Archive for April, 2012

Good Friday special (Shroud of Turin, dealing with skeptics’ comments)

April 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, today is Good Friday and it’s always a good time to pause and reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for us. It’s so easy to forget and move on with our daily routines–especially for those of us who work. Regrettably, the story of Jesus’ death on the cross has been told and retold so many times that we’ve grown calloused to it. In a couple of days, every pastor will be preaching about something Easter-related, so I’m going to take a slightly different approach.

…what if the Shroud of Turin is real?

Yes, THAT shroud—the one that I grew up learning in my History/Civics class was a fake because carbon dating had proved it to be from the Middle Ages. Why am I bringing this up now? Because it’s Easter time and because of this interesting article that presents a lot of interesting scientific (and logical) reasons the shroud could be genuine:

For those of you who are too busy to read it—and I urge you to read it anyway…your life isn’t THAT busy!—here are a few of the salient points:

– The carbon dating done on it in 1988 is invalid because it took a small corner sample, which apparently was rewoven into the shroud in the Middle Ages (probably to patch up some damage).
– The human anatomy depicted on the shroud is 100% correct. As the article states (and as my wife and I learned recently on our tour at the National Gallery of Art), not even the best artists in the Middle Ages knew how to accurately depict the human form yet.
– The image seems to have been burned on, which could have happened in a burst of radiation when Jesus went from his mortal body to glorified body.
– The image shows that Jesus was nailed through the wrists. Back then, everyone thought Jesus had been nailed through the palms of his hands. Today, we know from science that it would have to be the wrists to support his weight. Also, the Greek word used for “hand” can also be used to include the wrist.

I’d need to look into it further, but if this is true, it’s an amazing (re-)discovery. Not only would it add to the already hefty evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, but we can take the image to be in his actual likeness. It would be nice to know what he actually looked like.

Now, I normally don’t read the comments in CP articles because that place seems overrun with know-it-all atheists and such (and lately, they just annoy me), but I couldn’t help myself.

Here are some sample comments with my thoughts on them:

One thing all Christian fail to address, is that they have absolutely no evidence that it was their god that did all the creating of the universe. Oh sure, they make this claim, loud and stridently, but they can not offer any evidence to back up their claim that it was Jesus’s father who did the work. And no the Bible can not be used, because of the circular reasoning fallacy that would be involved.

So let’s start with the fact that an infinite universe cannot exist and that nothing pops up from nothing…coupled with the astronomically small (actually, “mathematically impossible”) odds that all of the conditions and constants could support life…the apparent fine-tuning of the universe, which logically points to unimaginable power and intelligence behind it all…

Then there is the Bible, which tells us that our God created everything we see (and don’t see). Compared to any other religion or text out there, we are the only ones that have history, archaeology, and even science/logic backing us up on any significant level. Seems like our God is the best candidate to me, unless you want to just posit infinite universes and other nonsense.

These are all to be ignored? What exactly is “evidence” to skeptics like these? Would a signature blazoned in the sky saying, “I made all of this. Sincerely, God (the Judeo-Christian one)” be the only thing to suffice? What could possibly qualify as “evidence” for the creation of the universe? There is always going to be an element of faith involved. Take the leap for goodness sake. By this logic, how does this commenter ever believe anything or anyone?

Not only does the author fail epically to provide real evidence but he also makes claims that do not point to the reality of Jesus being who he was claimed to be. There are far too many plot holes in this story to be credible. For me, it’s pretty hard to believe what was written down, edited hundreds of years later and pushed by obvious politicians as gospel. Given the Old Testament is utter nonsense and evil and given the only reason people are still yelling about Christianity is owing to the sword and the Totalitarian evil of the Catholic church, I’m going to put my money on the “no way is this true” section.

Ah again, the “E” word. What evidence would you like? I suppose they could take a chunk of the shroud that clearly hasn’t been rewoven—say, directly from the center of the face—to make sure the carbon dating is legitimate. Would that make you happy? And the point of the article was not to talk about who Jesus claimed to be. There are no “plot holes”—articles are supposed to cover specific topics, not take up hundreds of pages to discuss something that could fill the shelves of the largest library.

And what “evidence” (I can use that word, too) do you have that the Bible was “edited hundreds of years later and pushed by obvious politicians as gospel”? From everything I’ve researched, the Bible has stood intact amazingly well through the test of time, though we do find little things here and there to correct (for instance, as our understanding of ancient languages becomes more sophisticated).

The “Old Testament is utter nonsense and evil”? By whose estimation, yours? It’s funny how atheists cry “evidence, evidence” from the top of the mountains, but then they present none of their own. All they do is parrot catchy lines of argument or cite some great and noble SCIENTIST (all together now: ooooooooh) to back up their claims. Never mind that scientists are never fully in agreement and are proved to be incorrect all the time.

One of these days, I think I want to make a laundry list of things skeptics/scientists/historians USED to say was wrong about the Bible, only to be proved wrong later. The Bible holds up—sorry to burst your bubble. It doesn’t matter though, as soon as the Bible proves to be right on some issue, skeptics will just move right along to the next issue. If they run out of things to “poke holes” at, they’ll just come right around in a circle and forget what has already been resolved. Trust me, it happens all the time.

Science this, science that. Let us all bow and worship.

OK, maybe I made that one up, but it’s basically paraphrasing the typical posts of people (e.g., Ben Faeth).

Side note: Is it just me, or do atheists all seem to have the same basic looks on their faces? Something about their eyes and demeanor…maybe I’m just seeing things.

But on a serious note, I will address one of his more specific posts:

In the realm of science, eye witness testimony is the worst kind of evidence, if you can even call it evidence. Humans are terrible record keeping devices are prone to misinterpretations, forgetfulness, and out right delusional behavior. We don’t believe people whom say that they met aliens or seen big foot, because there is no actual evidence to back them up. And to make matters worse, these so called 500 eyewitnesses are never identified or explain themselves in their own words. The 500 eyewitness claims claim from Paul, who admits himself that he wasn’t there. It’s hearsay based on hearsay without any supporting evidence.

In some ways, what Ben is saying is true. Eyewitness testimony can be sketchy at best. The difference with the New Testament, though, is that it was not one or two people caught up in a frantic, life-threatening situation (which can distort our memory for sure). It was hundreds of people seeing something unexpected over a period of 40 days. It wasn’t hectic, it wasn’t sudden, it was prolonged and personal. So this criticism of eyewitness testimony doesn’t apply here.

And why would Paul—or how could he—name all 500 witnesses? Would he just happen to know everyone’s name by heart? What would even be the point of writing this down? If you were writing a letter to a large group of people—say, a church congregation—would you start out by listing every member/recipient by name first?

“Dear church of Ephesus, I am writing to you my dear brothers: Tyrone, Scott, Hector, Julio, James, Lionel, Bob (the short one), Bob (the scruffy bearded one), John, Ulysses…[489 names here]…and who could forget little Timmy? Anyhow, I am writing to tell you…”

Sure, you don’t HAVE to believe Paul when he says 500 witnesses were there. That’s secondary anyway. But believing him sure does help explain the rapid, unprecedented spread of Christianity throughout the world in the face of enormous persecution, martyrdom, and even heavy Jewish theological opposition. They did not spread their religion with military conquest in the early church. Also, why would the other 500 witnesses “explain themselves in their own words”? First of all, most of them probably couldn’t write, and even if they could, why would they? The church already had the writings of Paul, and those 500 witnesses didn’t have apostolic authority. Maybe their families and friends would be interested in reading what they said, but that’s about it. For most people, they were satisfied with what the few chosen by God officially recorded.

To hear atheists’ line of reasoning, you don’t have to believe in anything that scientists don’t proclaim as absolute truth. In fact, let’s just say that nothing before modern science is real since it can’t REALLY be authenticated anyway. Alexander the Great? Never existed. The first historical records of him showed up way too late. Ben Faeth? Fake person. The picture is generated by Photoshop, and the account was made with false information. Hey, until I see him face-to-face and/or scientists publish peer-reviewed scholarly articles about his existence, there’s no real reason for me to believe it’s a real guy typing up these comments, right?

Are you guys starting to understand why I’m pretty much done dealing with skeptics? What’s the point? Sure, a deluge of undeniable evidence could possibly lead them to believe, but where is their heart? At the bottom of things, they don’t want there to be a God who is ultimately sovereign and in control. His glory is the purpose of this world, not ours, which is unsavory to some. So if they had all the proof in the world, that only makes them more accountable for their refusal of Him. Their punishment would be that much greater. Ignorance could no longer be any mitigating factor.

Wow, this post came out a lot more aggressive-sounding than I expected. Oh well haha. It’s my blog, and frankly, I get enough of proper writing these days with all of my seminary papers and even technical writing at my job. Here, I can sometimes just vent or do a brain dump. I hope that’s OK!