Inca, Aztecs, Olmecs, Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Teutons, Celts, Druids, Vikings, Gauls, Hindus, Thais, Chinese, Japanese, Scandinavians, Maoris, Melanesias, Tahitians, Hawaiians, Balinese, Australian aborigines, and innumerable other societies ritually murdered their fellow human beings because they believed that invisible gods and goddesses, having an appetite for human flesh, could be so propitiated.

It is essential to realize that such obscene misuses of human life have always been explicitly religious. They are the product of what people think they know about invisible gods and goddesses, and of what they manifestly do not know about specific sciences that have more than a little to say about the events in the world that concern them.”

And the apotheosis of this sad and brutal history was the sacrificial crucifixion of Jesus 2,000 years ago.

Primitive people feared lightning and thunder, volcanoes, earthquakes, eclipses, diseases, famines, and other aspects of nature. They imagined that gods or a god produced these phenomena because of their anger over the sinful behavior of humans, and consequently, the shamans, witch doctors, or priests of the community felt that these gods needed appeasement through animal or human sacrifices (see sacrifices in the Bible).

The concept of animal or human sacrifices is sadistic and repugnant to civilized sensibilities. However, unthinking minds still entertain this nonsense.

David Keranen

Bakersfield, Calif.