669. The practice of offering human sacrifices dates back to antiquity. How could humankind ever think that God would appreciate this?
“First, they did not understand that God is the source of all goodness. Among primitive populations, matter outweighs the spirit. Due to the undeveloped state of their moral qualities, they surrendered to their animal instincts and that is why they were generally so cruel to their instincts of brutality. Second, the humans of prehistoric periods naturally considered a living creature to be much more valuable in God’s eyes than any material object. This led them to offer sacrifices to their gods, first animals and then humans, because they thought that the value of a sacrifice was proportionate to the significance of the victim. When purchasing a gift for someone, you choose something with a cost or worth that is proportionate to how much love, respect or thought you would like to convey to the recipient. It was only natural for primitive human beings who were unaware of the nature of the Supreme Being to do the same.”
a) Did the sacrificing of animals precede that of human beings?
“There is no doubt about it.”
b) According to this explanation, the practice of sacrificing human beings did not originate simply out of cruelty.
“No, it originated from a false idea as to what would be pleasing to God. For instance, look at the story of Abraham. In later times, humans have further corrupted this false idea by killing their enemies, the objects of their personal hostility. God has never carried out sacrifices of any kind, neither animals nor human beings. God would find no honor in the useless destruction of creation.”
670. Has God ever appreciated human sacrifices, when offered with a sincere, religious intention?
“Never, but God always considers the intention that motivates any act. As primitive peoples were ignorant, they may have believed that they were performing a praiseworthy deed in sacrificing their fellow beings. In such a case, God would accept their intention, but not their act. The human race, in working on its own betterment, naturally came to recognize its error and loathe the idea of sacrifices, which never should have entered ‘enlightened’ minds. I say ‘enlightened’ because, back then, spirits were enveloped by the veil of matter, and their free will was enough to give them a flickering glimpse of their origin and destiny. Many among them already understood the evil they were committing intuitively, but they did it anyway for the gratification of their passions.”
671. What should we think of “religious” wars? It seems that the sentiment that induces a nation of fanatics to exterminate the greatest possible number of people who do not share their beliefs, in order to please God, comes from the same source as that which formerly led them to massacre their fellow beings as sacrifices.
“These wars are encouraged by wicked spirits and the humans who wage them place themselves in direct opposition to God’s will, which is that all human beings should love their brothers and sisters as they love themselves. All religions, or rather all people, worship the same God, regardless of the name they use. Why then would one attempt to exterminate the other simply because they believe in different religions, or because one has not yet reached the same degree of enlightenment as that of the aggressor? People may be excused for not believing in the word of the one who was animated by the Spirit of God and sent by God, especially since they have not seen him and have not witnessed the divine acts. In any event, how can you honestly hope that they would heed his message of peace, when you try to force it upon them with violence? It is true that they need to be enlightened and it is your duty to try to teach them Christ’s doctrine. However, this must be done calmly and peacefully, not through violence. Consider that most of you do not believe in the communications we have with some humans. How could you then expect strangers to believe your claims in regard to this fact, if your acts contradict what you preach?”
672. Is offering the fruits of the Earth more acceptable in God’s eyes than sacrificing animals?
“I have already answered your question by saying that God judges the intention behind an action. Of course offering the fruits of the Earth is more acceptable than the blood of victims. As we have told you and always repeat a prayer from the heart is a hundredfold more pleasing to God than all the offerings you could possibly make. The intention is everything, while the fact is nothing.”
673. Could these offerings be made more pleasing to God by using them to assist those who are poor and lack the necessities of life? In that case, couldn’t the sacrificing of animals be considered commendable when accomplished for a useful purpose have been more meritorious than an abusive sacrifice that served no useful end, or benefited only those who lacked for nothing Is there not something truly virtuous in setting aside the fruits of all that God has given us for the poor?
“God always blesses those who do good. To help the poor and those who are suffering is the best way to honor God. I do not mean to say that God disapproves of the ceremonies you use when you pray. However, a good deal of the money spent on these events can be better spent. God loves simplicity in all things. A person who attaches more importance to external matters than to the heart is narrow-minded. How could God attach more importance to the form than to the sentiment motivating your actions?”