Liz Klimas writes in The Blaze:
Inscribed on a stone box are the words at the center of more than a decade of religious and scholarly controversy: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”
These words etched into a burial box spurred a 10-year investigation that would ultimately end in a man cleared of forgery accusations. But discussion as to whether this is the earliest reference to Jesus Christ and the validity of the last three words — “brother of Jesus” — continues.
This is to let you know that Simon LeVay’s new novel, ‘The Donation of Constantine,’ has just come out. It’s a religious-historical novel set in 8th-century Italy, and it revolves around the famous and enigmatic forgery known as — you guessed it — the Donation of Constantine. Here’s a brief description:
In the middle of the eighth century, the decaying city of Rome lies defenseless against the advance of the warmongering Lombards. The new Pope, Stephen II, appeals for help from the Eastern Emperor, but none arrives. In desperation, the Pope’s younger brother and an English nun conspire to change the course of history—at the risk of their own souls. Based on real people and actual events, this is a story of intrigue, passion, war, and the struggle for control of medieval Europe.
The book does deal seriously with Catholic politics and the evolution of the papacy — and in that sense it holds up a distant mirror to the present-day Church — but it’s all wrapped up in an adventure story that should please anyone.
There’s more information about His book at its website, www.lambournbooks.com This site includes information on how to order the physical book or the ebook in the U.S., the U.K., or Europe. The Amazon page for the paperback is here
[ . . . ]
Sounds fun. I ordered a Kindle version.
Are there any shroudies who are chess players like him? If so give him a shout. He tells us:
I was the second highest rated chess player in Western Australia in 1967, with a rating of 2070, but I gave competitive chess away for ~45 years until August 2012 when I joined the Perth Chess Club. I am gradually regaining my chess `mojo’ but my rating now is only 1782 and I doubt that I will ever get back to 2070.
If it weren’t for Frank Tippler or John Klotz this would be completely off topic.
Did Hawking read Tipler’s book? Meredith Bennett-Smith writes in the Huffington Post:
Could your brain keep on living even after your body dies? Sounds like science fiction, but celebrated theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking recently suggested that technology could make it possible.
"I think the brain is like a program in the mind, which is like a computer," Hawking said last week during an appearance at the Cambridge Film Festival, The Telegraph reported. "So it’s theoretically possible to copy the brain on to a computer and so provide a form of life after death."
He acknowledged that such a feat lies "beyond our present capabilities," adding that "the conventional afterlife is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark."
Life after death ala Tipler? There is still more blind faith that a computer – hardware plus software – can not merely emulate consciousness but be conscious than there is any hard science on this subject. Hawking is really a Johnny-Come-Lately. I’m told the book to start with is Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem edited by Jonathan Shear. The list of contributors is why. From the publisher:
At the 1994 landmark conference "Toward a Scientific Basis for Consciousness", philosopher David Chalmers distinguished between the "easy" problems and the "hard" problem of consciousness research. According to Chalmers, the easy problems are to explain cognitive functions such as discrimination, integration, and the control of behavior; the hard problem is to explain why these functions should be associated with phenomenal experience. Why doesn’t all this cognitive processing go on "in the dark", without any consciousness at all? In this book, philosophers, physicists, psychologists, neurophysiologists, computer scientists, and others address this central topic in the growing discipline of consciousness studies. Some take issue with Chalmers’ distinction, arguing that the hard problem is a non-problem, or that the explanatory gap is too wide to be bridged. Others offer alternative suggestions as to how the problem might be solved, whether through cognitive science, fundamental physics, empirical phenomenology, or with theories that take consciousness as irreducible.Contributors : Bernard J. Baars, Douglas J. Bilodeau, David Chalmers, Patricia S. Churchland, Thomas Clark, C. J. S. Clarke, Francis Crick, Daniel C. Dennett, Stuart Hameroff, Valerie Hardcastle, David Hodgson, Piet Hut, Christof Koch, Benjamin Libet, E. J. Lowe, Bruce MacLennan, Colin McGinn, Eugene Mills, Kieron OHara, Roger Penrose, Mark C. Price, William S. Robinson, Gregg Rosenberg, Tom Scott, William Seager, Jonathan Shear, Roger N. Shepard, Henry Stapp, Francisco J. Varela, Max Velmans, Richard Warner
Dear professor, my criticism of your book is in part harsh. Frankness, however, is part of dialogue: Only in this way can understanding grow. You were quite frank, and so you will accept that I should also be so. In any case, however, I very much appreciate that you, through your confrontation with my Introduction to Christianity, have sought to open a dialogue with the faith of the Catholic Church and that, notwithstanding all the contrasts in the central area, points of convergence are nevertheless not lacking.
— — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
, , , in an 11 page open letter to a prominent Italian Atheist, Piergiorgio Odifreddi, in response to a book by him, Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You.
Odifreddi said the entire 11-page letter will be included in a new edition of his book. He said that he and Benedict may disagree on almost everything, but they have
united in at least one common goal: the search for the Truth, with a capital ‘T.’
For a different take on the story see The Ratz is back, stung by atheist into addressing the ‘deviance’ and ‘filth’ in his Church in The Freethinker.
Off topic, nonetheless relevant to prior discussions here.
The topic of atheism has popped up many times on this blog with no instance perhaps better than when Mark Shea, just a couple of weeks ago, was quoted as saying:
. . . The Atheist of the Gaps believes in such fake relics [e.g. the Luigi Garlaschelli fake pictured below] with childlike faith no matter how badly that fake fails to actually reproduce the Shroud. That’s because they need it to be a fake. It is an article of faith in advance of and in the teeth of all evidence,
This new video, just posted on Hemant Mehta’s blog, is a bit more off-topic. It is a five minute debate between Atheist Andrew Brown of The Guardian and Atheist Daniel Dennett, Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University and author of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Simon & Schuster, 1995). Off-topic, yes, but fun to watch.
What the New Atheists (and I would lump many other atheist activists under this umbrella, too) offer is a no-holds-barred critique of religion that comes at you all at once from many different angles. Instead of the periodic trickles of atheism we saw a few decades ago, “New Atheism” hits you like a firehose. You can’t escape the books and podcasts and websites and non-religious celebrities. Nor can you ignore the media mentions of atheists that happen with increasing frequency… or the way we’ve dominated Internet discourse. The New Atheism has made it safer for people to declare their godlessness. (That’s not to say it’s easy everywhere, but it is certainly easier than it used to be.)
As for Dennett, he believes that consciousness is but an illusion and that it may be possible to reprogram all of us. That is convenient, isn’t it. If he can figure out how, then he can make us all agree with him.
Shea had also written:
Strangely and hilariously, the absolute atheist refusal to consider the possibility of the Shroud’s genuineness vs. the Christian openness to all the strange possibilities this strange world holds is called by the Atheist of the Gaps, "Christian obscurantist close-mindedness vs. Atheist rational willingness to follow the facts wherever they lead". It’s of a piece with the "open-minded" atheist Emile Zola who, witnessing a miraculous healing at Lourdes, responded by declaring "Even if I saw all the sick at Lourdes healed, I would not believe."
If Émile Zola hadn’t lived so long before Dennett was born, we might suspect that he was the product of just such a reprogramming experiment.
This bring us to Michael Redux: Quantum mechanics, consciousness and love by this blog’s regular reader and frequent commenter John Klotz from about a year ago:
The question of whether human consciousness is a distinct phenomenon that survives death, is at the core of most religious belief. Now, it is becoming a scientific issue as well. Science is dealing with two related phenomena: the existence of human consciousness and the nature of existence of all matter at the quantum level. Science in attempting to explain human consciousness is science attempting to define the soul. Is our consciousness a discreet process that may operate independent of space and time? Or, is it only an accumulation of sensations that ends when the individual dies and the brain is rendered inert and decaying? Can our consciousness operate independent of time and space? Is there any scientific basis for eternal life? Is the Resurrection real?