Adam, this is an overdue response. You write what you call an “extremely long response.” I have picked out two points to address. First, this appears to me as a convoluted way of getting around to, “technically speaking,” agreeing with me on this particular argument.
As for the Shroud of Turin, I think this is a disagreement upon which we cannot find common ground. Simply put, belief in the Shroud or not is simply a matter of faith. And being such, I cannot PROVE positively or otherwise that there are people for whom belief in it is vitally important to their own overall sense of faith. I can claim to have met them, to have been one, to know them now or otherwise, but there is absolutely no way I can prove that statement. I would ask you (or anyone else) to take it on my word, but what good is that in a proper debate? So, technically speaking, you are right–the Shroud poses no apologetics value whatsoever and one can dismiss it as a hoax and still believe every article of faith.
Second: At the end of your response, this:
. . . While it’s clear the commentator [=you to maintain person with the preceding paragraph] has a vested interest in the Shroud of Turin, my question was never answered–should Religions and Faiths be judged based upon the net impact on the world (is it a net positive or not) or should individuals simply judge based upon the value it has provided them individually?
Judged by whom, an outside observer or an adherent of a particular religion? And by exercising what values? Wouldn’t each religion have its own values? Note that some religions claim universal values either because they are revealed by God or determined over time from doctrine or theological deduction. For an outside observer to try to adopt a common set of individual-benefit or global-impact values is relativistic and potentially prejudicial.
In the final analysis, this is not how an adherent of a religion judges his or her religion, anyway. Instead, he or she does so based on how true they believe the tenets of the religion to be. Values then stem from belief.
Let me give you an example. I believe Jesus is God incarnate. Thus when he says:
[Y]ou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
I take Christ seriously. Individual-benefit or global-impact values must be in lockstep with this for me to evaluate my religion and other religions. You can’t do that for me. It cannot be generalized. The criterion is not benefit but truth.