Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Shroud of Turin and evolution

Umm, right, so Pope Benedict XVI, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, has spoken out in "favor" of the Shroud of Turin, basically saying that it is authentic, that it really is the shroud in which Jesus was wrapped after His crucifixion. 
From here:
Benedict focused in his meditation on the message that the blood stains conveyed, saying the Shroud was "an icon written in blood; the blood of a man who was whipped, crowned with thorns, crucified and injured on his right side.
"The image on the Shroud is that of a dead man, but the blood speaks of his life. Each trace of blood speaks of love and life," Benedict said.
The Vatican to date had tiptoed around the issue of just what the Shroud of Turin is, calling it a powerful symbol of Christ's suffering while making no claim to its authenticity.
 I have two thoughts on this incident.


1) So the Pope is more than happy to come out in support of the theory of evolution because "the scientists" think it's true, and yet when scientists present evidence using very similar methodologies (ie, radiocarbon dating) that the Shroud of Turin is actually only around 800 years old, he ignores it and leads his people in acts of piety that express dissent with the scientific opinion?
And don't try to play the "but there's debate within scientific circles on the Shroud" card.  There's plenty of debate in scientific circles about evolution as well, not to mention a ludicrous amount of logical argumentation against it.  The Pope went with the scientific "academy" then, why the inconsistency now?

2) These and other news articles are careful to say that Benedict "all but endorses its authenticity". 
It is mind-boggling to me that this man would do such a disingenuous thing as to hold a "meditation" in front of this object, modeling meditation on the Cross of Christ, when there's plenty of reason to doubt that it actually is the shroud that wrapped Christ's body for a time.  Further, all the reason to doubt aside, could not the Pope make a pronouncement that it either is or isn't authentic, for sure?  Why dance around the issue?  Does it matter whether the shroud actually wrapped Christ or doesn't it?  When the Pope speaks infallibly, is he right even when the contemporary "scientific establishment" disagrees or not?
It seems very comparable to the RC practice of bowing down and performing acts of religious and worshipful piety in front of and directed toward pictures of dead people.  Outside of icons of Christ Himself and a few specifically-identified elect angels, such as Gabriel and Michael, the RC worshiper has zero guarantee that the dead person to whom he's praying is actually in Heaven.  S/He might be in Hell, or s/he might be in Purgatory.  The Magisterium could clear all that up, but chooses not to, chooses not to get involved in such trivial matters as truth in worship and spiritual meditation. 
It's pathetic, really. How is this the action of a church that is the self-proclaimed "pillar and support of the truth"


48 comments:

Viisaus said...

Nowadays the RCC somehow manages to both "take away from" as well as "add to" the faith by tolerating Biblical "higher criticism" (popes themselves have expounded it) while simultaneously demanding dogmatic faith in fables like Immaculate Conception.

The worst of both worlds, liberal unbelief and credulous superstition in the same package.

Lvka said...

It might be a replica.

Until it starts doing wonders like the rest of relics, we can't be sure of anything.

Matthew Bellisario said...

What is pathetic is your feeble attempts to discredit the Pope and the Church. I've got an idea! Why don't you worry about your own "religion" for a change, and quit worrying about the Catholic Church. After all, if its so easy to see that it is not the authentic Church, then why spend so much time tying to tear it down? You sure come up with a lot of excuses to not believe in something that you shun as being ridiculous. Usually people only obsess over things when they feel threatened by them. It is plain to see that you are not secure in your own faith, otherwise you and your buddies would not spend so much time trying to tear down Christ and His Church.

Gojira said...

What I find boggling, Matthew B, is the fact that the Catholic position discredits itself. What the pope is praising as authenic another Romanist is free to call a forgery and remain in good standing with the Roman church. The Roman position is self defeating on this matter. This is very odd coming from a church that makes the claim yours does.

Rhology said...

Why don't you worry about your own "religion" for a change, and quit worrying about the Catholic Church.

I'm perfectly capable of doing both.


You sure come up with a lot of excuses to not believe in something that you shun as being ridiculous.

Ummmm, OK.

Lvka said...

Gojira,

I don't think that the Shroud's authenticity (or lack thereof) is a Catholic article of faith. Nor do I think that Pope Benedict was making a dogmatical, ex-cathedra statement about it.

EA said...

The RCC and its adherents employ the same approach with respect to the Eucharist as well. On the one hand, they contend that scientific examinations which indicate there's no detectable body in a consecrated host are invalid. Yet on the other hand, a typical piece of evidence used to declare Eucharistic miracles is the assertion that hosts that allegedly bleed all have bled the same blood type.

So, as with the Shroud of Turin, the only "allowable" evidence is that which bolsters the position of the RCC; it's a rigged game.

Yet another example of this is the assertion by Catholic theologians that only the dogmatic decree of a Papal Bull, Encyclical, or Conciliar proclamation is protected by the chrism of infallibility, so that regardless of the truth or falsity of the premises or evidence used to prove the dogmatic decree, the decree itself is true.

Where in Scripture do we see Jesus or any of the apostles insist on such license? Does Jesus or Paul or Peter EVER contend that what they write or say is to be taken at face value despite some contradictory or disprovable premise? No. Each of them derives conclusions irrevocably from the premises that they cite. Catholics claim that the RCC is the true Church of Christ and the Majesterium the representation of Apostolic Succession and protected by the Holy Spirit. Can't the Holy Spirit form an infallible argument without the need for caveats and qualifiers?

NAL said...

Is the SoT a fake? You don't say. Why? If you tout scientific dating to claim it's a fake, then you can't pooh-pooh scientific dating when it comes to arguing for your YEC. If it's not a fake ...

Joe said...

Hi Lvka.

I don't think that the Shroud's authenticity (or lack thereof) is a Catholic article of faith. Nor do I think that Pope Benedict was making a dogmatical, ex-cathedra statement about it.

May I ask how one determines what is a dogmatical, ex-cathedra statement? Is there a list somewhere that I could read? And lastly, are there any disagreements on what are these types of statements?

Thanks.

In Him,

Joe

Rhology said...

NAL,

I actually don't have a strong opinion one way or th'other whether the SoT is a fake.
But I don't have a Pope. And my Pope didn't play a disingenuous word game about whether it is authentic or not.

Rhology said...

NAL said:
then you can't pooh-pooh scientific dating when it comes to arguing for your YEC.

Sure I can, depending on the reason for my pooh-poohing it. There's more than one way to be wrong, you know.

Gojira said...

Hi Lvka,
No it isn`t an article of faith. It is regulated to the likes of so called private revelation. And therein is the problem: the pope wants to all but say it is real, while another RC can chunk it as rubbish. And in the face of that, what does that leave the shroud as being? Nothing more than a side show exibit for the supertitious.

And of course you are correct in that the pope wasn`t speaking from the "chair of Peter," and that in itself is another problem. Since he is all but claiming it to be authentic that would mean he is disregarding the scientific evidence of the carbon testing, which of course puts this squarely in the realm of faith. But for a person who can supposedly speak dogmatic truth in terms of faith, his abilities in these matters is sorely lacking. In short, can the pope tell you truth if the shoud is real or not? Nope, because in the Roman Catholic world of relics and apparitionsbeing able to say what is absolutely true doesn`t really matter.

Lvka said...

May I ask how ...

No, you may not.


(I guess it's safe to assume that any official act emitted by the papacy, like bulls or synodal decrees, counts as ex cathedra).



Japanese guy,

you may date something as being of later origin [as it happened to the Shroud], not older. The earth's rocks, therefore, are at least 4.5 billion years old. Then there's the size of the Universe and the distance to other stars. Etc.

Rhology said...

Lvka said:
The earth's rocks, therefore, are at least 4.5 billion years old.

Thus says the EOC. Liberalism and an on-again off-again dating relationship with naturalistic evolutionary hypotheses are not limited to RCC. EOC is infected perhaps just as badly.

Guys. Read your Bible. I know it hurts, but give it a shot once in a while.

Lvka said...

Thus says the EOC.


No. Thus says science. The age of the Universe and the form of the Earth are not dogmatical tenets of our religious faith.

Rhology said...

How sure are you that the Earth is 4.5 billion yrs old? What does the EOC think?

EA said...

"No. Thus says science. The age of the Universe and the form of the Earth are not dogmatical tenets of our religious faith."

Science also says that you and monkeys come from a common ancestor through evolution over the course of millions of years progressing from more primitive forms to higher ones along the way. But the Bible says that God created a Man called Adam fully formed in a state of grace and that Adam fell from that position along with the rest of creation to a lower order of life.

How do you square those competing propositions?

NAL said...

Rho:

Sure I can, depending on the reason for my pooh-poohing it.

Then why can't the Pope? Maybe the Pope has good reasons for doubting the dating evidence regarding the SoT. Maybe the Pope has reasons, other than dating evidence, for supporting the ToE.

Just because one supports scientific facts in one aspect of reality doesn't mean that one must support all scientific facts. For example, many pooh-pooh methodological naturalism (MN) yet visit that bastion of MN, modern medicine, to delay their entry into Heaven. They even go so far as to incorporate that aspect of MN into their worldview.

zilch said...

EA says:

Science also says that you and monkeys come from a common ancestor through evolution over the course of millions of years progressing from more primitive forms to higher ones along the way. But the Bible says that God created a Man called Adam fully formed in a state of grace and that Adam fell from that position along with the rest of creation to a lower order of life.

How do you square those competing propositions?


Hmmm, good question- I don't see how you can square them. I'll take science.

Lvka said...

How do you square those competing propositions?


Man was made by God, but not FROM God. The Bible says man was made from the soil of earth, and Saint Basil, in his "Hexaimeron", draws our attention to the fact that the word used there for soil refers to the worst-quality-possible soil: so both science and religion agree that we have humble origins, and since meekness is a virtue and pride a sin, I have no problem with that.


[And science also agrees that organic matter (living beings) are formed from unorganic (non-living) matter: the creation of man's body (flesh) from the ground].

louis said...

"And science also agrees that organic matter (living beings) are formed from unorganic (non-living) matter"

Except that they haven't quite figured out just how that works yet.

EA said...

"Hmmm, good question- I don't see how you can square them. I'll take science."

If so, why come to a blog that has as its main purpose a discussion of theological topics?

Looking for something?

Rhology said...

Then why can't the Pope?

He can. But DID he? Where did he say that?



And science also agrees that organic matter (living beings) are formed from unorganic (non-living) matter

No, "science" does not think that. They generally abstain from dogmatic opinions on that question. Some think Terran life was seeded from outer space. Some think life formed on the 'backs' of crystals. Some think it was Intelligently Designed. It's all over the place.

Joel said...

Rho - I am not a Papist myself (although, I trust, sufficiently catholic in the court that matters), but I think you overstate part of your argument. To assert that the magisterium can speak infallibly is not to assert its omniscience. So when you ask in your second point "why doesn't the Pope just find out for sure", you're battering a straw man.

Someone else pointed out that the Shroud and evolution have different stacks of evidence for and against; judging one does not seem to imply the other, so I wonder how you equate them? I, for example, seee no contradition between believing what the physicists tell me about gravitational acceleration, while ignoring the surgeon general about my pipe. Why do these cases seem so similar to you? My impression was that the methods used for historical and prehistorical dating were fairly distinct.

EA said...

"...science and religion agree that we have humble origins, and since meekness is a virtue and pride a sin, I have no problem with that. "

Science and "religion" may agree on humble origins, science and the Bible do not.

The Bible states that Man was made in God's image and because of disobedience, fell from a state grace. The place from which Man started was not "humble", the place to which he fell was. But even in that state, was still foremost within God's creation.

Carrie said...

It is mind-boggling to me that this man would do such a disingenuous thing as to hold a "meditation" in front of this object, modeling meditation on the Cross of Christ, when there's plenty of reason to doubt that it actually is the shroud that wrapped Christ's body for a time.

It's hard to let a good (potential) relic go.

Rhology said...

Joel,

To assert that the magisterium can speak infallibly is not to assert its omniscience.

Just POTENTIAL omniscience, if they cared to be.
But they don't care to be omniscient, for whatever reason. Probably b/c they're actually not infallible anytime. I'm just pointing out their disingenuous carrot-and-stick practices - "We're infallible, whenever you can figure out our codephrases for ex cathedra." So, as I've said before, if you're infallible, be infallible.


So when you ask in your second point "why doesn't the Pope just find out for sure", you're battering a straw man.

Well, I didn't say "find out". I said "pronounce for sure". There's a pretty significant difference.



I wonder how you equate them?

Did the Pope?
Do competing stacks of evidence matter when you're infallible?


My impression was that the methods used for historical and prehistorical dating were fairly distinct.

I believe all radiocarbon dating is pretty much the same, though I could certainly be wrong.
But radiocarbon dating is only good for a certain period of time - it can't measure billions of yrs, for example.

zilch said...

EA asks:

If so, why come to a blog that has as its main purpose a discussion of theological topics?

Looking for something?


I came because Rho invited me to- or at least, he put up this article at his blog, and did not put up a sign saying "no shoes, no shirt, no God, no service". And I came because I agreed with almost everything he said, which happens rarely. And I came because I find it curious that Ratzinger, who is no dummy, defends the authenticity of the SoT.

What am I looking for? Love, life, and learning.

Lvka said:

And science also agrees that organic matter (living beings) are formed from unorganic (non-living) matter

Rho replied:

No, "science" does not think that. They generally abstain from dogmatic opinions on that question. Some think Terran life was seeded from outer space. Some think life formed on the 'backs' of crystals. Some think it was Intelligently Designed. It's all over the place.

Yes, it's true you can find scientists who support all of these positions. But the general consensus is that life evolved from nonliving matter. Practically no scientists think Terran life came from outer space, which in any case says nothing about living/nonliving origins. And the number of scientists who support ID is actually rather small, especially among biologists.

So Lvka is basically correct here: the broad consensus among scientists is that life formed from nonliving matter.

Lvka said...

Rho,


I was talking about something very simple: our bodies are formed (or compounded) from the same stuff that all other non-living matter is also made of. -- there's no dispute here.

Our bodies are 70% water, our bones have calcium, our blood contains iron, our flesh is made of huge strings of carbon (just like coals or diamonds), etc.

Whereas this may seem a small or even self-evident matter *TODAY*, due to the spectacular advance in science (particularly chemistry), it surely wasn't like this several hundreds, let alone thousands, of years ago, when the Bible was written.


------------------------------
EA,


You're confounding the carpenter with the wood. Try to stay focused.

EA said...

"EA,


You're confounding the carpenter with the wood. Try to stay focused."


I never said that our bodies are not made up of the same elements as other creatures or materials to be found in nature. But, that's hardly the point.

If you're someone who appeals to the Fathers for witness to the "true faith", then my question is this: "How many of the ECF did NOT hold the belief that Genesis was literally true?"

Lvka said...

St. Augustine?

EA said...

"St. Augustine?"

Saint Augustine denied the literalness of the Creation Account?

Where?

Lvka said...

EA,


This time I'm going to comply, but in the future, never ever ask me to do your homework for you.

Link 1

Link 2

Logan said...

I take exception to linking to uncommon descent as evidence that there is debate about the veracity of evolution. Almost none of those bloggers are actually involved in the scientific community. William Dembski is a mathematician, Barry Arrington is a lawyer, O' Leary is a journalist, Gil Dodgen is a programmer, and Granville Sewell is also a mathematician.

The only blogger there who has done any legitimate science is Cornelius Hunter, but he hasn't done any peer reviewed work in six years (which essentially means he has dropped out of the "scientific community," and would have probably lost his teaching job long ago if he taught at a secular university due to that poor output).

So no, there just isn't any substantial or meaningful dissent from the mainstream views of biological origins from within the scientific community. It's mostly just outsiders throwing rocks at the big, bad "darwinian establishment" by publishing popular level works aimed at laymen.

Rhology said...

zilch said:
And I came because I agreed with almost everything he said, which happens rarely

Really? Wow, that IS rare! :-)

And you're welcome on any post of mine, zilch.


Logan,
Behe. Meyer. Axe. Dean Kenyon. Et al.
At any rate, the question of what is "science", it has become clear to me, is a playground for naturalists on which to play hopscotch and Dance, Monkey, Dance. They redefine science to exclude ID whenever they can, and it's pathetic.
Besides, where science suffers a large disconnect from the search for truth, it becomes totally irrelevant.

EA said...

"This time I'm going to comply, but in the future, never ever ask me to do your homework for you."

It is standard practice, not to mention an act of charity, to substantiate a claim with evidence. And with that attitude it comes as no surprise that you've been banned from Triablogue.

That being said, three points:

1) I will investigate this claim.

2) Even if true, it hardly proves anything as I have been told by numerous RCC and EO epologists that a single (or even several) ECF that hold a position does not prove or disprove any position with respect to the faith. Live by the sword...

3) Augustine also held that it was impossible that anyone could live on the other side of the world from him as rain would have to fall up and crops would to grow down among other things.

But, I'm sure he was quite precocious with respect to modern evolutionary theory. /sarcasm

steve said...

zilch said...

"But the general consensus is that life evolved from nonliving matter."

Consensus is not a scientific argument.

Lvka said...

EA,


written words can't transfer moods or states of mind.

there were two historical schools of Christian theology: Alexandria and Antioch: one in Egypt (Africa) and the other in Syria (Asia). The first was allegorical-to-mystical, while the other was literal-to-typological. -- That's why Saints Basil the Great & John Chrysostom (both Asians) interpret Genesis literally, while Origen & Augustin (both Africans) interpret it allegorically.

Rhology said...

"And God said, 'Let living cells evolve out of nonliving matter.' And living cells arose from nonliving matter, and God saw that it was good."

Lvka said...

Rho,


the Bible nowhere *details* _HOW_ God created the various forms of life, it merely *states* _THAT_ He created them: It doesn't say they were created ex nihilo, nor does it say they were created through evolution -- the Scriptures are silent on that matter. (And my apophatic religion likes mystery).

zilch said...

I said:

And I came because I agreed with almost everything he said, which happens rarely

Rho replied:

Really? Wow, that IS rare! :-)

And you're welcome on any post of mine, zilch.


Thanks, Rho. From what I've read, it seems pretty obvious that the SoT is a clever medieval fake, like many relics (pieces of the Ark or of the True Cross, etc.)

At any rate, the question of what is "science", it has become clear to me, is a playground for naturalists on which to play hopscotch and Dance, Monkey, Dance. They redefine science to exclude ID whenever they can, and it's pathetic.

Can you give some examples of this "redefining" of science for me? All the redefining I'm aware of comes from the ID camp, for instance when Behe admitted in the Dover trial that by his definition, astrology was a science too.

Besides, where science suffers a large disconnect from the search for truth, it becomes totally irrelevant.

What "disconnect" are you talking about?

"And God said, 'Let living cells evolve out of nonliving matter.' And living cells arose from nonliving matter, and God saw that it was good."

That would be from the "deistic evolution" Bible, eh, Rho?

Steve said:

Consensus is not a scientific argument.

You are right, Steve, it's not, but it's often a good indicator of which arguments are scientific, especially when the consensus is among scientists in the field in question. The basic problem with ID is that they don't do any research: they are a PR group.

steve said...

zilch said...

"You are right, Steve, it's not, but it's often a good indicator of which arguments are scientific, especially when the consensus is among scientists in the field in question."

Of course, that's circular. Of course, if editors of peer reviewed journals only accept submissions which represent the same basic viewpoint while failing to publish dissenting views, then that creates the specious appearance of consensus. Not to mention other pressure tactics to ensure conformity.

"The basic problem with ID is that they don't do any research: they are a PR group."

How do you define "research"? For example, is Ed Witten an experimental scientist? No. Was Einstein an experimental scientist? No.

So does your criterion rule out theoretical and mathematical physics as PR rather than true science?

What about the role of thought-experiments in the history of science? Is that true science, or pseudoscience?

Logan said...

Of course, that's circular. Of course, if editors of peer reviewed journals only accept submissions which represent the same basic viewpoint while failing to publish dissenting views, then that creates the specious appearance of consensus. Not to mention other pressure tactics to ensure conformity.

That might be a valid complaint, were it not for the fact that they can't even produce peer reviewed work when they start up their own journal. The last time they attempted to start up a journal (Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design), it lasted just three years and was abandoned in 2005.

Here are the archives:

PCID

It's a little silly to cry "censorship" when you can't even produce work for the journal you control.

The same year PCID ended the Templeton foundation asked ID proponents to submit research proposals. According to Templeton Senior Vice President Charles L. Harper Jr., "They never came in."

Quite recently, ID proponents decided to give it the old college try again by launching the journal BIO-Complexity, with a debut of a whopping two articles. Despite decades of floundering, will they suddenly find the impetus to regularly produce real scientific research for this new journal?

Don't hold your breath.

steve said...

Logan,

You seem to have problems following the argument. Did I say I thought the peer review process was essential? No. Was I stating my own criteria? No. I was simply responding to Zilch on his own terms.

Even Philip Kitcher admits that peer review is a sociological criterion rather than a scientific criterion.

Try to pay attention to what people actually say rather than falling back on your prepared answers to things they didn't say.

Rhology said...

zilch,

Though you're welcome at any post of mine, I do reserve the right to limit my interactions when I think it's appropriate or when I don't have time or am tired. :-D Today it's 2/3.

Just this:
What "disconnect" are you talking about?

A great example would be the Ruse vs Dembski debate ("Is ID science?" I believe was the title) I attended about 19 months ago. It was one of the worst debates I've ever heard. Dembski had the affirmative and it was a horrible, boring, uninformative, ineffective opening statement. I thought to myself, "There is no way Ruse could do any worse than that." And yet he somehow managed it by a smidge. Most of his main point was, "I don't care whether ID is true. It's not science". I see that demonstrated quite often in many scientists' philosophical presupposition of naturalism. That's what I mean.


And Logan,
most "evidence" for evolution is actually evidence for ID, just FYI.

zilch said...

Rho say:

Though you're welcome at any post of mine, I do reserve the right to limit my interactions when I think it's appropriate or when I don't have time or am tired. :-D Today it's 2/3.

Hey, nema problema, that goes without saying. I have a life outside of cyberspace and I bet you do too.

Just this:
What "disconnect" are you talking about?

A great example would be the Ruse vs Dembski debate ("Is ID science?" I believe was the title) I attended about 19 months ago. It was one of the worst debates I've ever heard.


Debates are not the best places to look, if you're interested in what the scientific community is saying. You're far better off reading Nature or at least Scientific American, if you want to get a handle on the prevailing scientific opinion.

John said...

Isn't the pope entitled to his opinion?

bob smith said...

I may be late to this discussion , but let me say that I am a catholic who was a theistic evolutionist , but who now believe in intelligent design. I left theistic evolution not because of its theological implications but because evolution didn't match some of its most grandiose claims .

The popes opinions are just his opinions, he didn't speak them from the throne of Peter .

As far as the shroud whoever said it was dated and proves to be 800 years old simply is ignorant on the evidences .

The 1988 c14 tests have been roundly refuted and invalidated by the peer reviewed chemical analysis
Paper published by agnostic thermal chemist and senior fellow at Los alamos labs Ray Rogers in the peer reviewed chemical specialist journal thermochimica acta . Rogers found newer cotton rewoven into regular shroud linen, also found madder dye to dye that Area tested in 1988 .

Rogers found no cotton or madder dye in any other area of the shroud. It's obvious that what they dated in 1988 wasnt from the original shroud but from a reweave .

Rogers then dated the shroud based on no vanillin showing up in his vanillin tests (more in line with older relics like the Dead Sea scrolls ) and dates the Harold to be within 1300 and 3000 years old.