Let’s return, for a moment, to Hitchens’ god is not Great, for that nimble, eloquent mind, now forever silenced, still has much to teach us.
Hitchens ends his tenth chapter with these words:
Thus, dear reader, if you have come this far and found your own faith undermined — as I hope — I am willing to say that to some extent I know what you are going through. there are days when I miss my old convictions as if they were an amputated limb. But in general I feel better, and no less radical, and you will feel better too, I guarantee, once you leave the hold of the doctrinaire and allow your chainless mind to do its own thinking. 
He is referring in his own case, not to Christianity or any religion, but to the Trotskyist Marxism which coloured his early years, a source, one might think, of his irrepressible passion and intense commitment to those things that attracted his attention and held it. The chapter itself, though it ends on this note, is not really about authority and doctrine. Indeed, the ending of the chapter is, in a sense, “stuck on” to the end of his discussion of the miraculous, and seems at least partly out-of-place. In one sense the whole book is an argument against authority, and an affirmation of the transient and occasional nature of our conclusions. We are, after all, more like jumped up apes, Hitchens suggests, than like fallen angels. Our sympathies are limited and our ability to achieve reliable and stable truths about reality is more often claimed than achieved.
However, it would be mistaken to think that all has been in vain:
Was it all in vain, then: the great struggle of the theologians and scholars, and the stupendous efforts of painters and architects and musicians to create something lasting and marvelous that would testify to the glory of god? 
“Not at all,” he exclaims. And then, after saying that Shakespeare has more to teach us that the Koran or the Talmud, he says something that most people who have read this book simply ignore:
But there is a great deal to be learned and appreciated from the scrutiny of religion, and one often finds oneself standing atop the shoulders of distinguished writers and thinkers who were certainly one’s intellectual and sometimes even one’s moral superiors. Many of them, in their own time, had ripped away the disguise of idolatry and paganism, and even risked martyrdom for the sake of disputes with their own coreligionists. 
And while he goes on to say that we can claim to know more, through no merit of our own, than any of these giants of religious thought who preceded us, it is often not noticed that Hitchens did nod generously towards his religious predecessors, even though he thinks it is time to rip off the disguise of religion and show that, underneath, religion is like the wizard of Oz, mostly surface and little depth.
And this is where the tawdriness of the miraculous comes in. For the miraculous is all show and no substance:
Between them, [Hitchens writes] the sciences of textual criticism, archaeology, physics, and molecular biology have shown religious myths to be false and man-made and have also succeeded in evolving better and more enlightened explanations.
But the miraculous — that is, the idea that there is something more than human about our religions and our ideologies – upon which, even today, so much religion still rests, has now been shown to be nothing more than the overstretching of myth. It’s one thing to mythicise the mysterious, like the origins of the earth or humanity. It’s quite another thing to mythicise ordinary events, like the healing of a disease, or the coming back to life of someone known to be dead. Of the latter there are several examples in the gospels. In what way is Jesus’ “resurrection” to be privileged over the raising of Lazarus or the daughter of Jairus? People flock to places like Lourdes or other supposedly holy places where apparitions of the “Virgin” Mary are believed to have occurred, and expect to be healed of their ailments. The number of supposed miracles that have occurred there are pathetically small compared to the number of those who have pilgrimaged there full of hope. But even those can be safely attributed to natural remissions, which, while they may have no easy scientific explanation, occur in fairly stable percentages for many diseases. Carl Sagan pointed out that, of those who do go to Lourdes, such remissions occur at a lower rate than they do in populations which do not go to Lourdes seeking the miraculous. Of course, there is probably a good reason for this, since people often go to Lourdes as a last resort, and therefore are probably more sick than the general population of those with those particular diseases in which unexplained remissions naturally occur.
Hitchens spends a good bit of this chapter showing how unlikely the recorded miracles really are., pointing out that the miracles recorded in the New Testament are described, as he says, “in an almost commonplace way,” (142) and as though they raise no questions at all for belief. He points out, a bit hilariously, that while recording the raising of Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus, no one seems to have bothered with either of them, to find out about their experiences, or to describe how, in the end, they died. Besides, as Hitchens points out, after remarking that the gospel of Matthew records the opening of graves and the resurrection of many who went into Jerusalem and were seen by many, the surfeit of resurrections “can only undermine the uniqueness of the one by which mankind purchased forgiveness of sins.” (143) Of course, Christians, though they may read Matthew’s account at Easter time, do not take seriously this foretaste of the general resurrection, taking this to be a kind of mythicising that points to the significance of Jesus’ unique resurrection. But it is a strange way of trying to point to that uniqueness, and it of course raises the inevitable question about how it is known that this is the way the story must be read. If Jesus’ resurrection is to be taken seriously, then don’t we have to take the other resurrections seriously as well? How are we to distinguish the reliability of the one from the unreliability of the others?
In addition to all this is the problem of the idea of Jesus dying, if he did not, in the end, really die. As Hitchens says:
The action of a man who volunteers to die for his fellow creatures is universally regarded as noble. The extra claim not to have “really” died makes the whole sacrifice tricky and meretricious. … Having no reliable or consistent witness, in anything like the time period needed to certify such an extraordinary claim, we are finally entitled to say that we have a right, if not an obligation, to respect ourselves enough to disbelieve the whole thing. 
Notice how carefully that is expressed. Take the gospel stories all together, search as long as you like, and you will never be able to find a consistent story of either the trial of Jesus, his execution, or his resurrection. Making a virtue of necessity, some biblical scholars suggest that that is what makes the eye-witness testimony that much more convincing, since just this sort of inconsistency is to be expected from eye-witnesses. However, this won’t do. It may be true that, if witnesses all agree in the minutest of ways, there is evidence of tampering with the evidence, but when there is simply so little consistency between the stories, the likelihood that these are eye-witness accounts at all becomes less and less plausible, especially if you consider the fact that, in many respects, as Dominic Crossan points out, the stories look more like prophecy historicised than records of actual events, and that their differences depend on which Old Testament “prophecies” are thought to have been important for an understanding of Jesus’ life and death.
But then consider, as Hitchens does, the incredibly inane and petty miracles to which the church often appeals: the flight of Mohammad to Jerusalem on his horse, Borak, whose hoofprint is claimed to be visible on the Temple mount, the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque; or the levitation of Jesus and his mother into heaven. These improbable stories, which have so little significance, are still believed firmly by so many. What is the point of them? Horses that fly, bodies that levitate into the sky, statues that weep, blood of saints that liquefy at certain periods of the year, bodies that rise, fake grave-clothes that are still exposed for adoration. Even supposing that these things happened — a dangerous assumption — what possible significance can they have?
Extend this [says Hitchens] to the present day, where statues of virgins or saints are sometimes said to weep or bleed. Even if I could not easily introduce you to people who can produce this identical effect in their spare time, using pig fat or other materials, I would still ask myself why a deity should be content to produce such a paltry effect.
These things are a bit like the one supposed miracle that Hitchens spends rather more time discussing. It happened in the “house of the dying” at Mother Teresa’s ashram for the dying in Calcutta. Malcolm Muggeridge was doing a documentary on Mother Teresa’s work which in the end was named “Something Beautiful for God,” but during the filming the cameraman said that it was too dark and dimly lit in the “house of the dying” to be able to film it successfully. Nevertheless, he had just taken delivery of some new Kodak film which was supposed to be usable in poorer light conditions, and, although he had not tested it, he agreed to use it. The result was surprising. Muggeridge said that “the part taken inside was bathed in a particularly beautiful soft light.” (quoted 145) Ken Macmillan, the cameraman, wrote sometime later about watching the rushes of the film taken inside the “house of the dying”:
… it was surprising. You could see every detail. And I said, “That’s amazing. That’s extraordinary.” And I was going to go on to say, you know, three cheers for Kodak. I didn’t get a chance to say that though, because Malcolm [Muggeridge]. sitting in the front row, spun round and said: “It’s divine light! It’s Mother Teresa. You’ll find that it’s divine light, old boy!” [quoted 146]
And so a miracle was born, and at the same time a woman, about whom there are so many questions as to motivation, practice and compassion to ask, was turned immediately into a figure of holiness. And it stuck. So now, when Mother Teresa’s name is mentioned, people go all weak at the knees, instead of asking some necessary, critical questions.
For awhile I was taken in by the hyperbole. As a result of a decision made at the Bermuda ministerial, I was asked to write to Mother Teresa to see if she would come to Bermuda to speak at a conference, if she happened to be making a trip to the US, and she very kindly and graciously answered, in a letter which I still possess. It is probably important to remember that this is from a woman who really doubted the existence of a god:
But surely the questions that Hitchens raises in his book about Mother Teresa, Mother Teresa: The Missionary Position, are questions that need answering. Her idea that pain is the kiss of Jesus, or her use of the millions donated to her to erect convents in other places rather than using it to improve care for the dying in her ashram in India, are issues of greater importance than Muggeridge’s rather vapid idea of her ashram as bathed in divine light. Of course, it is this aspect that is remembered now. She has already been beatified (on 19th October 2003), the first step on the road to sainthood. Now all that is needed is another miracle, to add to the fake miracle already recorded in her name. The whole process of making a saint is a bit of meretricious spiritual huckstering, which supposedly adds lustre to the place where the saint lived and worked. But the fundamental basis of it — the belief that a “miracle,” occurring after the invocation of the would-be saint’s name, shows that the saint is someone already favoured by god (and therefore had been ushered into god’s presence, and did not need to await the day of judgement), and that god responds to her pleas for mercy for the person prayed for — is a palpable piece of credulousness. Does the church not recognise how cheap and hucksterish this makes itself seem?
In other words, it’s not only Hume’s argument, which basically says that the miracle must be more likely than the probability that someone has either made the story up, or misreported or misunderstood events, that weighs here, but the simple point that the miracles reported are all so ordinary and expected in the normal run of things, or so silly, like the various levitations involved in Christian, Jewish (recall Elijah and the chariots of fire) or Muslim belief, or weeping statues, or magical film. Hume’s point is so obvious in the case of the film. Which is more likely, that Kodak produced a film that was sensitive to light in dimly lit spaces, or that the film actually recorded divine light? To ask the question is to answer it. Which is more likely, that the woman said to be cured by fastening a medallion once touched by Mother Teresa to the sick woman’s abdomen, was cured miraculously, or that she was cured after treatment by a doctor? Again, the question answers itself. Not only is the idea that a god should intervene in a process that he supposedly set in motion, and altered it for a very local advantage enjoyed by someone (or only a few), simply implausible, the reasons why god should have done any such thing, in the cases referred to, makes the miraculous look like a cheap trick. If this is the best that a god can do, why should anyone take belief in such beings seriously? On the other hand, if there is no sign that god intervenes, and thus makes himself known, then there is little reason to believe. Religion seems to be caught between two stools, and will have to do much better than this to make belief in the existence of their gods credible. But it is, as Hitchens says, the tawdriness of the miraculous that, in the end, defeats them.