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Archive for April, 2011

The Film – I’m Not Jesus Mommy

April 27, 2011 4 comments

Cloned from bloodstains on the Shroud of Turin? You knew it was only a matter of time until a movie was made. Trailer, Synopsis, Initial Theaters for this Indy Film

image

Dr. Kimberly Gabriel, one of the nation’s top fertility specialists, lives in irony as she is unable to have children of her own. Her chance comes when Dr. Roger Gibson recruits her on to his human cloning project.

In an act of desperation she steals an embryo from Gibson’s laboratory and finally fulfills her dream.

The world falls in to chaos and strange happenings surround her son, David, as they struggle for survival.

Kim is faced with the truth on her son’s origin… does David represent mankind’s last hope or something else?

Categories: Art

In the Anglican Continuum: The Shroud of Turin, the Work of Ray Downing

April 27, 2011 1 comment

imageMUST READ: Fr. Robert Hart has posted a significant review of both "The Real face of Jesus" and "Jesus, the lost forty days"

The specials now [at Eastertime] seem to be less insulting to our intelligence (not to mention our faith). On the whole, this is better. Nonetheless, even the best specials that aired in 2010 and 2011 must be challenged in part, though the better  portions of them can be received as wholesome and sound. I speak here mainly of two specials that aired on the History Channel about the work of Ray Downing, described as the "creator of the 3D computer technology that produced the ‘real face of Jesus’ from the image of the crucified man in the Shroud of Turin." In 2010 the History Channel produced "The Real face of Jesus," from which it borrowed whole sections for "Jesus, the lost forty days" in 2011.

First, let me say why I believe these productions have merit.

On the whole, I think Downing’s work is valuable for apologists, and that he was completely correct when he said (as reported on World Net Daily), "Jesus was more than just a spiritual event. Studying the Shroud [of Turin] to produce the 3D face of Jesus, we encountered scientific evidence that the resurrection was a real physical event that happened in a moment of time 2,000 years ago."

I agree. Considering all the evidence, I am convinced that the famous shroud, which defies all attempts to explain it away, contains an image created by a kind of energy as yet unknown to the most advanced science. Certainly, the resurrection of Christ was a physical event, and so a burst of mysterious energy into the created universe of space, energy, matter and time, had to be part of how the miracle occurred. It appears that what it left for our observation was the closest thing possible to a photograph of Christ’s resurrection.

Hart doesn’t like the fact that Elaine Pagels was included in the broadcast. That is no surprise for this very conservative Anglican Episcopal group. While I’m not a big fan of Pagels, I did think there was benefit to having liberals included.

Continue reading at The Continuum: Lost 40 days?

Categories: News & Views, Video

Skeptic’s Package Deal Fallacy

April 27, 2011 Comments off

There has to be a name for this fallacy of logic. One with a highfalutin Latin name would be nice, something like argumentum e contrario.  Perhaps something from a great work of logic like Apologia Pro Vita Sua would be nice. But, alas, I name it the Skeptic’s Package Deal.

It goes like this:

How ridiculous it is that people believe in things like the Loch Ness Monster, leprechauns, genies in bottles and imaginary friends like Jesus.

Now, if you are an Atheist you might say, “Well, yeah.” Jeff Schweitzer used the fallacy in a piece he wrote for the Huffington Post on April 8:

Without an ability to reason critically, people believe in weeping statues of the Virgin Mary, the existence of a carved face on Mars, out-of-body experiences, and Christ’s image captured on the Shroud of Turin. 

imageI was disappointed to see Michael Catt use it in the Baptist Press on April 25:

There are hundreds of cathedrals that claim to have the skull of Paul or Peter. There is a church in Ethiopia that claims to have the Ark of the Covenant. Such claims are too common to be believable.

Then there was the Shroud of Turin, which was supposedly the burial cloth of Jesus. Add to that statues that weep, the face of Jesus in a tortilla, and a host of other scams and aberrations and it becomes laughable.

I understand that his point was to criticize the documentary, "The Nails of the Cross." In fact, the argument that two nails found in Caiaphas’ tomb is an argument using the worst sort of fallacy. Here I agree with Catt:

Professor Israel Hershkowitz says in the documentary, "Based on the size, shape and condition of the nails, it is possible that these were used in crucifixion." True. Factual. BUT, notice "crucifixion" not "the crucifixion" of Christ. Thousands were crucified by the Romans. It was a common form of death penalty for criminals. There would have been hundreds of nails.

He says it’s "possible." Sure it is.

But why package these nails with a face of Jesus in a tortilla, which is ridiculous and the Shroud of Turin, which is not to a great number of scholars including scientists, historians and archeologists.

Categories: News & Views

The Real Face of Jesus Nominated for Two Awards

April 27, 2011 1 comment

imageThe History documentary The Real Face of Jesus has been nominated for two awards.

1)   The Banff World Media Festival: the Non-Fiction Rockies

Hosted by Mike Holmes, Canada’s Most Trusted Contractor, the Non-Fiction Rockies ceremony will honour the year’s most outstanding Documentary and Factual programming from around the world.

WHEN: Monday, June 13th, 5:45pm – 6:45pm

WHERE: AOL Canada Theatre

POPULAR SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS category


image2)  The Factual Entertainment Awards

The Factual Entertainment Awards will be held in Santa Monica, CA at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel on June 1, as part of realscreen’s Factual Entertainment Forum. The event pays tribute to factual entertainment excellence from around the world.

When: June 1 &2, 2011

Where: Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

Non-fiction – Best one off or special category

Categories: News & Views, Video

The Trouble with Tribalism

April 26, 2011 Comments off

imageSteven and Michael Meloan in the Huffington Post:

 

New Atheist authors like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have declared that religion is the root of most global conflict. In our novel The Shroud, we explore the notion that tribalism is the true underlying factor behind these conflicts. It is part of our evolutionary heritage. Many physicists and other researchers believe that modern scientific developments resonate with spiritual pursuits and may lead to greater unity, allowing us to override some of our tribal and territorial impulses.

Quantum entanglement, or Einstein’s "spooky action at a distance", demonstrates that the universe is interconnected down to the most essential level. And the discovery of "mirror neurons" in humans and other primates demonstrates that simply seeing something happen to another creature lights-up the same neurons as if it were happening to us. In a very real sense, we don’t entirely distinguish between the self and others. And this is particularly true when witnessing suffering. A sense of compassion and empathy seem to be hard-wired in us.

From elementary particles to cellular systems to tribes, cities, countries and virtual communities over the Internet, science and our deepest intuition increasingly demonstrate that we are intrinsically interconnected. And this connectedness may even transcend the physical plane as we now know it. Research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California demonstrates that the interconnection once thought to exist only at the quantum level may scale all the way up to the macro level — such that intention may somehow affect the physical world.

The challenge going forward will be to propagate these connections and thwart tribalism, using myth, memes and meditation.

Read the entire article. It is excellent: Steven and Michael Meloan: The Trouble with Tribalism

Categories: Books, News & Views, Science

Jeff Schweitzer On Heaven is for Real

April 26, 2011 Comments off

imageJeff Schweitzer, you wrote in the Huffington Post:

We’ve seen the bright light. We’ve been to heaven and back. The latest best seller is about a round trip visit to the netherworld. The book has broken all sales records for the publisher, Thomas Nelson, which specializes in Christian publications. The protagonist is an 11-year-old boy who claims he died, went to heaven and returned to the living to give us his tale in Heaven is for Real: a Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. The book is titled under non-fiction, because after all the father claims that everything the boy says in the book is "all true."

What a great formula for success: to a broth of established religious superstition add a pinch of life, death and heaven, stir in some pabulum, add a cute little innocent boy and simmer until a gullible public anxious to hear anything to validate a belief in the unbelievable lines up to buy the story — and voila, a best seller. The boy’s journey is presented to us by his father, the Rev. Todd Burpo, who leads a small evangelical congregation in Nebraska. The book is co-written by Lynn Vincent who gave us that stirring tale, Going Rogue, with Sarah Palin. Note that the trip to heaven happened to a boy who coincidentally comes from an evangelical family who already believed in an afterlife prior to the brief visit there; and that we are taken on his journey by a writer with an established conservative agenda. What we are not told is why anybody would want to return to earth from heaven — after all, it’s heaven.

The success of this book, and others akin, demonstrates an odd paradox about the faithful. We are told by believers that faith needs no proof. Faith alone is sufficient to believe in God. Any attempt to refute the existence of any higher power using logic, evidence or reasoning is shut down with a dismissal of rationalism as a secular plot perpetrated by humanists incapable of understanding the meaning of faith. But oh how those same believers immediately glom onto "evidence" for their beliefs like iron shavings to a magnet, no matter how ridiculous or absurd, quickly forgetting the idea that faith needs no proof. So people cite as evidence, of which they purportedly have no need, weeping statues of the Virgin Mary, out-of-body experiences and Christ’s image captured on the Shroud of Turin.

Here we go again: the Shroud of Turin.

Jeff, on April 8th, you wrote:

Without an ability to reason critically, people believe in weeping statues of the Virgin Mary, the existence of a carved face on Mars, out-of-body experiences, and Christ’s image captured on the Shroud of Turin. 

And I wrote:

Is it because I believe in something religious that I lack an ability to reason critically? I’ll give you the weeping statues, the silly face on Mars, and out-of-body stuff. You are probably right. In the first two instances, the evidence is clearly against such things. In the third case there is little evidence other than personal testimony in favor out-of-body experiences. And, so far, cognitive science studies suggest that these are only sensations (though the work is far from complete).

When it comes to the Shroud of Turin, there is a rich body of scientific research (by real scientists, dozens of them, who I suspect can reason critically)  that suggests that the relic might be or could be authentic. If we confine ourselves to prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journals, those with the highest standards, there is not a single standing argument against authenticity. Extend thinking beyond science to history (by real academic historians, dozens of them, who I suspect can reason critically) and there is a body of evidence that suggests it is probably real.

I’ll bet we get back to this issue of critical reasoning.

The burden of proof when citing evidence to substantiate faith is disturbingly low. Here is the truth filter in the Burpo case, according to the father’s logic about this son: "If he was making it up, he would have gotten something wrong. But he got nothing wrong. He got it all right. That’s what started our journey."

So let’s see. The boy got nothing wrong (repeated again as the opposite, he got everything right). That’s it. That’s the proof. We are not told against what metric that right and wrong are measured, or how the father evaluated that since he has not yet made the journey himself. But the boy got everything right (got nothing wrong), so we are off and running.

Did you read the book, Jeff. I don’t agree with the metric. And certainly I’ve expressed my reservations. But the metric was, as stated in the book, an interpretation from the New Testament, particularly the Book of Revelations. Now my interpretation is different than the Rev. Burpo’s. He is clearly a Biblical literalist and fundamentalist. I am not. The metric he uses is invalid, as far as I’m concerned. Critical thinking, Jeff, includes fair statements. Here we go:

The commercial success of Heaven is for Real is a sad consequence of our declining public schools, which have failed to teach our youth how to evaluate dubious claims. This inability to think critically matters. Political candidates can make absurd claims, factually untrue and easily verified as false, which are accepted as Gospel by the faithful. Thinking critically matters to our very survival unless we wish to succumb to demagogues.

Thinking critically matters if we wish to maintain a viable economy in a future based on high tech. A society that is largely scientifically illiterate will clearly be ill equipped to survive in the 21st century, unable to guide advances in science and technology toward the greater good. Although understanding basic science is critical to everyday life in a technology-driven world, the subject is given grossly inadequate treatment in most public schools today. As a result, people are often poorly equipped to understand the complexities of an issue before forming an opinion about the costs and benefits of adopting or restricting a particular technology. They believe a boy went to heaven and back.

The inability to think critically underlies many of our cultural wars. Nearly all the great ethical challenges facing society today are exacerbated to some extent by rapid advances in science and technology. Current political, religious and educational institutions are improperly armed to address the moral consequences ensuing from scientific achievements. In any society dominated by religion and religious morality, technology often proceeds at a pace greater than society’s ability to address the associated moral dilemmas. The issue of therapeutic cloning offers a prime example. Religious bias and scientific illiteracy combine powerfully to restrict a technology with extraordinary potential for good, with little associated risk. The solution is not to retard technologic advances, from which people benefit greatly, but to adapt school curricula accordingly and accelerate the adoption of an ethical code capable of addressing these challenges. But we can’t do that if people believe a boy went to heaven and back.

I don’t know if the boy went to heaven and back. I have my doubts. It doesn’t fit my worldview. It doesn’t accord well with a scientific worldview. But critical thinking demands more than mere dismissal, which is really all that you offer. That, Jeff, is fundamentalism-of-another-kind. What, really, is your argument?

Atheism has tried to capture the high ground in the burden of proof argument. And if Atheism owns it than an Atheist can claim the boy did not go to heaven for it is unproven. And if Atheism owns it, then the Shroud of Turin is a fake no matter what the evidence because the proof bar has not been reached. Doesn’t sound like critical thinking to me, Jeff.

Full article: Jeff Schweitzer: Heaven Can Wait

Categories: News & Views

Resurrecting Mystery of the Shroud of Turin

April 25, 2011 Comments off

imageAn outstanding article, Resurrecting the mystery of the Shroud of Turin: Debate reignites over whether this is the face of Jesus, by Robert L Wilcox, author of The Truth About the Shroud of Turin, appeared in the NY Post on Easter Sunday.

Like it has so many times in its long, tortured history, the Shroud of Turin is again, this Easter 2011, resurrected. I don’t use resurrected lightly. If authentic, the ancient linen cloth with mysterious images of a crucified and tortured corpse on its fibers is tangible proof to many Christians of Jesus’ rise from the dead. And while authenticity is certainly still in debate, the burden of proof now — at least on the Shroud’s inexplicableness — has shifted to the doubters.

Read the full article: Resurrecting the mystery of the Shroud of Turin – NYPOST.com

Categories: Books, News & Views
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